Greensboro, NC
336-215-6220
needinfo@highlandnorth.net

HNM Staff

        Donnie Wright

Founder & Artistic Director

Donnie Wright was born in Greensboro, North Carolina and has lived there all his life. Donnie grew up around country, 50’s rock and bluegrass musicians, and started playing guitar at age 14 and excelled with his passion for music. After getting married to Deborah, his high school sweetheart in 1989 and then giving his life to Christ in 1991, he began pushing his way toward helping church worship teams with the ability that God had granted him. Donnie Graduated College in 1995 and became a IT Engineer for BB&T bank. In 1996, he became one of the worship leaders for the triads Vineyard Church and soon after became a vocalist and lead guitarist for Greensboro’s World Harvest Church. In 2003, Donnie launched his own IT company, Core Technologies and started working with Greensboro’s Daystar Church; his company grew to help build great data-based networks for local churches and went on to help build one of the top Worship Teams in the triad. Also, during this time, as his three beautiful girls danced for Pleasant Ridge Fine Arts Academy, he had the honor of becoming friends with Suzanne Hock, which co-directed the dance school and needed a guitar teacher. So Donnie joined the team and taught guitar for Pleasant Ridge and then Greensboro Performing Arts, for the next four years. Around late 2006, Donnie broke off from Greensboro Performing Arts and opened Highland North Music. With about 15 students and many dedicated parents, Highland North Music went on to push nearly 100 students per week by 2016.

Located on Battleground Ave, Highland North Music has helped students reach their highest potential in their passion for music and develop great skill levels through different genera’s including, Rock, Country, Blues, Reggae, Worship and Contemporary Christian just to name a few.

Around 2010, Donnie started also started working with an awesome group of musicians, Mick and David Farlow, Tian Garcia, Paul Foster and Josh Boyd at The Cathedral of His Glory. Within just a couple years, Josh joined the Highland North Music team and started building an awesome Drum department. By 2011, Donnie went on to join up as one of The Cathedrals lead guitarist and help produce one of the greatest Christmas Productions in the State of North Carolina.

In growing Highland North Music, we have continued to build spectacular Christmas and spring concerts working together as a music team with teachers and students. At Highland North Music great pride is taken in our students and we continue to push the ideas of Learning and Performing.

Donnie has built the school with an awesome staff of dedicated musicians that know the importance of teaching fundamentals of music and passionately growing; never forgetting the most under used and over looked idea of music: FUN! “If it is not FUN, then WHY are you doing it at all!” We truly believe Music can be learned just as easy as a child that in just five short years went from birth to saying mom to being able communicate with college level professors, without a super course in English nor even being able to read! WOW!

Now entering into our 13th season and knowing that the future is bright, Donnie and his team make ready to grow, grow, grow into Highland North Music’s awesome future!

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        Michael Naylor

Administrator & Bass Coach

Michael Naylor started off his journey into music in middle school playing trombone.  Quickly finding a love for music, over the course of middle school and high school Michael took home other instruments to learn and taught himself a wide variety of wind instruments from Saxophones to Tubas.  Borrowing a friend’s electric guitar in high school armed with a chord poster, guitar became another instrument learned, leading into stringed instruments.  Towards the end of high school, as a favor to a friend’s band he filled in playing bass for a gig at the last minute and fell in love.  Having started on trombone, bass guitar became a natural fit.

In 2003 upon moving to Greensboro to attend UNCG Michael found Daystar church, and after running sound for a few years began playing bass with the praise and worship team.  It was during this time that Michael became great friends with Donnie Wright and began helping with recitals for Highland North Music.  As time moved on, Highland North Music became bigger, and Michael became more involved with helping out in other facets beyond just playing with the school band.  This lead to more new instruments being learned including the mandolin in some bluegrass sets.  After graduating from UNCG with a B.S. in Computer Science, he has continued to be involved with Highland North Music both as a musician and any other facets needed.

Through helping with Highland North Music, Michael has enjoyed expanding his musical knowledge both in theory, practice and in new learning endeavors.  Michael is thankful for the friendships cultured through Highland North and thoroughly enjoys serving with the Highland North staff.  He is greatly looking forward to what the future holds for this school and the future musicians of the Triad.

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             Iris Crowe

Iris is also a native of Greensboro and was exposed from birth to music and dance thanks to her mother who shared her love of the performing arts with her daugher. During elementary school and high school Iris studied piano, guitar, voice, dance and drama. She performed with the school choruses, special vocal ensembles and in high school drama productions. In the summer before her senior year she attended the Easter Music Festival in Greensboro as an on campus vocal student. It was during her senior year where she got her first taste of being the lead singer in a rock band, “Ezra”, and found her passion.

