Clarinetist plays his way into All-State band

Student makes All-Region band for 4th time

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Photo Courtesy of Devin Pham

After an All-Region concert, pre-COVID-19, 2020 graduate Maddi Weaver, 2020 Frisco graduate Joseph Cui, and sophomore Devin Pham gather for a picture. At the time, this marked Pham’s third year in All-Region band. Now, he has qualified for a fourth straight time. “Being in an All-Region band has been one of the best experiences of my life,” Pham said. “I learned so much about being a musician and met great people throughout the experience.”

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The final song ends. The crowd applauds, and another All-Region band concert finishes. For sophomore clarinetist and section leader Devin Pham, who has been a member of All-Region band for four years, he’s performed these concerts multiple times. After competing against 45 different schools with high-ranking musicians, however, Pham was named a Texas All-State Musician — a title that he’s looked to accomplish.

“Advancing into All-State has been one of my biggest goals, and to finally accomplish that goal is so exciting,” Pham said. “I could not have done it without the help and support of my directors, friends and family.”

Before the opportunity to become a part of All-State band, musicians must either make an All-Region band or advance to 6A area auditions to be placed in one of four All-Region ensembles, with Pham making the Wind Ensemble.

“These students competed against over 1,000 students from the Frisco, Little Elm, McKinney and Prosper School Districts to be placed in one of four ensembles,” band director Brandon Holt said. “Which is one step away from being named a Texas All-State musician.”

With only a select group of students advancing to their area, this equates to only the top 2% of all auditioning students to be named Texas All-State musicians, and Pham became one of two PHS students to make All-State band this year.

“Only the highest-ranking musicians judged at the TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) Area competitions qualify to perform in one of 18 Texas All-State ensembles sponsored by the Band, Orchestra, and Vocal Divisions,” Holt said. “This is one of the highest honors an individual musician can achieve during their high school career.”

After making All-State, Pham said that he will not forget about the “All-Region experience,” which is the phase before All-State band.

“Being in All-Region band has been one of the best experiences of my life,” Pham said. “I learned so much about being a musician and met great people throughout the experience. It was a wonderful experience being able to share the stage with such awesome musicians and people in general.”

Pham began his band experience in middle school.

Preparing to play his instrument, sophomore Devin Pham stands at a football game. Pham has been playing the clarinet for five years, and is a clarinet section leader for the 2020-2021 school year. “Being a section leader is such a fun and interesting experience,” Pham said. “But, it was so fun, because I got to know my section so much better, and as time went on, I watched my friends learn and grow, and this helped me grow as a leader.” (Photo Courtesy of Devin Pham)

“I have been playing the clarinet for around five years,” Pham said. “I started playing in beginning band at Reynolds Middle School in sixth grade.”

After coming to high school and becoming a section leader, meaning he led the clarinet group as captain, Pham said he has watched his fellow clarinets “learn and grow” throughout both his and their music careers.

“Being a section leader is such a fun and interesting experience,” Pham said. “This year, I was captain of the clarinet section, and going into it, I had no idea what to do. But, it was so fun, because I got to know my section so much better and as time went on, I watched my friends learn and grow, and this helped me grow as a leader.”

Though officials canceled All-Region concerts due to COVID-19, Pham still uses his time to become a better musician.

“This year has been different because All-Region is all about the experience of being in an ensemble with the best high school musicians in your region, but because of the pandemic, I have not been able to enjoy that experience,” Pham said. “However, my ultimate goal coming out of the All-Region audition and band experience is to not only become a better musician, but also become a better person with the new things I learn.”

As he prepared for All-State, Pham said that he is still building great friendships with people from All-Region.

“My favorite part about the All-Region experience is the people you meet,” Pham said. “I have met so many great people that I learned from and built friendships with. I expected to leave the All-Region experience with the knowledge of how to become a better musician, but it taught me much more than musicianship.”