Bearden junior Raymond selected to participate in prestigious All-State band


Emily Simmons, Staff Writer

Bearden junior Samantha Raymond was recently selected for the second year in a row to participate in the All-State Tennessee Band, a major accomplishment for any Tennessee high school musician.

“All-State Band is much like what regional or state athletics would be; musicians from all across Tennessee come to audition for this opportunity,” band director Mr. Jamie Wilson said.

Being selected for the elite ensemble requires a lengthy and arduous audition process. The process entails playing a prepared piece of music and a sight reading piece, which is a challenge students don’t often face, according to Mr. Wilson. Top band directors from all over Tennessee then rank the musicians, and the top one percent are considered All-State musicians.

“The audition process is really challenging; you perform several pieces of music in front of a panel of judges and there is a screen in front of the judges which makes it a little better, but it still is very stressful and scary,” Raymond said. “I personally always get really shaky before each portion of the audition.”

All-State Band takes place in Nashville in the spring over several days. During that time, the students from across the state practice their music pieces with a world renowned band director prior to a large ensemble performance that occurs on the final day.

“If you could imagine taking all the best high school football athletes from Tennessee and putting them all together on two teams to practice and then have a game, it would be pretty impressive for that level, and it is the same case with All-State,” Mr. Wilson said. “It really is an incredible experience for the kids.”

Raymond, a band member since sixth grade, is proficient in playing several instruments, including piano, ukulele, guitar, and oboe, and she will play her oboe for All-State band.

“It takes a lot to be in a group like this; the biggest thing really is desire and drive,” Mr. Wilson said. “You have to be able to see a goal at a distance and be able to take the very disciplined steps to achieve that goal.”

Mr. Wilson added that talent is understandably a major component of the competition, but that talent alone is not enough to win, further illustrating the selective nature of the program.

“I am super excited to get to play with that level of musicians from across the state again; the music can be difficult, but it definitely works all the hard work and hours of time,” Raymond said. “Music has been a [passion] of mine since the second grade, and I plan to continue with it throughout my life.

“Even next year, I plan to audition for All-State again.”

In addition to Raymond being selected for the All-State band, two orchestra students – Salina Fang and Millie Runion – were selected to participate in All-State Orchestra. Check back for more stories about the two All-State orchestra students in the coming weeks.