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Due to forecasted hazardous road conditions, day and evening classes in Cullowhee are suspended after 2 p.m., Biltmore Park instructional site after 1 p.m.
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David Starnes

School of Music
Assistant Professor, Director of Athletic Bands

Phone: 828-227-2259
Office Address: Coulter 274


  • B.S. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Instrumental Music Education, 1988


Mr. David Starnes joined the School of Music faculty at Western Carolina University in the spring of 2011, when he was named Assistant Professor in The School of Music and appointed the Director of Athletic Bands. During his tenure at Western Carolina University, The “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band has performed as halftime entertainment for the Carolina Panthers (2011), the exhibition band at The Bands of America Southeast Regional in Atlanta, Georgia (2011), the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana (2012, 2015) and the 88th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City (2014). In 2013, he was selected by the WCU School of Music faculty and students as the recipient of the James E. Dooley Excellence in Music Teaching Award.

 Prior to his appointment at WCU, he served as the Director of Bands at Kennesaw Mountain High School in Kennesaw, Georgia for ten years. As the founding Director of Bands at Kennesaw Mountain High School (2000), the band program grew from its initial 85 students to over 250 members.  Under his direction, Kennesaw Mountain High School was recognized in all areas of performance for their achievements at local, state, and national levels including concert band, jazz band, marching band, winter guard and winter percussion. They are a six-time national finalist at the Bands of America Grand National Championships, being named the 2004 Bands of America “AAA National Champion” and a four-time Regional Champion in Bands of America events. In December of 2003, the John Philip Sousa Foundation presented the Kennesaw Mountain High School Band the prestigious “Sudler Shield of Excellence” for outstanding achievement in marching band.  In 2005, the band appeared in the 79th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.  The Kennesaw Mountain High School Wind Symphony performed at the 60th Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic held in Chicago, Illinois in December of 2006.

Mr. Starnes is sought out nationally and internationally as an adjudicator, clinician, guest conductor, and creative designer. In 2016, he was appointed a member of the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Shield Jury and named a member of the Yamaha Master Educator program. In 2013, he joined the staff of Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps, where he currently serves as Design Staff Coordinator. Mr. Starnes serves as Board Chairman for United Sound, a nationally recognized special needs music education program. He served as an adjudicator for several state, national, and international organizations including Bands of America, Winter Guard International, and Drum Corps International from 1994-2012. In addition to his position at Western Carolina University, he serves as an Education Consultant at Music For All in Indianapolis, Indiana.  While fulfilling this role, he serves as the program director for The Honor Band of America, who appeared in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017.

As a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mr. Starnes graduated magna cum laude from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1988. He is married to Rhea Jeanne Starnes, an Architect, and has a daughter, Hannah, who works as an Interior Designer in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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