Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Making I.M.E.A.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried out for I.M.E.A.  IMEA stands for the Illinois Music Educators Association or something like that.  They are the guys who do the all-district and all-state bands and orchestras.  Because I'm in sixth grade, I can only try out for the junior band.  There's no all-state junior band, just all-district.  It's still a big deal, because it's 6-8th graders competing for spots.

Going to the audition was very exciting and also very nerve-wracking.  I like auditions, because it is a challenge to prepare and I like competition, but they make me very nervous.  I try to pretend that I am totally prepared and ready for the auditions and that I'm not nervous, and it makes me a little less nervous, but really I am still am very nervous.

When I arrived, there were tons of people coming in and out of the school where the audition was, and some of them I recognized.  I was the only one from my school auditioning.  I walked into the school with my mom, my sister, and my baby brother.  My mom asked the person at the desk where the practice room was and where we should go for the audition.  She told us where both the rooms were and we went to the practice room.

The practice room was in the gym.  It was very crowded, and I saw my friend Marc there.  Marc was another 6th grade clarinetist who was trying out for IMEA.  I know him, because he is in the same youth orchestra as me last year and this year too.  Marc is a nice kid, and he is also very funny.  He likes sports like me.  He plays hockey, and I play soccer.

There wasn't very much time to warm up, and all I managed to do was a chromatic scale.  I was too nervous and too busy chatting with Marc to focus.  Were were talking about the audition and how few sixth graders were trying out.  Finally, it was time to go to my audition.  We left the gym and went back to the room with the information desk and then went upstairs.  The room where I was doing my audition scales was a science lab with all of the tables and equipment put to the side or in the closets which were overflowing.  The judge was at the teacher's desk, and there was a music stand and chair all alone in the middle of the room.  It made me feel even more nervous, because there was no one in the room except for the judge and me.  I played the audition scales well.  I was surprised.  I thought I would make more mistakes than I did.

Then I went down the hall to the room where I did my etude and some selections from the concert pieces I had to prepare.  I had to wait for someone else to finish.  The person after me got to go ahead of me, because I was a little late.  When I listened to the other kid play, I heard that she made a lot of mistakes.  It made me feel more confident that other people were making mistakes.  When she was finished, it was my turn, and I went in.  This room was similar to the other room with a judge and chair and a music stand in the middle of the room.  First, the judge asked me to play my etude.  I played it, but I made a few mistakes.  At the time, I was sure I wouldn't make it because of my mistakes.  Then I played a part of Canticle and a part of Chimes of Liberty.  I played them both as well as I could, and I didn't make any obvious mistakes with the notes or the rhythm.

Then I left the room.  I found Marc waiting outside.  He said he thought I did well.  Then he went in.  I listened to him play through the door.  He played very well, and I was sure that he was going to beat me.  Marc is a very good clarinetist.  He plays very differently from me.  He plays short staccato parts better than I do.  I like the long melodic legato parts.  I hate my staccatos!

After Marc finished his audition, we took a picture together.  My mom always brings her camera, and takes too many pictures.  It's kind of embarrassing.  It was time to go all the way to Highwood which is like an hour away from the audition school to get to MYA for pictures.  I had to change clothes in the car, and put on my uncomfy jacket and white shirt and bow tie for orchestra pictures.

All of this happened on Saturday.  I was sure I wouldn't make the audition, because of the mistakes I had made.  But, when I went to band on Thursday, my band teacher told me I had made first chair!  I felt really good about that (and surprised).  The way that they tell you if you made section-leader is to put a star next to your name.  There were two names among the clarinets who made it with stars by their names.  One of them was me and one of them was a kid named Theodore Mavrakis.  Theodore is really really good.  He won the junior woodwind divisionWalgreens Concerto competition last year (I think) and he plays in the Concert Orchestra at MYA, which is the orchestra above me.  My older brother plays viola in that orchestra. 

Anyway, it turns out they made a mistake.  The next morning, I woke up and my mom told me that Ms. Williams had emailed her and the star by my name was a mistake.  I had actually made 6th chair.  I felt really disappointed, but I wasn't really surprised.  I thought the day before that they might have made a mistake, because Theodore is really a lot better than me right now.  Besides how could they have a chair big enough for two clarinet players to sit in it at the same time?!  6th chair seems pretty good for a 6th grader.  Plus, it gives me something to shoot for for my 7th and 8th grade years.  I still get to play 1st clarinet at the concert on November 7.


  1. That's great, Torin! I certainly hope you make first chair next year.


  2. That is a tough way to find out you didn't make 1st chair. I'm really glad that you were forgiving and understanding though. Keep up the hard work and keep setting those goals for yourself Torin.

    Brandon Bakke

  3. Thanks, Ari and Brandon.