by Hailey Scherer, freshman
On November 3, 10 Flint Hill students auditioned for the Virginia Music Educator’s Association (VMEA) District Honor Choir. Six of these 10 students were admitted to District 12’s Choir among hundreds of other singers.
Mrs. Pramstaller, the Flint Hill choir director, described District Honor Choir as “a mass choir of some of the best and brightest students from District 12 in Fairfax County (not to be confused with Hunger Games [*laughs*]). They sing with a renowned composer and usually do very challenging music in a very condensed amount of time (usually over the course of two days with a concert at the end). It’s a great opportunity for students to sing with other singers from outside their school and experience choir on a larger scale and a faster pace.”
Seniors Keeley McLaughlin and Jessica Rush, freshmen Arman Azad, Hailey Corkery, and Conner McBride, and sophomore Lili Jalaie were admitted to the choir.
“In terms of ratio, we only had 10 students audition, so for six out of 10 to make it – this is a extremely good representation,” said Pramstaller.
“I’m very excited,” said Jalaie. “Auditions were kind of brutal [laughs]… they were scary … you were basically behind a curtain, and the coaches there, just… looking at you, not even saying a word… kind of freaky, but I got through it. I’ve had a passion for music my whole life, and I wanted to see if I could do something out of my comfort spot… And I did it, and I made it!”
“The overall process was fun,” said Azad. “I liked warming up with everybody as a group at a big piano. I didn’t really like how we couldn’t see the [judges] because I felt like I was just a number being rated, like – you’re above this [score], you get in; you’re below it, you don’t.”
McLaughlin, who has been participating in various VMEA honor choirs since fifth grade, offered contrast between the advantages and disadvantages of auditioning behind a curtain. “At first I hated [the curtain], since I was a music theatre person, so I was used to being charismatic, and acting and stuff – and that helps a lot. I know for my college auditions there won’t be a screen - it’s much more personal. But I think it’s nice that I don’t have to look like anything [for District Honor Choir auditions]… I kind of totally wore pajama pants and a t-shirt… and that was nice because it feels more casual so you aren’t totally freaking out. Both screen and no screen have their positives.”
“I do encourage all students to audition; I don’t make it mandatory because it does take up a weekend of your life in the middle of the winter and that doesn’t work for everyone’s family, but I would encourage all students to audition if they’re able to make the commitment,” said Pramstaller. “I’m very excited about [the three freshmen that made it]. They rocked it! I thought it was really great! My kids made me proud! They felt good and that’s all that matters.”
All participating in the choir recommended the experience to fellow singers, daunting as auditions were described.
Jalaie said, “It helps you out so much – it helps you understand what people are looking for in music, and teach you so many new things you didn’t know… It’s tough to learn the songs sometimes… and learning how to sight-read… but in the end, it’s worth it.”
“It’s really educational and a lot of fun (if you love singing),” McLaughlin said. “Singing with that many other people is ridiculous… the numbers are in the hundreds – it’s huge.”
“I think it will be a great way to improve my singing by learning with other people,” Azad said. Pramstaller agreed with him, saying, “I do think it enhances [the choir program at Flint Hill] because we’re small here in terms of our numbers, and I think it’s a different experience to be one of many; to be singing with a large group like that is something different than what [singers] experience here, and I think that’s a valuable lesson; it takes a different amount of attentiveness; it takes a different amount of discipline; the material is going to be different; I think it’s a very positive and important experience.”
McLaughlin explained, smiling, “It’s one of those things that you kind of hate the entire time that it’s happening – those three days are the worst three days of your life – but it’s also… you learn so much not just from the conductors, but also just being in that stressful of a rehearsal situation – it’s extremely stressful – and learning and performing that much music in such a short amount of time… you just get better. It’s a fantastic experience. If you have a positive attitude about it, it’s a really, really good thing. I love District Honor Choir; I’m very excited.”