From the beginning of her music training, Janet Lanier has always had an interest in all instruments and how music is put together. She did not begin composing music until in graduate school at West Texas State University (now WTAMU), but after looking back on her music experiences, she realized that composing was a natural step for her. Sitting in the bleachers during high-scholl football games, instead of watching the game, she would sit next to another band member who played a different instrument and would pick their brain about how it was played.
During those same high school years, she became interested in calligraphy and using manuscript pens to copy music. By copying and transcribing music of the masters, she got the feel of how music was written for various instruments and began to understand that the appearance of the manuscript could affect how the musician approaches the critical first reading. If the manuscript were sloppy, spaced awkwardly, etc., the musician will not have a very good attitude toward the music. Transcribing music allowed her to understand the character of each musical instrument and how each sounded in its various ranges.
In 2004, after composing and arranging numerous pieces for the Shepherd’s Trio and other ensembles and orchestras, she was asked by Steven Weber to consider arranging something for the Amarillo College graduation ceremony. Both Weber and Jim Rauscher, chairman of the Music Department at Amarillo College (and Shepherd’s Trio’s pianist), knew her style of writing. They commissioned her to write an arrangement of God Bless America to feature opera singer Mary Jane Johnson, the Amarillo College Choir, and Concert Band. It was her first experience writing for voices.