Choir Seniors Make it to All-State Choir

Ashlea McIntire, Staff Reporter

Two members of the Aledo Varsity Choir advanced to TMEA All-State Choir on Jan 12. Seniors Danielle Harrington received first chair in the Soprano two section and Madison O’Brien placed fourth in the Soprano one section.


“They were calling out the names and they start with the bottom chairs, starting tenth chair, ninth chair, and work their way up,” Harrington said. “I didn’t hear my name and they got up to second chair and I was like ‘Oh, I didn’t make it’ and then they said my name for first chair and I just started bawling,” Danielle said. “That’s just something I had always dreamed of, first chair would be something I couldn’t do but it would be cool. And then it was just like ‘Wow! I finally made it, this is my dream!’”


Both started their journey to the All-State Choir in June, when they attended a choir camp at Bass Hall in Fort Worth. There they received the audition music for the first time. The girls received 10 songs that could be used as audition pieces at any round.


“[This year’s songs are] not as good as my freshman year, but these are a good second,” O’Brien said.


For each round, there are two to three new songs that have to be learned, and then a section of each song is performed to the judges, who never see the contestants that are behind a curtain ‘wall’ in the audition room. The first round took place in September and each month, a new round in the competition took place. Starting with the second round, the auditionees had to sight-read a piece of music they had never seen before. Working for hours and hours, advancing past each and every round, the two seniors took their highly coveted places in the choir.


“I practiced an hour a day on most days, but on some days, when I went to camps and things like that, it was much more,” Harrington said. “I practiced an hour each day for seven months, so hundreds of hours of practicing the audition music.”


Both seniors have been successful in the TMEA All-State process, this year is Danielle’s third year and Madison’s fourth year in the All-State Choir, but they still have struggles when it comes to the music. After learning the notes, rhythms, words and their pronunciation, the singers added their own touch to the music. To be successful, the auditionees must add musicality to the songs they are performing, beyond what is written on the sheet music. Musicality such as getting louder at a triumphant moment or getting softer when the words reflect a sad moment, accentuating words that are important, making sure to enunciate clearly so the judges can understand them. Both agreed that adding the musicality, the feeling, in the songs is the hardest part of the audition.


“Trying not to sound robotic when I sing them is the hardest part for me,” O’Brien said. “To do all of the musicality, but also put feeling into it so I don’t sound like a robot singing the songs.”


They agreed that one person who made a huge difference in their success is their vocal lessons teacher: Ms. Hristova. For Danielle, Ms. Hristova would make sure that Danielle knew if she was doing something wrong and without her, Danielle says she wouldn’t have ever known what she was practicing was wrong. She taught Danielle that it is the details that will be the difference between making the choir and not. For Madison, she was the reason that Madison got into the choir.


“I would never, ever, ever have done this well if it weren’t for Mrs. Hristova,” O’Brien said. “She is absolutely amazing, she is always willing to put in an extra lesson so that I could practice more. She did like 95% of the work and I would not have made it without her.”


Those who make the choir then attend the TMEA Convention in San Antonio in February. They have rehearsals each day to prepare for the final performance. The people in the choir get the chance to get to know one another and many become friends. Madison estimated that she keeps in touch with 75% of the people she has met at the convention each year. Danielle’s favorite part of the convention is getting to sing with other people who have worked just as hard as she has to get to the convention.


“Getting to sing with all these people who are so talented and excited about singing music, they all work so hard on it and you come together just sing together,” Harrington said. “It is just so fun. It’s like a huge family… that sings.”


Going through the process, there is quite a bit of stress learning and practicing the songs, then making sure that you know them really well, but Madison says her advice for anyone thinking about trying out or are in the midst of the process would just be to simply enjoy it.


“Enjoy it because it will be over before you know it,” O’Brien said. “Enjoy it, enjoy meeting new people, enjoy the days you have to go a whole day without your phone and get to talk with people that you normally wouldn’t talk to because, well because they’re just there. Enjoy it, because music is great and these songs are great and the final product, even if you don’t make it, every round coming together to sing the cuts with everyone at that round is always such a satisfying feeling. Just enjoy it and keep it with you, it’s moments you’re not going to forget.