Choir members advance to regional round of All-State competition

Shravya Mahesh, Entertainment Editor

Six months, four rounds and one culminating convention and performance. For members of the Coppell High School choir, a long journey has just begun. 

On Sept. 21, CHS choir members auditioned in the district round of the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) All-State Clinic and Convention, held at Colleyville Heritage High School. Out of the 51 participants from Coppell, 31 advanced to the next round.

The TMEA All-State process consists of four levels – district, region, pre-area and area. While more than 30,000 students compete in the first round, only about 150-200 advance through all four levels. These students will attend the TMEA Convention in February, where they will sing as part of one of three ensembles: Treble, Tenor-Bass or Mixed.

Over the summer, the TMEA released a repertoire of nine songs to be performed through the process, three of which would be the focus of the district round. The cuts for each of the three were released two to three days before the district competition, allowing participants time to learn and perfect the sections. Over the summer, many local colleges, such as Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas, held choir camps to train prospective competitors in all nine songs. 

While cuts were released prior to competition for the primary round, they will not be released for future rounds, forcing the participants to learn the full song, only being exposed to the cut on the day of. The upcoming rounds also include a sight reading portion, where the students must sing a set of predetermined measures of music impromptu. 

“TMEA builds confidence and a love for singing, because it’s very rigorous,” New Tech High @ Coppell senior Manasa Velamuri said. “You have to look through every single note you sing and make sure you’re singing it on pitch with the correct tone, vibrato and dynamic.”

In order to prepare the students for both the district level and the rigorous process after, the choir department hosted a one-day camp on Aug. 24, teaching the district competition pieces. As the competition is extracurricular, little time is spent in class to learn the songs. However, the choir teachers dedicate time after school for half-hour one-on-one sessions, ranging until the end of the very last round, where the teachers offer focused suggestions on how to improve. 

“Since they don’t teach it in class, learning it is entirely up to you,” CHS senior Amrita Ghose said. “So you have to be responsible for learning all that. Especially in the later rounds, when you don’t know the cuts, you have to really know the music well.”

In an effort to perfect the songs, many students enlist the help of personal vocal training coaches, or simply change their lifestyle and practice schedules to limit external factors that may hamper their performance. 

“Whenever it gets closer to each audition, I try to limit my dairy intake or cold water,” Velamuri said. “For the more difficult auditions, I try to practice two hours a day. I’ll run through each measure individually, record myself, sing with other people [and] sing to my choir teachers  – just anything I can do to get the most feedback and then implement it.”

The TMEA competition not only serves as a great accomplishment, considered “the highest honor a Texas music student can receive” but is also an opportunity for students to grow as singers and challenge themselves. 

“Competition is not really about whether you make it or not,” CHS choir director Bona Coogle said. “Of course, if you make it, it’ll be a great experience, but it’s more about how much you have grown through this process. At the end of the audition process, no matter where they are or how far they’ve gotten, they can tell [they have] gotten better.” 

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