“Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.” – Jimi Hendrix
If this quote by the late, great Jimi Hendrix proves correct, then Southern University Director of Bands Nathan Haymer is the truth.
He has always had music in his blood. Born in Baton Rouge, La., Haymer moved to Gulfport, Miss. at 8 years old and later graduated from Gulfport High School. It was at GHS his musical talents flourished and he became a model band member. He was recognized as an all-State French horn player and the high school’s first African-American drum major. But it was during his undergraduate years at Southern that Haymer was able to hone his musical acumen and allow music to change his world.
Under the tutelage of the late, great Southern University Marching Band Director Isaac Greggs, Haymer thrived in the ensemble’s brass section and excelled as a trombonist, an instrument he taught himself to play. He became Trombone Section Leader of the marching and symphonic bands. All of his efforts climaxed during his senior year when he was awarded the coveted Bandsman of the Year Award.
Though Haymer’s musical talents thrived as an undergraduate, it was his maturation after finishing at Southern with a Bachelor in Instrumental Music Education that secured the groundwork to become a helmsman of bands. He was immediately selected as the band director at Washington-Marion Magnet High School (Lake Charles, La.). During his five-year tenure at WMHS, he developed a band program that has now become a comprehensive model for other prep directors to follow. Under his direction, the band received numerous accolades throughout Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee and garnered over $20,000 in prizes. He created WMHS’s first concert band, which performed at the 2001-02 District Festival of the Louisiana Music Educators Association. The Concert Band, along with his esteemed Wind Ensemble received many Superior and Excellent ratings throughout the 2001-05 academic years.
Haymer’s leadership perspicacity grew while at WMHS, along with his goals to grow as an administrator. He later received a Master’s in Leadership for Higher Education from Capella University and earned his Plus 30 in Music Education from McNeese State University. It was then, in 2006, Haymer returned back to Southern as the Assistant Director of Bands. He was tasked as the chief arranger for the marching band, leader of band rehearsals; supervisor of the dance routing committee; director of the Jaguars basketball team’s pep band; instructor of the sight-reading and development courses, and conductor of the well-regarded symphonic band.
Though many may believe all of those roles may be too many for one person, Haymer didn’t shy from handling additional roles as the Human Jukebox’s director, where his role surpasses music and delves into education and administrative capacities.
Haymer, who became the Director of Bands in Summer 2014, is now responsible for every aspect of the Southern University Band program. He conducts and oversees all department ensembles, including the world-renowned Human Jukebox. In addition, he is a recruiter, mentor and ambassador of the university. As an endowed professor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, he is charged with researching and developing innovative strategies to secure grants and other funding for recruitment and retention. Haymer is an educator and charged with the preparation of other music educators in elementary and secondary education.
Ever the proverbial multitasker, Haymer also serves as an adjudicator and clinician to middle and high school bands throughout the U.S., including the Virgin Islands; and is the coordinator of the annual Southern University Summer High School Band & Dance Team Camp.
His professional affiliations include Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon, International Professional Music Fraternity, Music Educators National Conference, Louisiana Music Educators Association and HBCU National Band Directors Consortium. And to exit on a high note, Haymer is on schedule to receive his doctorate in education.
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