Band, Choir students compete in rigorous All-State competition

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photo credit: Braydon Pyles

Competitive Christmas Spirit Senior Delaney Crane pauses for a picture during the recording for the Winter concert, a day after learning she made it past the second round of the All State competition. “The Texas All State Choir process is one of the most rigorous in the country,” Choir director Dr. Nathan Dame said. “Over 15,000 students audition for around 400 spots in one of the three all-state choirs.”

writer: Heath Hadley, Editor in Chief

Every year, the band and choir send their best musicians to compete in a state-wide competition: All-State. This year, although it is a little different, the competition is still occurring and the first two rounds were recently completed.

“The Texas All State Choir process is one of the most rigorous in the country.” Choir director Dr. Nathan Dame said. “Over 15,000 students audition for around 400 spots in one of the three all-state choirs. The state on average is known as one of the strongest in the country. As soon as students start to go through this process they have to learn 10 to 12 pieces of music and many begin the process back in June. They go to camps, take private lessons, work in small groups and all for the opportunity to be named to these prestigious groups.”

Only the top 1.5-2% of all the students across the state that audition for Texas All-state will advance and be selected. 

“I participate in All-State because it is a fun process to experience, and really helps you grow as a choral musician,” choir student senior Michael Lividini said. “My favorite part is learning the music and refining it.”

There are usually three phases, All-Region, All-Area, and All-State. Texas is broken out into multiple regions, which can combine into larger areas later in the audition process. Anyone can participate in the first phases, but only a certain number of people can qualify in each stage. 

“My goal is to encourage our students to prepare and perform the best they can in the audition process. The competition process is so difficult and competitive that every student we have advanced is an amazing accomplishment for them and our program,” Band director Gregory Hayes said. “We had 40 students advance through phase 1 auditions and into Phase 2.”

Due to COVID-19, everything is virtual this year; there are no concerts, in-person conventions, or in-person auditions.

My goal is to encourage our students to prepare and perform the best they can in the audition process. The competition process is so difficult and competitive that every student we have advanced is an amazing accomplishment for them and our program”

— Gregory Hayes

“The TMEA audition process is vastly different this year due to it being entirely online. We use the Music First program to record and submit all of our audition recordings,” Band student junior Mason Stokes said. “This can be both good and bad. Because we are recording ourselves rather than playing live, there is less anxiety and nerves felt during a performance.” 

Choir students perform three songs each round, and band students have to prepare three selected studies, called etudes, that they will then perform in auditions.

“Much of the process this year is exactly the same. Instead of auditioning live, we’ve all had to learn new platforms for recording. Students receive cuts or small sections of music to perfect and submit for judges,” Dr. Dame said. The judges will login and score them from their own homes. It’s pretty unique this year and has offered some challenges, but I think all of us will grow stronger in the end because of the work that we have done together”

Those who have passed the first rounds in choir and band will now go into the next, and have their chance at getting into the highly acclaimed All-State choir or band.

“While we want to have as many All-State students as possible, our goal for them is to be able to grow as musicians, to aspire for something larger than themselves, and to grow as a performer, leader and to be able to better overcome challenging and stressful situations,” Dr. Dame said.