The TMEA experience

Assistant News Editor and choir student reflects on her experience

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Assistant News Editor and choir student reflects on her experience

Ashley Chase, Assistant News Editor

On Feb. 11 the Vandegrift Varsity Women’s choir left for San Antonio to perform the next day as part of the honor of receiving the title of the Texas 5A TMEA women’s choir. The choir performed a 24 minute concert involving seven different pieces accompanied by percussion, violins and a collection of brass instruments at certain points in front of hundreds of prestigious musicians and choir directors from all over the state of Texas. To say that the performance was a success would be an understatement.

I am a member of the Vandegrift Varsity women’s choir and had the fortunate opportunity to perform in that concert. The experience was totally unforgettable.

When the choir first arrived in San Antonio, it was late afternoon the day before our performance. The choir grabbed some food and ate lunch on a set of steps looking over the famous River Walk. Sitting on the edge of River Walk on a sunny day is absolutely gorgeous. The light reflects in fluctuating patterns off the rippling waves from the tour boats gliding through the water. Tables shaded by umbrellas are dotted along the edges of the sidewalks and a bridge leads to an observation tower in the middle of the river. The murmur of voices and the aroma of warm, rich food permeates the air. Though it was mid February, the beaming sun and clear skies preserved a feeling of summer isolated from the rest of the world.

The TMEA convention doesn’t just include TMEA choirs- it involves several classes to help educators discover different ways to teach music and other musical performances by vocalists and instrumentalists. After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon attending a variety of these performances. We attended the middle school TMEA womens and mixed choirs first. The concerts involved choreography and at one point, the womens choir went as far to reach into the fronts of their dresses and pull out yellow ribbons to tie around their necks for their song called “The Yellow Ribbon.” The performance was well done considering the youth of the singers, but it really put how far our choir had come into perspective and how much we had accomplished in comparison.

I later attended the state choirs rehearsing for their performance Saturday. The womens choir was rehearsing a piece that included ambiance, which involved several of the singers imitating realistic bird calls and the rushing of the wind while the rest of the choir sang to add to the feel of being in the middle of a forest. The mixed state choir, however, was rehearsing their foreign language piece, complete with spitting consonants and glorified chords. Seeing so many talented singers performing together in the same room was almost overwhelming and the presence of the talent in the room was palpable. Later, we attended the 6A womens and mixed TMEA choir performances. Watching their performances was unreal. Much like the state choirs, it was amazing to see so many talented musicians come together to create something so unique and emotional. The energy exuded by the choir changed with each piece and was contagious. I walked away with a completely different view of how to perform music and a resolve to improve myself in an attempt to approach that level. After the 6A concerts, the choir ended the evening with dinner together at an Italian restaurant on the River Walk and then returned to the hotel for the night.

The next morning, we all prepared for our performance that morning. Girls were flying down the hall tying bows and pinning hair as we struggled to get ready. The lobby was chaos as we carted out suitcases down to load on the bus. The choir was then herded into the neighboring hotel in order to warm up in one of their rooms. As we began to sing, the tension floated away from our group as we feel back into the familiar rhythm and flow of notes that we’ve had ingrained in us since the first week of summer. The music soared above all the worries and stresses that had kept us grounded in worry that whole week. We were completely united through the experience of singing together.

This feeling translated to our concert later that day. Our performance ended to a standing ovation by the audience. The director of the entire convention said he had never seen a choir perform like that at the whole convention that week. We received praise from not only choir directors and vocal teachers of great acclaim, but musicians and former TMEA presidents. But the most touching part was when we went back to our holding room and performed an a capella Irish folk song for our parents and our choir director Mr. Feris’ former choir directors. Most of the choir was sobbing by the end, but I was beaming. While most were saddened by the end of something so amazing, I felt bettered by it and so fortunate to have the opportunity to experience all of it. I have no intentions of pursuing a career in music, but that performance has definitely affected how music will continue to be a part of my life beyond high school.