Five BHS students preparing for challenges, rewards of All-East chorus


Katie Matthews

Students rehearse with chorus teacher Ms. Mary Sexton, as they prepare for All-East choir.

Katie Matthews, Staff Writer

Every year the top choral students from East Tennessee come together to perform in choirs that recognize the students’ skill and talent, and this year, with all of the talented musicians at Bearden, it is no surprise that five students are participating in the All-East chorus.

All-East is an event hosted by the ETVA (East Tennessee Vocal Association) that seeks out the best middle and high school choir students to rehearse and perform in five different choirs that are composed of the best of the best.

This year four juniors and one sophomore will participate in the elite choirs.

Junior Katy Burton, a member of Bearden Singers, will return to All-East after a two-year hiatus. In eighth grade, Burton attended the Chattanooga All-East and loved meeting all of the other kids there that loved to sing. Unfortunately, she missed out on participating her freshman and sophomore years, but she is excited to see the difference between her middle and high school experiences.

“The high school choir is so much more selective that I believe the overall sound of the choir will be breathtakingly beautiful,” Burton said. “The mixed choir selections are all gorgeous.”

The selectivity of the choirs is due to the extensive audition process.

First, the singer must be selected by their director to audition with two pieces they must prepare on their own. Then, after getting into All-East with their two songs and mastering a sight-reading piece, the singers must learn five new pieces that they will perform with the choir if they pass a screening to make sure they have truly learned the music.

Burton’s fellow junior Tylor Sherrod knows the pressure of doing well in the auditions. Last year, Sherrod tried out, got into the choir, and failed the screening which made him ineligible to participate.

This year, however, Sherrod has brought a new vigor to his rehearsing to make sure he passes this time.

“I have started learning [the music] earlier, and I really know how tough the music is this year,” Sherrod said.

Another aid for the singers is the Bearden chorus room where the five students rehearse together on Tuesdays and Fridays with Ms. Mary Sexton’s help. She has played an instrumental part in the students’ path to All-East.

Ms. Sexton recommends auditioning to eligible students and helps them learn their initial audition music and their pieces for the screening.

Ashley Massengill, another junior going to All-East, is not only excited about All-East but also All-State because she missed out on going last year by two points.

This year with a higher score and a renewed excitement Massengill is eager to learn even more from this experience than the last.

“You get the experience of learning music on your own, and it’s your responsibility,” Massengill said. “In college, you’re required to learn music on your own, so this gets you ready for that.”

Sherrod also believes this process helps singers prepare for college.

“Some colleges give you scholarships for doing All-East or All-State,” Sherrod said. “All-East will obviously be less, but if you do All-East and All-State, then they give you a whole bunch of money.”

Burton has additionally learned through this process.

“I have already gained a better sense for learning music quickly, but I think I have so much more to gain from being around other great singers, too,” Burton said.

Mingling with others who share their passion for singing is what these choirs are about, and according to the ETVA website, participation in these choirs is “a source of great pride to students and their directors.”

The screening for All-East will be on Nov. 4, and the performance will be at Maryville College on Nov. 22.