The Texas Music Educators Association recently named five Waxahachie High School students as finalists for the 2018 TMEA All-State Band — the most prestigious achievement a high school musician can obtain.
Longtime Waxahachie High School band director, Rich Armstrong expressed, “The entire WHS band team is extremely proud of these students and either accomplishment.”
The TMEA All-State Band represents the top one percent of student musician across Texas. Waxahachie musicians Lilyanna Armstrong, Emma Cook, Collin Cooper, Alex Lopez and James Merritt all received the nod to the all-state band.
Lilyanna is in the ninth grade, and this is her first year to make all-state. She qualified for the all-region band and is also an area qualifier. She is the first student from Waxahachie to make all-state on the smaller, E-flat clarinet, and is one of only three e-flat players across the entire state to earn this honor in Class 5A.
Cook is a senior and this is her second year to make the TMEA All-State Band. She is also a four-year all-region band member, two-year all-region orchestra member, two-year all-region jazz ensemble member and three-year area qualifier. So far, Cook has earned the first chair for trumpet in every step of the all-state audition process. Cook plans to attend either Baylor University or the University of North Texas, where she will double major in computer science and music.
Cooper is also a senior and plays alto saxophone. This is his second year to make the all-state band. He served as a drum major for the Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Band this year. Collin is a four-year all-region band member, a three-year all-region jazz member, and a four-year area qualifier. He plans to attend Blinn College to earn his paramedic certification and then continue training as a firefighter.
Lopez is in the 11th grade, and this is her first year to make the all-state band playing the B-flat clarinet. Alex is a three-year all-region band member and a two-year area player. Alex earned the first chair in the two-stage all-region audition this year in a field of over 150 of the best clarinet players in the area.
Merritt is in the 12th grade, and this is his third year to make the TMEA All-State Band. He is a percussionist and a four-year all-region band member, a two-year all-region jazz ensemble member and a four-year area qualifier. He earned the first chair in the two-stage all-region audition this year. He plans to attend the University of North Texas to major in music performance.
In addition to the five All-State students, Waxahachie also had another three musicians who were one chair away and named alternates. Those students were Benjamin Baker, sophomore, on the bassoon; 11th grader Emmeline Bearden on the bass clarinet, and 10th grader Mason Miller on the baritone saxophone.
Before competing, Armstrong described the musicians’ worth ethic as diligent and tenacious. In the week leading up to the area audition, Armstrong pointed out how these students practiced in the band hall and participated in mock auditions.
Armstrong quoted Urban Meyer and Wayne Coffey, summing up how the students consistently achieve excellence, “Under pressure, we do not rise to the occasion. We rise or fall to the level of our training."
“I am excited that we have students willing to put in the training time necessary to be prepared to achieve at a high level,” Armstrong added. “It brings great joy and pride to see the kids that work at this level be recognized at the state level.”
For the past few years, the Spirit of Waxahachie has averaged five students per year to earn a spot in the All-State Band.
The honor band concert is on Feb. 16, and the two pre-concert shows will be on Feb. 9 and 13. Also on Feb. 13, the Texas A&M Commerce will perform on a joint-concert with Waxahachie High.
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