Red Bay band works to grow, improve

By Brandi Miller for the FCT

By now most everyone is beginning to accept the reality that school has started back, and everyone is beginning to settle into a familiar routine.  With that familiar routine, students on Red Bay High School’s campus can expect to hear familiar sounds coming from the band hall in the afternoons.  The RBHS band can be heard either in the band hall or on the practice field getting ready for their Friday night performances, and it is an exciting sound to everyone on campus.

One reason the music carries so far, and the reason the band is sounding better than ever, is the increase in members – largely because of the popularity and hard work of second-year band director Johnathon Hill and his wife Elizabeth.

“We have 40 members this year,” said Hill. “We also have some student helpers to assist in making things go smoothly on Friday nights.”

With 40 members strong, the RBHS marching band promises to be entertaining this year at the halftime show. “We have worked very hard on the music this year (for the halftime show),” said Hill. “Our hope is that the audience can see, hear, appreciate and enjoy all the effort these students have put into the halftime show.”

An amazing performance isn’t something that just comes together by working when school begins. The members of the band endured the Alabama heat in August to prepare, spending many hours practicing and learning new material.

“We did two weeks of band camp to intently focus on the music,” said Hill.  “The song selections for this year’s show are much more technically difficult than these students have ever attempted before. I am extremely proud of how they have risen to the challenge.”

Behind senior drum major Eliza Williams and junior band captains Anna Jackson and Ethan Ray, the younger members of the band have exceptional role models to pattern themselves after. All three leaders work hard and always strive to do their best.

“We’ve all worked so hard in preparation for this year,” said Jackson.  “We’ve learned lots of new music and can’t wait to keep the crowd entertained during Friday nights.”

Hill agreed with his band captain and said he is pleased with the direction his band is heading.

“Our chant is Family, Respect and Dedication,” said Hill. “A lot of these kids have really begun to internalize and apply it. I can see a difference in the way they interact with each other and approach issues or challenges that arise. “

Also returning to this year’s lineup for the band is veteran twirler sophomore Madison Fierro. Fierro spends many hours perfecting her routines and takes part in competitions and camps outside of school. On the field twirling this year with Fierro will be Layla Bilstein. This is Bilstein’s first year as a majorette with the RBHS band.

The color guard features five girls who will add another level of entertainment to the halftime performance. Taylor Brown, Kaylea Knoblock, Lauren Ehler, Ashley Clements and Myah Jackson all have spent countless hours perfecting routines and synching their movements for the performances.

“We are excited to see where this year goes and see how much better we get,” said Ray.  “We have put in a lot of hard work, but it has all payed off.”

Most would agree the hard work by everyone in the band is apparent, and students can be heard between classes telling the band how great they sounded on Friday night.

“I hope this momentum continues to propel us forward,” said Hill, “and that we aspire to achieve more each week.”

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