All-state with COVID-19

Senior+Ani+Pradeep+practicing+his+solo+for+the+Iowa+All+State+Honor+Band+

Akash Pradeep

Senior Ani Pradeep practicing his solo for the Iowa All State Honor Band

Akash Pradeep, Feature Editor

Every year, music students look forward to All-State auditions. As more than 1,000 students from across the state of Iowa drive to audition at multiple schools. Most students had been preparing for these auditions for more than four months: practicing scales, etudes and solos. 

The All-State band is the highest honor in Iowa a student in the band can achieve. All students usually audition in one place. However, just like many other events around the world, this year’s All-State auditions switched to online due to COVID-19. Students now have to submit recordings of themselves playing through the audition material. With the change this year, students have both praised and expressed frustration with the audition process. 

Senior Cyrus Barati, who is auditioning for the third time this year, preferred the online format to the traditional.“There were almost no nerves during the recording, it was actually a pretty relaxing focus,” said Barati. “I feel like I learned a lot about my music while I was recording.” 

With the recording process, students were able to do multiple takes of their music, making it easier to maintain their calmness and ensure a good recording. This proved to be a great benefit for many auditionees because the nerves can derail a student’s audition in a normal year. 

However, not everyone is pleased by the new audition format, with some students having expressed their discontentment with the process. One of these dissatisfied students is senior Allison Suen, who had auditioned in-person once before. “It was harder to learn etudes because a lot of our lessons were over Zoom instead of in person,” Suen claimed, “So it’s harder to hear pitch and intonation and get all the little things correct.” 

In addition, Clarinet Instructor Rob Miller said, “I think there is an unfair advantage to this year’s format, because recording equipment is very important, and some students cannot afford it.” This is very significant, because recording impacts the pitch and tone, leading to many students needing the right equipment. The lack of a level playing field can contribute to the worry of many students.  

Whether or not they liked the new audition format, many students are now taking the time to hone their skills in preparation for the final audition in October.