During the next two years working and traveling with “Ezra” she came close to permanently damaging her voice due to overuse and misuse and knew it was time to regroup. She then studied at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as a Voice Major in the School of Music. This lasted a year and even though the experience was invaluable, she knew she had to return to her true love which was rock. From that time on Iris performed as lead singer in area bands Enticer, Subway, Barracuda and Shadowplay. She was also involved with various recording projects with the most recent project being with a group called Visions of Venus where they were able to professionally record 2 discs.

Her love for music and performance is a large part of who Iris is and with age and life experiences has come a desire to use her talent and experience as a force for good.

 
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          Vance Archer
Vance Archer

Vance D. Archer III has been a musician for over 60 years with a career that spans from classical cello and in the Family String Quartet to 30 years of leading Folk Music, Irish Celli and Contra Dance bands in the greater New York City/New Jersey region.

Since moving to Greensboro in 2005, Vance has become active in the Triad Music and Art Scene. He plays fiddle in the Irish Pub Band, Banna and the Bluegrass Band “821“. Vance convenes the Triad Fiddlers, a circle that teaches old time and Irish fiddle tunes and techniques to all, and the folk music circle “Bishop’s Bridge” which plays acoustic music from all traditions. Vance hosts a monthly “Traveling Hootenanny” where folks join for an evening of socialization and singing.

Vance performs a monthly solo concert series in various Triad Assisted Living venues. For these solo performances he plays Guitar, Autoharp and Fiddle while leading the singing. He also provides solo and duet background entertainment at social gatherings and trade shows. Vance can gather the proper mix of musicians to accommodate most musical venues.

Vance would rather practice outside than inside. He can often be seen strolling in the Bog Garden, Bicentennial Gardens, Country Park or the Arboretum fiddling with his dog Jolly tied to his belt.

 
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           Mike Highfill

Mike Highfill

My music career began at the age of 10 when I started playing trumpet at Frazier Elementary School. It was in my Jr. High years that I discovered guitar and bass, on which I was self-taught. During High School, in addition to trumpet, I also played fluegel horn, French horn, and baritone. I was a diligent, dedicated music student. My horn came home and was used daily, even if my other books didn’t! I was definitely a band nerd. With the exception of the 7th grade(where the older kids had 1st section covered, from elementary through high school I was in the 1st trumpet section, always competing for first chair and achieving that goal the majority of my young career. I graduated in 1980 from Northeast Guilford High School,and briefly attended UNC-G School of Music.

After working several years managing my father’s commercial janitorial business, I attended the School of Nursing at Guilford Technical Community College, where I tutored fellow nursing students in biology, pharmacology and nutrition. This led to a 21-year career in clinical nursing, primarily in Critical Care areas, i.e. ER, CCU, Post Anesthesia, and many years in a ventilator hospital. I had the good fortune to be lead EKG and Advanced Cardial Life Support review instructor for 3 years at the Sugical Center of Greensboro.

After much soul searching and prayer, I decided to retire from nursing in 2010. A friend in church owned a screen porch, sun room, and garage door installation business and I worked with him until the construction business fell apart nationally. I only lost my job; my friend lost his 22-year business. Employment opportunities were beyond scarce outside of nursing and I questioned my decision to leave it, but as always, God had a plan that put me where I needed to be. Both my mom and step-dad would become gravely ill at the same time, which required me to take care of both of them. My step-dad has since passed away and my mother has returned to her home in Summerfield but still requires help, which I am able to provide.

While my trumpet playing days ended around 1980, my passion for music has never left, playing guitar and/or bass with many talented musicians and several bands, both secular and Contemporary Christian since. My musical interests are too varied to list but simply put, if it’s good music, genre doesn’t matter. There is a reason we still listen to Mozart! I have been writing songs since High School and have co-written with other musicians, which continues to the present. It is my absolute belief that music is a God-given gift and therefore is meant to be shared. I look forward to helping students learn and grow in and for this art!

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       Emma McArthur

Emma Blaire McArthur began her musical career at the age of five, she was introduced to her first and favorite genre of music by her grandfather after attending monthly Bluegrass concerts at the Sunset Theatre in downtown Asheboro, North Carolina. Later, she asked for her first violin from Santa and upon receiving her first ¼ sized violin she also was given the name of an instructor who she would begin lessons with and stay under his study for the next twelve years of her studies.

Emma is a Senior at Uwharrie Charter Academy and plays in their school orchestra as First Chair Violinist and has received musician of the year throughout all four years of her high school career. She participates in pageants and uses Music Therapy as her Community Service Platform where she visits many different schools and community centers to speak to children and young adults on the importance of volunteering in their community.Emma began music by listening with her ears and then moved on to tablature but was later classically trained by the Greensboro Symphony and The Music Academy of North Carolina.

