By: Amelia Dibert
In wake of closures and uncertainty, the Pennsylvania Music Education Association (PMEA) decided to continue on with the competition of district band; however, the setup for auditioning looks much different than it has in previous years. Students’ auditions are now entirely virtual. In the past, students went to a separate location to play before a panel of judges; now they play before a recording device in their own homes.
The new setup comes with a wider set of rules and restrictions to keep auditions as fair as possible for everyone involved. Students may not wear identifying clothing, but most importantly, there must be a running clock with a working seconds hand somewhere in the background of the video. Thoughts about this vary from one person to the next. Ryley Runk didn’t like the new setup mentioning, she “missed being able to have the full experience…but [she understood] that they had to work with what they were allowed to.” Three students from Tussey Mountain got to experience the true online audition process.
After auditions were completed, three students were selected to perform in the 2021 district ensemble. All were eligible to try out for state band with Ryley Runk achieving fourth chair, Amelia Dibert achieving first chair, and Kieran Gresko achieving second chair in their respective sections. District band will be an online festival this year held on January 14th and 15th.
With those who chose to work within the system, a few felt that it was in their best interests to wait until next year to try for a position in the band. With her already existing schedule, Tiah Masood explains, “I chose not to do band this year because with everything being so crazy this year, I didn’t feel that I would have enough time to create an audition that I would be happy with.” Those who wanted to audition were given a two week window to practice, record, and submit.
There’s still hope for next year’s PMEA festivals as both Masood and Runk expressed a resounding “yes” when asked if they wanted to attend. Assuming schedules will return to normal in the coming year, festivals should return to normal to the praise of many.