Do certain areas have a better reputation for HS music?

<p>First post here from a clarinet dad whose S currently is in 11th grade. This is a great site; my thanks to all of you who post and provide valuable tips and information. It's much appreciated. My question today is this: do certain geographic areas of the country have better reputations than do other areas for HS music programs? My S has been told by his instructor (a college prof) that All-State means little; it's all about the college audition. Still, for application's sake, I'm wondering if it means more making All-State where the competition is known to be stiffer. I ask this because at the All-District concert, the guest conductor (from outside our area) told the audience that our area (Northern Virginia) had a reputation as one of the top areas for HS music. But I'm wondering if he was just pandering to the audience. :-)</p>

<p>First of all, it's great seeing another clarinetist on this forum! Welcome!
(I am also a clarinetist, and oddly enough also in Northern VA...)</p>

<p>I do think it's true that All-State is tougher in some areas than in others. I've done county and district, but never All-State until this year - and I still got into two of my top three colleges (and still waiting on a response from the third one, hoping for good news!). I think that Virginia in general has always seemed very spontaneous with its All-State results, and I don't say that because I'm bitter. I've seen very many undeserving players make the top band (even the top ten!) and deserving ones (like the first chair in our Senior Regional Orchestra, she was fantastic) make only the second band or even get shut out entirely. In my opinion this might have something to do with the fact that we play random strange etudes (did you see the one this year? what was the point???) for our auditions instead of 'real' music - most other states do actual pieces such as concerto movements, etc. </p>

<p>However, the VA All-State ensembles are great every year, and it's definitely true that the NOVA school districts are well-funded and well-regarded for music in schools. Definitely not a bad place to be involved in HS music (although the college programs around here for the most part are another story...).</p>

<p>GMB,</p>

<p>Welcome. I love the screen name.</p>

<p>I have heard that same speech from nearly every conductor of a school honors ensemble that my daughter ever played in, and she played in a lot of them in high school. Either northern NJ is also one of the top areas, or there is a whole lot of pandering going on. Anyone else heard that speech elsewhere?</p>

<p>Excellent individual players can spring up almost anywhere, but I think the competition does tend to be a bit tougher in more densely populated areas both because the number of kids who are auditioning for a fixed number of spots is larger and because that is where the top teachers often end up.</p>

<p>I've heard the same speech as well (Violadad...you were probably at at least one All State Concert with me when it was made). I think the key is funding. Well funded school districts tend to have good arts programs. I will say...we CHOSE to plant our house where it is because of the reputation of the public school instrumental music program (highly regarded even though it's a little semi-rural school district). Also, the availability of good youth ensembles at precollege programs ups the ante as well. It helps that most of these kids also study privately.</p>

<p>+1 about Pre-College programs. </p>

<p>Some of the best conservatories are in Boston, New York, Baltimore and LA. These conservatories also have good Pre-College programs, so the level of HS ensembles is higher than in other places. </p>

<p>In Boston there's NEC Pre-College and Walnut Hill School, as well as GYBSO. </p>

<p>In NY there's Juilliard Pre-College, MSM Prep, and Mannes Prep, as well as the NY Youth Symphony and the LaGuardia Performing Arts School and Professional Children's School. </p>

<p>In LA there's Colburn Prep. </p>

<p>In Baltimore there's Peabody Prep. </p>

<p>There's also the Interlochen School in MI which has lots of good players.</p>

<p>I don't think there are Pre-College programs in Chicago, but I'm sure the CYSO is pretty good because the CSO is right here and kids can study with orchestra members. </p>

<p>I guess the best programs will be where there are the best orchestras = best teachers = best schools.</p>

<p>Yep thumper, I've heard it too. The major metro areas, with great teachers, great programs be it public school or high quality youth orchestras, great funding, or other sources of early good instruction tend to concentrate in some geographic hotbeds. </p>

<p>Part of it too is students will often play up to their level of peers... the better the players, the better the average musician. </p>

<p>Incredible programs or teachers at Podunk Rural District will as BassDad says produce many a fine musician. </p>

<p>All State can be one indicator of a musician's peer level, but depending on the selection methodologies may not necessarily be indicative of talent within a wider regional geographic pool.</p>

<p>It's still a feather in the cap.</p>

<p>In my area, there are a number of string players who do not participate in their high school orchestras or All-State - they are entering major national and international competitions and the teachers aren't interested in high school committments interferring with private practice. I have known several students told to drop their school (and youth) orchestra affiliations - or they will be dropped by the teachers. (multiple teachers involved - not just one studio)</p>

