When Noah Freeman was hired over the summer of 2022 to take over the Fairfax High School (FHS) band program, he knew he was getting a late start. Freeman had to immediately jump in and learn a new program with over 100 students. He would quickly realize he was going to be working with some talented and dedicated students.
Freeman, a Fairfax County native, and Indiana University graduate, is aware of the demands of high school band. He was a student and teacher at Woodson HS and is currently getting his master's in trumpet performance at George Mason University. The new director and band got to work right away.
Starting in August, they had plenty of time to get to know each other. “Our kids were doing 12-hour days for weeks leading up to the start of school,” said Freeman. “They began their day at 8:00 AM and wouldn’t be finished until after 8:00 PM.” Once school started, the students have band class and then rehearse after school and play at the football games on Friday night. Every other weekend was filled with competitions around the state, many of those Saturdays were 8 to 10-hour days. “This group of students are very dedicated and hard workers,” said Freeman. “It has been great to watch them excel all fall.”
The fall competition season began with affiliated and regional competitions for the Virginia Marching Band Cooperative where Fairfax HS placed first or second in three separate events. The band then went on to the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association where they earned a superior rating. Freeman was quick to note they earned “straight 1s” which means each judge gave them a perfect rating. The band then traveled to James Madison University for the JMU Parade of Champions where they placed first in the 5A Class, beating out six other schools from Virginia.
When asked to describe a successful band member, Freeman talked about how students need to work together, have leadership skills, and must be organized with schoolwork. “Band can be very demanding, but the skills they are learning now will definitely help them succeed in college and beyond,” said Freeman. The group still has time for fun. They plan activities like bowling and social dinners together to break up all the hard work they are doing. Freeman sees his first year as just the beginning. He feels with the talent at FHS, they have many more exciting years ahead.