Band students represent the district’s best at All West
Students from Westview High School and Martin Middle School recently represented the district at the All West Clinic and Convention.
Two Westview students have also advanced to represent their school in the All State Ensemble.
All West is an annual event sponsored by the West Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association.
Due to the huge number of auditioning students and the limited number of seats available in each section of the orchestra, securing a spot in an All West Band is a big deal. Twelve students representing the Westview High School Band and Martin Middle School Band earned spots or alternates:
11-12 Grade Band:
Alina Armega – 1st Chair Blue Band, Contra Bass Clarinet
Owen Oelrich – 9th Chair Blue Band, Trumpet
Samantha Bates – 1st Chair Red Band, Tenor Saxophone
9-10 Grade Band:
Scarlett Newsome – 1st Chair Blue Band, Baritone Saxophone
Brodie Estes – 1st Chair Red Band, Trumpet
Memphis Hudson – 4th Chair Red Band, French Horn
Akeisha Chua – 3rd Alternate, Tenor Saxophone
Alyssa Chua – 2nd Chair, Clarinet
Braden Kendall – 3rd Chair, Trumpet
Christopher Ostenson – 3rd Alternate, Piano
Middle School Band:
Grady Dickson – 11th Chair, Trombone
Charlie Waldon – 3rd Alternate, Trombone
The road to the All West is lengthy and requires patience and commitment. In September, participating students work on practicing scales and pieces of music that they will audition. They also begin work on fine tuning their music sight-reading skills. In January, thousands of students from all over West Tennessee travel to a local area high school for All West Band Auditions. This year, auditions were held at South Gibson High School, and Middle School band auditions were held at South Gibson Middle. Orchestra auditions were held in November at Collierville High School.
“There were well over 2,000 students that auditioned for All West this year,” said Mike Tucker, Band Director for both Westview High School Band and the Martin Middle School Band.
Audition day is long and grueling for students as hundreds and hundreds of students play audition pieces for judges. Once all the students audition, they are scored, and band groups are formed and announced. In February, the formed band groups of students from across the western region travel to The Cannon Center in Memphis for the All West Clinic and Convention. For the last few years, All West has been held at The Cannon Center in Memphis. For two long days, students join peers from across West Tennessee to practice concert pieces with clinicians. The days are filled with hours and hours of work, as the students play through each piece to perfection in order to perform it in concert that weekend.
Assistant Band Director Jennifer Cupples said that playing at the venue in Memphis means a lot to the students.
“The facilities in Memphis are really some of the best in the State. The Cannon Center and the adjoining Renasant Convention Center are incredible. The Memphis Symphony plays on the very stage that our students perform on, and that’s a great experience for them,” Cupples said.
Director Tucker said that an impressive 20% of the Westview band earned a spot in at All West. He said that he’s always proud of the dedication that the students put in for All West auditions.
“The majority of my quality teaching occurs during concert season. The day after football season ends, we launch fully into preparing for Veterans Day concert and Winter Concerts. Among all these many musical, moving parts, participating students also practice the piece they will perform for All West auditions. Students are passionate about music and the time and commitment required directly reflects that. It shows,” said Tucker.
Cupples added, “Higher population areas have large music programs and usually have many students who make it to All West. Although we have a smaller program in a rural area, it’s common for our district to have several students who earn spots in All West each year. Our students are never afraid of a challenge, and they know that the audition itself as well as the practice and process, can make you stronger. The students, in return, bring that strength back to the band,” she said.
Two students out of the group, Alina Armega and Scarlett Newsome, made it to All State. Alyssa Chua is 1st alternate to All State.
An All State distinction is determined by how well a student performs at All West. The All State auditions are online. Each audition is recorded and uploaded to judges for review. The judges score and place each student accordingly in the All State Ensemble Band. The All State performance practice and concerts are held at the Opryland Hotel. Students who reach this level perform with students who have advanced at the top from All West, All East, and Mid State competitions.
This is the second year for Scarlett Newsome to make it to All State. She said her goal is to make it to All State all four of her years as a student at Westview.
“Going to All West and All State has really helped with my musicality. A lot of people who play instruments don’t necessarily love their instrument, but I really love playing my instrument. I went to an All West clinic and through my work with Mr. Tucker and Mrs. Cupples, I’ve learned how to play with musicality and let my personality shine through my playing. All State is awesome because everyone is on the same level and loves music. I’ve made some amazing friends and love meeting new people,” said Newsome.
Her personal motto doubles for valuable advice.
“Life is short. Have all the fun with it that you possibly can,” she said.
Alina Armega is a Senior at Westview this year, and she plans to attend UT Martin to major in an area relating to Environmental Sciences. She said that music and band has changed her life.
“Band has really helped me get out of my shell and take risks. It’s just helped me have a different outlook. Trying something new is just important. To anyone, I’d say – be brave. Get in some sort of group. Try out for something, anything. It could help change your perspective on everything,” said Armega.
The Westview High Band and Martin Middle School Band will be hosting, participating, and performing at the West Tennessee Concert Festival at UT Martin on March 16-17, 2023. Martin Middle School will perform at 9:00AM on Thursday, March 16. Westview High will perform at 1:00PM on Friday, March 17. Both performances are free and open to the public.
(Erica Moore, Weakley County Schools Communications Director)