More than 20 years ago, Anthony Gaskin was the drum major for Greenwood High School’s band.

Now, he’s the director.

A Greenwood native, Gaskin graduated from high school in 1996 before going to Lander University for music education.

But his passion for music started when he was much younger.

“I guess I kind of recognized it within myself when I was in the third grade,” Gaskin said. “My music teacher at Woodfields Elementary, she allowed us to purchase recorders, and man, it was like magic playing the recorder back then.”

When Gaskin went to Southside Junior High School, he joined the band playing the trumpet.

“From that point on, it’s definitely been a passion that I’ve followed, and to be honest, it really is the gift that keeps on giving,” Gaskin said.

During his junior year of high school, he knew he wanted to be a teacher, but he couldn’t decide between math and music.

“It was either math or music,” Gaskin said. “They’re very different, but they’re very similar. And I basically come from a family of math lovers.”

Gaskin enjoyed math a lot in high school because of the teacher he had, but ultimately, he decided to pursue music education when he graduated.

“It was a hard decision but my reasoning was, if I was a math teacher, I would only be able to teach a few students throughout the year, but if I was a band director, I could form relationships with students from the time they were ninth-graders to the time they continue taking band, and you really begin to form those meaningful relationships that educators get to enjoy with their students,” Gaskin said.

Mark Dean was Gaskin’s guidance counselor and track coach while he was a student at Greenwood High, but he was also the principal of Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School while Gaskin was band director there for the past four years.

“It’s one thing to be someone who’s very driven and has very high expectations what you want them to do, but it’s another thing to do that and not provide support accordingly if they do need it,” Dean said. “He doesn’t leave them by the wayside.”

Dean said during Gaskin’s four years at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, he’s already had students go on to play band in college.

“My understanding, prior to his arrival, the band really wasn’t very successful — wasn’t highly regarded,” Dean said. “Not only did the numbers increase — it’s one thing to have numbers — but the numbers were very talented numbers. He’s had a number of young people that have done some things in various events, won some recognition and went on to college to play.”

For Greenwood High, Gaskin’s arrival has brought new excitement.

Kay Tuck, parent of a band student and member of the Band Booster Club board, said Gaskin moved her when she first heard him speak.

“He made this comment, he said, ‘I knew when I was senior year’s drum major, one of my goals in life was to be able to come back here and be the band director,’” Tuck said. “And that literally gave me chills when he said that, because my daughter’s in here, and if somebody has a passion for that long, to come back to this band — that really just stood out to me.”

Tuck said when watches him engage with the students, she sees the band’s potential.

“This is just a new phase for our band,” Tuck said. “He was in it, and he knows what it can be.”

Contact staff writer Ariel Gilreath at 864-943-5644 or follow on Twitter @IJARIELGILREATH.