Choir takes on TMEA auditions


Photo Courtesy of Yasmeen Aljamal

AFTER THE AUDITIONS: James Bowie choir pose after the region auditions. The auditions took place at the Performing Arts Center.

Fiona Padalino, Digital Staff

Entering a familiar room, Junior Finnegan Alexander prepares himself for an audition. He begins the tense, yet exciting process to prolong his choir ambition. The choir audition in question is the TMEA region choir audition. 

The Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) region choir is a year-long competition and process that starts with 80,000 original auditioners and ends with about 300 in the All-State Texas choir. The students in the choir class start by getting their pieces on the first day in May, about six months before their first audition. They take these pieces and work on them up until the first round of TMEA auditions. 

“We have a lot of after-school rehearsals that have been kind of built in the way that it worked last year,” Alexander said. “We had a lot of Wednesday and Saturday practices where you met in the portable and rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed.” 

As the choir director for Bowie, Bourgeois pushes his students to get to state finals. The first step is to practice the music all of the summer until the first audition. Students such as Junior Finnegan Alexander take time every day to practice and study three different songs in their entirety to prepare. The audition cut they get will be random parts of any of these three songs, so memorizing each song will help them excel in the audition. 

“One thing I do to help out with this is Mock auditions [which] give them a chance to sing a solo for me and kind of the setting for it,” choir director Aaron Bourgeois said. “I also take some time to make mock cuts for that.”

TMEA auditions were held in the cafeteria on Oct.18. After the audition, the choir students got placed in chairs. The chairs determine what where students were ranked. For region choir, the first 15 chairs proceed. 16th or 17th chairs are on standby just in case the 15th chair cannot compete. Choir students who made the top chairs move on to Pre-Area auditions which will be held on November 15th. The judges of this round take the first five chairs of each section. 

“There can be a lot of great benefits if they are someone who is going into music,” Bourgeois said. “Of course the help that they get from learning this music helps them to be better at it, but they’re also able to really start to excel in that specific field.” 

The process to prepare for TMEA and Regions choir is a several-month long process, whereas there is only just over a month to learn the three songs for regions to Pre-Area. Choir students take these pieces and try to learn them early. Pre-Area auditions cut down the numbers to move the choir students on. Overall, 18 students make it into the region choir and get to advance to the Pre-Area auditions. However, after Pre-Area, that number reduces down to five per voice part. Those five students get to participate in the Area E auditions. 

“San Antonio has some really fantastic schools so we’ve had a lot of challenges,” Bourgeois said. “The first year I was here at Bowie I think only like two or three out of everyone that went even made it into the state choir.” 

Area E auditions are the final audition that determines if that auditioner makes it into the all-state choir. The five that advanced from Pre-Area travel to Reagan High School in San Antonio to perform their auditions. The pieces for this audition are overlapping pieces from the past, so the students don’t have to learn as much music. These people are the top five from our region and the top five from other regions in the state. 40-60 kids per section audition for the final round and only seven per voice part are chosen. 

“This is a very intense audition,” Bourgeois said. “They have to really, really, know their stuff to be able to make it, which is again why that All-state process is really such a big accomplishment to be able to make.” 

Alexander made the All-state choir last year, even though it was his first year joining choir. He was the first male Allstate since 2008.  Now a junior, he hopes to make the All-state choir this year. 

“Choir is very fun for me because I am more specifically trained in musical theater, and just coming into choir having the ability to have the solo audition aspect and be able to use both of those skills in combination is a lot of fun,” Alexander said. “Particularly getting to learn a bunch of fun, new complicated pieces and all that is a very exciting part of it for me.”