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J.R. grew up in Western Michigan where he was a member of the Jenison marching band. While still in high school, he began his arranging career with the assistance of his band director. His first marching band arrangements were performed in 1993 while he was still a senior in high school. While attending Michigan State University and performing in the Spartan Marching Band, he continued working with Jenison as well as other high school marching bands in the state. His first concert band arrangements were premiered in 1995 internationally. He began writing for the Spartan Marching band in 1997 while still an undergrad. Upon completing his degree in Instrumental Music Education, he accepted the position of beginning band and orchestra director for Kalamazoo Public Schools. He also continued his work with Jenison as well as directing their top jazz band.
In 2000, he moved to central Illinois to begin work on his masters degree in Music Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There he assisted with the Marching Illini, directed the Basketball Band, guest conducted the concert bands, and taught a class on wind arranging. He began writing music and drill for the Marching Illini in 2000. Upon completion of his degree, he moved back to Michigan to focus all of his energies into arranging and drill writing.
Along with writing drill and music for university, high school, and special events like the Rose Bowl and the Orange bowl, he has also served on the board of directors of the Michigan Color Guard Circuit. He continues to judge actively all over the United States as well as working as a clinician for high schools and universities. In 2007, he became a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He is also a member of the National Band Association (NBA). He now lives with his wife Jen and cats Oreck and Dyson in Farmington Hills where he avoids mowing the lawn, armchair coaches the Red Wings from the safety of his couch, and tries to make sure dinner is on the table for his wife when she gets home.