Director of Bands
Mr. Christian W. Smith is currently in his 25th year as Director of Bands at George Walton Academy. He attended Columbus State University for two years and studied under the direction of Mr. Don Strand to obtain a Tuba Performance degree. After his two years at Columbus State, Mr. Smith was driven to continue his studies in music at the University of Georgia in Athens to pursue a degree in music education, while continuing his tuba studies with the late Dr. David Randolph. During his collegiate career at the university, Mr. Smith also studied conducting under the direction of Dr. H. D. Satterwhite, Dr. John Culvahouse, Mr. Mark Cedel and the late Dr. Pierce Arant. Mr. Smith began teaching as the Assistant Band Director at Wheeler High School in Marietta, GA. After a year there, he then became the director of bands at George Walton Academy in Monroe, GA. The band program has grown from 31 students to 160 students in his 25 years at George Walton. Mr. Smith has established six instrumental ensembles consisting of fifth grade through 12th-grade students. Two of the ensembles include the Marching Bulldog Band and the GWA Symphonic Winds. Under his direction, the GWA Marching Bulldog Band and the Symphonic Winds have received superior ratings, numerous Best in Class awards, Three Silver Grand Championships and one USSBA National Championship. The Symphonic Winds performed as a guest band at the University of Georgia Midfest Clinic and Mr. Smith received a Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association awarded by Dr. John Culvahouse. Mr. Smith lives with his wife, Mary, and is the proud father of his two daughters, Madison and Ella. Mr. Smith’s professional affiliations include: the Georgia Music Educators Association, National Band Association, and he is an alumnus of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
GWA Welcomes Ian Cornelius as
Assistant Band Director
Ian Cornelius is a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. He grew up in the small town of Perry, Georgia and loves the community possible in small towns. He is no stranger to George Walton Academy. In 2021, he worked with marching band during their summer band camp. In his four years in college, Ian has worked with numerous band programs and has taught private piano, guitar, horn, and trumpet lessons. Also, Ian served in several ministry leadership and worship roles. These include an internship with SWAT Ministries, Beech Haven Church’s student ministry and college ministry, and on campus and abroad with UGA’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM). Currently he serves as the worship leader at Graystone Church in Oconee for their student ministry.
“I am overjoyed with the opportunity to serve alongside director Christian Smith in cultivating young leaders through intentional music making. I have been blessed by many phenomenal music educators and am excited to give back to a field that has afforded me so many rich experiences. The calling on my life to invest in the next generation through education is clear. I am thankful for the opportunity to begin this journey at George Walton Academy and hope to make a positive impact on students, fellow faculty, and the community for as long as I am graced to be here.”
Mr. Viar is a strong advocate for music education. He was a music education major at East Carolina University where he studied with Mark Ford (Director of Percussion at University of North Texas) and Carroll Dashiell (Maceo Parker, Bobby Watson, Ray Charles). He gives clinics for school programs, camps and teaches whenever possible. During his GWA tenure, GWA has won Grand Champion at various USBands (YEA/USSBA) regionals. In 2010 the band was recognized as the Class VI National Champions as the fifth highest scoring band and the second highest scoring percussion unit out of 98 qualifying bands. As Director of Percussion, he teaches private lessons, arranges and teaches the marching percussion, and coordinates the percussion ensemble. His goal as an educator is to mix a solid fundamental curriculum with real-world experience to prepare students who would like to continue playing drums and percussion seriously, study percussion in college, and/or play professionally. In addition to teaching, he has written and arranged for numerous high school and college bands across the country.