David Stanley

Associate Director of Bands; Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

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David J. Stanley works as a teacher and musician to champion public music education, affirm regional identity, and promote community.

Raised in Emory, Virginia, Stanley is an eleventh-generation Southwest Virginian who knows rural Appalachia is frequently stereotyped as simple or unsophisticated—characteristics he was encouraged to challenge. It seems appropriate to note that David was an overly inquisitive child. His father (probably just hoping for quiet) offered the sage advice, “sometimes you learn more just by listening to people than by asking them a lot of questions.” A healthy combination of curiosity and listening proved meaningful. Developing these skills as a teacher in an urban high school, Stanley came to understand seemingly opposite communities as more connected than separate. Together, they underscored the importance of musicians who listen, invest, and act: artistic citizens of place.

Now, Dr. Stanley aims to empower such citizenship. As Associate Director of Bands at Furman University, he helps lead a comprehensive ensemble and music education program. Prior to his appointment at Furman, he was a conducting associate at the University of Georgia, where he earned the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts, studying with Cynthia Johnston Turner and Nicholas Williams. Interdisciplinary work in conducting, music education, and justice culminated with his dissertation, “Listening for Community: Ensembles of Purpose and Place,” which explored an ensemble’s potential to create community and teach artistic values supportive of a democratic society.

From 2014-2018, Stanley served as Director of Bands for William Fleming High School in Roanoke, Virginia and was responsible for overseeing the program’s complete structural reorganization. An alumnus of Furman during the tenures of directors Leslie Hicken and Jay Bocook, he completed the Bachelor of Music Education, serving in a variety of leadership capacities including Drum Major.

Dr. Stanley is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA), and the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA). He recognizes these institutions must listen honestly to their past, and he is focused on using his membership to pose direct questions about work toward a more just future. David and his wife, Molly—who is also a Furman graduate, musician and educator—have a young son, Tucker.


  • D.M.A., Conducting, University of Georgia
  • M.M., Conducting, University of Georgia
  • B.M., Music Education, Furman University

Research Interests

I believe in the unique power of a large ensemble setting to cultivate citizenship that embraces artistic values like creativity, collaboration, communication, and improvisation. I am curious about ensemble pedagogy and rehearsal techniques that help achieve it. I am passionate about public music education, particularly as it relates to both rural and urban communities, settings that are sometimes described as high-need educational environments. Such work requires leaders willing to embrace localized, place-based values that develop distinct, sustainable, and just communities. While my chosen field for these studies is music (and the band ensemble, specifically), I believe an interdisciplinary approach is vital. Furman's commitment to the liberal arts underscores this, helping to reveal a rich diversity of thoughts and experiences.


  • "Fixer Upper: How Staying the Course Amid the Unfamiliar Helped Me Redefine Success & Rebuild an Ensemble." Georgia Music News 81, no. 2 (Fall 2020): 16-21
  • "Why 'Appalachian Spring' is about Appalachia." Roanoke Times, February 23, 2020.