<p>As far as All-state for string players, the best students frequently do not participate, even if eligible to audition. </p>

<p>Also, in this area, a number of the students are home schooled or in private schools. They are not eligible for All-State unless the school is a member of the state music association - and not all the private schools are. </p>

<p>The situation may be different for winds.</p>

<p>I don't mean to pass judgment on All-State (I had fun participating as a kid in the last century!) or on the choices that individual students make - just passing on my observations.</p>

<p>I agree with musicianmom - my son (violin) is in private school and not eligible for All-State. It has not held him back.</p>

<p>All-State recognition catches some very talented kids, but misses a whole bunch of others who, for a million different reasons, don't enter the fray. I have heard some of the attitude that musicianmom talks about where private teachers have little regard for these sorts of experiences as well.</p>

<p>For what it's worth we live in one of the more affluent NYC suburbs and our high school music program is abyssmal. ABYSSMAL. It's a crime. We are lucky to have the New York precollege experience for our music-hungry son. Speaking to people from upstate New York towns where the community puts money and pride into its music programs made me sad during audition visits. The value that a community puts into its arts programs can vary from place to place.</p>

<p>The Baltimore/Washington corridor is incredibly strong in music training of all kinds - orchestral, solo, choral, etc. There are myriad ways to become a good musician in the area. And yes, I know of at least one violin teacher who pressures her students to home school - this would have been a crime for my awkward and shy son, but it works for some.</p>

<p>I think the key issue in BGM's question lies in the phrase "for the application's sake" In fact, I think his son's instructor is right to emphasize the audition, but having a good audition is all about becoming a good player, and playing in a good HS orchestra is probably one of the ways to become a good player. I think for conservatories, the lists of achievements on the application is far less important than the acutal playing, including not only All State ensembles, but also winning various prizes and competitions.</p>

<p>Yes, yep, uh-huh, yessir. I agree. With everybody.</p>

<p>I'm in Atlanta. I've heard the speech. We don't have any conservatories in Atlanta, but the Atlanta Youth Symphony is part of the ASO - coaches, teachers, conductor, etc - all from ASO. Makes a big difference. Emory also has a couple programs for youth, and there are a handful of other community orchestras for youth. Lots of offerings.</p>

<p>In Georgia, All State is not limited to public schools. Every year there are plenty of privates and home-schooled kids there. I have heard that there are some politics/hard feelings among violins, and that some violin teachers in the area won't let their students audition. Only know that as rumor; no personal experience. My violinist D did All State. Have also heard that the "bad blood" might be between ASYO and All State strings - that violinists from one group might not make it into the other, and vice versa. I personally think it has to do with listening for different things.</p>

<p>All State here is judged by school teachers, who may or may not play the instrument being auditioned! They tend to listen for correct notes; not necessarily tone or musicality. That leads to some different outcomes.</p>

<p>Fortunately, the blessing of being in an area so rich in musical opportunities for kids is that there is plenty to go 'round!</p>

<p>My sister-in-law, in OH, says the string program where she lives is non-existant - not available in the schools at all, only band. The band program at my own HS in PA has shrunk miserably since I was in HS (many, many, many years ago. And I played clarinet, by the way!) The area I am from has been depressed for a long time, and I think the music program is often the first to go. The schools are still great; strong academically. But glad my kids grew up here in GA.</p>

<p>The OP's original question seems to be, does All State matter? I think it does, but perhaps not in a straight equation. With my kids, it was the opportunity to experience the audition process, to play in higher level orchestras, to get strokes for their efforts -- those led to bigger and better things.</p>

<p>The year DD scored a perfect score in the district auditions and the top of all voices in the district, she was not selected for all state - they chose voices that blended. None of the top rated voices made it. We had a very different opinion of all state after that. </p>

<p>The State honors choir on the other hand stayed true to the overall vocal quality and selected high scoring voices. . No problems there. DD's voice teacher never even cared if she tried for all state, but did care if she did State honors. Her senior year she did not even audition for all state since she was on college auditions. No impact on her acceptances. It is all about the audition.</p>

<p>I do think that All State has some good points. First, it gave my son orchestral experience in addition to his youth orchestra experience. His school doesn't have an orchestra so ALL opportunities for orchestral playing and building exposure to orchestral repertoire were valuable to him. AND we've had some dynamite (and very highly regarded...right Violadad?) conductors conduct our All State ensembles. My son felt the experience of working with these master conductors was also excellent. </p>

