by REBEKAH HARVEY
Five South Plains College students recently were selected for participation in the Texas Community College Band Directors Association Symphonic Band.
The selected students are Alexis Sanchez of Levelland, Abelardo Palma of Denver City, Clarissa Pacheco of Levelland, Marissa Anthony of Levelland, and Isabell Rocha of Lubbock.
Student musicians from across the state travelled to San Antonio to practice and perform pieces, led by a notable conductor. This year’s conductor was Phillip Clements from Texas A&M University at Commerce.
On Feb. 13, the musicians rehearsed for three hours in the evening. According to the students, this rehearsal was instrumental in getting used to the other musicians.
“It’s always kind of nerve-wracking,” said Rocha, who plays trumpet, “because you’re getting used to everyone because you’re coming from home and you don’t know how the band is going to sound because it’s different every year.”
On Feb. 14, rehearsals started at 8:30 a.m. and didn’t stop until noon. After a short break for lunch, the students were back to rehearsals for four hours. On Feb.15 and Feb. 16, they rehearsed from 8:30 a.m. to noon, but had the evenings off.
Before the students came together in San Antonio, they had to audition. The students sent in a recording of themselves playing the audition pieces, including one slow étude and one fast étude.
After sending in their recordings, all of the students had to wait for their results.
“It was hard not knowing the results for months,” explained Anthony, who plays trumpet as well, “and breaking out in acne because you were so stressed out if you were going to go or not.”
But once they learned they had made All-State, it was a huge relief.
“I was super happy,” said Rocha. “It showed the progress that I made from last year.”
During rehearsals, the musicians found it easy to get uncomfortable and frustrated, but the conductor kept them focused.
“He did a really good job of keeping us engaged,” said Rocha, “even whenever it was hard.”
With a band made up of musicians from across the state, it is extremely unique.
“It’s crazy,” said Anthony, “because when you’re in a band like this, it only exists for four days, and then it’s gone forever.”
Along with rehearsals, the musicians also got to take part in a college fair. Music departments from numerous colleges and universities set up booths for the students to visit. This is an opportunity for those who want to continue their education in music to learn more about institutions they want to attend.
“It’s a really good opportunity,” said Alexis Sanchez, a flute player, “because all of the music majors get to look at the colleges all at once. You can actually meet the people like I did.”
Students and musicians can also attend clinics held throughout the Convention. Anthony attended one on anxiety during performances.
“It showed you how to overcome anxiety,” explained Anthony, “and the different types of performance anxiety.”
After the four days of rehearsals, the musicians performed their pieces in the evening on Feb. 16. According to the students, the performance went by quickly.
“It did go by really fast,” recalled Rocha. “It’s kind of hard to remember now.”
Dr. Gary Hudson, professor of music at South Plains College, encourages his students to try out for All-State band because of the opportunities.
“We want to give these students the experience of being able to do this,” said Hudson, “and to open their eyes to a little bit of what their future is going to be like.”
For the students, what they learned at All-State is also important at SPC.
“I think us going and coming back and bringing all of that knowledge to our band itself will help,” said Sanchez. “Even the people who weren’t in the band with us and still went to TMEA learned something as well, but I can’t speak for them.”
After returning from their experience in San Antonio, the student musicians recognize that SPC has prepared them for these opportunities.
“They’re always encouraging you to be your best,” said Abelardo Palma, who plays clarinet, “even if they are not your instrument.”
According to the students, Phillip Clements talked about how musicians should be selfless, thinking more about the band as a whole and not just themselves as musicians. For Anthony, the best example of that is the faculty in the Fine Arts Department at SPC.
“We talk about being selfless,” said Anthony, “and I believe that the music staff here is a textbook example of how music educators should be, putting the students before you put yourself.”
Pacheco, a pre-optometry major, encourages people to try out, even if they aren’t a music major.
“Overall, it was just a really amazing experience, even though I’m not a music major,” said Pacheco, who plays the tenor saxophone. “I would definitely recommend it to anyone and to try their hardest on it.”