It’s countless hours of learning the music, perfecting every note, tidying up dynamics, and everything in between. It’s countless hours of sight reading for the later rounds. It’s countless hours of sitting at schools around the state, waiting to perform. Each stage eliminates some participants, eventually leading to the highest musical honor in the state for high school students, as they can become a member of the All State Choir.
This year, Rider auditioned many students in the initial region round. By the end, only two remained. Junior Rebekah Woodward and Senior Austin Taack not only made the choir, but were the first chair in their respective vocal parts (Alto 1 and Tenor 1). While this was Woodward’s first time to make the choir, Taack has completed the process for the past three years, achieving the first chair position each time.
“At times it seemed like everyone, even people I didn’t know, were watching just to see how I would do,” Taack said. “It’s important to remember that placing high isn’t the goal. All I want to do is make music every time I sing.”
With Taack’s success, he admits that the process is long and strenuous, requiring extreme amounts of work for months. Yet, he emphasized not sweating the little things and learning how to practice by getting the most out of the limited available time before the audition.
With over 72,900 students competing across every Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) event (band, orchestra, choir, etc.), only 2.4% eventually become All-State musicians.
Along with Taack, Woodward also felt the pressure of the auditions, especially in the final round. She had been expecting to be one of the final spots of the state choir if anything, not the first chair. The results gave way to a celebration for Woodward and her family. Yet, she realizes that the success came from seven months of demanding practice.
“My favorite aspect of the all state process is the satisfaction of reaching your goals as long as you put in the work necessary for it, whether you make the All-State choir or not,” Woodward said.
While Woodward still has a year to go in high school, Taack is now preparing for college in order to pursue a career in music. He hopes to make professional music in a recording studio for media projects, orchestrating and conducting pieces as a lead composer. Woodward also has her sights on a musical career, pursuing not only singing, but piano.
“My goal in college is to get a music education degree, so that I can teach voice and piano lessons at home,” Woodward said. “Music has always been a huge part of my life and my family’s life, so it’s helped me really learn to love the music that i’m singing.”
While Woodward and Taack are at different stages in terms of what comes next, they both have a love of music rooted at the center. Not only that, the All-State process allows for students to spend time together as friends.
“I don’t know that I really can sum up the process in one word,” Woodward said. “There’s too many emotions that happen in the 7 months to give it one word. The best I could tell you is it’s an adventure, that’s for sure.”