Marble Falls band advances four to area auditions

MARBLE FALLS — Four members of the Marble Falls High School band took a step closer to all-state selection Saturday at the Region 26 auditions at Elgin High School.

Brenda Augilar, Austin Hill, Jaron Browning and J.W. Bryant will now try out for the Texas Music Educators Association’s all-state band Jan. 10 in Waco.

“This a pretty big deal for them,” director Brad Behrens said. “It’s extremely tough to make the all-state band.”

Last year, Hill advanced to the area auditions, but didn’t make the all-state band. This year, things could turn out different for Hill and the other three young musicians.

“Even to make it this far, you have to be extremely dedicated and spend a lot of time practicing,” Behrens said.

The work began in August when the students got their first look at the all-state music. Much of the success during the audition process is on the students’ shoulders. Behrens said some high school musicians do receive assistance through private lessons or through band directors. 

Along with learning the audition materials, the students still prepare for the marching season and other band concerts. Trying out for the all-state group is one more thing they add to their plate, along with regular class requirements and academic work.

“They have to be pretty self-driven,” Behrens said. 

The selections for all-state auditions are also much more demanding than the music the students tackle in their regular band performances, he said.

The auditions at the regional and area level can be stressful. Students are grouped by instrument. They perform their selected pieces one at a time before a panel of five judges, Behrens said.

The judges are behind a screen so they don’t see the students.

“The judges only know the students as a letter,” he said.

While they can’t see the judges, the musicians are also performing before their peers.

The judges then rank the students from first chair on down.

“You usually need to be first or second chair to advance,” Behrens said.

Fourteen students from Marble Falls auditioned at the region tryout. Though only four advanced to the area level, all of them did make the Region 26 band.

“Everyone we took made the all-region band,” Behrens said. “That’s pretty good. We’re extremely proud of them. They represented the band, themselves and the school with excellence last Saturday.”

The MFHS students making all-region band are Hill, Bryant, Browning, Augilar, Crystal Cardwell, Melisa Wagstaff, Jody Turner, Layne Thompson, Gabriel Crawford, Kyle Lavka, McKenna Beal, Jeremy Copple, Austin Sellers and Timothy Behrens.

While the area auditions are still almost a month away, the public can enjoy the work of the entire band today at the high school auditorium, 2101 Mustang Drive, for the annual Christmas concert. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is free.

“It will feature the symphony band, the jazz band and the percussion ensemble,” Behrens said.

daniel@thepicayune.com