Music students leveling up from Regionals to All-State

Students who made it into one of the 8 AMEA Southwest Region Honor Groups have the unique opportunity to audition for All-State Choir, Orchestra, or Band. All-State groups are the next level of competition; only those who made Regionals can make All-State. Similarly to the Regionals, All-State auditions are recorded through a platform called OpusEvent and submitted virtually, as opposed to performing in front of a live panel. Though the auditions are recorded and then submitted, students only have one opportunity to record themselves, thus maintaining the integrity of the live auditions. 

In a traditional audition season, after making it into Regionals, students would have the ability to go on a field trip and rehearse with other students at their same performance level and then perform a concert. The rehearsals and concerts are conducted by a college-level professor. The students have a higher-level educator and can form relationships with other peers of a similar skill level as them. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, students will be recording 1 piece and submitting that in order to create a virtual choir, orchestra, or band. Students record using earphones, in order to hear a click-track. The click-track helps the students record in a way that will allow everyone to be synchronized when the virtual concert is created. 

In addition to playing well, auditioning students faced different challenges then what a normal audition would bring. According to Orchestra director Valerie Dopp, the students, “had to deal with the technology. That was probably an issue.” Using OpusEvents, the digital recording platform, was an additional challenge that students had to navigate. Students who did not understand how to record and submit their auditions jeopardized their chances of getting into Regionals and now All-State. Choir student Halle Mason echoed Dopp’s sentiments. She stated that the whole audition process, “was a little stressful,” but that the technology aspect added to the mix made it that much more complicated. 

Students had to work independently in order to be successful in their audition attempts. Choir director Jameson Staley said, “We rehearsed the pieces together at school, but students were mostly responsible for learning their music on their own and then recording themselves at home.” Being at the level that Regionals and All-State are at requires students within those groups to take the initiative and study independently. 

Violist Ryan Swartt has made for Regionals this year and years prior. He said when you are in-person, “you have a more musically rich experience hearing other people play. You were able to experience the sound of an orchestra as opposed to the sound of your own instrument.”  He continued, saying “It was not a homework assignment.” Returning musicians  have two vastly different experiences when it comes to auditioning and the post-audition experience.