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The Process of Preparing for Choir KMEA

Senior Joey Byrd prepares for KMEA All-State by reviewing music in class.

Ahna Cates, Staff Writer

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Singing their way to success.

This year’s annual KMEA (Kentucky Music Educators Association) All-State event is happening from Wednesday, Feb. 7 through Friday, Feb. 9.

KMEA All-State is a gathering of talented student musicians from across the state of Kentucky who come together to rehearse and perform over the course of three days. BEHS is continuing the tradition of having selected band and choir students participate in this event. In particular, choir teacher Carrie Gary has been preparing with Advanced Choir students seniors Brittany Hopper, Joey Byrd, Kaleigh Foster and junior Matt Brown.

The process of KMEA is an intensive one. Students arrive on Wednesday, register, and rehearse music for the concert for six hours, with a break in the middle. Then, they rehearse all throughout the day on Thursday. Students rehearse more on Friday afternoon, go to dinner and perform at 8 p.m. All rehearsals will take place at the Hyatt Hotel in Louisville, and the concert takes place at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

This is the tenth year that Gary has had choir students be selected, which is due to the work that goes all the way back to auditions. This year’s candidates auditioned in September of 2017.
“It’s not a competition. That’s what people think of it as, like getting to the finals, just in general because you think about sports. They’ve already done the hard work getting in. Now, there’s just the performance. The competition is in the fall when you audition,” said Gary.

It requires singing with four others in a four vocal part song, which is worth 90 points. The other 10 points are credited to sight-reading, which is the practice of correctly reading and performing a piece of music that the performer hasn’t previously seen.

Based on the success of the audition, the student receives a score from judges, which determines their selection for KMEA. This year’s auditionees learned if they were selected or not in November. Due to the competitive nature of the auditions, getting selected is usually a very exciting and relieving experience. “It’s a real honor to be selected to be in All-State. You have to be really good at what you do,” said Byrd.

Preparing for the KMEA All-States also takes a lot of time and effort. Gary’s students have been preparing long before the event or even the auditions. Advanced Choir students began learning the 4-part audition German song “Abend Friede” in class in May of 2017. They practice sight-reading skills in the class as well.

The expectations for KMEA are higher and songs are more difficult than what most choir students work on in class, with several contrasting vocal parts and lyrics in foreign languages. Although, the work seems to pay off to those who choose to go through the process.
“I’m not nervous because I’ve been to events, like honor choirs, but I feel like it’s more intense. That’s what Ms. Gary said. It’s more intense, so there’s more practices. It’s kind of the same thing, but I’m not nervous about it. I’m very excited to experience a new thing,” said Foster.

It can be a valuable experience not only to newcomers, but also to experts. “I just knew that it was an opportunity that I could not pass up for my senior year and something to experience,” said Hopper, who’s never been involved with KMEA before.

The perspective of someone who has gone is a little different, but still similar. “I’m still excited but it’s not like a little kid going to a candy store anymore. I’ve been there, but it’s still very exciting and it’s still as much of an honor as last year to be selected to get in,” said Byrd, a two-time selectee.

KMEA gives students opportunities to better themselves as musicians and interact with other students who work on the same level, making it a worthwhile task.

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