Thorsby freshmen named to district honor band

Published 8:12 pm Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kandice Clayton and Anna Speakman represented Thorsby High School as nominees on the 2017 edition of district honor band.

Both musicians are freshman, and have already shown a glimpse of their potential over the next three years.

Clayton plays the clarinet, while Speakman plays tenor saxophone.

According to Thorsby band director Casey Clark, district honor band is a precursor to all-state honor band. A certain number of instrumentalists are selected for all-state from each district.

Speakman and Clayton competed against band members from fellow district schools, such as Tuscaloosa County High School and Hillcrest High School.

This year’s district auditions were held at Prattville High School. Despite, earning district honors, neither was able to qualify for all-state but came close.

Speakman was one chair away and Clayton narrowly missed it last year.

“The chair placement shows that you could have done better, and it pushes you to strive for that next chair,” Clayton said.

It was the first time attending the auditions for Speakman, while Clayton was making her second trip. They have both been members of the Thorsby band since sixth grade.

For Speakman, music is in her DNA, as her mother and brother were both in band. She follows continues to follow their path, while looking to make her own footprints.

During the auditions, musicians were judged based on their individual performance.

Anna Speakman and Kandice Clayton are members of the Thorsby band and were named to the 2017 district honor band. As a result, they performed during an event at the University of West Alabama on Feb. 17 and 18. (Contributed photo)

Performing individually is a drastic change from playing in a group setting when performing as part of the Thorsby band.

“It’s a spotlight for sure and you’re nervous a lot in the beginning, but once you get into it, you realize that it’s not that bad,” Speakman said.

Both received their music several months in advance and were responsible for working on the music on their own, while also maintaining their marching band duties at Thorsby.

Preparation included scale exercises and learning two different pieces that included a technical and a lyrical variety.

According to Clark, the technical piece is the faster piece that has more notes in it, while the lyrical piece has longer tones and looks to capture the extended-type note lengths.

The competition also required sight-reading, which entailed giving the musicians a piece of music never seen before and giving them a minute to look over it before playing it.

“You prepare months in advance for a one-time audition,” Clark said. “It’s intense, but that’s all part of it. You have to be able to handle the psychology of it, and these two girls went above and beyond.”

“They still have three years to compete and make it before they graduate high school,” Clark said. “Things get harder going from junior high to high school, but that’s the way it’s suppose to be. The older you get and longer you play your instrument, the more you need to be challenged.”

Both musicians took part in an event showcasing the district honor band nominees as part of a group performance on Feb. 17 and 18 at the University of West Alabama in Livingston.

“They learned five or six pieces in 10 hours,” Clark said. “Everyone who was there really wants to play and are committed and they are the top players from their ensembles.”

According to Clark, it typically takes the Thorsby band all semester to learn five songs during the concert band portion of the year, due to only meeting 40 minutes a day during school hours.

“I can tell them all day long the notes that are in a scale and I can even play it for them, but they have to practice it,” Clark said. “Their fingers are the ones on the horn, not mine. I am proud of all their hard work.”