All-Region honors: Local band students earn recognition
By Haley Schichtl
Seven Green Forest students and three Berryville students qualified for high school all-region band at tryouts on Saturday, Jan. 18.
These students got to attend an all-region clinic Friday, Jan. 24 in Bentonville, and several of them also qualified to go to all-state tryouts Saturday, Feb. 8 in Arkadelphia.
Nic Harp, Lauren Spurlock and Haylee Rich all qualified for all-region and Harp qualified for all-state tryouts.
“We get the music ahead of time and spend months preparing. Then you go and they give you a random number, you go in that order and play for judges behind a screen,” Spurlock said.
“Also the music gets cut down so you don’t have to play the whole piece,” Rich said.
Rich said it was her second time getting to go to an all-region clinic.
“You go and are in the band with different kids from all across the region,” Rich said. “You have to prepare a concert in less than a day.”
“It was an amazing experience. It was probably the most excited I’ve been about music probably since I picked up my instrument,” Harp said. “There’s something about being with the best people in the northwest Arkansas area.”
Harp said there were four bands at the clinic, junior high first and second bands, and high school first and second bands, but they all worked and performed concerts separately.
“We learned a 25-minute symphony, which was three movements, and then we learned a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner,” Harp said.
Spurlock said sometimes they have to play harder pieces, but they just take practice. Rich admitted that sometimes there is a lack of motivation to practice alone, and Harp agreed.
“I’ll be in my room and get something wrong and just keep trying over and over again,” Harp said. “But I guess that’s part of the rewarding experience after you get it.”
The students all said not just playing music, but playing music with others is a big part of why they enjoy band.
“I like how happy it is all the time, and I like playing my instrument,” she said. “It’s like a family thing, if there’s ever any riffs, it’s really disheartening, because there’s hardly ever any.”
“It feels good to be a part of something that you’re contributing to this overall sound,” Harp said.
“I like going to competitions and different events for band and meeting new people that also play the same instrument,” Rich said.
Toño Mendez, Mason Dunham-McCreary, Henry Holtkamp, Sam Holtkamp, Celest Mattix, Austin Booth and Angel Lemus of Green Forest all qualified for all-region, and Booth, Mendez, and Henry Holtkamp qualified for all-state tryouts.
Booth said scores are based on students’ musical proficiency in the pieces, scales and site-reading they are given to play, out of a possible total score of around 800.
“You get scored on tone, accuracy, musical expression, and once you do the audition they tally the scores together,” Booth said. “Then they separate you throughout your section in the two bands that are possible.”
Mattix said usually most of first band qualifies for all-state, depending on how big the section is.
Booth said going to all-region clinic is neat because they not only get to play music that is different from what they play at school, but they get to talk to the best band students across the region and the director at the clinic.
“You get to play in an ensemble with very capable people,” Henry said. “You get to hear the upper end of what a band can be.”
“There was a lot of really great musicians there,” Mattix said.
The students agreed that nerves during tryouts are the most difficult part of band.
“If you get too nervous, you have a higher chance of messing things up, even if you’ve never messed up during practice,” Lemus said.
“Playing music is a really good way to express your emotions, and it’s really fun to interact with people that enjoy the same thing you do,” Booth said.
“It’s a good way to stretch your brain,” Henry said.