From Feb 1 to 3, four chorus students stayed at the Hilton at Baltimore for the entire weekend to participate in a statewide competition called All State. The competition took place at Morgan State University.
1,500 students in the state audition and about 300 get accepted. There were students from counties all over the state, including four students from chorus, two of whom are sophomore Ellie Helgeson and junior Sona Chudamani.
The Maryland All State program goes through the Maryland Music Educators Association (MMEA). Their goal is to advance music education in schools by educating music teachers. They provide students and teachers with opportunities for growth and valuable experiences through state-wide music activities and events, and serve as an advocate for music education.
The All State experience is known to be positive and educational. “I was in the treble chorus, which is all girls, and I feel like that environment was really open and welcoming. Everyone was really friendly and I met a lot of people from other schools who I plan on keeping in touch with; plus everyone is so talented it’s amazing,” Helgeson sais
” In order to get in, students obtained a nomination from chorus teacher Keith Schwarz. Auditions took place on only one day and the singers were assigned a time that was not able to be rescheduled. In order to prepare for the audition, the teachers at each school gave each singers music, and singers practiced their rhythmic and sight reading skills in order to pass these parts of the audition. The singers also got two pieces of music, one with accompaniment and one that was a capella. The audition is an hour-long process and results come out two weeks later.
Once a student is accepted into the competition, they could get help from their chorus teacher. “I schedule sessions and set times for students for one-on-one help as a way to prepare for all state,” Schwartz said.
The performers said they did not get adequate time to work on the music as a group. They got the music three weeks before, and they had to learn it on their own. Then they passed a part check when they got to the hotel. They ran through the entire seven songs twice before they performed them at the concert which took place on Feb. 3. “Sure, there were a few minor mistakes, but I’m really proud of how we performed,” Helgeson said.
All state does not give out awards or place performers based on their performances: it is a learning experience for all. “I definitely learned a lot more about singing techniques,” Chudamani said.
Those in the music program, but not in chorus, find the All State process exciting. “I’m really happy for the people that are in it. I am also happy they are representing our school. Also all state is a very nice program,” sophomore a capella member Alex Ochman said.