The Timber Creek High School choir program is currently in a busy season. Choirs are rehearsing chorale arrangements for their first performance in November, and all voice lesson teachers have already started vocal lessons. 53 volunteered individuals, however, have taken their singing one step further to be the best musicians they can be. These choir students are focusing in the following months on a process called All-State.
Texas All-State is an audition system for high school choir students to compete against each other for a spot in the All-State mixed, men and treble choirs. Being in an All-State choir depicts that you are one of the most talented singers across the state of Texas.
“It is basically four different auditions with three or four different pieces each audition,” said Amy Fambrough, the head director of the Falcon Choir explained. “They just work on those specific titles for each audition, and if they advance, they have a different set.”
Also a new addition to the All-State process this year is the creation of the 9th and 10th grade honor choir.
Claire Hill, a freshman trying out for All-State, describes the inclusion to how All-State works in the Keller ISD region.
Hill said, “This is the first time they’re doing it, and if you’re auditioning for All-State and you’re a 9th or 10th grader, if you make it past the first round, you automatically make the 9th or 10th honor choir.”
The choir will perform in the region concert with the All-Region treble and mixed choirs, with new music more suited for early teen singers.
Prior to school beginning, a student participating in All-State must complete a summer camp in order to learn the music. Timber Creek provided a free camp the first week of August, but other students preferred to go to a university camp in schools like Baylor, University of North Texas and Texas Christian University. After school starts, the participant must visit the choir directors to see how they have progressed in their music and right before each round, all of them have to go through a mock audition.
Adrian Kirtley, the assistant choir director of Timber Creek High School, discloses the characteristics of what an All-Stater looks like.
“They have to be driven,” said Kirtley. “They have to be self-serving. They have to be a machine that takes critiques for what they are and don’t take them personally and build themselves off of them.”
Even though this procedure sounds demanding, many seasoned All-State competitors said it is worth it.
“It feels very surreal. I still can’t believe that I actually made it,” said Amanda Barber, an All-Stater last year, referring to how she felt being one of the top singers in the state. “It feels amazing. It feels…I don’t know…that I am a good musician.”
Another previous All-Stater, Nam Nguyen, commented about the benefits of the process.
“The All-State process itself, and you don’t even have to make a choir, improves your ability to comprehend music,” said Nguyen. “You gain the ability to take a piece of music and sing it in such a way as it is musically appropriate.”
Nguyen also mentions the scholarship opportunities if a person makes the All-State choir. With more choir achievements like making All-State, that person earns opportunities to get paid to be in college or university choir program.
Although the All-State procedure is rewarding, it can also be stressful and arbitrary.
“The one thing I don’t love about All-State, which is a bitter pill to swallow, is that if you’re diligent, you’re practicing 15-30 minutes a day,” explained Nguyen. “The audition will probably last three to five minutes. Random things can happen.”
Nguyen made All-State his sophomore year but not his junior year because he messed up on something he would otherwise not have, which cost him his All-State spot in round four.
“Sometimes those five minutes don’t always accurately reflect all the hard work that you put in,” he said.
Many students are very nervous for round one, but Stephanie-Grace Makayabo feels very positive about this year.
Makayabo said, “I am actually very confident than I was in the previous few years. I have been practicing and made sure to put notes in my music.”
Makayabo and many others hope to achieve greatness this year and make the All-State choir. Round one starts on September 17 and the All-Region concert is on November 12.
“I made sure to give it my all so I can just excel.”