The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

Singers, saxophonist qualify for All-State ensembles, attend convention

Aiden Hansen, Jacob Morris, Benny Hu prepare to perform Saturday
Following+choir+director+Crystal+Chamberlains+conducting%2C+senior+Jacob+Morris%2C+on+the+far+right%2C+sings+the+song+Begin%2C+My+Soul+with+fellow+chamber+choir+members+juniors+Landen+Kellum%2C+Brandon+Rodriguez+and+Jake+Radcliffe.+Morris+auditioned+in+the+All-State+audition+process%2C+qualified+for+the+Tenor-Bass+All-State+choir+and+will+perform+with+the+ensemble+at+the+Texas+Music+Educators+Association+Convention+in+San+Antonio+on+Saturday.+Im+just+really+excited+for+the+performance%2C+Morris+said.+Its+a+sad+thing+to+say%2C+but+it+is+kind+of+rare+to+be+a+part+of+a+choir+where+everybody+wants+to+be+there.+But%2C+when+you+get+to+the+area+round%2C+everybody+is+super+talented+and+wants+to+be+there.
Anisha Mandem
Following choir director Crystal Chamberlain’s conducting, senior Jacob Morris, on the far right, sings the song “Begin, My Soul” with fellow chamber choir members juniors Landen Kellum, Brandon Rodriguez and Jake Radcliffe. Morris auditioned in the All-State audition process, qualified for the Tenor-Bass All-State choir and will perform with the ensemble at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention in San Antonio on Saturday. “I’m just really excited for the performance,” Morris said. “It’s a sad thing to say, but it is kind of rare to be a part of a choir where everybody wants to be there. But, when you get to the area round, everybody is super talented and wants to be there.”

After practicing for hundreds of hours and making their way through rounds of auditions, three Prosper High School student musicians will perform with some of the best musicians from around Texas.

Junior Aiden Hansen and seniors Jacob Morris and Yanhao “Benny” Hu qualified for All-State musical ensembles after many rounds of auditions. Hansen and Morris qualified for the Tenor-Bass Choir. Hu made the Symphonic Band. Hansen auditioned as a tenor one, Morris auditioned as a bass one and Hu auditioned with his alto saxophone. Today, they traveled to the Texas Music Educators Association Convention in San Antonio to start practicing with their respective music groups for their performances on Saturday.

“So each year, people from all over the state go through a series of auditions, depending on which instrument you’re playing,” Hu said. “First, there’s the region level. If you advance to the next level, that’s the area audition, and then they take a select number from each audition. Then, after the area auditions, if you rank within the top few people at area, you advance to a state ensemble.”

For auditioning singers, there are four rounds of auditions: district, region, pre-area and area.

“I attended private lessons with a wonderful lady named Mrs. (Lois) Landrum, which helped me a lot,” Morris said. “Like Mrs. Landrum, my choir directors gave me a lot of valuable insight whenever I was singing through my music. I also was able to learn from my friends, where I would sing for them, and they would give me thoughts and ideas about what they would do at certain points in the music.”

Before visiting the TMEA Convention, junior Aiden Hansen and seniors Jacob Morris and Yanhao “Benny” Hu salute in front of the Alamo building in San Antonio. The three student musicians qualified to perform with All-State ensembles. “I mean, I’m excited to meet other amazing singers,” Hansen said. “I’ve met a lot of people throughout just this process, and I can’t wait to be there with everyone and the amazing talent that will be there. I really do think it’ll be a life changing experience.” (Photo courtesy of Crystal Chamberlain)

Along with taking opportunities like voice lessons, consistently practicing was a great help to those auditioning.

“I try to get at least about an hour of practice each day, about six days a week,” Hu said. “But, obviously I wasn’t necessarily adhering to that every single week because it’s hard during breaks. But, I would say it’s just being consistent. If you spend a consistent amount of time practicing daily, you will have a pretty good shot at making All-State.”

Hansen said he found inspiration in his other extracurriculars, such as theatre.

“I definitely think that being in varsity musical helped me with the auditions,” Hansen said. “Especially because, in varsity musicals, we learn how to put stress on specific words to tell a story through song. That definitely helps in the All-State process and is something that sets you apart from others because anyone, especially when you make it to the last auditions, is going to be a good singer. Whoever tells the story of the text the best and has the vocal talent will make it far and, that’s definitely something that musical theater has helped me with.”

