RBHS musicians to participate in state music festival

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Mike Pierson, choir director, was one of the two judges for musical auditions this year.

Katie Whaley

Instead of going to her normal B day classes like usual, sophomore Hanna Weber will head down the road to University of Missouri with five other girls to compete at the annual state music festival. There, students, like Weber, in the choir, orchestra and band in solos or small ensembles will perform in front of judges to receive critical feedback and an overall rating.
Students who had received an Exemplary rating of one at the district solo and ensemble festival at Mexico High School on March 24 will be the only ones participating in the state festival.
For Weber’s group of choir singers, they had received a one rating at the district festival and hope to achieve the same rating at state. The group prepared two songs, “Highlands” by Butler and “Velvet Shoes” by Porterfield. Weber is excited to show off he singing capabilities to the judges as well as gaining more knowledge about performing in a smaller group.
“I decided to sign up because I wanted to see what it was like to learn and sing in such a small group environment, and also I wanted to qualify for a letter at the end of the year,” Weber said. “A letter is just like those that you can get for playing sports, like a letterman jacket is for the purpose of showing your letter, if that helps visualize, and it’s the same for music. If you participate in enough events throughout the year, such as show choir, district and state contest or the musical, then you get  a letter. once you get your letter. Then, if you qualify, the next year you can get a metal bar that’s also usually put on clothing.”
There are four string orchestra students from RBHS who are going to the state festival, orchestra teacher Alison Schmidt said. Though the students don’t have time to practice while in class, Schmidt said her doors are always open to students who want extra help or someone to critique them.
“Most of the preparation for this festival is done independently, since it’s usually a small portion of students that attend. Typically these students work with a private teacher to prepare,” Schmidt said. “If they have questions about their pieces, I am available to help before or after class, but all of their practice and preparation happens outside of class on their own time, which really shows dedication and interest in the whole process.”
Similarly, junior Jackson Dampier, a trumpet player in Wind Symphony, practiced his pieces outside of class. This year is not his first year at performing a solo for these festivals, as he accounts his years of participation for why he feels confidently this year he will do well at state.
“Organizing and practicing a solo is a lot easier than trying to get lots of people together. I also take a solo every year as a way to supplement my playing and further my abilities as a trumpet player,” Dampier said. “I’m usually not too nervous to play in front of people, but experience has really helped me get through the performance without panicking. It’s hard not to have any especially at this important of an event.”
Both Dampier and Weber think more musicians at RBHS should involves themselves in a solo or small ensemble before they graduate, as the experience boosts morale and skill.
“Singing in a small group is a lot different because it has a lot to do with confidence in your own abilities, and making sure that everyone is singing the right thing because it matters due to the small amount of people,” Weber said. “It’s a lot different [than a large group] but it’s interesting to be able to learn closely with so few people.”