Spring break’s first vacation activity: MSHSAA Districts

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Alice Yu

[heading size=”16″ margin=”10″]Fine arts students prepare for MSHSAA District auditions on Saturday, March 21[/heading] While spring break more often than not signals days of sleeping in and studying, some fine arts students are waking up with the sun to board a bus to Mexico, Missouri on the first day of spring break, Sat., March 21.
A total of 92 students from orchestra, choir and/or band are signed up to participate in the districts level of the 2015 MSHSAA Music Festival. Students can sign up to perform as a soloist, part of a small ensemble, or both.
“We’re used to playing in larger groups and it makes them more accountable for playing either as soloists or as small groups,” band director Steve Mathews said. “They’re more accountable for their parts and it benefits them by just improving their musicianship.”
For senior Emily Reynolds, a cellists in the Chamber Orchestra, her motivation for signing up for a solo event is to practice performing in public and receiving constructive critiques.
“As it is my last year, I thought that it would be best to finish it out well and I’ve been working really hard on my piece to hopefully get a ‘I’ and then move on to state,” Reynolds said. “You never really get to do solo acts unless you get a special one in the concert, but honestly, it’s just a higher level of competition and it’s a good environment and you can learn a lot from it too.”
With a shortage of opportunities to perform as a soloist, junior Ethan Forte also looks to districts as a forum to gain experience and get a second opinion on his techniques and performance style. Forte is not only signed up to perform in a string quartet and as a cello soloist, he is also in two double quartets for voice and performing as a voice soloist.
“Taking private lessons, the most you get to do a lot of times is getting to play in a recital maybe that your teacher does, so you don’t get to showcase your individual talent much,” Forte said. “The reason I’m doing my solos is both to showcase everything I’ve learned with my voice and cello, but it’s also so I get a better understanding for where I am and my musicianship. People can tell you a lot of different things and even though it’s only one opinion and you can only take that one opinion so far, it does sometimes give you a nice second opinion and an opinion that’s usually somewhat legitimate.”
While Forte has participated in string events since his freshman year, the earliest time students can participate in MSHSAA districts, this is the first year he’s signed up for districts for voice.
“It’s been really interesting,” Forte said. “It does not come easily or necessarily naturally, but it’s been nice having the background with music that I’ve had so it’s helped me jump into all of it a lot easier.”
But transforming all the years of musicianship and packing it into a repertoire to perform for a judge can be daunting and frustrating. Behind each audition is hours of preparation that still isn’t enough to combat stage fright.
“Even though you’re in front of just a couple judges and people in the audience, it’s still nerve wracking, but you just learn from it and you get good feedback from good musicians,” Reynolds said. “You get to see what other people think of your work other than your teacher.”
By Alice Yu
Assistant band director Patrick Sullivan leads the Concert Band in a rehearsal Wednesday, March 18. Fine arts students practice as part of a large ensemble a majority of the time, giving them the opportunity to learn cooperation and collaboration, but performing in a small ensemble can hone in other essential skills, such as responsibility and intonation. Photo by Caylea Erickson