We always try to make an extra effort to reach out to 8th graders in the spring before their Freshman year to start preparing them, mentally at least, for the All State process. You only get four chances to make the All State choir, and we hate for the first try to be halfhearted. Additionally, in the past we have had Freshman All Staters, and we have also had students who might’ve made it if they had just tried. So listen up, 8th graders! The time to start planning is now.
Differences between Middle School Region and High School All State
Right from the start, let’s understand that High School All State and Middle School Region auditions feel very different.
- You’re competing against older singers. Most of the time, Middle School Region is separated out by grade. Which means you’re truly competing against students who are very close to your development level. In High School, you’ll be barely finding your locker in time for class, but singing against singers who are perhaps college-bound to study music or who have already made All State.
- The Music is harder. Much harder. Middle School Region music is generally written for that specific age and purpose. As a professional singer (read: fully grown adult with multiple degrees), I frequently perform with professional choirs, the music that is auditioned for HS All State. You’ll explore a vast array of styles, composers, languages, etc.
- And there’s more of it! Tons of music. And more at each audition level you progress through.
- You’ll learn it differently: in our Region it is commonplace for the Varsity Middle School choirs to learn the music in class, perform it on a concert, and then require students to audition. In High School you might be lucky if your director teaches one of the songs in class and puts it on the fall concert. So you’re more on your own. But keep in mind, learning it on your own helps you to put your own special flair to the music instead of singing it like your classmates, so that’s a plus!
If you’re the type of person who goes all in when you try something new, good for you! It is certainly possible to make All State as a Freshman, and you obviously can’t do it if you don’t try. Most of our Freshman go into it with the mindset of “getting their feet wet.” Not to say it’s always a wash, but sometimes your first go at All State, whether it’s your Freshman or Senior year, is simply about learning the process. Kind of like taking a baseline SAT test so you know how and where to improve as you study for the next one.
Remember, singing in the Region choir is an extremely valuable experience, and for the vast majority of singers that’s the best ensemble they’ll get to perform with. So even if that’s “all” you can accomplish your Freshman year, you’ll be a better musician in the end.
I can’t tell you how many students walk out of their Region audition feeling like they succeeded, no matter the result, because they learned so much about the process along the way.
As one more bonus….at school, you’ll likely be placed in a non-Varsity group with the other Freshmen. But having participated in All State might help you to vault from there to a much more advanced group your Sophomore year, both by improving your singing skills and by helping you stand out to your director as a high achiever, regardless of your audition outcome.
Your To-Do List
- Recruit your friends – if you have a group of friends who are invested in this, you are so much more likely to follow through.
- Sign up for a summer camp – And when you get there, try to avoid feeling intimidated or overwhelmed. Be prepared to be surrounded by older students who are old pros at this and just try to absorb as much as possible.
- Find a voice teacher – If you aren’t already studying privately, now is a good time to start shopping for someone to study with. We obviously believe that private lessons are essential to All State success. The teacher can also help you select an appropriate voice part for High School All State, whether or not you’ve been singing that in Middle School. (For Example: We rarely advise our 8th grade 1st Sopranos to do High School 1st Soprano…. it’s a whole different ball game.)
- Get signed up for summer lessons – and have a few before camp! You will feel less overwhelmed if you step into camp already familiar with the music.
- Start working on Sight Singing.
- Make a goal – and hold yourself to it! Your goal, again, should be concrete and measurable. Something like: “I want to learn all of this music and feel prepared for the Region audition.” Not….”I want to be first chair in the All State choir as a Freshman.”
Are you scared? Don’t be! I just want to impress on you the importance of beginning early so that you can begin to tackle this process. Good luck!