She found her love of teaching as a counselor at Camp Cheerio where she was able to teach young girls and boys music classes. She prides herself in teaching not only the skill to play the violin but also love and passion for the arts.

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       Mike Carney

Mike Carney was born Asheville, North Carolina in late 1994 but moved to Wake County three years later. Orlando Florida in 2000. Mike moved back to North Carolina in 2003 and resided in Chapel Hill, where he first began to show interest in music. While he originally trying to learn bass guitar player, Mike couldn’t resist to play a set of drums whenever possible.

Mike began playing percussion in his middle school’s band in 2006. The following year, he would receive a drum set for Christmas at the age of 13. He seemed like he always knew what to play the moment he sat on the throne despite having no prior instructions.

Mike would go on to join the Chapel Hill High School Marching Band in 2009 as a member of the drumline. This is where Mike learned to increase his diligence as a serious musician and developed healthy physical, social, and learning habits. Mike also would play Sunday youth group services at New Hope Church in Durham, NC until finishing high school. Mike also thrived in the school’s Jazz program, while winning an Outstanding Soloist Award at the 2012 Elon Jazz Festival. Then would win CHHS’s Most Outstanding Percussionist Award, Student elected “Drum Kit Master” Award, and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in 2013.

Mike got hint of GTCC’s Entertainment Technologies Program. He began attending GTCC classes in 2015 in Recording Engineering. Mike decided to make the switch to Commercial Music in 2017 because during participating in a leadership work study at New Hope Church mainly playing services at their various satellite locations, Mike felt his abilities were put to better use as a professional drummer.

Mike was featured in GTCC’s 2017 production of Romeo and Juliet:Promenade ,demonstrating his cajon abilities in the moving pit orchestra. He also began to develop his talents as a singer as well in GTCC’s Performance Ensemble including performances of songs such as the Talking Head’s ‘Slippery People’, Peter Gabriel’s ‘Mercy Street’, and The B 52’s ‘Love Shack’. Many were performed while playing drums. Mike was recognized very highly his peers and instructors for taking on musical leadership in his ensembles.

Now at the age of 25, Mike has obtained an Associates in Applied Science degree in Commercial Music this year from GTCC’s Larry Gatlin School of Entertainment Technology. He aspires to continue his journey as a drummer, musician, and educator by helping those eager to learn new skills along the way. Mike Carney has joined Highland North Music School because he feels that he can help contribute to a caring, passionate learning environment they provide for its students and share his love for the art of drumming and music.

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        Louis Loveland

Louis Loveland, and 22-year-old Philadelphian, has been playing trumpet since he was in fourth grade. He began taking private lessons in fifth grade, and was playing the Star-Spangled Banner solo at the elementary school spring concert by the time that school year was over.

Come sixth grade, Louis auditioned and successfully joined the middle school jazz band as early as he could, with the jazz band mostly consisting of seventh and eighth graders. In the jazz band format, Louis became much more competitive, utilizing improvisation in his jazz solos, practicing day in, day out to stay a top dog in his trumpet section. In jazz competition, Louis took home the Outstanding Soloist Award in both seventh and eighth grade.

In high school, Louis rejoined the jazz band, but also participated heavily in his marching band, becoming trumpet section leader in his junior year. Since graduating high school, Louis has continued playing his instrument nonstop, practicing every day and often performing at local open mics.

These days, he has evolved his love of jazz improvisation into a habit of playing purely by ear, often jamming with anybody and everybody who is willing to make good sounding music. While Louis is undoubtedly a performer at heart, he still has a love for teaching and feels it would be a shame not to share his musical knowledge with the younger generation.

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       Henry Tardy

Henry Tardy was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in December, 2001. Though he did not start playing music
until 6th grade, he has been surrounded it all of his life. Both of Henry’s parents would play a major role
in spreading the love of music throughout his life, both in a church setting and just around the house.

In the beginning of 6th Grade, Henry picked up trombone in the Northern Guilford Middle school concert
band, thus starting his music career. Over the past 6 years, Henry taken part in the NGHS concert band
and the NGHS jazz band playing Trombone.

At the end of 6th grade, Henry joined the NGMS Marching band playing trombone, but it was watching
the Drumline that really made him interested. Not long after that, he began to start playing drums, learning
basic rudiments and the cadences that we’re played in the Northern Drumline. This was fun to him, but the
progress was slow without the proper sources needed to learn, but not for long.

In February of 2014, Henry joined Highland North Music for drum lessons. This is where Henry would start
his journey into drumset and music performance. He has learned a multitude of skills and musical styles
ranging from funk and jazz, to rock and metal.

Henry is currently pursuing a job as a sound engineer and a studio musician. He loves to volunteer in church
and is the current drum captain of the NGHS Drumline. Henry loves spreading the gift of music to anyone who
wants to receive it, and wants to share it with aspiring musician young and old.

