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About Bill Shepherd



Dear Friends,
It's with a heavy heart that we write this post.

William James "Bill" Shepherd Jr., 89, died Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023 In Cedar Falls, Iowa. Please follow the link below to read Bill's obituary.

Dedicated Educator | Trombonist | A Conducting Workbook

Dedicated Educator, Professional Musician

     Bill’s love of music as a child led to his life-long career -- teaching, and his avocation -- playing trombone. The two will be forever intertwined. After graduating from Carrollton High School, Bill earned his BA and MFA degrees in music from Ohio University. He served as high school band director at McConnelsville, Sandy Valley, Wellington and Wooster, producing outstanding concert bands which were consistently received superior ratings in Ohio Music Educators competitions. His high school marching bands were featured at many college football games and presented special half-time programs at professional football games of the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bill Shepherd's Photo     While teaching music in Ohio’s public schools, Bill was elected Ohio State Chairman of the American Band Directors Association and served on that group’s national executive board. He is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Phi Mu Alpha, Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Kappa Lamda, International Trombone Association and other professional organizations affiliated with his teaching career.

     Bill was Director of Bands at Findlay College, Findlay, Ohio, from 1969 to 1976. In 1970, he was selected as one of the top ten music educators in the United States and Canada by The School Musician, a professional music education publication.

     The next year, he was one of the ten college band directors chosen by the College Band Directors National Association to conduct The United States Air Force Band at a conducting symposium in Ithaca, New York. In 1976, he was a featured soloist at the Music Educators National Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. Bill was selected to play in an All American Band Masters presentation at the International Mid West Band Clinic with Arthur Fiedler, then the Boston Pops Orchestra director.

     From Findlay, he moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to direct the marching and symphonic band programs at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), 1976-1991. He continues to teach in the School of Music at UNI, where he chairs the General Studies area. In addition to evaluating student teachers, he teaches such classes as Our Musical Heritage, Conducting, and Music Administration.

     In 2000, Bill was instrumental in starting the local New Horizons Band, a group of men and woman ranging in age from 50 to 80+, who want to start or continue playing a music instrument in a band. Under Bill’s leadership, the group has more than doubled in size since its beginning and has developed a broad repertoire of band music. The group presents several free concerts per year and numerous musical programs for community groups.

     In 2001, Bill put his years of experience as a band conductor to good use by writing A Conducting Workbook, a textbook for teaching college students the techniques of conducting. The book was published by Wadsworth Publishing and is being considered for use in university music programs across the U.S. and abroad.


Trombonist, Big Band Leader

     Bill started playing trombone in Carrollton Junior High School and by the time he entered Ohio University, he knew music would be his career. During college, he played with several popular musical groups. In 1958-59, he and his trombone spent a year “on the road” with the Tommy Dorsey/Warren Covington Orchestra, touring the U.S. and recording with the band in New York City. He left the touring group to return to his teaching job in the Ohio public school system. However, his love of Big Band music has remained with him. He played in the Chuck Bisgrove and Jack Runyan band for many years throughout Ohio and adjacent areas.

     After he moved to Iowa, where there was a lack of groups playing big band music, he started the Bill Shepherd Big Band in 1979. Since then, the band has become the premier Big Band throughout Northeast Iowa, noted for the quality of the musicians and the authenticity of the musical charts. The Bill Shepherd Big Band recorded an LP, “Big Band Sounds,” in 1981 and “Ballroom Memories,” a CD which was released in March 2003.

     The Bill Shepherd Combo and Bill Shepherd’s “Red Hots” Dixieland Band, two groups that grew out of the Big Band, frequently perform at both public and private events, in addition to being featured at several Dixieland church services every year. Bill also shares his musical talents at church, playing solos and in brass groups for special music programs throughout the year.

     For the past twenty years, he has conducted the Waterloo Community Concert Band, a 40-plus member group that presents weekly concerts during June and July. He co-founded and conducts the Iowa Trombones, a group of trombone players from throughout Iowa and beyond that has gathered annually for the past fifteen years to play ensembles and give a public performance.

     Classical music is also a part of Bill’s life. He has played in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra since 1976. Prior to this, he played with the Canton Lima Symphony (Ohio), with which he recorded a full-length solo LP of classical trombone solos. For many years, he was the symphony players’ representative on the board of directors and has served on two of the last three committees to select a new symphony conductor.

     As an educator, he has influenced thousands of young lives, and as a performer, he has entertained thousands of people of all ages. He has served as a role model for many teachers and professional performers who still keep in touch with him.


A Conducting Workbook

Conducting Book     Bill's textbook "A Conducting Workbook" was recently released by Wadsworth Publishing with an interactive learning CD-ROM. For more information, please click on the link at the top left of this page.

     This text can be used in a variety of learning situations, from one-on-one teaching (where a student would conduct while a teacher plays the exercises) to large classes (where a student would conduct a class performing as an ensemble). This text provides step-by-step coverage of all aspects of conducting, and contains exercises that require each student to practice with a metronome. (text taken from Wadsworth Publishing web site)

     For More Information and to purchase A Conducting Workbook by Bill Shepherd,, please click here.


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