Four for All-State

Orchestra students plan to attend All-State convention after placement


Photo by Fatima Malik

Junior Tiffany Doan practices on her violin. She is one of the four who placed in the top 3% of auditions for Texas Music Educators Association All-State.

by Fatima Malik, Reporter

Months of practice led to four students’ placement in the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) All-State competition the highest achievement a Texas music student can attain. After their auditions late October, juniors Tiffany Doan, Jacob Roy, Atulya Palacharla and senior Noah Henson placed in the TMEA All-State competition and will attend the TMEA Convention in San Antonio February 2020.

“They have to be good musicians really top notch musicians because when you’re listening to these kids, it’s [the] fine, minute details that differentiate [these] kids,” orchestra Director Ann Smith said. 

Students received their pieces for the audition in May, giving them six months to prepare. From there, they had to manage their own time to practice for the audition. For bassist Henson that meant practicing two to three hours every day during the summer.

“Time management was pretty rough, especially coming into the school year where I had to deal with added coursework and managing time between college auditions and All-State,” Henson said. “It took a lot of discipline.”

All four students have played their instruments between five and seven years. This is the second time placing All-State for bassist Palacharla and Henson and cellist Roy. Palacharla said practicing led him to feeling more confident in himself this year.

“Preparing last year carries over to how [I] better [prepared] in a shorter amount of time this year,” Palacharla said. “I already knew what to do somewhat, so it was just go-with-the-flow for this year, which helps with stress.”

Violinist Doan placed for the first time in All-State this year. The first thing she did after receiving the news was call her sister, and she had a celebratory dinner after telling her parents.

  “[My motivation is] other people who are also doing the same thing,” Doan said. “Seeing others practice as hard as they can motivated me with that energy to keep trying and [persevering] through the tough times.”

The four-day convention will include over 280 workshops, an exhibit hall, performing groups from elementary to college levels and a performance by professional concert band Dallas Winds. Within high schools across Texas, 1,780 students chosen from over 68,000 auditionees get to play in one of 15 ensembles in band, orchestra or choir with nationally recognized conductors Carl St. Clair, Helen Cha-Pyo and James Fellenbaum directing Symphony, Philharmonic and Sinfonietta Orchestras.

“You’ll have people from El Paso, you’ll have people from Corpus Christi, from Houston, from Austin — and just to all come together and to meet so many people that are similar to you [is] beautiful,” Roy said.

The convention is Feb. 15 to 20. The four students will miss three days of school, with excused absences, from Feb. 12 to 14 for rehearsals. 

“In addition to preparing [for] these auditions, they’re still doing all the AP and IB classes that everybody else is doing,” Smith said. “What distinguishes these four students [is] their discipline, hard work [and] perseverance.”