Jim Otto was a public school music teacher for 37 years before retiring in June of 2017. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. After a year as Graduate Assistant to the Michigan Marching Band, Jim began his career as Director of Bands at Hillsdale Community Schools. While at Hillsdale, he earned his Master’s degree in Brass Winds Performance from the University of Michigan. In 1986 he moved on to Dearborn Edsel Ford High School where he taught for 15 years. He was Department Chair responsible for overseeing the Music Humanities curriculum and Director of the Marching Band, Jazz Band, Orchestra, Symphony Band and Concert Band. In 2001, Jim was hired to be the Director of Bands at Beach Middle School in Chelsea and Associate Director of the Chelsea High School Bands. He is currently an adjunct instructor at Albion College teaching Horn and Brass Techniques classes, and a School Service Representative with Marshall Music Company. In 2016 Jim was invited to guest conduct the Capital City Brass Band with the position becoming permanent in 2017.
During his career, Jim has served the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association as Vice President for Band and Orchestra and President of District 8. He was District 12 Vice President for Marching Band, Solo and Ensemble and President, and he has served as State VP for Jazz and Chairperson for the Conducting Workshop. He was voted Orchestra Teacher of the Year for District 12 in 1995. He is an adjudicator for the Solo and Ensemble Festivals and Band and Orchestra Festivals. In 2010, he was elected to be a member of the American School Band Directors Association.
Jim also currently plays French Horn with The Liberty Brass Quintet. He has performed with the Croswell Opera House in Adrian, the Chelsea Area Players, the Dearborn Symphony, Plymouth Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Jackson Symphony, soloist and first horn with the Hillsdale College/Community Orchestra as well as many other regional community orchestras and brass ensembles.
He is married to the love of his life, Sarah, who shares his love of animals. Together they have 3 horses, 2 cats and a dog. They have a smart, talented son named Logan who is in high school and also plays the horn.