Latrobe Seniors Attend PMEA States

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Imagine performing a snippet of a song for a panel of judges, just like the first audition round for American Idol. Now imagine those judges facing the opposite direction of you, giving you no feedback, or any words for that matter other than, “Ready?”. The audition process for PMEA festivals is nerve-racking to say the least.

Some of the most musically inclined students of GLSD have achieved a state title in the Pennsylvania Music Education Association. Two seniors, Tom Maroon and Jacob LeJeune, represented Greater Latrobe at PMEA States in Lancaster, PA on April 18 through 20. Maroon participated in the choir, while LeJeune performed played the clarinet in the concert band.

This event consisted of two days of extensive all-day practices in an auditorium where each respective ensemble perfected each piece of music. On Saturday morning, the choir and the band joined for back to back performances.

Maroon explains the lengthy audition process. “For districts and regionals, judges randomly picked one song for each student to audition with, and for states, they picked two,” he said. “The music gets a lot more difficult as you go on.”

Skill, practice, and dedication are required to achieve such an honor. “I try to practice 45 minutes per day or more whenever possible,” explains LeJeune. He describes the criteria to get chosen once the competition becomes so tight at the statewide level. “When competition is this good, it all comes down to who practices the most and who auditions the best without getting nervous.”

The PMEA festivals contain three levels of competition. First, a musician auditions for districts along with approximately 80 others in their voice part or with their instrument. About 20 are chosen for each part or instrument. If the musician makes it to districts, he or she auditions for regionals. Of the 20 that made it to districts, about 13 will make it to regionals. Then at the states auditions, six will make it to states. Between 100 and 150 members are in the district and regional choir, which makes up 240 members at the state choir.

Both the choir and the band perform an average of six musical arrangements each. “The choir sings a large variety of music, and only a few songs are actually in English,” said Maroon.

Maroon and LeJeune are experienced in the PMEA audition process, as Maroon made it all the way to states last year, and LeJeune made it to regionals for the past two years. Each musician has seized musical opportunities outside these festivals as well. Maroon sings and plays guitar at the Latrobe Art Center about every other week. He also has performed at the Keynote Café in Jeanette and Chef Dato’s Table in Derry. LeJeune performs clarinet pieces every Sunday at Our Lady of Grace.

Each student plans on continuing musical careers beyond high school. LeJeune will be attending IUP with a music education major, while Maroon will be attending Berklee College of Music in Boston with a music production/engineering or songwriting major, while LeJeune will be attending IUP with a music education major.