Music to Their Ears: 6 Band Students Selected for State


Courtesy of Alberto Ocasio

School is back in session. A new year can bring a rush to make 2022 resolutions, an adjustment to new schedules, and a variety of uncertainties. But in such an unpredictable world, one thing remains the same: students are making their yearly transition from marching to concert band.

Six Lake Ridge students have been selected as 2021-22 all-state musicians. In order to get this achievement, students have to learn and perfect music from the start of school until December or January depending on how far they make it. After advancing through multiple rounds, junior Reagan Bonebrake felt more than proud when she got first in her final oboe audition.

“I was so shocked because I’ve worked for six months on these etudes. For the audition I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to do my best and whatever happens is going to happen.’ I was one of the lucky few,” said Bonebrake.

The road to becoming an all-state musician is not an easy one. The process begins with tens of thousands of students from Texas and ends with just a couple hundred. Students have to make it through region and area auditions before becoming an all-state musician. This long process can be challenging, but senior French horn player Justin Beyer learned how to overcome this challenge. 

“As long as you play your best that day, that’s all that matters because you showed your skill. You can’t compare yourself to others and you can’t judge yourself. You are your worst judge. You will judge yourself more than anyone else in the room, in the area. You have to take what you think of yourself with a grain of salt,” said Beyer.

Audition rooms can be stressful, even for experienced players. Watching other students play can make some people question how prepared they are and get nerves leading up to their audition. Nerves can affect the overall quality and sound of your performance, so students like Bonebrake feel it’s important to calm yourself before you play.

“The auditions are probably the hardest part. Sometimes [the judges] have their own opinions on what sounds the best. It’s just about being the most prepared you can, doing the best you can, and not sounding nervous even if you are,” said Bonebrake.

Other all-state musicians at Lake Ridge are Brian Shamayev, B-flat clarinet; Adeline Keith, French horn; Nick Shea, tenor trombone; and Nicky Proni, euphonium.

Beyer wants to inspire people to take part in the joy of music, and he plans on getting a doctorate in music performance after high school. However, other seniors like Jade-Marie Vaughn aren’t continuing music after high school and plan on ending their last semester on a high note.

“It’s sad to think about but it was a fun experience. I’m sad it got cut short. I’m going to miss everybody, especially our senior class. We’ve been in band since sixth grade. [Band] taught me how to lead my peers and push us in ways I never imagined. It taught me how to have a second family,” said Vaughn.

The pandemic had year-long effects on band in the 2020-21 school year. The band had to submit auditions via a recording, and Band Director, Alberto Ocasio, is thankful that this year will be in-person, even if there’s still the possibility of restrictions.

“It’s not the same process as doing it in-person; we recorded in the band hall with microphones. It worked for what it was, but it’s a better experience when you go in-person,” said Ocasio

In such an unpredictable time, one thing can stay certain for the musicians of Lake Ridge. As the second semester brings more rigorous work and busier schedules, students in band can use what they’ve learned, such as time management, to help them. Band has provided students like Beyer with valuable skills that help his confidence fill the band hall.

“I had a leadership position in the band, so being someone who overlooks other people has taught me to read the room and that’s a very important skill.” Beyer added, “I had a solo in the marching show. I was super nervous during that part and that just taught me tranquility through various stressful situations. I have not had an issue with [public speaking] since I’ve had to perform in front of a bunch of people.”

Solos and other competitions don’t just impact the students; they also have effects on teachers like Ocasio who still uses skills he learned today.

“It helped me as a person understand how to manage my time and how to break down tasks. You’ve got this giant task in front of you, and I learned how to break it down day by day to get to the bigger picture,” said Ocasio.

In addition to helping individual players, Ocasio feels like spring competitions benefit the band as a whole.

“UIL events are important because it helps us keep our standard of the band program and the standard of individual musicianship. It helps us maintain a really high quality of music-making,” said Ocasio.

While the all-state musicians of Lake Ridge get ready to travel to San Antonio with other all-state musicians and top directors for a clinic and concert, the other band students will continue preparing for upcoming ensemble and solo contests and UIL events.

“Our kids are incredibly busy and in the fall it’s easier to see from an outsider’s perspective. But in the spring we’re just as busy. We work really hard in the band hall and individually,” said Ocasio.

The six all-state musicians of Lake Ridge may get three days off from school while making music in San Antonio, but the school year is far from over. With many notes, rhythms, and songs to learn, the tempo is speeding up as students come together in harmony to perfect their music.