photo courtesy of Alvin Chung
With over 30 percent of all CHS band students involved in either All-State or All-County Band, it is no wonder that CHS has won many awards for its performing arts.
Beginning practice in January and February of 2016, the All-State and All-County Bands are just a few of the many outside ensembles that student musicians join.
“All-County is an ensemble made up of the best musicians from Montgomery County, while All-State is made up of the best musicians from the whole state,” said senior and All-State first chair euphonium player Emily Thomas.
Aside from the fact that both ensembles are programs with the purpose of gathering students from different high schools in order to create a diverse and elite group of musicians, the All-State and All-County bands are radically different in organization. All-State is managed by the the Maryland Music Education Association, an association of music teachers around Maryland, while All-County Band is managed by MCPS.
“Each year I have to re-audition for All State,” Thomas said. “The process is pretty simple. You are assigned two pieces of music prior to the audition which you must play. You are also required to know ten scales. Once you are in the audition you play your two pieces and scales and then you are asked to read a piece you have never seen before.”
Students choose to audition for the various outside music programs because they offer extra opportunities to play in an ensemble and to further their skills.
According to music teacher Kristofer Sanz, CHS has a “very high functioning” music program, but participating in outside music programs allows students to play alongside other strong musicians from other schools.
While CHS’ reputation for competition and its high-achieving mentality contribute to so many students joining All-State and All-County Band, many students profess to have joined the programs not because of peer pressure, but because it was another opportunity to practice music and meet friends.
“My favorite memory was making new friends and hanging out during breaks,” freshman and All-State french horn player Hannah Sun said. “Last year, I enjoyed the pieces we played because they were unique.”
Many students join the groups starting in middle school and continue on through their entire high school musical career, thus creating lasting memories and a lasting impact on their lives.
“I have many memories of All-County Band and All-State, especially performing the final concert because we spent so much time together perfecting the performance for our friends and parents to listen to,” senior bassoon player Hannah Wang said. “Ultimately I do it to have fun and hang out with my friends, and I can’t really put it in words.”