Congratulations to Vice Haysley, BE junior, who auditioned for and made the Kentucky All-State Band, highly considered to be the top program/ensemble a high school instrumentalist can participate in.
Vice plays the tuba, and was incredibly excited to participate in KMEA’s All-State Band this year. “I’m a competitive person,” says Vice. “To be able to play with other people who enjoy that as much as I do was really awesome.”
The All-State “experience” is usually a three day adventure, where all participants from all around Kentucky who auditioned for and made the band travel to downtown Louisville to meet their peers and instructors, rehearse, and put on a performance. Due to the obvious struggles of this past year, the 2021 experience went virtual.
“There were definitely downsides to participating virtually,” Vice explains. “My internet was a big issue. I got kicked out of the Zoom meetings a lot, but never missed anything important. There were some technical issues on our director’s end, too, but we were always able to get things going pretty quickly.”
In a normal band setting, the entire band plays together under the instruction of the director, and then the musicians are provided with feedback and further instruction. Due to the band being virtual, the director played a recording of the music and participants were required to keep their microphones muted and play along. The director then provided feedback based on his analysis of the score and individual parts, essentially instructing potential problems or challenges he could label. However, this was only for the full band -- participants also had sectional time, where they were able to break into another session with only their instruments. With there only being eight tubas, the section coach could then unmute the players and ask them to play specific parts individually for personal feedback.
“The most challenging part would probably be when Dr. Matt Hightower, the Assistant Tuba-Euphonium professor at the University of Kentucky, had us play for him individually in our sectionals. The piece of music itself was extremely challenging for tuba, so I was really nervous to play in front of my section, even though it was only seven other people. However, I got through, didn’t do too bad, and I got some great feedback,” describes Vice.
Playing in an ensemble where each musician is excited and dedicated to the music and group is an incredibly rewarding experience. To make an All-State group, participants go through two rounds of auditions, with the second being a “call back.” They are provided with two excerpts of music to learn ahead of time, and are also asked to play certain scales and sight-read, where they are handed an excerpt of music entirely new to them and asked to play it in real-time. If a student receives a “call back,” they are that much closer to being able to participate in this highly prestigious group.
Vice states, “The most rewarding part was the last rehearsal of the last day. We were told to play through the piece once more with the recording and it was the best time I had played it. It really showed me that my hard work had paid off over the course of those three days.
All-State Band participants were then asked to record themselves individually playing the pieces, which were then taken and combined to make one huge virtual concert, being released soon.