According to the qualifiers, auditions can be nerve-wracking for auditioning musicians, especially one as important as the area audition.

“What I do most of the time is take a deep breath in through my mouth, which works to slow down my heart rate,” Morris said. “I had also reminded myself that I already made it to area, which was further than I made it in the last few years. Making the All-State choir would be taking it one step further, but it was mostly reminding myself that whatever happens, happens.”

Hu said he finds calm in following established routines.

“I make sure to eat a banana for breakfast,” Hu said. “And, that just kind of gets me into the right mindset for it. I know it sounds a bit strange, but it’s a tradition I’ve picked up from previous auditions. And, it’s something that I stick to, simply because it just holds a certain amount of attachment for me.”

Head band director Aaron Renzenbrink said Hu participated in extra performances to prepare.

“Giving Benny performance opportunities really helped him in this process, I think,” Renzenbrink said. “He does a lot in an outside ensemble, which is helpful, and he’s playing and practicing pretty much six days a week. He’s a pretty self-sufficient and self-driven. So, performance opportunities would be the biggest help. Getting as many of those before the audition is really important.”

I definitely do feel more disciplined, you know, going through and setting aside a chunk of time every day to go practice. It really does help with time management, just getting used to actually thinking about when I have time to go sing my All-State music. The whole process really is just a great experience.

— senior Jacob Morris

Choir director Crystal Chamberlain said she believes Hansen and Morris achieved success because of their competitiveness.

“Aiden and Jacob are both very self-motivated,” Chamberlain said. “So, they do not require a lot of reminders from me or encouragement from me to work hard. They see issues or problems that they might be having, and then they work really hard to try and fix those things.”

Morris said he found some of his motivation through his friend’s previous success.

“I made a pinky promise with my best friend, Elijah Steuer,” Morris said. “He had made All-State last year. I really wanted to follow in his footsteps and also make it. I think, because I promised him, and I kind of hold my pinky promises to a really high standard, I couldn’t break that.”

The two singers said they found difficulty in the text of songs they used for auditions.

“Probably having to perfect different languages because a lot of the songs that we get will be in different languages, especially further on in the process,” Hansen said. “Learning how to speak and sing in languages such as German and Latin as if it was English and still being able to tell that story is really an obstacle.”

The three All-Staters traveled to the TMEA Convention today, where they will perform with their ensembles on Saturday.

“I mean, I’m excited to meet other amazing singers,” Hansen said. “I’ve met a lot of people throughout just this process, and I can’t wait to be there with everyone and the amazing talent that will be there. I really do think it’ll be a life changing experience.”

The All-State audition process helped the musicians grow their musical abilities, self-control and confidence.

“I definitely do feel more disciplined, you know, going through and setting aside a chunk of time every day to go practice,” Morris said. “It really does help with time management, just getting used to actually thinking about when I have time to go sing my All-State music. And, another thing is, you kind of have to put yourself out there most of the time, like going and singing in front of random people, which is really weird sometimes. But, it’s very helpful to stimulate the nerves that you’ll feel in the audition room. That also helps with social skills. The whole process really is just a great experience.”

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Jake Radcliffe, Assistant Online Editor
Jake Radcliffe is a junior, and this is his third year as a staff member of Eagle Nation Online. This year, he will be serving as an Assistant Editor. He is a member of the A Cappella and Chamber choirs, the vice president of Mu Alpha Theta and the Asian Student Association and the historian of La Société Honoraire de Français. Outside of school, Radcliffe enjoys singing, reading, hanging out with friends, playing video games and being outdoors.
Justin Wang, Reporter
Justin Wang is a junior at Prosper High School. This is his first year working for Eagle Nations Online,  serving as a reporter. He loves mathematics, computer science, and wants to learn more about writing through working for Eagle Nation Online.
Anisha Mandem, Assistant Editor
Anisha is a junior, and this is her third year on ENO. She is currently an Assistant Editor and the Editorial Section Editor. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she moved to Texas at the end of 2021 and works for the newspaper as a writer and a videographer. She is also the founder and president of the non-profit NeuroNext Foundation, the PHS Model UN team, and is a part of SNHS. Outside of school, she enjoys playing the piano, running, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
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