Every year, top performing middle and high school instrumentalists in Georgia have the chance to perform in front of two to four judges in a blind audition for a chance to play in the Georgia All State Band.
Cousins Middle School had eight students earn a place in the Georgia band, two being alternates. Cousins is one of three schools in the state to send more than two students to the program.
The students are Nicholas Anderson, Timothy Birt, Katie Beth Fowler, John Harden, Kenneth Harris, Hezekiah Rodgers, Reid Waters and Walter James Wilson.
The students began practicing specific etudes (a scale that is specific to each instrument that is more rigorous than the average scale) in August. They were also required to practice daily to develop a high level of technique and skills for the auditions.
“Students begin preparing for this audition the minute they pick up an instrument,” Cousins band director Christine Kraemer said.
Students chosen had to be part of their school’s band program or take private lessons if they were home schooled. Approximately 8,000 students began the audition process in August and prepared by practicing four major scales, which included a chromatic scale and an etude.
The first set of auditions took place the first Saturday in December in 13 different districts across Georgia where contestants were judged on their capabilities.
“One of the main goals of the audition is to first identify the highest level of performing students in each district,” Kraemer continued. “These students are then invited to be a part of the district honor band.”
After the students performed the scales, they then performed a sight reading selection at their auditions. Students only had 30 seconds to look over a piece of music they had never seen before. Then, they had to play the right notes, rhythms and all music symbols on the page as perfectly as possible. Students who received high scores are recommended to audition for the Georgia All State Band.
Auditions for the Georgia All State Band were in January at Perry Middle School. Students from Cousins, Liberty and Indian Creek middle schools were among the 900 selected to try out. Anderson, Birt, Fowler, Harden, Harris, Rodgers, Waters, and Wilson were chosen to represent Cousins in the final 200 students.
Members of the band attended rehearsals in Savannah over a three-day period ending with the main concert earlier this month.
“The students had the opportunity to work with some of the leading conductors, composers and educators in the nation,” Kraemer said. “They had the chance to meet other students from many different schools who worked just as hard as they had.”
She also said students played a once-in-a-lifetime performance for an audience of thousands in a music hall that is one of Georgia’s state of the art facilities.
“I hope these students know how proud I am of them,” Kraemer said. “Not only am I proud of them, but their teachers, parents and the citizens of this community are proud of them as well. All of us have recognized their hard work, and they need to know how much respect they have earned from those who matter.”
Chorus students Courtney Holmer and Jasmine McElory made it to All State Chorus this year as well to participate amongst the top singers in Georgia. The Cousins Middle School Chorus as a whole also received straight superiors (highest honor in the competition) at the Large Group Performance Evaluation last week.