GHSF Daily is expanding its Four Questions feature this season beyond head coaches to other voices in high school football. Today's interviewee is Jamont Lane, director of bands at South Atlanta High School. The Marching Hornets have traveled throughout the Southeast, performed for R&B recording artists 112 and New Edition and were recently featured in a music video with singer/actress Janelle Monae. About one in nine students at South Atlanta is in the marching band.
Jamont Lane, South Atlanta director of bands
1. What's your background in music and how did you get started with the South Atlanta band? "My interest in music began in Cleveland Avenue Elementary School, where I was introduced to the trumpet in the third grade. I continued to play at Crawford Long Middle School and was afforded the opportunity to participate with the high school band in seventh and eighth grade. While attending Walter F. George High School (present day South Atlanta High School), I participated in several extracurricular activities - band, football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and JROTC. However, nothing quite sparked my interest more than music. I knew then that I was destined for a career in music and dreamed of returning to my high school as a band director.
"Upon graduating with the first class of South Atlanta High School in 1995, I attended Morris Brown College and participated in the infamous Wolverine Band and in 2000 obtained a bachelor of arts degree in music education. I began my career teaching in the DeKalb County School District and served as an assistant band director at Towers High School. After only one semester, I was extended the opportunity to be the director of bands at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. Two and a half years later, I accepted the position of director of bands at my alma mater, South Atlanta High School, and the rest is history. It has been an honor and dream come true to be back home, and I am loving every minute."
2. How popular is the marching band at South Atlanta? "The marching band currently has 100-plus members including auxiliary, percussion, drum majors, brass and woodwind players. Over the years, there has been a steady decline in students' interest in band programs across metropolitan Atlanta. However, the strength of our band program and the tremendous support from parents and staff members has allowed us to maintain a steady group of participants. It is not typical for a school our size to have as many students in the band, but over the last few years we have experienced a growth surge. We provide a very active and inviting program that has attracted a lot of new students to the band. I am proud to say that many of our band members are the top students in the school. The band is probably the largest organization on campus, and larger than it has been since 2005. We welcome all students with open arms. All they need is desire, commitment and willingness to learn, and we take care of the rest."
3. What are some things that make South Atlanta's band unique? "One of the most special aspects of South Atlanta's band are the school colors. The unique color combination of purple and teal is like no other band program in the metropolitan area. I try to capitalize on that and have designed color schemes for our uniforms to truly make our band stand out during performances and competitions. We also have a unique performing style in which you can hear us before you see us. The band has a number of chants that can be heard long before you see the band. We also pride ourselves on our advanced marching drills, designs and dance routines during halftime shows and parades. I also challenge the students by interchanging songs and routines more regularly than most other band programs. We strive to keep the audience captivated at all performances. Our superb performances at footballs games have opened doors for a lot of exposure. We have participated in the Chick-fil-A Bowl parade, the Eggleston Children's Hospital Christmas Parade, Universal Studios STARS Performance in Orlando, Mardi Gras parades in Alabama and New Orleans, Battle of the Bands, and a host of other competitions and parades locally and nationally. Most notably, South Atlanta's band has performed for well-known R&B recording artists 112 and New Edition and was recently featured in a music video with R&B singer/actress Janelle Monae."
4. How important are those football weekends for the band? "Football weekends are extremely important for the band. Each game provides an opportunity to level up and showcase skills developed each week. At halftime, the field becomes the main stage for us, and we are always striving to make each performance better than the last. It is our job to support the football team during the entire game and keep them motivated on the field and keep the crowd engaged. Football weekends are what we look forward to in the fall. We do a lot of work in preparation in the offseason just as the football team does. It requires a lot of time and hard work to prepare for the demanding schedule of the football season. However, for South Atlanta's band program, football season is just the beginning. We are constantly performing, as a band is year round."
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