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       Jordan Summers

Jordan Summers was born in Flint, Michigan in March, 2000 and moved to North Carolina at the age of 7.
Jordan has always had a love for music, but did not start playing instruments until he was 16.

While looking for a way to serve in his church, there was a drumming opportunity that opened up.
Jordan was willing to try, but had never played drums before. That willingness to try led to him
discovering his passion for playing music which also led him to Highland North.

He’s been a student at Highland North for the past 2 years and has grown as a drummer/performer
under their instruction. He’s had the privilege of playing in Highland’s concerts, in several different
worship bands, various weekend gigs, for a record label and recently been in studio to record for
a worship album.

He’s excited to be working now with Highland North and brings incredible people skills and energy to the job.

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       Jessica “Erin” Hayes

Jessica “Erin” Hayes is an accomplished flutist, bassist, and vocalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. She has been involved with flute and musical performance for over 30 years.

Erin’s first instruments were piano and recorder at the age of 9, but she quickly found her passion in the flute which she played in Southside Christian School’s concert band. In that time, she has continued to learn and expand her vast and adaptable play styles. This included a great love of marching and concert bands, both of which she participated in at Rockingham County High School.

In recent years, Erin has composed, performed and recorded with several regional artists such as indie rock singer/songwriter Matty Sheets, pop cover band Second Glance, and her father, Americana artist Mitch Hayes. In addition to flute, she is also a bassist, saxophonist and vocalist. The vast ranges of music with which she’s involved have provided a wealth of learning and growth opportunities.

Erin has also worked with children in multiple capacities throughout her life. She has been a beginner’s swim coach and freelance art tutor for the past 10 years. Her favorite part about working with children is their sense of humor and creativity.

Erin Hayes is married to John Chenoweth and “mother” of Gwynn and Strider, their 2 dogs.

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     Marc B Moffitt

Marc grew up in Greensboro N.C. in a musical family. His parents sang
professionally all their lives and Marc and brother Joel grew up in that musical environment. Marc was an avid music listener from a young age of 8 and enjoyed a wide variety of genres from classical, top 40 to rock and everything in between.  This has influenced his musicianship throughout the years creating a well-rounded performer and teacher.
Marc got his first drum set at the age of 12 and started piano at age 6. He and his older brother, Joel, played actively together from 6 th -10 th grades in a number of garage bands. Later Marc played drums in Jazz Band in high school. Right after high school Marc toured professionally full time for 9 years as drummer with a contemporary Christian band called “The Bridge”. The band traveled 40 states, Toronto and Mexico (including tour bus and 4 recorded albums).
After coming off the road, while a student at Liberty Christian College in Florida, he began his teaching career both on campus and at Dollarhide Music Store in Pensacola. Through the years Marc has always been actively involved with contemporary praise and worship teams, playing piano and drums. This led to staff leadership positions with his church as music worship team director and to a unique opportunity to help facilitate other churches transition from traditional to contemporary worship, building worship teams and youth bands from the ground up.  Even off the road Marc has played with such local bands as progressive-punk, rock band “2nd Eve”, Christian rock band and recording artist “5 Man Jesus Band”, recording artist “Visions of Venus” and others. Today Marc is the drummer for local Top 40 band “Second Glance”.  Marc has been an active member/supporter of HNM since 2009 and today continues his support, teaching with a unique approach, emphasizing the passion of playing with heart n’ soul while also teaching fundamentals of music in various playing styles, hand-foot coordination and basic rudimental studies. 

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     Rianna Kenney

Rianna Kenney was born in Chicago, Illinois in October 2002 and moved to North Carolina at age 9.  She started taking piano lessons at age 5 and has been playing piano for 13 years.  During that time, she has also been involved in voice lessons and musical theater at Greensboro Performing Arts and Stagelights performing in over 10 plays.

She bought her first guitar at age 16 and self-taught for a year before moving to lessons at Highland North.  She has been involved in band performances playing keyboard, guitar and singing over the last year.

She joined Highland North in 2020 as a keyboard instructor and has several students of varying ages.  Her experience at Highland North has helped her to grow and develop and she enjoys being able to give back by teaching others.

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    Bailey Alley

Bailey started playing music in 6th grade where he learned how to play Brass instruments as well as percussion and was second chair in the all county band for his 8th grade year. He continued with Concert band into high school where he met some life long friends that he would end up starting a band with called “Charm” his sophmore year.

 While Bailey had played guitar since his younger years the start of the band forged a love for the instrument that placed it above any other. He began writing songs, playing shows, and touring while in High school. Today the band is still going, having toured up and down the east coast and reaching some areas in the mid-west and are on Acrobat Unstable records based out of Charlotte . Bailey is a multi instrumentalist and has a true passion and drive to share the gift of music to the world