Director of Bands

Elva Kaye Lance

Elva Kaye LanceElva Kaye Lance is Director of Bands at Mississippi State University. Her current responsibilities include conducting the Wind Ensemble, providing leadership for the Famous Maroon Band, and administering all aspects of the band program. Ms. Lance also teaches methods classes within the Department of Music, serves as a collaborative pianist, and assist with student teacher supervision. A veteran music educator of thirty-eight years, she previously taught instrumental music in the public schools of Mississippi.

Now beginning her twenty-fifth year at Mississippi State, Ms. Lance has guided the band program through the recent completion of a multi-million dollar rehearsal facility, expansion of the band staff, and a student enrollment that now includes four concert bands, jazz band, two basketball pep bands, and a marching band that consistently enrolls more than 330 students. Under her leadership, the Wind Ensemble has performed for international concert audiences during a 2008 tour of the British Isles, a 2011 tour in Austria and Germany, and a 2014 tour in Italy. Ms. Lance maintains an active schedule as a clinician and adjudicator for both concert and marching band events throughout the country.

In 2011, she received the Edythe M. McArthur Outstanding Woman Band Director Award for the state of Mississippi, and in December was named 2015 Outstanding Bandmaster for Mississippi. She has served as the state chair for the College Band Director’s National Association and presently is the state chair for the National Band Association. She serves on the Diversity Committee and has served as a member of the Athletic Band Committee for the College Band Director’s National Association. She is President-Elect of the International Bandmaster’s Fraternity Phi Beta Mu. Additional professional memberships include the Mississippi Bandmasters Association, Kappa Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Iota, and the National Association for Music Education.

Associate Director of Bands

Clifton Taylor

Clifton TaylorDr. Clifton Taylor has served as Associate Director of Bands at Mississippi State University since 2005. At MSU, he co-directs the Famous Maroon Band and basketball pep bands, conducts the MSU Symphonic Band and the Jazz Ensembles, and teaches courses in the Department of Music. A native of Mississippi, he holds two music education degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a DMA in wind conducting from the University of South Carolina. A veteran teacher, Dr. Taylor has taught instrumental music at every level, from the elementary school to the community college, and currently directs the band program for the Starkville Homeschool Music Cooperative.

Dr. Taylor is regularly engaged in composing and arranging for concert band, marching band, and other media. His original concert band works are published by Grand Mesa Music Publishers and Maroon Tune Publications. He is also the composer and publisher of Honor Band Sight Reading Etudes. Now in its 3rd edition, the collection contains 87 etudes written for all-district and all-state auditions in Mississippi and Louisiana. Dr. Taylor also maintains a steady schedule as a performing trombonist, playing in symphonic, chamber, and jazz settings. He has served as the principal trombonist of the Meridian Symphony since 2002.

Dr. Taylor is affiliated with the College Band Directors National Association; the National Band Association; the Mississippi Bandmasters Association; Phi Beta Mu; Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia; Kappa Kappa Psi; and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. In addition to his work at MSU, he is the Director of Music at Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA), and serves as a leader of Trail Life USA Troop MS-0110.

Associate Director of Bands

Craig Aarhus

Craig AarhusDr. Craig Aarhus is Associate Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at Mississippi State University. At MSU, he co-directs the Famous Maroon Band and basketball pep bands, conducts the Concert Band and Campus/Community Band, and teaches Conducting and Brass Techniques in the Department of Music. As a member of the band faculty, Dr. Aarhus has been part of a team that has helped lead the band program to unprecedented growth, making it currently one of the largest bands in the Southeast.

A native of Alabama, Dr. Aarhus holds degrees in Music Education and Conducting from Auburn University and The University of Iowa, respectively. While at Iowa, he was the recipient of the prestigious Iowa Performance Fellowship and was a conducting student of Dr. Myron Welch. He also served as a graduate conductor for all of the concert bands, arranged music and wrote drill for the Hawkeye Marching Band, and was co-director of the Iowa Pep Band. During this time, he was also the director of the Southeast Iowa Concert Band at Iowa Wesleyan College for one year. Prior to his appointment at MSU, Dr. Aarhus was a successful high school and middle band director in the public schools of Lanett, Tallassee, and Mobile, Alabama.

Dr. Aarhus is a member of several professional organizations including Phi Beta Mu, College Band Directors National Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha, and the Mississippi Bandmasters Association. He is currently serving as a Governor for the Southeast District of Kappa Kappa Psi and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the National Band Association as the College/University Representative. Dr. Aarhus has been an adjudicator and clinician throughout the Southeast, Midwest, and in Canada, and is a contributing author to five volumes of the popular Teaching Music Through Performance in Band series. In 2010 and 2011, he was a recipient of the “StatePride” Award from the MSU College of Education for excellence in teaching, research, and service, and in 2015 he received the Clyde Muse Service Award for excellence in service. Dr. Aarhus has been a clinician/instructor at the Smith-Walbridge Drum Major Clinics for 18 years, and in that capacity has had the opportunity to teach hundreds of high school and college drum majors from across the country. He and his family reside in Starkville and are members of First Presbyterian Church, where he serves as Music Director.