As All State auditions approach, CF musicians prepare

Band and orchestra students who are preparing for All-State have lots to do. While both music classes have students that are auditioning, the process is a bit different for band than it is for orchestra.

For orchestra, they need to prepare three important things over the summer: one minute and 20 seconds of a high level solo, all three octave scales at a certain tempo and five excerpts of the actual All-State music. If students get picked after their auditions, they have a little less than a month to prepare the music and two patriotic songs. Last year, orchestra teacher Ann Osborne had 16 students audition; 14 were selected, and one student was selected as 1st alternate. This year, Osborne has 16 students working hard for the audition.

The process is a bit different for the band. Band teacher Laura Engelhardt said each school district can send a total of 30 students in grades 9-12, and Cedar Falls has anywhere from 30-40 students between Holmes, Peet and the high school each year that prepare for All-State and then have pre-auditions if needed to select the 30 that will go to the auditions in October. 

Students have to prepare an excerpt of a solo, memorize 12 scales at tempo and play two etudes for a seven minute audition. 

For band students that are accepted after a successful audition, they are given a folder of the music they will perform at the All-State festival, and three weeks to learn it. Once they get to the festival, there is one more audition to make sure the music is prepared adequately. 

High school band teacher Kyle Engelhardt said, “The best way to get better is to set goals and challenge yourself as a musician. The process of working on All-State music forces them to confront weaknesses in their playing, thereby encouraging them to learn how to be stronger players. That, by itself, makes preparing for All-State a worthy pursuit.”
Engelhardt also noted that being selected is a noteworthy distinction. “Performing in the All-State ensembles is a real honor, and, for many students, can be a life-changing event. Students who are accepted into All-State get to play with other musicians from across the state of Iowa, and put together some incredibly difficult literature. It is a thrill to perform in a group full of excellent musicians, all of whom worked extremely hard to get there, and perform for over 10,000 people at the final concert.”

Holmes All-State competitors have only five weeks until the audition, which will decide if they make it to the festival in October. Regarding her current state of preparation, freshman Elle Smith said she is “absolutely not” ready yet, “but I think I will be by the time the audition comes around.” Regarding what he is most worried about, freshman Andrew Gerdes said, “I am most worried about playing my scales fluently and playing a flawless chromatic scale.”

With advice for newcomers to the competition, Smith said, “Honestly, just go for it. It is very difficult, but so rewarding. I have become a better player than I ever imagined I could be just by going through this process. Also, practice your scales until you can’t stand them anymore.”

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