All-State ensembles enrich learning


Students unload suitcases, snacks and instruments from the back of the bus Wednesday night.

Joanne Lee

Students unload suitcases, snacks and instruments from the back of the bus Wednesday night. photo by Joanne Lee
They sang with such excitement that their feet danced to the beat, played until bow hairs snapped and blew instruments until their lungs couldn’t take it anymore.
Such was the case of the select RBHS students who attended the 74th Missouri Music Educator Association All-State festival at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Mo. After the early release on Wednesday, 16 students from RBHS met at 2 p.m. to leave on the yellow school bus.
Afterwards, the students headed to their respective divisions – band, choir and orchestra. From then on, each student made a unique musical journey.
“I enjoyed being able to devote a few days just to music,” senior Katie Hobbs said. “I had to work extremely hard, but in some ways it was more like a vacation because I was having so much fun.”
Although everyone was involved with music, each student faced his or her own challenges. Senior Charlie Davis, who was a bass singer, went through the challenge of having to match his singing style to the people around him, whereas senior Elena Horvit needed to express herself with her flute in the band.
“Technically, one of the pieces we played pushed me maybe further than I’ve been pushed before,” Horvit said in an email interview. “Even in the slower stuff, though, the details our director picked out and the expression he had us use gave me almost a new perspective on how to interpret music.”
These students, however, also shared similar schedules of three or four rehearsals a day not including sectional rehearsals.
“Rehearsals were long and required one hundred percent of my attention, which kept me from stressing about school or other things,” Hobbs said. “Our director was very particular about dynamics and interpreting the music correctly, and I got used to adapting quickly to any changes he asked us to make. We all had to put a lot of thought into what we were singing and how we were singing it.”
Those who made it to All-State were the few who were narrowed down from a pool of well-deserved musicians across Missouri.
“The sound [was] incredible,” senior Andy Flanagin said. As a tenor in the All-State choir, “it is very humbling to be singing next to people who are at the same caliber of musicianship as you are.”
Apart from collaborating with other musicians from across Missouri, students also had the opportunity to bond with them. Junior Rebecca Burke-Agüero had a chance of “meeting new people [and] getting closer with the people I knew.”
“I had a blast seeing my percussion friends again since all but one of us were returning members,” junior David Wang said. “I also loved getting closer to the other Rock Bridge musicians. We went to the bowling alley, the pool, the arcade and the playground together.”
From Jan. 25-28, these students had a chance to plunge into the vigorous music environment, being treated as professional musicians under their respective directors. At the same time, their three days were filled with musical friendships, challenges and collaboration.
“I totally did grow as a musician. I learned that there are more levels to the quality of music that I and others my age can produce,” Burke-Agüero said. “Now I can hold myself to a new level of excellence in my music, and that will only make me keep improving and growing.”
Listen to other perspectives on the weekend in Maddie Magruder’s podcast here: all-state band podcast.
[nggallery id=45] By Joanne Lee