Sophomores Dominate at All-State Auditions

Sophomores Esther Shin and Rana Teke are accepted into the Iowa All-State Orchestra.
Photo courtesy of Waterloo Community School District.
Photo courtesy of Waterloo Community School District.

Sophomores Ester Shin and Rana Teke are West High’s two violinists that made it into the Iowa All-State orchestra after auditioning on October 21 at Hampton-Dumont-CAL. At this site, 17 schools participated in the audition process. In addition to the two sophomores accepted, freshman Jaxon Thoms was selected as an alternate for the band. Out of all the musicians who auditioned, only a few were selected for each instrument and luckily two of the violinists were West High’s very own.

Shin describes the hard work and dedication it took for her to prepare to make it to All-State, including the time spent preparing this summer. “I started preparing for All-State towards the beginning of summer and went to a few All-State workshops to prepare for the audition. The main focus of my violin lessons switched to All-State once the excerpts were posted during the summer. And once school started, if I didn’t have time to run through the excerpts during the day, I would work to fit in time to at least practice late at night. When preparing for the audition, I continued to remind myself that this wasn’t going to be an easy goal to keep me motivated to practice.”

Being accepted into an All-State ensemble is no easy feat, shares West High Orchestra teacher Erin Gaherty. “To make it into All-State a student must be an accomplished musician with a good technical foundation and personal drive. For string players the techniques required to even audition take years to develop and most successful students study with a private teacher from a young age,” she shares.

“Once I saw my name on the list of the 12 accepted violinists, I felt like a bunch of bricks were lifted off of my shoulders. And trust me…I knocked out when I got home,” says Shin. Teke also expresses how she felt after the auditions by saying “I felt really excited and relieved because I was tense after auditions and I could finally relax. I was really proud of myself for getting in this year because the year prior I didn’t audition and beat myself up over it.”

Teke was asked for a call back after she performed the first time, which would determine whether or not she was accepted into the All-State ensemble. Between the two auditions, Teke took time to prepare in order to give her best performance. “I ate a banana 30 minutes before my audition because a teacher told me it settles nerves. I also held hot hands whenever I was playing so my fingers would stay flexible,” she shares.

Both Shin and Teke expressed how neither of them thought they were going to make it. “The thought of ‘I think I made it’ never crossed my mind. Until I saw my name on that list, I was never sure about getting in. Possibly the closest I got to was thinking ‘that went pretty well’ after stepping out of my audition,” Shin shared. Whereas Teke said that in the initial audition, she did not think she made it. “The initial audition was stressful and I knew 10 violinists who I was sure were to get in (they did!). I also got recalled so after I felt better about getting in because they wanted to hear me again,” Teke shared.

While two violinists from West were accepted, West also had one band student who was selected as an Alternate for the All-State Music Festival. Through his audition, Thoms had the caliber of those accepted, but there was not enough space within the ensemble. “I believe it is an amazing accomplishment because that night I believe I was the only player from West High Band to make all-state and it felt amazing and not only was I proud of myself all of my fellow peers, friends and directors were proud of me as well. It was an amazing experience and I cannot wait until next year,” Thoms shares about this experience.

West High is so proud of our All-State musicians and can not wait to see them perform on November 18 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

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About the Contributor
Ally Knight, Feature and Multimedia Editor
(She/her) Ally Knight is a Senior at West High and this is her second year on the Wahawk Insider staff. Outside of Wahawk Insider, she is on the varsity cheer squad for football and wrestling. You can often see her going on runs with her dog, shopping with friends, or taking a nap!
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