Every year Austin and I sit down and assess whether or not the way we do things is working and try to find new ways to be better teachers for our private students. We also take time to celebrate the end of a hard-fought All State season, much in the same way we ask our students to assess their All State season and find ways to both celebrate and grow from it. I thought I’d share part of the results of our discussion.

Full disclosure, I dropped out of AP Statistics senior year at the semester to focus more time on my auditions. I don’t regret that, because at least in one semester I did learn the difference between correlation and causation. So I’ll say right now, these stats are very unique to OUR studio and while we are super proud, we also know that every year and every singer is very different and these numbers can’t necessarily be applied across the board, though I believe many of our conclusions at least merit consideration. Keep in mind also that we audition in Area E which sends 7 Treble and 6 T/B voices to All State choirs.


Bradley Studio Stats 2017-2018

  • 55 students entered the All State Process
    • 12 – made an All State Choir (22%) *From three different high schools
    • 17 – made it to the Area Audition (31%)
    • 26 – made it to Pre-Area (47%)
    • 38 – made a Region Choir (69%)

Contributing Factors

Voice Lessons100% take voice lessons (Obviously!) My Junior year of High School I got knocked out of the process at Pre-Area, after making 1st chair at Region (I also had bronchitis, but I digress…). I looked around and noticed something…everyone who was doing well was taking voice lessons and I was not. So, I decided to sign up for lessons and, though I can’t say that they are the ONE thing that pushed me over the edge, I did become an All Stater my Senior year.

Now here’s the rub: I grew up in an extremely affluent area and my parents, though not wealthy, had no qualms about allocating part of their budget for my private instruction. Not only did their budget allow this, but they also believed that this was crucial to my progress and bought in with their minds as well as their checkbooks.

Being able to afford this instruction is simply not the reality for a huge number of families out there. However, Austin and I relocated to the same affluent area where I grew up, knowing that the families there would invest, wallet and mind, into what the two of us offer. We had to, because in many other areas of the state, we simply could not do what we do: teach privately, exclusively, and still make ends meet.

In any case, that’s where we are today, with the glaring reality that, just like the SAT or even competitive sports, the number one predictor of All State success is how much, and what quality of, private instruction a student can get. The inequity this causes doesn’t get discussed enough, and I honestly do not have a good solution in mind. However, this is why we make this Blog FREE to readers (actually, at a cost to us) as an attempt to do a small contribution to those who cannot, for various reasons, get in-depth help on their All State music.

Camps and Workshops (98%)– Once again, this brings up another economic inequity, because camps cost money. It is true, though, that many offer scholarships, especially for those students who have already made All State. Heck, sometimes they’ll even be so short on Tenors that they’ll shoo them in for free, too! This year we had our first ever All Stater….who did not attend a summer All State camp. One. total. in the history of our studio! Most of them also attended an Area camp (or two)!

Bonus time at school (100%): The Booster Club at the high school where we teach on-campus sponsors weekly sectionals from the start of school until Pre-Area. Weekly! With compensated private instructors! This is an insanely cool benefit to the students who attend. And consequently this school gobbled up 1/4 of the Mixed choir slots in our Area.  The other two schools our All Staters came from either learned and performed the music in choir or had some sort of weekly sectional or practice time. And believe me, to those All Staters, that extra practice time was NOT optional…they showed up every time!

But even if your school can’t swing this (I realize what a pipe dream this is for the vast majority of schools) your choir director is probably open to helping you out, even if they don’t have something scheduled regularly. The thing is, you need to ask — this extra time is not in their job description, but they still care and are willing to hear you, especially if you aren’t wasting their time and show up prepared.

And if you’re a director and thinking… I want some of that…then Contact Us, we’d love to come do a clinic next year!

Seniority (50%): Most people do not make All State all four years. Those who make it tend to progress through the stages, year by year, slowly improving their auditioning and singing skills, gaining confidence, and becoming more mature. So yes, being older and wiser is a huge benefit! This year, half of our All Staters are seniors.

Previous Performance (57-100%): It is rare for us to have a student make two trips to the Area audition and not make the choir the second time around. It is even MORE rare for someone to make All State once and not do it again. However, it does happen on occasion! And those that are disappointed are almost always Seniors who have lost sight of their priorities, gotten overwhelmed with work, or become complacent in their practice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Area audition feels so very strange and different from the rest of the process. Just being there once will help you loads when you go back again.

This year, all of our returning All Staters made the Mixed Choir, and 2/3 of our students returning for the second time to Area made All State on their second trip.

A related tidbit…. Every one of our All Staters placed in the top 3 chairs in at least one of the previous competition rounds. Many of them, at both Region and Pre-Area. And ALL of our kids who were ranked 1st chair in ANY previous round, made All State. What does this mean? It’s not a huge surprise which kids wind up making the choir, they’ve been at the top before.

Apportionment: Yes, this is a bit of a sore subject around here, as you might expect from one of the Areas that contribute the smallest number of students to the All State Choir, especially when you have alternates who, in another Area would’ve made it. But the reality is that it does skew our statistics a bit so it needs to be discussed. I don’t really know what a perfect system would look like (though redrawing the lines would be a good start, in my opinion) You can look at a map and see this one heavily favors mega huge Houston schools, many of whom (according to my counterparts in the area) require their enormous Varsity groups to enroll in the All State process, no matter their level of preparation or interest in it. It also favors a suburban demographic where the above mentioned roadblocks can be easier to hurdle.

Regardless, based on the rules of the game they are allowed higher numbers in the All State choir. Here in Region 32, we have personally been working hard to beef up our enrollment in organic ways by creating a culture of friendly competition and interest in All State. I hope that it pays off and anxiously look forward to the release of revised apportionment numbers for 2019-2021.

Region Competitiveness: What I am interested is the competitiveness of each Region individually and how that all works out at Area. I’m talking about a singer flying through the early rounds, smoking the competition, and then getting 12th at Area, without feeling like they had a bad audition. I’m talking about school after school from the same Region having All Staters while entire school Districts from another Region have one or two…or none.

This year, Region 32 took the lead with 20 All Staters, though our fair share (1/4) of the allotted 52 Area All Staters is 13. That is the most of any of the four Regions that contribute to our Area, so you can imagine kids from those other Regions may feel a bit blindsided or simply confused.

In the same way we talk about preparing kids for college using  their high school experience, I want to dig in to how we can prepare kids for Area based on their Region experience. It’s hard to get perspective if you’re a big fish/small pond situation so I think it’s to the benefit of our students to start talking early about the relative competition Region to Region. I personally do this: I’ll point out to students that they may have done really well in our Region but we are about to combine with XYZ powerhouse school down the road and all bets are off.

I think kids appreciate hearing the reality, not in a fatalistic way or as an excuse, but just so that they’re prepared. And believe me, Region 32 will likewise be working to make sure that nobody here gets complacent.

I know that was a long one, and I’m grateful if you made it this far! I’m even more excited if you were able to take a little nugget of knowledge from this long assessment and use it to your own benefit in the future!

~Natalie