The Southwest Dekalb High School Band Program has established a tradition of excellence and quality in musical performance. Hailing from Decatur, GA, with a membership of 230-plus students, the program offers many performance options. Along with the marching band, there are two symphonic large ensembles, the SWD Wind Symphony and the SWD Symphonic Band (both performing level VI literature). There are also two concert bands, a jazz ensemble, and various small instrumental ensembles. The Georgia Music Educators Association has rated the bands and ensembles superior in performance for ninteen consecutive years. Students in the band program consistently place high and in large numbers in the District IV Honor Bands. About 20% of honor band participants yearly are from the Southwest Dekalb High School Band Program. The Southwest Dekalb HS Band is also represented at the GMEA All-State Bands, the Georgia Governor's Honors Program, The Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony, the Metro Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble/ Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program.
The Southwest Dekalb High School Wind Symphony is the top group of four concert bands. The Wind Symphony is a vehicle for exposing our strongest musicians to the most challenging and significant works of the wind band repertoire. This group has performed at past GMEA Annual Inservice Conference. In spring 2009, the Southwest Dekalb HS Wind Symphony performed at the Music For All/ Bands of America National Concert Band Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana. This annual event features the country’s finest concert ensembles which are selected by tape audition. Also in 2009, the Wind Symphony performed at the HBCU Band Directors Consortium in Atlanta, GA. In 2011 the Wind Symphony performed at the University of Georgia January High School Band Festival (JanFest) in Athens, GA. In 2012 the Wind Symphony performed at the Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference in Savannah, GA and at the Kennesaw State University Concert Band Invitational Festival.
ASIS International Convention Opening Ceremony September 15, 2008
Ranking high among the many proud traditions of Southwest Dekalb High School is the highly acclaimed Marching Panther Band. The marching band is recognized for its perfection in musicianship, precision in marching, and innovative, high-energy performances. The key to the success of "The Best Band in the Land" is its commitment to artistic excellence, discipline and hard work. The SWD Band has performed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the Carnival of Flowers in Nice, France, performed for two United States President, and for the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. In the fall of 2002, the SWD Band was featured as an exhibition band at the Bands of America Grand National Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana. Along with many local parades and events, the SWD Bands has also performed for numerous Atlanta Falcons Halftime Shows, as well for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream Basketball Team. Recently the SWD Band was prominently featured in the 20th Century Fox movie "Drumline". The movie featured the band students as members of the fictional hero college band (Atlanta A&T University) in both music and field drill situations. The Southwest Dekalb Marching Panther Band traveled to California to participate in the 2006 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The band has again been invited and will return to Pasadena, CA to march in the 2011 Rose Parade. In fall of 2006,the SWD Band was a featured performing group during the world premier of hip hop artist Andre 3000’s (OutKast) new cartoon “Class of 3000”, which was held at the FOX Theatre in Atlanta. The world premier and the cartoon were produced and aired on the Cartoon Network. In 2007, the SWD Marching Band was featured in an eight episode reality television show titled “DRUMROLL: SWD.” Produced by music mogul Dallas Austin, the series captured the day to day routine and events of the marching band program. “DRUMROLL: SWD” appeared on the Peachtree TV network, a division of Turner Broadcasting. Music education and bands are a vital part of the total school and community culture at SWD.