CMEA Eastern CT Selects Two FI School Students for Ensembles

by Jane Ahrens
Emma and Julia are headed to the CMEA’s Eastern Region High School Festival

Eastern Connecticut Regional High School Band and Chorus Festival Two of our Fishers Island Music students recently auditioned for Connecticut Music Teachers Association (CMEA) Eastern Connecticut Band and Chorus. Students in grade 9-12 from across Eastern Connecticut formally audition to be selected for these ensembles. We are proud to say that senior Emma Cypherd was chosen to participate in the Eastern Regional Band playing Baritone Saxophone and freshman Julia Helal was chosen to participate in Mixed Chorus singing alto.

The students will participate in the CMEA Eastern Regional rehearsal on January 7th and will then perform in the Eastern Regional concert on January 8th at 2:00 pm at UCONN.

By Chris Dollar, Fishers Island School Music Teacher

On an unseasonably warm and calm Saturday morning in November, two Fishers Island music students met at Spicer’s Marina in Noank. One student came across Fishers Island Sound on her family’s boat while the other was driven on the mainland to the marina by her father. Senior Emma Cypherd and Freshman Julia Helal had prepared for this audition for months. Countless hours of practice on scales, audition pieces, and sight reading have led to this day.

Today is the first time that Fishers Island music students have participated in the CMEA’s Eastern Regional auditions. While Fishers Island School also belongs to the New York State School Music Association, logistics make participation in auditions for regional ensembles difficult. Thankfully, the music educators in Connecticut agreed to allow our students to join with them in participation in these events. Their commitment to music education and their desire to further the opportunities for all music students has allowed these students the opportunity to audition for these honor ensembles.

The two students traveled to Killingly High School in Dayville, Connecticut. As they walked through the front doors and into the three story atrium of KHS amid the thousands of music students from across Eastern Connecticut, Emma and Julia were undaunted by suddenly being surrounded by more students than they usually encounter during the whole school year at Fishers Island. They gained their bearings and began to find their audition rooms and warm-up areas. They then got down to work and began their individual warm-up routines to prepare for their auditions. Emma put her baritone saxophone together in the school auditorium and began warming up with her scales. Next door, in one of the school’s gymnasiums, Julia began her vocal warm-ups and put in her earbuds where she had the accompaniment cued up for her audition piece.

As it came time for their audition times the two girls wished each other “Good Luck” and they went to their respective audition rooms where a panel of area music educator experts served as their adjudicators for the day. The panel selected scales for the students to perform, had the students perform the audition piece, and gave the students music to sight read. All of these activities are designed to assess different aspects of the student’s musical preparation. Just like that, months of practice and preparation come down to 5 minutes of audition. They leave their audition rooms and as the doors close behind them, they are done. Now they have to wait until the results come after all of the scores are tabulated.

Three days later Emma and Julia found out that they were both selected to participate in the CMEA Eastern Regional Ensembles at UCONN. Emma was selected to play baritone saxophone in the Eastern Regional Band and Julia was selected to sing alto in the Eastern Regional Mixed Choir. The students will participate in rehearsals with other members of the ensemble on January 7th and January 8th. They will present the results of their hard work in a concert at 2:00 PM on January 8th at UCONN.

This is a great accomplishment for our music students. Not only do they have the opportunity to compete as individuals, but audition preparation and participation in honor ensembles, such as Eastern Regional band and choir, elevates our school ensembles by bringing new techniques, literature, and experiences back with our student leaders to be shared with the other musicians. I am very proud of these students and look forward to having more students participate in auditions in the future.” ~ Chris Dollar, Fishers Island Music Teacher

About CMEA

The Connecticut Music Educators Association provides programs and activities for professional educators, students and future music educators striving to enhance the quality of music education for all children.

The Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA) is the federated state organization for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) which represents the profession of music education in the United States. CMEA plays an important role through its encouragement and support of the highest musical standards in our school programs. The All-State and Regional Festivals, the Annual In-Service Conference, the CMEA NEWS magazine, advocacy efforts and grant programs for our members are some of the ways that the Connecticut Music Educators Association continues to fulfill its commitment of more than three quarters of a century to music education in our state.

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