Look for a spotlight on Hall County area high school marching bands to be featured each Friday this fall.
There are two words Hannah Mayfield would use to describe the North Hall High School band.
“Energy and excitement,” said the senior drum major, without hesitation. “On the field and off.”
This year, the band has more reason for excitement than ever, as it moved into its new band room at North Hall’s new performing arts center.
“It’s great,” said said Kevin Carwile, North Hall’s band director. “It is awesome. Last year we were in the gym all year, because they had to tear down the old building to build this one. But this is outstanding, and they thought of everything. I think it’s cool that the district thinks we’re important enough to spend that kind of money on this.”
Mayfield agreed. It’s her fourth year as a member of North Hall’s band, and she said the facility is a welcome change.
“I went through the whole demolishing of our old band room,” she said. “It was heartbreaking, but it was relieving. When they first opened this new building — the soundproof walls, the details ... it means a lot.”
Junior drum major Abby Yori is in her first year at North Hall and her third band in three years. She moved to Hall County from Texas, where she was in two different high school bands.
“I was in Texas, and you know Texas, go big or go home,” she said. “So this is not the biggest one I’ve been in. But it is just great how everybody has moved in and found their way around here and settled in so well here, as well.”
The band uses the band room an hour during the school day and for practices after school. The group practices the music for its halftime show during the day, and Carwile helps fine-tune anything that needs editing.
The halftime show this year is called “Sweet,” comprising music with sugar, sweet or candy themes. Freshman Zoey Hall said the show is in three movements, with the final movement being the longest and most intricate.
“The first movement is ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ put together,” Carwile said. “The second movement is ‘I Want Candy’ and there’s a drum feature, and then the third movement is ‘sugar,’ and we do ‘Sugar, Sugar’ by the Archies, ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’ by Fall Out Boy and ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me.’ And then there’s a little recap at the end.”
Hall, who plays the clarinet, said she’s been playing music since the sixth grade, and it is her first year in marching band.
When asked what she enjoys about the band, Hall said, “Everything. I love it.”
Mayfield said the hardest thing about being drum major, and in the band in general, is managing its size.
“We’re grown from being an 80-member band my freshman year to being 136 this year,” she said. “it’s really new, but it’s amazing.”
Yori said the biggest challenge for her is leading those older than her. She, a 16-year-old junior, and 17-year-old senior Mayfield do more than conduct music from a platform. They act as ambassadors or liasons between Carwile and the rest of the band.
But the relationships created between band members are also one of Yori’s favorite things about the band.
“We all take care of each other,” Yori said. “Even though we might not each like every single person, we still care about them. And we can make them feel safe here, even if they don’t in normal high school life.”
Yori said because she’s never been in a marching band for more than one year, she has an interesting perspective coming into the band at North Hall.
“This band, out of all the ones I have experienced, has more friendship and excitement within the band than any other,” she said. “There’s no division. A flute player can hang out with a French horn player and it doesn’t matter. It’s a lot of fun all the time.”