news-category: Campus News

Gardner-Webb University Announces New Director of Athletic Bands

GWU Marchin' Bulldogs Band at BBQ Bowl 2021

Sarah Fabian, of Iowa, Brings Extensive Experience as Educator and Drum Corps Clinician 

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Officials at Gardner-Webb University have named Sarah Fabian as the director of Athletic Bands. Fabian is originally from Baltimore, Md. However, she currently resides in Storm Lake, Iowa as the director of Bands at Buena Vista University. Fabian has an extensive history in the drum and bugle corps circuit. She currently works with the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, a performance group within Drum Corps International.

“I am grateful to Michael Henderson and his staff for stepping in as interim director at well past the 11th hour to get our Marching Bulldogs back on the field this fall,” praised GWU President Dr. William Downs. “What a joy it was to hear the GWU fight song played with energy at each and every home football game!  Now, after a national search, we are excited to welcome Sarah Fabian to Gardner-Webb to serve as director of Athletic Bands. Sarah’s passion for recruiting new band members and for growing our ‘Power Sound of The Springs’ means that great things lie ahead for our student musicians and for our fans. It’ll be big, it’ll be fun, and it’ll be a feast for the eyes and ears … I can’t wait!”

Sarah Fabian

In her new role, Fabian will report directly to Dr. Shawn Holt, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She will be responsible for building the GWU marching band program and coordinating the recruitment of prospective students, academic support, skill instruction, practice, performance planning and execution. Some of her other duties include providing one-on-one instruction, ensemble instruction, event management, developing alumni contacts, promoting fund-raising initiatives, budget planning and oversight. She will also manage large group events, including summer music camps, music festivals, and marching competitions.   

Fabian is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Music Education from George Mason University. Before that, she graduated from both Towson University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education with a concentration in percussion, and Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, where she earned her master’s in music education.

Fabian has also worked with many other Drum Corps and Winter Guard International groups. One of the reasons she was excited to return to Gardner-Webb was her experience she had while marching with Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps. They held their spring training on Gardner-Webb’s campus and she has very fond memories of the university and Boiling Springs. “A performance group that I was a part of spent over a month living on the beautiful campus of Gardner-Webb,” Fabian related. “Now that I am the director of Athletic Bands, I’m hoping to be able to continue to provide experiences like mine and recreate those fond memories with our current student musicians on campus.”

Fabian is a frequent guest presenter and guest conductor on marching band development, concert band, jazz ensemble techniques and honor bands. Fabian is a member of the International Society for Music Education, College Band Directors’ National Association, Northwest Iowa Band Masters Association, and a chapter advisor for the National Association for Music Educators. Fabian is also a Vic Firth Educator and before starting her Ph.D. studies, she was a Director of Percussion and Assistant Director of Bands for a High School in Baltimore, Maryland. Now, she is ready to add her talents to marchers and musicians at Gardner-Webb.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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