Darrin Thornton

  • Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Outreach; Teaching Professor of Music
  • Interim Head of Graphic Design
  • Music Education

104 Borland Building

Darrin Thornton


Darrin Thornton believes music plays a universal role in our humanity and everyone has the ability to be musical throughout the course of life. His professional career has focused on teaching toward lifelong musical engagement in the public schools and providing leadership that fosters the musical engagement of adults from college students to retirees.

Thornton is associate dean for academic affairs and outreach, and a teaching professor of music. His teaching areas include music education foundations, secondary instrumental methods and techniques courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels; and formerly served as an assistant director for the Penn State Marching Blue Band. He was named the interim head of the Department of Graphic Design for the spring 2024 semester.

Thornton’s research interests include teacher preparation and continued professional development, educational access, and outreach, learning in ensemble settings, and lifelong music engagement. Thornton further contributes to the field of music education as a performing percussionist, conductor, adjudicator, clinician, guest lecturer, and consultant, while providing professional and administrative service to the school, college, and professional organizations. He was appointed Musical Director and Conductor of the State College Area Municipal Band in 2018.

Prior to his School of Music appointment, he taught band/instrumental music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in the state of New York; served on the conducting faculties at the University of Missouri and SUNY-Fredonia; and held administrative posts at the University of Missouri, SUNY-Fredonia, and Penn State.