The Harbinger Online

Orchestra and Band Members Reflect on Journey to All-State

[media-credit id=25 align=”aligncenter” width=”650″][/media-credit]Sophomore Mary Grekstas moves her cursor and hovers over the refresh button on her white Mac. She waits, anxious for the results of her audition. The minutes turn into hours as Grekstas waits out the results. Finally around ten, the results came out. Grekstas pulled up Facebook and posted, “State 2012!!!!!!!:) now i can finally sleep!”

Grekstas wasn’t alone on posting on Facebook about the results. Facebook statuses about Kansas All-State results clogged up newsfeeds late the night of Jan. 11 as a total of 24 East Band, Jazz Band and Orchestra members made All-State.

Every year, the Kansas Music Educators Association (KSMEA) holds auditions for All-District and All-State in Concert Band, Jazz Band and Orchestra. Auditions for All-District for Northeastern Kansas were held at Baldwin City High school on Nov.12. Making All-State is the highest honor you can receive as a high school musician. Roughly 1200-1500 sophomores, juniors and seniors audition each year for only 200 positions. No other school had numbers as high in both All-District Orchestra and Band as East did.

“We lead all of Northeastern Kansas with our band,” Band and Jazz Band Director Kim Harrison said.

Altogether, 23 students made All-District Band, 22 made All-District Orchestra and six made All-District Jazz Band. Those students then continued to All-State auditionswhich were held Saturday, Jan. 7, just days after the start of a new semester. All-State auditions include all students who made the All-District ensembles from all six Kansas districts. The KSMEA said that the latest the results of All-State auditions would be published would be four days after the auditions, Wednesday, Jan. 11th.

The days had gone by and still no sign of the results. Reno, a flutist, was sitting on her computer, impatiently waiting for the KSMEA on that much-anticipated Wednesday night. The click of the mouse refreshing the page repeatedly was loud compared to the quiet house. Reno’s parents and brother had already gone to bed but she was determined to wait out the results.

“[When I found out] I screamed and starting running around the house and woke everybody up,” Reno says. She had made first chair for flute in orchestra, meaning she was the number one and for dominant player for the flutists. 2nd chair means you’re second in ranking, and continuing down, usuaully to 5th chair.

[media-credit id=146 align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]“I felt like I won an Oscar; it was pretty awesome,” Reno said.

Meanwhile, Shedor was on her driveway when she found out the good news.

“I was working and really bummed because I wanted to check it all night… So every 15 minutes I would run over to the computer at work and refresh the page,” Shedor explained.

When the KSMEA website went down, Shedor had to wait until her dad picked her up to check the website using his phone. As Shedor and her dad were pulling into her driveway, the results finally came in.

Shedor played the trombone her junior year in All-State Band and will be playing the trombone in All-State Jazz Band. Shedor knows the importance of making All-State and the impact it will have on her future in music.

“To me it means that I have potential in pursuing music in my future. I want to be a music teacher so that just re-enforces that I can play with the best student musicians in Kansas,” Shedor said.

To Harrison, what makes the auditions special is the fact that it’s all on the student. Each student auditions only with the talents of their instrument.

“They don’t know who you are, you’re a number,” Harrison said.

Students audition in a room with a newspaper curtain that covers from the waist up. A man stands in the audition room that directs you when to play.

“It’s a little uncomfortable with him there because someone is standing behind you while you play and there’s a huge newspaper curtain which I prefer over seeing the judges,” Shedor said. “But it’s still nerve-wracking.”

If you ask junior Ali Felman, a violist, about auditions, she’ll tell you that she doesn’t remember it.

“I kind of like “black out” when I audition. If anybody asks me how it went I’m like, I don’t remember. I just kind of zone out,” Felman said.

Felman says that’s she has developed a certain mindset as a student musician.

“Definitely being a musician, you have to have a certain amount of time management, you have to have a certain amount of passion for it and drive or else there’s no way you can practice all those hours and stay sane,” said Felman.

[media-credit id=146 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Senior Nathan McCloud understands that dedication needed when playing an instrument. Although he’s been playing the trombone for eight years, his was his first time making All-State and he made on unusual circumstances.

Two days before his All-State audition, McCloud tore his ACL and MCL in his knee. At the time, all McCloud, knew that he couldn’t walk on that leg. But he could still use the other.

McCloud showed up to auditions in a leg brace and in crutches. As a trombonist, both hands had to be available to both hold the instrument and move the slide. He enlisted his friend and fellow band member Graham Eidemiller to help carry his trombone. McCloud hobbled up two flights of stairs to get to the audition room.

So McCloud auditioned for All-State Band standing on one foot. He hopped around, finding his balance all while maintaining his composure and music. The judges that sat behind the newspaper curtain couldn’t see his face but they could see him balancing on one leg.

“I’m standing there on one foot and the doorman looks at me and then my legs and was like alright, play this, this, and this and I’m like okay!” said McCloud

McCloud wasn’t expecting to make All-State, so he felt very accomplished when he did.

“All the years of playing trombone have kind of led into it. I feel that I’ve earned my place in state,” McCloud.

Grekstas, a flutist, didn’t know what to expect when she auditioned for All-District. Although it is mandatory for Orchestra students, auditions for All-District are optional for Band and Jazz Band students.

“I’d seen upperclassmen friends of mine make it and saw how much fun they had and how good they were; I wanted to do the same,” Grekstas said.

Grekstas didn’t expect to make All-Districts, let alone make All-State. Grekstas believes that all her hard work paid off when she made it.

“It’s a big thing to make, especially as a sophomore,” Grekstas said.

[media-credit id=146 align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]Harrison says that success breeds success at East. When underclassmen see upperclassmen being recognized as some of the best student musicians in Kansas, the students are more motivated to be the best. He explains that often when students come back to visit, they’ll look up their name among the 150 plus plaques hung around the Band room.

“It’s kind of a legacy. They can say with pride, I was an All-State band member, I came from the East program, there’s my name. It leaves their mark on this school in a different and unique way,” Harrison says.

For a full list of the All-State results, click here.

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