Changing Keys

Band region testing approaches


Annika Esseku

Fine arts students continue TMEA Region auditions despite coronavirus restrictions.

Though COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation of several club activities, this was not the case for the Fine Arts Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Region Auditions. Though orchestra, choir, mariachi, and jazz band have had their auditions already, the band’s region is coming up Nov.  14. Despite major changes in the process, musicians across Texas are still auditioning to show their musical prowess.

The main procedure change for this year is prominent in the audition process. Rather than performing live in front of judges, musicians record their audition pieces and submit them through an online music service. In addition, students are given the option of re-recording their pieces over a five day period.

“While it’s good that we had three days to record the audition, the anxiety of making recordings felt magnified,” junior choir member Vanessa Darko said. “This year, we had so many opportunities to make the recording perfect, but listening to my voice over and over again could be really discouraging.”

Along with the changes to auditioning, students experienced slight changes to their preparations for the audition.

“This year, during our virtual summer, we had region music masterclasses which were really helpful,” senior flute player Sage Gray said.

Oftentimes, players will begin their practices at the beginning of the school year. Virtual classes allowed students to have more time and motivation to prepare for the auditions.

Students weren’t the only ones affected by the change, however. Administrators experienced significant modifications to both the preparation and process of listening to auditions.

“It’s all virtual, so we don’t have to try to get a different location and do the judging from there,” orchestra director and region orchestra chair Tanner Ledford said. “On the day of, it’s going to be a whole lot easier for the administrative side.”

Though these changes were made due to the presence of COVID, administrators and performers alike are looking at how future region auditions can implement these changes to create a more effective system.

“I would like to see the recording thing again,” senior violinist Samantha Gaus-Schmidt said. “There’s always people that are really good players but are bad at auditions. However, live auditions also show the people who are able to push past the anxiety and play strongly.”