A young musician on the rise: High school student playing tuba beyond his years
High school student Chris Hall plays the tuba.
Northumberland High School student and symphonic band member Chris Hall has made first chair of the All-District band three years in a row. In middle school, he was the first chair of the Junior High Area Band all three years, including his very first year of playing in 6th grade.
The Wicomico Church resident has made the Virginia Tech Honor Band’s top ensemble twice. He has played with the West Virginia University (WVU) Honor Band and the Richmond Symphony.
And on the weekend of Feb. 22, he made it into the All Virginia Orchestra on tuba as the top scorer of 35 auditionees.
And he’s just in ninth grade.
Hall smiled as he said his interest in music began when his parents would play piano CDs for him when he was a baby.
He also recalled his mom taking him to piano lessons after school one day when he was five years old.
“I just remembered going in there and looking at this like, ‘Oh…how am I going to do this?” said Hall. “And it just took off from there.”
He and his family moved from Kansas to Northumberland County in 2007 where he continued to learn piano, and when he was going into sixth grade, Hall elected to take the band class because of his musical background.
“The reason why I did tuba was because my mom said that we couldn’t really get instruments because [they] are expensive, and whatever the school had, I would play,” said Hall. “I just assumed that they only had tubas and low brass, so when [the band instructor] asked me what instrument I wanted to play…I said something around tuba.”
Northumberland High School Band Director Walt Mallorie originally assigned Hall to play the Baritone, which he said was “fun the first sound,” and then had him shift to the tuba one semester later.
Outside of his accomplishments in making district and area school bands, Hall had the privilege last year of playing the bass trombone with the Northern Neck Orchestra alongside his tuba instructor Brian Thacker, who is the NNO principal tubist, for their October program “The Russians are Coming.”
Hall’s favorite playing experiences were with the Virginia Tech Honors Band in 2014 followed by the Northern Neck Orchestra. He said enjoyment in playing with the honors band “might have to do with the hundred-million dollar complex there,” or the Moss Arts Center in Blacksburg, and “how the acoustics there are…perfect.”
In being able to play with bands such as the Richmond Symphony and WVU Honors Band, Hall noted performing alongside all different kinds of musicians who played their instruments “to a good degree with good tone quality and projection” with the urgent mindset of preparing for the concert the next day. Outside of the bands in which he has participated, Hall was also recently asked by the Lancaster High School band to play with them in the area festival this year.
“That was the first invitation I’ve received,” said Hall. “Everything else [I’ve done] has been by audition.”
Hall’s goals range from returning to the Fredericksburg Brass Institute and joining a summer orchestra this year, to auditioning for the National Youth Orchestra that has gone on tours around the United States, to obtaining a full collegiate scholarship. Hall said his best scenario for playing music professionally would be with either the Chicago Symphony or the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, both of which he said were among the top-performing orchestras in America. Hall said he normally practices playing music one to two hours everyday provided. He also enjoys going camping with the Boy Scouts.