Six students move to next round of All-State auditions

Choir works through new TMEA process


photo or infographic by Emily Meachen

MOVING ON. At the first home football game of the season senior Julianna Needham sings the national anthem with other members of the choir. Needham was one of six choir members who moved on to the next round of TMEA All- State auditions.

Stepping up to the mic, they take a deep breath. Music in front of them, they try to remember each note and little detail that will set them apart.

Choir members participated in a virtual TMEA, Texas Music Educators Association, audition on October 14. The process consists of four levels, with a certain amount of members advancing each round. This year, however, the process looked a little different. While usually the audition takes place in person with the judge behind a curtain, this year each member sent in a recording of themselves singing the designated pieces of music. In the Willis Choir, a total of 11 auditioned with eight being recognized as district worthy, and six moving onto the next round.

“I think I actually liked it better than the later years because that nervousness of being in front of three judges behind a curtain is gone,” junior Lucero Garcia said. “Sure i miss hanging out with the group and finding out if we made it together but perfecting that audition is always a good feeling.”

Students learn the music on their own along with workshops with their directors or private lessons with an instructor. This round had a total of three pieces of music. The next round with have a piece in german for both male and female voices, and french for female voices. 

“The process is not only a test of skill and technique, it’s also a test of self reliance and responsibility,” Garcia said. “You have to learn some of the hardest music you’ve seen by yourself with only a few critiques from your director when you’ve already known the lyrics, notes and rhythms. It’s really daring but such a satisfaction to be on top so that all the work you put in was worth it.”

Because of the COVID-19 situation, the try out situation was less than ideal, but brought many advantages to those auditioning.

“Last year it was in person and it took time out of my daily life since the audition was on a weekend,” junior Gabriel Benitez said. This year I like it better because it was after school and I could redo my recording if I felt like I could do better. In a normal TMEA you could only sing once with no redemption.”

A few students were recognized as “District” distinguished, meaning they did not advance to the next round but were recognized for their skill in chorla music and understanding.

“I did not advance, but I did rank 23,” junior Renzo Artates. “I can’t really compare the procedure to former years because this is my first year in choir, but I really enjoyed the experience and cannot wait to do it again next year.”

For seniors who have spent a total of four years going through this process, they are adjusting to the new procedure and hoping that the pre-recording audition will work to their advantage.

“I’m excited to continue the TMEA experience and advance past Pre-area, where I was eliminated last year,” senior Julianna Needham said. “I hope to make it all the way to state this year.”