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Superior Higher Musicians Head to State Competition


The pandemic has ended state competition for the past two years when it comes to high school musicians competing at this level. But this coming weekend, six students are competing at Upper High School’s Helena, and excitement isn’t their only emotion.

When asked how they felt about going there, they shared broadly comparable sentiments.

Sorren Reese: This will be my first solo performance in a state choir, even in the present state. I’m a little nervous because I’m not familiar with judging and are they judges and how are they going to judge it. Is it going to be similar to how the district music festival was but more competitive, which I assume it will be? All in all, I’m excited to go and that we have a lot of participants in our class. I think we will be able to perform very, very well.

Addison Martin: I’ve never done anything like this before and I think it’s going to be such a different environment, so it’s going to be very different and I’m not used to it at all. And I think it’s also great that not everyone can go to the state. So it’s competition and I think it will be fun.

Lanie Crabb: I’ve been playing bass clarinet for 6 years and I’m thrilled to have the experience of going to State and playing with Jason (Merrill) and Trevor (Wolff). I think it will be really fun.

Trevor Wolff: This one (baritone saxophone) I’ve been playing for 3 years but I’ve been playing alto sax since 6th grade. I’ll say, it’s my first time and it’s very annoying, but hide it through jokes and smiles, I guess. Kind of surprising that I did as I heard from one of our trio. I thought there was no way, at first, but then I realized it was really happening.

Jason Merrill: Pretty cool, I think. Due to Covid last year we were unlucky so this is my first year.

Abby Wheeler: I think it’s really impressive for a freshman from a rural school to go to the state for 2 instrument solos (oboe and piano). It’s going to be exciting and hopefully fun too.

Mrs. Debbie Merrill is their music teacher, and this is her second year of teaching at upper secondary school. “I taught for 3 years in 1999-2002, but took 20 years off to raise my children. I graduated from Plains High School,” she shares. “I was really excited about the grades all of my music students received at the district festival. They have grown so much and even though not all of them have passed, they have gained experience and will continue to grow. improving every year. They are all great students and have worked very hard. I want them to continue to gain confidence and be exposed to all the performances we hear at Helena!