Singing Their Way to State


Luke Landers

Lake Ridge choir working hard to improve their skills in class. Photo courtesy of Luke Landers (ENN Staff)

While most students spend this time of the year studying for tests or attending sporting events like football games, choir students have been getting their voices ready for the TMEA All-State process. Five Lake Ridge students have already made it through two rounds and will compete in the next round, Pre-Area, on November 17th at Legacy High School. Hannah Albin, Nadia Korfe, Ethan Tran, Cosmo Graham, and Ethan Hathcock will be competing in hopes of becoming the first All-State students at Lake Ridge, a school with a young choir department.

For many choir students, the road to becoming an All-Area or All-State musician is not an easy one, and those hoping to do well in the All-State process must dedicate themselves and their time to the music. Students first receive their music in July, and with each round they advance through comes three to five new songs to learn. Additionally, Choir Directors Philip Glenn and Karyn Myers hold after school practices and recommend private lessons. Some may say that choir is naturally their forte, but Ethan Hathcock, junior, also feels he wouldn’t have made it this far without all of the preparation he did, including attending the July camp.

“The most challenging part is trying to balance your school work with your electives and get in roughly 30 to 60 minutes of All-State practice daily. I never made it this far in the TMEA process both my freshman and sophomore years, so I was very excited. The thought that I can outperform other people my age keeps me motivated,” said Hathcock.

Sophomore, Nadia Korfe was also very motivated to make it further in the process this year. She has received help from her teachers, voice lessons coach, and the upperclassmen.

“When I learned that I had advanced to pre-area I was overjoyed. The previous year I missed advancement by one chair, which drove me to work really hard in order to advance to the third round. I am grateful and proud of the effort and work I put in order to advance. Hannah Albin and Mrs. Glenn have all helped me grow so much. The people who helped me grow the most are my  choir directors Mr. Glenn and Ms. Meyers. They have seen me grow and have helped me realize crucial steps to succeed in the All- State process. The countless hours after school with them have helped me so much in learning about my voice. I am forever grateful for them,” said Korfe.

In order to become an All-starter and perform with the top musicians in San Antonio in February, students have to compete in four rounds: district, region, pre-area and area. In each round, five judges score of the students they hear. The final rankings come from an average of these scores, and while the maximum score is a 300, no two students can have the same score. This makes the auditions very competitive, but Choir Director, Philip Glenn helps students overcome nerves by advising them to treat auditions like any normal performance.

“Prepare and practice. Now that they’ve been through two rounds, they know the procedure for that, so it’s not freaking them out as much. Just do your own thing. In the end, it’s still music and about communicating emotional content. Think about it as a performance more than a competition when you’re in the room,” said Glenn.

Choir Director, Karyn Myers agrees with this and says auditioning is difficult because students are compared to others, and judges have different perspectives on what they consider to be the most musical. In addition, many of the younger students don’t have much experience participating in these competitions.

“You never know what the judges are going to think because each judge has a different idea in their head about what sounds good and what should advance to the next round. A lot of times they’ll listen for a big voice, but these big voices are not necessarily the most musical. It really depends on what each judge is specifically looking for and likes. Students who don’t work hard, they don’t advance. Even ones that do work hard, if they’re younger, their voices are not as mature or they’re just not musically ready. They’re competing against seniors and that’s hard to do,” said Myers.

Choir Director, Philip Glenn recognizes the importance of partaking in individual contests like this. He feels that students can evolve as a musician through the auditions and find what they are capable of.

“We’re always telling them that this is about you becoming a better musician. If they advance, it really builds their confidence and helps them see that they can set a long term goal and stick with the process.” said Glenn.

To prepare for their Pre-Area auditions in a few weeks, the five students will continue practicing their songs, some of which are in other languages like French and Latin. Myers and Glenn both have experience participating in All-State so they feel like their stories will be beneficial to the remaining Lake Ridge musicians. Both choir directors described how competitive Mansfield’s area is, so they recognize how difficult it is to advance to round three, and they are nothing but proud of the students.