District choir auditions provide opportunities for growth and camaraderie

Students+in+the+City+Lights+show+choir+rehearse+early+in+the+morning.+These+rehearsals+also+provide+training+for+districts+auditions+by+prompting+students+to+sight-read+music+and+hone+their+intonation.+Photo+by+Devesh+Kumar

Students in the City Lights show choir rehearse early in the morning. These rehearsals also provide training for districts auditions by prompting students to sight-read music and hone their intonation. Photo by Devesh Kumar

Alice Yu

Just as athletes get a taste of competition at district tournaments, choir students have the chance to attend district auditions Sat., Sept. 20 at Battle High School.

Auditions consist of two sections, the vocal solo, as well as a sight-singing portion. For the vocal solo, students choose a song out of a set repertoire for their voice part–soprano, alto, tenor, or bass–and perform it.

“You sing your song and sometimes they’ll stop you in the middle, which is really scary because it happened to me last year and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m not going to get in because they hated my song’ but then I got in,” senior Kyra Florea said. “So when they know whether you’re in or out, they kind of just say ‘stop’ even if you’re not done.”

For the sight-singing portion, students are given two lines of music for their voice part to sing on demand, leaving no opportunity for prior practice.

Before singing the music, students are asked to identify the key signature of the music they are given. For the first line of music, they are to sing the notes acapella, with only a three chord progression played at the beginning as a guide. Students are then asked to sing their voice part with the three other voice parts.

“When you sing your part with the other parts, they play on the piano the three other parts and they don’t play your part,” Florea said. “That one’s actually easier because you can listen and see where you should fit in rather than going acapella and guessing.”

With such daunting demands, the skills assessed in the sight-singing portion are practiced throughout the year in choir.

“For the sight-singing portion, we do a lot of work in choir, especially in the front-part of the year building our sight-singing skills and specifically going through the audition model,” RBHS choir director Mike Pierson said. “So everybody knows not necessarily the notes that are going to be written on the page, but they know the order and progression of how things go in that portion of the audition.”

By rehearsing and honing their skills for auditions like the districts audition, students hope to receive a prestige that they can use for future reference.

“I think my motivation is just that it’d be a really cool thing to put on my college application,” junior Kelsey Lyman said. “Plus, I just really like singing with a choir so I think it’d be fun.”

With an average of 120-130 students who make it to districts, the event packs learning, rehearsing and finally performing a set of songs into a one day spectacle.

“You get there pretty early in the morning and you start rehearsing and you pretty much just go all day. You just rehearse all day, until the evening when you have a performance and then it’s over,” Florea said. “Districts is just one day and then it’s done. It’s kind of stressful, but it’s fun, so it’s okay.”

Along with gaining the experience of singing with a large group and accomplishing a one day preparation and performance of music, students are also exposed to a different conducting style that might help them learn better.

“They get to sing with a conductor that maybe expresses some of the things that we’ve been talking about in class but says it differently and it just clicks for them,” Pierson said. “It’s a growth experience as a singer. That’s the main importance for me.”

Providing opportunities for growth and learning, districts is also a platform for developing social connections with other students across Missouri.

“Meeting people from other choirs around Missouri was really cool because we go to other competitions but we don’t really interact, and then we’re coming together as one choir, so that’s really cool,” Florea said. “And also, just trying to figure out the music because the music is really hard, so trying to figure it out and see what your notes are and what the rhythms are; it’s a puzzle that’s kind of fun to put together.”

By Alice Yu