Students rush to the side of the gymnasium as a volunteer comes out with a sheet of paper. As he tapes it against the bleachers, people begin screaming, crying and jumping with joy. The paper holds a listing of who was accepted for a certain instrument. Now, repeat that process dozens of times over a span of twelve hours; that is the audition process for the renowned All-State Music Festival.
For the last several years, Ames has been a dominating force in cultivating All-State musicians. Last year, Ames set the school record by sending 34. This year, 14 members from band, 3 from chorus, 8 from orchestra, two pianists and a harpist from Ames were accepted- making a total of 28 musicians.
Procrastination and finding motivation during the school year poses difficult tasks for many high school musicians. When an audition is nearing, these tasks become even more significant. Junior Grace Kim exemplifies this common problem saying, “When the audition music first came out, I printed it off so fast and practiced real hard for around a month. Then, school started and my practicing went down for a while. When the week of the audition came around, I started working really hard again, even having the urge to keep practicing in the middle of the night.”
Few people are familiar with the intensive work to audition, but Ames High seems to have a process that works. “At Ames, there’s a tradition that builds upon itself and a lot of individuals who are dedicated to trying to better themselves,” band director Chris Ewan explained. “There’s a synergy when you have a group of other musicians doing the same thing as you. So if you are a school with only five kids trying out, they might not know what’s possible.”
Also, the vast array of musicians holding different perspectives leads to various philosophies towards auditions. “No one is perfect, no one ever is, but by simply making music, you put yourself in a better position to succeed,” senior David Tarté said. “The intense environment and waiting for results can be gut-wrenching for many people, but I find comfort in knowing that I prepared my best.”
The festival is two and a half days of full rehearsal from November 16th-18th. On the last day, Saturday the 18th, the concert is performed at Hilton Coliseum here in Ames. Iowa Public Television will broadcast the concert first at 7:00 pm on Thursday, November 23rd. Following the festival, the only thing to do, is practice, because making All-State is a great achievement, but musical excellence and achievement will hardly stop there for these talented students.