Musically Inclined

Blue Valley music students chosen to perform, learn with state ensembles


The Kansas Music Educators’ Association (KMEA) Convention hosts auditions to have a band, orchestra and choir consisting of students from across the state. These students participate in a music conference as well as learn and perform pieces with other high school musicians. Several Blue Valley students shared their thoughts on making their respective All-State music groups.



Sophomore Angela Jiang said she feels honored to be chosen for KMEA All-State with older students.

“It’s really exciting, knowing that you are good enough to be performing with all these talented upperclassmen,” she said. “The music at KMEA is a lot more advanced, and you are surrounded by people who are all really skilled musicians.”

Junior Noah Patton, though a band student at BV, was chosen to perform as one of the four clarinets in KMEA’s symphony-style orchestra.

“The wind players who auditioned are divided between the All-State band and orchestra by alternating based off the person with the top score’s preference,” he said. “The All-State orchestra is a full orchestra with both string and wind instruments, which gives students a really cool experience they don’t normally have at schools.”

Jiang said auditioning to be in the All-State orchestra had its ups and downs for her.

“It was nerve-wracking because it was a blind audition,” she said. “You can’t see the judge, and the judge can’t see you. So you just go in there, play and try your best.”

Patton said auditioning kept everyone on their toes with some sight reading and scales provided on the spot by the judges in addition to a memorized piece.

“For the auditions themselves, you travel to Salina to perform a live, blind audition,” he said. “It’s intimidating because when you warm up, you are warming up around some of the best players in the state. It’s a good experience because of the challenge it provides for you to really work to become a well-rounded musician.”

Patton said KMEA All-State gives students opportunities for personal growth and teamwork.

“Participating in All-State makes you a more mature and accountable musician,” he said. “It is completely up to you to prepare your part of the music before the full ensemble rehearses.”

Jiang said collaborating with people from all over the state is also beneficial to improve her own personal music skills.

“String instruments are pretty difficult to play,” she said. “It takes a lot of patience and skill to be able to play one. KMEA gives you the chance to meet new people who are equally talented and share your passion for music.”



Senior PJ Meacham said being in the All-State band gives people an opportunity to work with new teachers and have new music experiences.

“KMEA All-State is basically all of the best high school musicians doing band and orchestra within the state of Kansas all in one place,” he said. “This way, we get to play difficult pieces with some great musicians as well as hear new ideas from a different teacher. It condenses a month of band class into a weekend.”

In addition to mastering new skills, Meacham said All-State is a way to bond with other groups of band students outside of BV.

“I love doing KMEA All-State,” he said. “Chilling with other music geeks for a weekend while learning new music is great.”

Meacham said preparing for KMEA All-State involved several factors.

“Private lessons and lots of practice on the specific piece we had to play [were key],” he said. “Sight reading is actually the one thing not many people practice, but it is extremely important for this audition, so I practiced that a lot.”

Meacham said he encourages auditioning to give more students experience.

“Sophomores and up can audition, and I always stress the importance of auditioning each possible year,” he said. “I am never nervous during audition day — always the week leading up to it. Audition day you just do whatever you can do, but whatever happens, happens.”

Meacham said band brings him new appreciation for music.

“I find that band has a different culture than many others,” he said. “Even within music departments I find the biggest love for music in the band. Of course the biggest complaint would be that band is a cult — which I can neither confirm nor deny.”



Senior Maria Wonderlich said the rigorous schedule of KMEA completely changes the choir’s dynamic.

“The district and state choirs are so, so different than choir at Blue Valley,” she said.  “The audition is pretty grueling, so generally the people in the choirs are more strongly musically inclined than people in a regular high school choir.”

Wonderlich said the conference gets professional directors and even famous composers to work with the All-State choir.

“I think the biggest difference is that everyone involved worked and auditioned and hoped to make it into the choirs, so they are generally a lot more responsive and attentive to the director we work with,” she said. “It gives high schoolers an opportunity to sing in a professional-sounding choir.”

Wonderlich says working with the choir at KMEA leads to a wonderful end product.

“Both the district and state performances are absolutely breathtaking,” she said. “The state performance is fulfilling because we work on the music basically for three days straight — seeing the product of the three days is very gratifying. The goosebump moments are well worth all the hard work.”

Both BVs All-District and All-State choirs put in a lot of hard work and are accomplished in their performance skills, Wonderlich said.

“Our district has a reputation for having a really good district choir, so even if you only make district and not state, it’s still a really amazing experience,” she said. “The audition is hard, but [Choir teacher Marsha] Moeller prepares all our kids really well, so most of us feel very comfortable during the audition.”

Wonderlich said she is excited to return to KMEA this year and continue to collaborate with other students from across Kansas.

“I am so thrilled to be going back this year,” she said. “I love choral music because, unlike band and orchestra, it has words which can add a whole deeper dimension of emotion and meaning that a choir can add to a performance.”