Second All-State experience stressful but surreal

The 6A All-State Band prepares to perform in Lila Cockrell Theater.

Last year I achieved the ultimate goal of my high school career by placing fourth in the 5A All-State Band. I will never forget the moment I found out I was a Texas All-State musician, as it sparked an incredible feeling of accomplishment and proved to me that, remarkably enough, hard work can pay off. That being said, the experience of working towards my goal of making All-State for a second year was drastically different. Although I was more prepared for this year’s Area audition, I found myself crippled by a strong sense of  anxiety that wasn’t a large factor in my sophomore audition.

I did not find myself overwhelmed with excitement as I had when I originally became an All-Stater, but instead I experienced a blissful sense of relief.

— Braden Lefevre, 11

I couldn’t stand the idea of falling flat on my face after achieving my goal during my second year in high school. The prospect of failure was all I could think about for about for seven months. As the audition neared, my anxiety increased and I began to be plagued by a recurring dream in which I was about to play my etudes, but then was overwhelmed by fear and tried to leave the audition room. At this point in my nightmare, the judges would emerge from behind their curtain in a great swarm and violently drag me back into the room while I shrieked “no” at the top of my lungs. Obviously the period of preparation for my audition was stressful and at times, a seemingly hopeless waste of effort and time, so when I finally received the results of my qualification into the 6A All-State Band, I did not find myself overwhelmed with excitement as I had when I originally became an All-Stater, but instead I experienced a blissful sense of relief.

Four weeks after my success at the Area audition, I traveled with my family to San Antonio to attend the Texas Music Educator’s Association and determine my chair placement within the one of the two 6A bands through yet another audition playing from an entirely new set of music. My goal was to place somewhere within the top band so I could experience playing what is perhaps accomplished composer John Mackey’s greatest musical achievement, the epic musical chronicling of Odysseus’s voyage, “Wine Dark Sea.” After a relatively low stress audition, I was placed fourth out of 16 alto saxophonists, thus earning a chair in the top band.

The following morning, I entered my first rehearsal in the 6A band under the direction of Dr. Kevin Sedatole of Michigan State University. Sedatole ran an exceedingly arduous rehearsal with no breaks and constant vigilance. Observing Sedatole’s teaching was quite enlightening due to his keen ear for mistakes, and more importantly the vast number of practices he would employ to rectify those errors.  Although the music our band set out to play was extremely demanding, with the guidance and expertise of Sedatole, our band was able to quickly learn and play the pieces at an exceptional level of musicianship.

During my time at the TMEA convention, I also had the pleasure of wandering through a vast expanse of booths that sold virtually anything and everything music related. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed my time strolling about the Riverwalk of the beautiful city of San Antonio. Most of all, however, I loved the opportunity to spend time with the other Canyon All-Staters, who are wonderfully kind and hard working people.

After 17 and a half hours of grueling rehearsal, I completed my TMEA experience with a concert performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by Damrosch, La Forza del Destino by Verdi, Fervernt is my Longing by Bach and Wine Dark Sea in the massive Lila Cockrell Theater. The band performed all four pieces splendidly, and afterwards I felt a great sense of accomplishment due to the masterpiece of a concert that I had the privilege to take part in. Afterwards, during the drive home, I felt a great deal of sadness upon fully realizing the surreal experience I had worked so hard to obtain was now over.

That being said, I believe attending this year’s TMEA convention was a profound experience I will not soon forget, and I am confident playing in the 6A All-State Band made me a much better musician.

I can only hope the progress I made thanks to TMEA will assist me in next year’s auditions.