Phone: 803-641-2600, ext. 124
Degrees and Certifications:
B.M. Music Education - Appalachian State (2005) M.M. Music Education - Louisiana State (2011) Ed.S in Instructional Technology - Coastal Carolina (2017)
Mr. Neil Nelson
Neil Nelson is Director of Bands at South Aiken High School in Aiken, South Carolina, a position he has held since 2012. In this capacity, he guides all aspects of the band program including marching, jazz, and concert ensembles and teaches additional courses in guitar and AP Music Theory. Additionally, he also teaches music appreciation courses through the Aiken County Virtual Academy online.
Since his appointment as Director of Bands at South Aiken, the program has steadily grown in quality and size. The concert band program has received Superior ratings at the SCBDA Concert Band Performance Assessment multiple times and the Marching Thoroughbreds have received numerous first-place finishes and received its highest finish ever at the SCBDA Lower State Marching Band Championships in 2017.
He has served in a similar capacity as band director at South Rowan High School in China Grove, North Carolina (2005-2006) and Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington, North Carolina (2006-2009). Bands under his direction have been praised for their style of programming and have consistently received excellent and superior ratings at festivals and competitions.
Prior to coming to South Aiken, he served as a senior staff member at Grace Notes Music Studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he taught clarinet lessons, served as conductor of the studio’s youth and children’s string orchestra classes, and assisted with the teaching of the adult string classes. In addition to his duties at the studio, he also served as Assistant Band Director at St. Jude the Apostle School in Baton Rouge and taught band classes at Children’s Charter Elementary School.
He recently completed an Educational Specialist degree in Instructional Technology from Coastal Carolina University, graduating in December 2017. He continues to advocate for the integration of technology into the teaching and learning process and is qualified to serve in leadership positions related to the design, implementation, and use of technology in educational settings.
He holds a Master of Music degree in Music Education from Louisiana State University. During his time at LSU, he served as a graduate assistant to the music education department and taught undergraduate courses in instrumental techniques and supervised student teachers in addition to writing a Master’s thesis. He also pursued additional studies related to conducting under the guidance of Maestro Carlos Riazuelo. Undergraduate studies were completed at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina where he was an active member of the ASU Wind Ensemble and Marching Mountaineers. He is also the recipient of a prestigious North Carolina Teaching Fellowship.
As a clarinetist, he has performed with numerous university and community ensembles as a freelance musician. He is currently a performing clarinetist with the Palmetto Concert Band, a nationally recognized ensemble of professional and semi-professional musicians in the Columbia, South Carolina area. He has also been in demand as a private clarinet teacher, featuring students that have been honored with high placements at All-State and All-District events. He formerly served as Director of Instrumental Ministries at Riverland Hills Baptist Church in Irmo, South Carolina from 2014-2017.
His professional affiliations include NAfME: The National Association for Music Education, South Carolina Band Directors Association (SCBDA), Aiken County Band Directors Association, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), International Clarinet Association, National Band Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
He is happily married to Genny Nelson, orchestra director at Pelion Middle School in Lexington. They have four children (Matthew, Michael, Evangeline, and Stella) and the proud owner of five cats (Grey, Pepper, Alice, Rex, and Rue) and a miniature dachshund (Jasper).
Degrees and Certifications:
Mr. Austin Gantt
Austin Gantt is the Assistant Director of Bands at South Aiken High School. In this capacity, he assists in guiding the marching and concert bands at South Aiken.
He has prior music education experiences at Swansea High School, Parkwood High School, and Batesburg-Leesville High School, which are located in Swansea, South Carolina, Monroe, North Carolina, and Batesburg, South Carolina. He has taught percussion master classes, private lessons, and served as a Percussion Instructor for marching bands. While assisting at Batesburg-Leesville High School, the marching band placed 2nd at the SCBDA 1A State Championships (2018).
He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from Winthrop University. While at the Winthrop University, he performed in a multitude of ensembles including the Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Symphony Orchestra, Irish Ensemble, Pep Band, Theatre Pit Orchestra, the Percussion Ensemble, and West African Drum Ensemble. Highlights include being a performer in the West African Drum Ensemble when the group performed in Austin, Texas as the winners of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention's World Percussion Competition (2012).
His professional affiliations include the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), South Carolina Band Directors Association (SCBDA), Percussive Arts Society (PAS), and Delta Omicron Professional Music Fraternity.