Four band students and five choir students from Bellevue Christian School were accepted to perform in honors groups at the National Association for Music Education Northwest Division Conference in their honors ensemble just over a week ago.
The conference meets every two years and honors performances are comprised of more than one thousand students from schools across Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska.
Music teacher Tasha Reynolds says the experience can be life-changing.
“Students attend and are surrounded by peers who are just as serious about making high-quality music as they are,” Reynolds says. “The rehearsals are intense and it’s a very different experience from your school music programs.”
Students will get to experience large scale rehearsals and then put on a performance for music teachers from around the Pacific Northwest. This year the performance is in Portland, Oregon in February.
More than 4,300 students auditioned for the opportunity to participate in the event managed by the Washington Music Educators Association.
Past performers include trumpeter Doc Severinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist David Horsey and jazz saxophonist Kenny G. Many professional musicians credit their experience at the conference as a source of motivation for pursuing a career in music.
“It’s inspiring and it shows them the big picture view of the music world rather than only seeing what we are doing and what our own school is doing,” Reynolds says.
Reynolds says they are excited when any student makes it because it is very challenging to get a spot. She says, unlike other school programs, music students compete against schools regardless of their size. For the All-Northwest they are competing against students from five states.
“It’s amazing looking at the percentages from our program and our school size. We had three high school band students, five choir students and an eighth-grade student selected for the junior all-state division,” Reynolds says.
Students who volunteered to audition were given samples to practice at the beginning school year before working privately and with teachers to record and submit their auditions for the conference. The students are then given music to work on before the regional music conference in February 2019. They intensely rehearse as a group before the performance.