Evans High School Band Director Reid Hall knew as a teen that she wanted to make a career of sharing her love of music with young musicians.
“By my junior year (in high school), I had the bug,” said Hall, who is a saxophonist. “I think it all started with my own personal love of playing, of making music and knowing that I could affect people’s emotions through my playing.”
Hall’s colleagues agreed she made the right career choice when they named her the Georgia Music Educators Association 2012 Music Educator of the Year. She received the award at the association’s annual conference in Savannah on Jan. 25.
“It is huge,” Evans Middle School Band Director Candy White said of Hall’s award. “I was so excited. It was well-deserved and long overdue.”
White was among a group of local band directors who nominated Hall for the award. Hall’s knowledge, reliability and active involvement in the state organization and events were big factors in her nomination, White said.
Despite being busy running the high school band program, Hall visits her former Evans Middle band room to help White with sixth grade beginning musicians a few times a week.
“She’s great,” White said. “The kids love her. She’s got a great rapport with them.”
Hall said she was surprised at the award, and the fact that the award comes from fellow music educators means a lot, she said.
“It was a very pleasant surprise,” Hall said. “After 25 years of teaching, I am constantly evaluating what I do. Am I effective in what I’m doing? Sometimes it’s really nice to have that pat on the back from your peers. That felt really good.”
Hall, who comes from a family of math-oriented teachers and engineers, said she considered an engineering career. But teachers and coaches in her hometown of York, S.C., encouraged Hall to teach.
After cramming five years of music studies into four at Winthrop University, Hall said it was luck that a teaching job in Columbia County opened up.
“I’ve been very fortunate and lucky to be at the right place at the right time,” Hall said.
In 1987, Hall came on as Evans High’s assistant band director under veteran Richard Brasco. Two years at his side proved invaluable.
After 13 years leading Evans Middle’s band program, Hall rejoined Brasco for his last year of teaching in 2002-2003 and took over as director in 2003.
Hall rarely sits still, leading daily band classes, rehearsals before and after school, special state events, trips and the marching and competition bands during marching season. It’s definitely not the typical teaching job that ends at 3 p.m. and includes summers off.
There’s always music in Hall’s band room, even when there isn’t class. But she’s happy to see her students so enthralled with music that they spend their free time in the band room playing.
“When it’s quiet, I have to wonder if something’s wrong,” said Hall. “I love the fact that they feel like this is a safe place, they know they can come here and be comfortable.”
Hall, who has no children of her own, spends so much time with roughly 200 students who often spend all four years in her program that she considers them family.
“That’s what’s so much fun when you see them take off with their music,” Hall said. “And you know that will stick with them for a long time. This is something that will be important to them for the rest of their lives.”
In addition to the marching band that performs at football games and parades, Hall also directs the competition band.
“They really like doing the hard stuff,” Hall said of the competition band, which started more than five years ago. “That’s pretty rewarding.”
One of the perks, and the headaches, of being a band director is the trips. Hall said she loves exposing her students to different cultures and experiences. Hall led the band to performances in the Lord Mayor’s Parade in London twice, the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade and to Hawaii in 2008.
Hall said she’s not yet planning retirement, but she thinks of how she’ll cope with the slower pace of life. “That’ll be interesting when I retire. What am I going to do to stay sane?” Hall said. “I’ll have to do something. I’ll be climbing the walls if I don’t have something to do.”