David Thornton Associate Director of Bands and Director of the Spartan Marching Band


  • Conducting

118 Music Building
East Lansing, MI 48824

(517) 355-7654


David Thornton joined the faculty of the Michigan State University College of Music (MSU) in the fall of 2015 as Assistant Director of Bands.  In 2017 he was appointed as the Associate Director of Bands and the Director of the Spartan Marching Band (SMB). In this role, Thornton is the conductor of the MSU Symphony Band and teaches courses in instrumental conducting, and marching band methods.  As the director of the SMB, Dr. Thornton is the principle drill writer and show designer for the 300-member Spartan Marching Band. In addition to his role with the SMB, Dr. Thornton also oversees the Spartan Brass athletic band program that performs at all basketball, volleyball, and hockey events.

Thornton maintains an active schedule with engagements throughout the United States as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator.  He has presented at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, Michigan Music Conference, and the Florida Music Educators Association Conference.  In addition to clinician and performance engagements, his arrangements and transcriptions have been performed by ensembles at Michigan State as well as at national and international events. During his career as a conductor, Thornton has worked with a number of notable composers in the preparation, performance, and/or recording of their works for the wind band medium. Recent artistic collaborations include Omar Thomas, Ricardo Lorenz, John Corigliano, Steven Bryant, and Andrew David Perkins.  His leadership with the MSU Symphony Band has also been nationally recognized with their invitation to perform at the 2020 North Central Division CBDNA Conference at DePaul University.

Dr. Thornton earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in Wind Conducting from Michigan State University and his bachelor’s degrees in Clarinet Performance and Music Education from Florida State University. Prior to coming to MSU, Thornton taught in the state of Florida where he was the Assistant Director of Bands at Eau Gallie High School (Melbourne) and most recently the Director of Bands at Leon High School (Tallahassee).

His professional affiliations include the College Band Directors National Association, Michigan Music Educators Association, Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, Phi Mu Alpha, and Kappa Kappa Psi.

Spartan Marching Band Website