U-High musicians audition for state ensembles virtually

Colin Leslie, Reporter

Sophomore Ameya Deo records himself playing the French horn. This is his second time auditioning for the ILMEA.

Instead of driving long distances to perform live in front of evaluators, three U-High students found themselves sitting down in their homes to film YouTube videos for their auditions for the Illinois Music Education Association.

Sophomores Ameya Deo and Amelia Zheng as well as ninth grader Alice Fan were accepted into the ILMEA, which consists of nine districts across the state. Each district compiles an orchestra, band and choir from accepted applicants. Due to COVID-19, auditions for these ensembles were conducted remotely in early October. 

While comforted by the fact that they could record multiple takes before submitting their audition videos to the ILMEA, these students felt pressure to be perfect, as their fellow applicants would also be able to refine their performances.

Ameya plays the French horn and auditioned for the ILMEA once in middle school. He said the audition process was less stressful virtually. 

“This one was a lot less pressure on me, mainly because, even if I might have made a mistake every once in a while, I was able to fix it later,” Ameya said. “It felt a lot less high-pressure to me compared to the in-person audition where you only have one shot at it.”

Sophomores Ameya Deo and Amelia Zheng as well as ninth grader Alice Fan were accepted into the Illinois Music Education Association.

Amelia, a violinist, also auditioned for the second time this year. She said the higher level of performance resulting from the opportunity to refine the auditions made her more nervous than in person.

“It was a bit more stressful on my part because, since everyone gets more than one chance to film [their video audition], they can make it as good as they want,” Amelia said. “So like, when I messed up a tiny bit, it made me kind of want to re-film it.”

According to Alice, also a violinist, who auditioned for the first time, the process of auditioning via YouTube video was exhausting.

“If you make one mistake, it kind of deteriorates,” Alice said. “You know you can do better, and so you want to re-record.”

Rather than getting in the car for the drive home following a nerve-wracking live audition, these students put their instrument away after posting their refined YouTube video and close their computers, relieved to be done with the draining process.