Band Finds Success at All-State Auditions


Nathaniel Thomas ’20, Chase Scelsi ’18, James Yan ’18, Alex Chao ’18, and Adam Perry ’20 stand together after being named Texas All State Musicians.

Fourteen band students traveled to Duncanville, Texas, to audition for the All-State Band on Jan. 12. After preparing for six months, the students came head to head against other musicians from across the region to compete for a select number of spots in the band.

“The audition itself isn’t rigorous,” Aaron Slack ‘20 said. “The preparation beforehand definitely is. Although we have so much time, much of it is taken away by marching band during first semester and of course, all the homework from school.”

The first two auditions took place in December, and those who made it through both auditions advanced to the area level auditions.

“Judges really look for technical capability and tone quality,” Tom Klink ‘19 said. “I think the most important thing is keeping time while you’re playing because during auditions like this, you tend to rush when you get nervous, so it’s really important to practice that beforehand.”

During auditions, students are required to sit in the room and work on something quietly until it is their turn to play for the judges. The judges face away from the students so there is no bias on the final placements. If students talk in the audition room while someone is playing, they will first get a warning, and the next time it happens they will automatically be disqualified.

“The rules made for the auditions are very strict, but we have to keep in mind that there are other kids in the room with us that have practiced just as hard as we have,” Slack said, “and they deserve the same, quiet environment that we would want to have when we play.”

Students are required to stay in the audition room until all the players have performed. Although certain instruments are very small in number, it is still recommended that each student brings something to work on to pass the time.

“I think it’s really important to have something to do in [the room],” James Yan ‘18 said. “I play clarinet, and there tend to be around 40 to 50 clarinets in one room, so it takes about three or four hours before we can leave, so I usually just work on homework or bring a book to read.”

After the auditions were complete, the students waited for about an hour to see the posted results. Of the 14 students from Westwood who competed, five were named Texas All-State Musicians. James Yan ‘18 and Nathaniel Thomas ‘20 qualified on Bb Clarinet, Chase Scelsi ‘18 earned a spot as Alto Saxophone, and Adam Perry ‘20 and Alex Chao ‘18 made it as percussionists.

“I was very happy with my result,” Thomas said. “I got third overall out of roughly 50 clarinets. I focused a lot on my sound and speed, and it really helped me be successful in this audition.”