How The Georgia State Band Program Makes Homecoming Great

The Georgia State band is an essential part of football culture and keeping the crowd pumped. Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

As Homecoming season approaches, the Georgia State Band prepares for their parade and halftime performances. This time of the year is the most important for the band, as these are their most anticipated performances.

“The energy is a little different than a regular game because it’s Homecoming, so people tend to show up and show out more because of it,” Beavan Zulu, one of three drum majors for the band, said. “I definitely think that the band plays a huge role during game days, so we play the same if not a bigger role during Homecoming.”

One of the most exciting things the Georgia State Band does is the Homecoming parade which takes the band and Homecoming procession around campus in an ensemble of music and happiness.

“We do the Homecoming Parade where we lead the parade block while playing some tunes,” Zulu said. “Overall, we add a lot of the energy that makes Homecoming great.”

Though they do it differently every year, people are always excited to watch the parade, and it really sets the mood for the rest of the Homecoming festivities.

“Basically, we form a parade block by Sparks Hall, then march around campus with the Homecoming processional following behind us, and it’s really cool to see people storm out of buildings to catch a glimpse of what is happening,” Zulu said. “Plus, people who don’t usually get to see us have the opportunity to do so during that time, which I think is really cool.”

The band also plays during the Homecoming Game, in which the drum majors actually play an important part.

“I’m also one of the three drum majors,” Michael Ball said. “We conduct the band in the stands during the halftime show and during the pregame show.”

Georgia State Band alumni also join the band in the stands for the Homecoming performances, making it a very special moment for the band members.

“My favorite part is at the end of our halftime show, we have alumni band members come back and play the fight song with the current members,” Zulu said. “Also, throughout the game, the alumni members play with us in the stands, so it’s nice to see previously graduated members still being a part of the band.”

During the halftime performance, different Georgia State Band alumni are given their time to shine with special roles in the performance.

“These songs are conducted by former Panther Band drum majors, and the trombone solo in ‘Georgia “State” On My Mind’ is also played by an alum,” Ball said.

Alumni of all ages join the band to play the fight song and “Georgia ‘State’ On My Mind,” showing the personal connection past members have to the band.

“Last year, we had around 60 band alumni join us on the field for halftime, some even going as far back as 1977,” Kaylee Bramlett, a worker in the admin and operations office for the band program, said.

Not only does the Georgia State Band play a huge role in the Homecoming festivities, but they help shape a lot of student’s greatest life experiences. The band program itself offers many different bands and groups full of talented people and opportunities to someone interested in playing an instrument or music overall.

“The band program is comprised of concert and athletic bands,” Bramlett said. “We have three concert bands that perform regularly throughout the year and two athletic bands: Panther Band which is the marching band, and Panther Basketball Band. We also have a winter guard group that is the indoor color guard group that competes in the winter. They are nationally ranked and finalists in most competitions they compete in.”

There are also different things that set our band apart from others, one of these being our rock band.

“Something unique about our band is that we have a rock band in the front as opposed to a pit,” Bramlett said. “A pit is made of xylophones and other percussion instruments that you normally see with most marching band programs. We have electric guitars, drum set, keyboard and a keytar.”

The band at Georgia State  also accepts a variety of students, making it unique to bands you find at other universities.

“Our band is made of mostly non-music majors,” Bramlett said. “We have students ranging from first year freshmen to graduate students and non-traditional students.”

The band program has also participated in other big parades excluding the Homecoming parade, which are known as some of the band’s biggest public performances to date.

“We are well known for our big public performances in the Macy’s Day Parade in 2014 and the Inaugural Parade in 2013,” Bramlett said. “Hopefully, we’ll have more to add to the list soon.”

The band has also provided a family for all of its members. Its 263 members have found somewhere to feel at home and accepted.

“My favorite part about being in band is the people,” Zulu said. “As cheesy as it sounds, the members of the band are what make it so much fun to be a part of. I’ve made my closest friends through this organization and look forward to getting with all of them to make some music and cheer on our Panthers.”

Overall, the band creates an unbreakable relationship between its members. The more work the members put in, the closer together they grow together.

“For me being a band student meant gaining an entire second family.” Bramlett said. “The experience, dedication and hard work that you and over two hundred of your closest friends put into the activity establish a bond that is, in most cases, closer than any other relationship you have.”