David Woodley inspired students and coworkers alike. Woodley was renowned for his ability to build a culture of excellence and musical artistry, while also creating a humorous, student-centric environment.
“There's just so many students across the years that call Mr. Woodley a great friend and mentor,” Eric Smedley, current director of IU athletic bands, said.
Woodley died May 21, 2022 in Bloomington after battling health issues for the past several months. He was 61.
Woodley joined the Jacobs School of Music faculty in 1993 as director of IU athletic bands. He held this position for 27 years until 2019.
Prior to his time at IU, Woodley served as assistant director of bands and director of the Hawkeye Marching Band at The University of Iowa. He held a similar position at the University of Louisville.
Woodley founded and co-chaired the College Band Directors National Association Athletic Band Advisory Council, served for years as co-chair of the Big Ten/Pac 12 Athletic Band Directors Association, was a member of the National Band Association, and an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi.
Woodley was commissioned by over 200 college and high school bands and is credited for over 500 marching and basketball band arrangements. In addition, he created several concert band transcriptions that have been published by TRN Music and have been performed by several college wind ensembles and high school bands across the United States.
Smedley met Woodley in 1993, when Smedley was a student and Woodley was beginning his first year as director. Smedley said Woodley brought a new philosophy to the Marching Hundred.
“He wanted the marching band to be very energetic and spirited and have lots of choreography,” Smedley said. “He had an approach that was very much to support the football team, support athletics in all that we can do to ensure that they're things that the crowd gets excited about.”
Smedley described his time in the Marching Hundred as a fun experience. He said Woodley brought a great musical experience along with a charming sense of humor he often referred to as "hijinks and hilarity."
“He knew how to motivate someone who was 18 to 22 years old,” Smedley said. “That was his bread and butter.”
Smedley said he and Woodley grew very close over his four undergraduate years, since Smedley also wanted to be a band director. Woodley inspired him to want to become a band director at the collegiate level.
“I really just wanted to be like him. He was that picture of what I wanted to be,” Smedley said. “I came back to school to do a Master's Degree, really to learn from him more closely.”
During his time as director of the Marching Hundred, Woodley led the group in performing at several bowl games, NFL games and Super Bowl XLVI.
In 2007, under Woodley’s direction, the Marching Hundred was named recipient of the Sudler Trophy. This award is annually awarded to a collegiate marching band which has demonstrated the highest musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas.
Woodley always put an emphasis on his students. Whether it was in the classroom or on the field, he understood the importance of a college experience and undergraduate education, Smedley said.
Woodley’s students fondly nicknamed him “Colonel,” which stayed with him throughout his career at IU. When he was working at the University of Louisville, he was named a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor bestowed by the Governor of Kentucky.
Woodley brought a great attitude and an unmatchable energy to IU’s athletic bands. He has a lasting impact on IU from his band arrangements “Shout” by The Isley Brothers or “Slither” by the Stone Temple Pilots, to his outgoing personality and positivity that was contagious.
“Just getting to sit next to him in the stands in front of the band, the two of us would just constantly crack each other up. Even if the football team wasn't doing well, we had a good time and that always rubbed off on the band too,” Smedley said. “Even if it's raining and it's cold, and the football team's not doing great, the band is going to be having a good time.”