Each year, Kingwood High School Orchestra students participate in auditions for TMEA Region 33 Orchestra, which comprises 5 school districts. The audition process includes preparing 2 challenging etudes, which are short music pieces meant to exercise techniques and demonstrate the skill of the player. Students prepare this from May of the proceeding school year to September of the next school year, and selected students are placed in either Philharmonic or Symphony Orchestra according to a set of etudes prepared for the audition. These students will participate in Region 33 Orchestra Concert in November, with only two days to rehearse all together before the performance.
This year, our program utilized SmartMusic, purchased by HumbleISD, to prepare for the audition. SmartMusic is an online music education that helps students practice individually with automatic feedback.
Each week, students had summative SmartMusic tests over excerpts from each etude.
The program precisely grades on every note one plays, so it could take hours for students in order to get a satisfactory grade. Sammy Ortega, a junior chamber violist remarked that “Although the tests were annoying, especially on busy school nights, overall, it was really helpful towards the end of the region process. Allowing me to play with the metronome and another viola in the background was honestly what kept me going when I wasn’t able to attend lessons.” Despite the struggles and challenges SmartMusic assignments have brought, in the end, they were beneficial for many students. Allowing them to practice with an automatic feedback until they improve, it was a helpful resource for many.
From May to the end of September, students devote many hours in preparation for this big audition. For many students, a face to face audition is extremely nerve-wracking. Overcoming the nervousness of playing alone in front of the judge is another strategy students must prepare before the audition. Connor Taylor, a sophomore chamber cellist quoted “I get super nervous when I audition, so for the few weeks leading up to the region, I play selected cuts for anyone and everyone I can. Parents, friends, random people who walk by, I play it in a room with a bunch of people. By practicing to the extreme condition, when I face the curtain covering judges I am able to take a deep breath and play a good take.” Although the audition process is tense and puts students under heavy pressure, students have all come up with their own ways to prepare for the live audition.
Due to COVID, this was the first face-to-face audition in over a year for many students. Even then, Kingwood High School students kept up the expectation and their longstanding excellence. This year, 73 Kingwood High School Orchestra students were selected for the TMEA Region 33 Orchestra (40 in Symphony and 33 in Philharmonic). This year, Kingwood had more students selected for region than any other school in Region 33, and Kingwood will be representing nearly half of the TMEA Region 33 Orchestra Concert on November 13th at Atascocita High School.
Congratulations to all!
Kale Bathurst, Taryn