Doctor Chris Lizak took over Ohio Wesleyan University's Marching Bishops this summer when former director Richard Edwards stepped down.
Lizak has been a teacher here at OWU for three years. He was the assistant director of the Marching Bishops for two years before becoming the head director. Along with directing the marching band, Lizak also works with percussion ensemble, pep band, and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
Photo courtesy of owu.edu.
Even with the responsibilities of all these other groups, Lizak stood ready to take over. Lizak explained why he was interested.
“I wanted to be an integral part of the next stage of developing the band. Serving as the assistant was a great way to become accustomed to the program, but I really wanted to take things to the next level, and being the head director allows me to do that.”
Lizak hit the ground running. The number of people in the marching band this year is the most it’s been since before it was brought back to campus. Growing the band is not only a goal of Lizak, but also of Drum Major and Junior Haleigh Stover.
“Personally, I want to see us continue to grow in numbers and I want us to keep working on our skills every year. But as the band grows, I also want to make sure we are able to know each other. I want us to get bigger but I want to be able to know everyone across sections. This is also something Lizak has expressed.”
Lizak confirmed that this is also one of his goals.
“I'm very confident we can grow to 80-90 members annually, and become one of the premiere liberal arts marching programs in the Midwest region.”
Band directors have certain qualities that can make them notable. Some are very strict, while others are laid back. Some move through work quickly, some move through work slowly. When asked what was one of the best band director qualities in Lizak, Colorguard member and Junior Heather Shoffner said his punctual nature. Photo courtesy of James D. DeCamp via OWU Flickr.
“He’s always there on time, and if he’s going to be late, he always lets us know, which is nice,” said Shoffner.
When asked the same question, Stover remarked that he listens to his students and what they have to say.
“Dr. Lizak also is like, he understands how many other things we have going on, and he understands that we know things too. Sometimes as students, we pick up on things that he might not notice all the way up on his scaffold, so I feel like he’s really good at listening to us and taking what we have to say into consideration,” said Stover.
Many in the marching band have known Lizak, so that made this transition a little bit easier for them. Shoffner even stated that he is almost like a father figure for some.
“I know a lot of us band students and colorguard were kind of glad that he’s in this role, because he’s kind of like that dad figure for a lot of us, which I kind of personally see in him too. Where we can actually go to him and talk to him or email him whenever we need,” said Shoffner.
Getting used to a new director can be hard, but getting used to one you already know can make it a little bit easier. Knowing that he has the best interests for the students in mind is valuable. He has made an impression on these students. Stover explained how he keeps the students’ best interest in mind.
“When he’s on us to do something, it’s because it will help us and here’s how or here’s why. And that’s a really comforting thing, to know you are working with someone who wants you to do better and knows how to make sure you can be better.” explained Stover.
It appears that Lizak is succeeding at taking over the job of marching band director. He has a message for the OWU students.
“If you're reading this and have done music/marching band in the past, join band! It’s never too late to join one of the most fun and dedicated groups on campus. And even if you've never played before, we'd love to help you figure it out and join our ranks.”