<p>Do I think All State had any impact on his acceptance in undergraduate school? Absolutely not. He had Youth Symphony, two years at BUTI, two years of study with the principal trumpet of the HSO, several honors orchestra positions he won through audition. All State was a small drop in his orchestral playing experience. But in the end, his audition was what gained him his acceptances.</p>

<p>I have heard many guest conductors state that we are the best also. (Maybe we all live in the same state? :D) I do not believe All State holds much weight, if any, for college acceptances. In our state, you work your way up to get to states, which is probably the way it is for all states. Therefore, if back in December you had a bad audition for Districts, then you are done, or if you are home schooled, go to a private school you do not have the opportunity to even audition. Our district is made up of 7 counties, and it is quite an accomplishment to just make it to that level. Once you make it to that level, you compete with those musicians to move on to regionals then states....and many chose not to move on due to school or other commitments. All State is incredible and made up of talented musicians, but as stated before, there are many gifted musicians that are not able to participate for one reason or another....
The township we live in is very rich in music. Music is the "thing" to do here. We have cheerleaders put down their pom poms to perform with the band at half time, homecoming court is music kids with the king and queen the drum majors many times! Most of the student population participates in at least one music group....many multiple groups!! People come to football games to see our marching band perform!!! Music is "cool" at our school!!! Maybe being so close to NY, Baltimore, Philly ect...helps?</p>

<p>cosmos, I second the comments about pre-college programs; they are fantastic. I think quite a few other universities have them, too. I know UT-Austin has good programs especially for piano and strings. I don't know how that relates to the high school question, but had to put a plug in for those, and wish everyone had access to them! But I believe there are a lot of them scattered throughout the land.</p>

<p>Thanks to all for your input. I should clarify my initial post by stating that my S's instructor was not dissuading him from auditioning for All-State band; she was merely answering a query he had about how much colleges weigh All-State participation. He did in fact audition for and make All-State this year. We're still wading through the college options, though it's clear he won't be applying to conservatories. He's looking at music major, double-major, music minor, or simply music as a hook. My simple belief is that any accomplishment a HS student can list on his/her application is a good thing. And when that accomplishment reflects a skill that requires talent, effort, determination, perseverance, and patience judged to be better than his/her peers at increasing levels, the impact is solid. Regarding the original question in the subject header, it does indeed sound like guest conductors tend to pay lip service to the proud parents in the audiences at district, regional, county, and state band/orchestra concerts. That's fine. I had a feeling such was the case. </p>

<p>I think jazzzmomm's point bears highlighting...a music program that is well funded and has pride goes a long way in gaining a reputation, regardless of where one lives. My S is very fortunate to be in such a program, in an area full of such programs. </p>

<p>Thanks again to all of you posting on this. It's terrific to read perspectives of both students and parents in various situations and skill levels.</p>

<p>GoodManBenny wrote: <my simple="" belief="" is="" that="" any="" accomplishment="" a="" hs="" student="" can="" list="" on="" his="" her="" application="" good="" thing.="" and="" when="" reflects="" skill="" requires="" talent,="" effort,="" determination,="" perseverance,="" patience="" judged="" to="" be="" better="" than="" peers="" at="" increasing="" levels,="" the="" impact="" solid.=""></my></p>

<p>A most thoughtful and insightful summation. </p>

<p>Well said.</p>

<p>Advice to remember and pass along.</p>

<p>you've probably heard the one about colleges looking for a well-rounded student body, not necessarily a well-rounded (stretched too thin) student. so having a few really strong factors may be more beneficial than belonging to every club on campus....</p>

<p>I assume, NOTFROMME, that you are from NJ...</p>

<p>Yes, NJ has quite a complicated hierarchy to make it to all-state. The year my S played all-state here, he had to audition and play through 2 levels (4 orchestras or bands) before qualifying to audition for all-state orchestra & wind ensemble. He would tell you that the value of all-state was in the auditions.</p>

<p>Now, attending a pre-college, he is now not allowed to play in all-state because of that reason - the 3 Saturday auditions required to get into all-state is too much pre-college time missed. But he has many extremely talented friends that do play in all-state. In NJ, you find the kids playing either District/region/all-state or precollege in NYC, rarely both.</p>

<p>As to the value of one vs the other, great musicians come from everywhere, we are fortunate to have the plethora of opportunities here, but the great equalizer is a conservatory audition. What matters is how you play THEN. That may, perhaps, be a bit simplistic, and I may be naive but I think it all comes down to that moment. The rest is just preparation for that moment. </p>

<p>As to the other question, are the players generally better from one area than another, I think it's a numbers game as was said earlier. More kids have better preparation available coming from certain areas, but that doesn't preclude great playing from other places.</p>