By Alicia Couch Payne

Every year, band students all over the state audition to make the Georgia Music Educators Association All-State Band.  The process to make the band is a lengthy one which challenges the young musicians. The GMEA All-State Band auditions are known as the third most difficult in the entire country.  Students can audition for the band starting in middle school. Each grade level has two bands.

The students must go through two rounds of auditions.  Both auditions are live auditions in which the student cannot see the judges.  It’s essentially a blind audition where the judges are behind a screen. Over 1,000 students for each instrument in each grade level audition in the first round.  The first round, students must play music that is selected by the GMEA which consists of scales from memory, chromatic scales, and an etude or a short musical composition plus sight reading.  Sight reading is where a student is provided a short musical selection in which the student has 30 seconds to memorize it and then play the piece. Students with the highest scores at the end of round one advanced to round two.  In this blind audition, students had to perform two prepared etudes and once again had to do sight reading.

Out of a couple hundred students that auditioned in the second round for each instrument in each grade level, roughly 15-20% would make the GMEA All-State Band.  The students who have the honor of making the All-State Band will travel to Athens, Georgia to participate in the band February 28 – March 2, 2019.

L-R:  Senior Dylan Wiggins, junior Jayden Skelton, and freshman Paul Kwok were selected to participate in the GMEA All-State Band in Athens, Georgia.  Photo credit: Alicia Couch Payne

Three Buford High School band members made this year’s GMEA All-State Band.  Senior Dylan Wiggins who plays the alto saxophone will participate in the 11th/12th-grade band.  Only 14 students who play the alto saxophone out of 200+ in round two were selected for the final band per grade level.  Junior Jayden Skelton was selected for the 11th/12th-grade band playing the clarinet. Out of over 200 clarinet players, only 51 were selected for the All-State Band.  Paul Kwok, a freshman trumpet player was one of 32 trumpet players selected out of over 200 to play in the 9th/10th-grade band.

Congratulations to these talented young musicians, their parents, and their band director, Matt Young.  This is a high honor and will no doubt represent Buford well in Athens.


Alicia joined the North Gwinnett Voice, as the Editor, shortly after the first publication. She is a homegrown Buford native, with the southern charm and "bless your heart" included. ...

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