Photos by Rome City Schools
The 2018 school year is here, and students and fans are preparing for another exhilarating thrill ride from Rome High School’s Sound of the Seven Hills. Chad Hannah gave music fans a preview of what they can expect this year.
The Wind Ensemble, Concert Band and Rome Jazz Bands are all key areas of focus for Hannah. He oversees band members from 6-12 grades. He attributes his success to the dedication of his students and the hard work of his Associate Directors David Warren, Tab Brown and Skip Stubblefield.
The start of the school year doesn’t begin in August. It begins in June for the students in the band. Hannah begins with an introduction to marching. There are several students who have experience and this lends itself to a quick review of their standards and practices. For the band members who haven’t marched, he and his team spend the time to train these students with the proper techniques.
“We usually have a large freshman class of kids who haven’t marched before. We have to show them which foot goes first, how the field is laid out and how we want them to look as they move from point A to point B on the field. We also train them on our terminology so all of our team is on the same page. We then give them two weeks off and in July, then hard work begins,” said Hannah
One of the tough things about being in the Rome Band is the amount of students participating.
“It’s great to have so many kids, but the problem is they are all so involved in other activities, not just the band. What does that mean for us? We have to get as much done during the summer as we can because the second week of high school is when some of our fall sports start up outside of football, and it pulls from some of our kids. We work them pretty hard during the summer so we can get them as much information as possible. That way when the school year starts the band members don’t feel overwhelmed,” explained Hannah.
When asked about the football half time shows for this year, Mr. Hannah said, “We have a different theme this year and we are calling it ‘The Machine.’ We came up with the idea of building a machine right in front of everyone’s eyes. As the show continues, the building of the machine continues. When we hit that last note the entire machine will start working. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but at the end I know the crowd will be amazed.”
Following the football season, the band moves to the stage to prepare concerts. There is always a Winter/Christmas concert all bands prepare for, and then in late February, the band will perform a spring concert that showcases their festival music. They follow up with one final concert at the end of the year that is always a surprise genre of music.
Hannah stays busy. He also directs, with the help of the assistant directors, Rome’s four Jazz bands. There are two at the high school level and two at the middle school level. A Winter Guard program that was started three years ago is also under his supervision.
“We have plenty of opportunities for the kids to continue to play and be involved while still sharing them with other school activities. First and foremost, we instill discipline and teach commitment throughout the program. We are all working towards a common goal. It’s very similar to what we do in athletics. The only difference is we are using music and they are using a ball. The core values we teach are the same. You have to have a strong work ethic, strong determination and be committed to the program,” said Mr. Hannah.
RMS also works very hard over the summer. Students have one week of practice to prepare for their fall marching exhibition performance during Rome’s annual marching festival, Peach State.
This year RMS will play two pieces, “Over the Rainbow” and “Aztec Gold.” Parents and supporters of the Rome Middle Band were treated to a preview show near the end of summer where they played their music to the stands in the gym.
Now in his third year teaching at Rome Middle, Tab Brown says he enjoys directing these students because of the strength of the program and their supporters.
“I have never seen this many kids involved in middle school band and this is such a big deal in our community,” Brown said. “Also the caliber of kids we are getting has remained on a really high level. Not only are they great musicians, but they are also great people. As directors, we want to pass along our knowledge of music to them. However, we also want to pass on character traits we think will help them later on in high school and even later in life.”