Guitar students audition for spots in region ensemble


Vivi Lopez-Stern

STRUMMING WITH INTENT: Guitar students practice during their class period. The students spent many class periods preparing for region auditions.

Vivi Lopez-Stern, Digital Staff

Guitar instructor Aaron Bourgeois passionately waves his baton, directing his students who sit up straight, guitars positioned carefully on their laps. The students watch Bourgeois in a state of deep focus as the warm sounds they create spill out of their instruments.

On Oct. 28, around 50 students from various high schools auditioned at Travis High School to be in the Region Guitar Ensemble. Only 22 students were accepted after participating in the selective audition process. To prepare, students received their music a month prior to the audition. 

“When you’re playing in a room and all the different kids from different schools are with you,” junior Noah Leroux said. “The judges are behind a curtain so they can’t see you. Everyone will do the solo and then they’ll do the excerpt which is like a piece of music cut out.”

Bourgeois took over the position of teaching guitar at Bowie just this year. Despite being new to the job, he remained present for his students who auditioned for Region and helped guide them through the process. 

“The actual audition date was very interesting to me,” Bourgeois said. “Essentially every single student who’s auditioning goes into a room and unlike some of the auditions I’ve witnessed in the past they actually will perform their cuts while all the other students are in the room.”

Region hopefuls felt a mix of emotions as they prepared for their audition. Leroux remembers feeling confident that he would make the cut.

“One of the upsides [of this audition] is you hear everyone play you and can kind of gauge how well you’re gonna do,” Leroux said. “When we finished I thought, ‘I’m pretty sure I made it.’ I did better than I thought I would.”

Once the auditions concluded, students waited for around two hours to see if the practice they put in was enough to get them through into the final ensemble.

“It was stressful waiting,” sophomore Besa Carney said. “I really wanted to know what chair I got because I was really close to the guy who got first.” 

Students who made it through the audition process have the opportunity to perform in December after attending various rehearsals.

“We have a clinic that we do,” Carney said. “We get three pieces for ensemble and we each get our own part. After the clinic, we go for a week and then on one of the days later we have our performance and it takes the whole day because we also have a clinic on the same day.”

Not only do the students get to be a part of the performance at the end of the year, through this process they are also able to connect and create art with people they may not have otherwise crossed paths with.

“From a guitar standpoint its an opportunity to meet with kids from other schools you don’t usually get to play with, its like the best of the best from other schools,” Leroux said. “It’s a good opportunity to be in an ensemble that’s really good. It has the best kids from across AISD.”

Even though not all students who audition will be selected, Bourgeois emphasizes the importance of following through with an experience like this one.

“I think no matter what the region process is one that gives you a lot of perspective,” Bourgeois said. “At the very least you are working, it shows that you are willing to finish up a project, you’re willing to take the time to work on something, learn something, and be able to try to do your best effort with it.” 

The passion that drives these young artists to pursue this instrument is something some students may overlook. To Carney, playing the guitar holds a special place in her heart.

“I think instead of just looking at the notes and looking at the paper you have to play it with your heart and soul,” Carney said. “If you don’t do that then it’s just you playing sounds; you’re not really playing music. Music is with love and care and that’s what makes it a language.”