Norris Returns To Gaffney High!!

Return of interim band director Mr. Norris to Gaffney High School to help during the Band Of Gold’s time of need!

Norris Returns To Gaffney High!!

Kyndra Peterson, Co-Editor In Chief

 Students, staff, and parents alike have recently been introduced to a new member of staff and the interim director for the Gaffney High School Band of Gold for the remainder of the 2022 competition season and school year. Mr. Norris has been teaching music for more than 35 years and is currently retired from teaching music, but he simply can’t help going around to help bands and do what he believes his calling is with students and music. Mr. Norris said the reason for his return to Gaffney High after leaving over 9 years ago was over a request in which he was called in a situation where the director had resigned due to health reasons, Norris talked with Dr. Fall and Dr. Blanton, and it was decided it would be better to put in applications for a more permanent and better-quality director during the Spring. “After talking with Dr. Blanton and Dr. Fall, we reached an agreement about what I would do and the expectations of what I would do to keep up a somewhat normal band year.” Norris explained. He is stepping into a very large hole, or what many people would call a void, he says it’s hard to be placed where he is and to follow after somebody who has been here for so many years. “Billy was here 9 years, that’s a tough step to follow in. He did things his way and he was loved by his students; I know that.” He explained when he once directed at Gaffney High school, he once left his students, and it wasn’t their decision either. All Norris said he can do is to do his best in teaching music and do his best to help this band through this time.   

Norris, as you may guess, is very fond of music and teaching but where did it all start? He started playing the alto-saxophone, he explained he wasn’t sure why he chose the alto-saxophone. However, he told us he just genuinely loved the sound of the alto and chose that as the start to his musical career. He played it all through high school other than one year, where he played the flute in small concert bands. Later on in college he went on to major in the clarinet.  Norris says he enjoys all instruments, he continued with “They all have different sounds, but I’ve enjoyed listening to all of them over the years. I’ve learned to teach all of them and there is something I just thoroughly enjoy about it” One very humble and just respectable quote I would like to add of his was the following which I genuinely loved; “I want no glory; I never have wanted my glory.”

 Teaching is what some would call a calling, so the people should know what Mr. Norris enjoys about teaching music! Norris, when asked this, said he enjoys the students taking a piece of music and he loves teaching them to play it to the best of their ability. Sometimes that can be tough depending on the music Norris says, but the final sound and the development of the student is the most important thing. Norris continued with; by development in music and in life becoming young adults by being in band, I think that helps the students grow, bond, and mature. It is just an enjoyment in my life to teach them and I hope I’m helping them. Something interesting and truly inspiring that Norris said was that after being here 28 years, he achieved a sort of fondness with the school, and he genuinely thinks that also had a lot to do with his return to Gaffney High. “I love students and I love teaching; it gave me an opportunity to take what I had learned over the years and come back to teach which is my number one priority.” When it comes to the season 2022 competition season the band is currently going through, Mr. Norris’s expectations are simply to see what he, and the band as a whole, can do to improve the music and get the marching band to show to a level that is as close to perfect as we can possibly get it. Norris actually gave up a position in the Spartanburg Community Band because he cannot make it to the practices every Tuesday night due to marching band practices. He said that’s simply the demands of the job, and that’s okay that sacrifices have to be made, it’s all about helping the students. When it comes to the rest of the year, the band still has things to look forward to such as concerts, solo and ensemble, as well as regional and all state bands, Norris is hoping to keep everything as normal as possible as the year continues to progress. He also explained since he is not a permanent director and his time is limited, he will not be making many changes to the band or band program unless it is in a way that will make the band sound better in the music or look better drill wise.

Many people have this image or idea of what they think a thing, place, or person will be like. When it came to Mr. Norris, the students didn’t know what to expect. The students were told things from all angles. Some said he was mean, others said when he was at rehearsals he meant business, and some said he was a very nice person when you spoke with him one on one. Nobody knew what to expect from a man they hadn’t met yet. When Norris was asked what a common misconception was that he wanted to address he said, “During rehearsals we are there for a reason, whether it’s in class, on the field, wherever we are there to reach a goal. Then afterwards there is a different story. There is a time and a place for everything and that’s going to be the hardest thing for the students to learn about me.” He also said he thinks it may surprise the students how his true nature can be and that over time the students will find out more about him as their teacher. Some things Norris spoke of liking are things that could connect him with many people and have fun or have enjoyable conversations about. For instance, he likes pizza with ALL toppings but pineapple and anchovies. He also likes to watch old western movies, but not really the new ones, they don’t really compare to the old westerns.