HHS Band Returning On A High Note

Susanna Conway

Nov 3, 2021

After nearly a year and a half out of practice, the World Famous Greyhound Band is back in the band room, and more enthusiastic than ever.

Heading into 2020, the future of Healdsburg High Schools concert band looked bright. After putting together a successful holiday concert the previous December, the band had signed up to perform at multiple promising events, including two music festivals and a San Francisco Giants game. On March 13, 2020, however, band students blew into their instruments for the final time together as an ensemble, as schools across the world switched to virtual learning to combat the rising COVID-19 pandemic. For most students, this meant putting down their instruments for the foreseeable future, as establishing a collective sound through the internet proved difficult.

Now, after nearly a year and a half out of practice, the World Famous Greyhound Band is back in the band room, and more enthusiastic than ever. John Natelli, who has been the band director at Healdsburg High School and Junior High School for seven years, says it “feels amazing” to be playing as a group again.

“I think there’s more enthusiasm now ‘cause kids missed playing together and missed being in a band. So I feel like there’s extra enthusiasm and extra interest,” he said.

This year's band is the largest the high school has ever seen, with over 40 students participating. With this comes a variety of instruments, motivation, and experience.

“I think that more people are excited to be playing because we haven’t been playing for so long,” said junior and tenor saxophone player Emily Pile. “We also have the majority underclassmen, so they really don’t have experience playing their instruments. But I think we sound pretty good considering all that”.

So far, the band has performed at two local football games, exciting the crowd with upbeat pieces like “Build Me Up Buttercup” and “Sir Duke.” When asked how he thought the performances went, Natelli expressed his enthusiasm.

“Amazing. You know, not necessarily the music was amazing, but everyone was there, everyone was relatively prepared, and everyone had fun,” he said.

The students also enjoy hearing the band, as one student, Luci Hagen, said “having the band play at the football games is a nice tradition, and it’s great to hear what they’ve been working on in class.”

Coming up, the high school concert band is performing at two more football games, one on Oct. 22 (Homecoming), and another on Oct. 29. Additionally, a winter performance will be held in the Healdsburg Plaza this December, the first of its kind in two years. In terms of the future of the World Famous Greyhound Band, Natelli expressed his optimism.

“I feel really good about everything,” he said.

“Natelli is always charismatic and caring”, said junior and trumpet player Jack Powell. “He’s doing a great job keeping things up and as long as he keeps the students’ best interests in mind we’ll do well.”