Piedmont Students attend all-district band


Kimberly Haines

On Friday, January 28, two Piedmont students attended South Central’s All-District  Band at Stuart W. Cramer High School in Belmont, NC. Before students could experience this event, however, they had to go through preparation for a competitive audition. 

“The preparation process for the audition was very intense. I spent months practicing the scales and the solo piece.” said Gwendolyn Griffin, Piedmont 10th grader and trumpet player. Students prepared a pre-chosen solo, scales, and sight-reading. Players try their best to make every single detail perfect. 

Ardrey Kell High School junior Gwinn Lankford, an oboe player, said when she worked with her private teacher they worked on “phrasing and worked on solidifying a steady tempo.” 

The audition was originally scheduled to be in-person; however, only a couple weeks before the audition it was changed to virtual. This is a completely different experience for a lot of people since recording usually doesn’t have the same amount of mistake leniency that live auditions do. People took this news in different ways. Lankford personally does better with virtual auditions. “I think I do a lot better in a virtual audition than in person. I tend to get really nervous when there are random strangers peering at me over a table in a strange room where my reeds aren’t acclimated and I’ve been standing in a hallway not playing for a while.” 

Others, like Griffin, prefer the in-person audition.“The virtual process is more stressful in my opinion because everyone can keep recording until their audition takes are “perfect”.  Rather than a five minute in-person audition, I spent hours recording take after take.”

After this audition experience, students who are accepted into the group get to have a two-day clinic. At this clinic, musicians work all day with each other to prepare music for a final concert on the second day. However, this year, the district was changed in multiple ways. First of all, due to COVID restrictions, students had to wear a mask at all times when not playing. This didn’t change much of the overall experience, just changed how things were approached. The biggest change was due to the weather. 

The night before the clinic, the district decided to shorten the clinic to one day since it was expected to snow the next day. This shortened the rehearsal time significantly. It went from 12 hours on Friday for preparation to only 6 rehearsal hours before the concert. However, every musician was dedicated enough to pull it off. “I would like to say that this experience was absolutely incredible. Even with the COVID restrictions and schedule changes, nothing could take away from the experience of playing music with people my own age who love and enjoy it just as much as I do,” commented Griffin.

So many musicians from schools all over the district come together to make the clinic work, and it helps create lifelong friendships. I’ve personally met some of my best friends through music, many from all-district clinics from over the years. The experience itself was so amazing this year, especially since, for a lot of people, it was the first clinic in two years. I think these past two years without these kinds of events made it so much more special.