Clarinets scale to state: seniors speak from experience

Kiana Garcia, staff writer

There are nearly 65,000 high school musicians in Texas who try out for state level competition every year, with only 300 to 400 qualifying.
Against these odds two Cougar clarinet players made it to state, each for multiple years. Senior Anne Theil qualified for State all four years of high school, and senior Sang Han has ranked at state level for the past three years.

“It’s unbelievable and highly unusual,” band director Mike Ouellette said. “It shows a lot of dedication and work. They deserve a lot of credit and recognition for it.”

According to Han and Theil, performers must committ the time and effort to succeed through all the levels of competition to meet the criteria for state.

“It really depends on how much you work on it,” Han said. “It also depends on how much you persevere because you have to go through all the auditions and stuff.”

Han says he tries to get at least two hours of clarinet practice every day. Theil states that this year she has slacked off a bit due to “senioritis,” but she usually tries to practice during her free time, even though she considers her lessons as her practice.

“Going to state is amazing,” Theil said. “At state you are surrounded by musicians who are all as good as you are, or better, and you have world class clinicians and all sorts of people from around the world playing together. There is music for three days, and nothing but.”

Han says he didn’t know what to expect from state.

“It’s really an eye opener to see what it’s like to be around people at your level,” Han said. “It lets you put a mark on how you are going to do things later on.”

Auditions start with chair placement, which will determine what group each performer will work in. Musicians are grouped, assigned a part, and then are told to rehearse. All the groups play a concert on the same day, and the auditorium is always packed, so there is always a good round of applause.

Theil says this time going to state was bittersweet for her since it was her last time.

“The concert was really emotional for me,” Theil said. “The concert was perfect, but afterward I was crying. It was just really emotional.”

Anyone who makes it to state just once, let alone 3 or 4 times, and wants to continue music as a major or minor could receive a full scholarship to the college of his or her choice.

“It really opened my eyes on what the world of music out there is like,” Han said. “It really changed my life. If it wasn’t for State, I probably wouldn’t be majoring in music.”