Lake Norman & Mooresville

Talent and practice - lots of it - pays off

Two students were chosen to perform with the All-State Honor Band at UNC Greensboro this year.

Alto saxophone player, Allison Chenard, an eighth-grader at Brawley Middle School, and trombone player, Sarah Gage, a 10th-grader at Lake Norman High School.

Both girls were eligible to audition for the All-State Honor Band after being selected to the top seat in the All-District Honor Band.

Allison Schroeder, band director at Brawley Middle School, had the opportunity to work with both girls during the 2010-11 school year.

"The process for joining honor band involves much practice, positive attitude and confidence," said Schroeder. "These girls put in lots of practice and hard work into their music."

Schroeder feels that both girls have a natural feel for music that is well beyond what a regular middle or high school band student can normally comprehend.

Both girls also improved their skill level this year by teaching younger musicians.

"Sarah and Allison are outstanding students. They spend time tutoring younger students, helping kids in class and outside in afterschool lessons," said Schroeder.

Chris Brown, band director at Lake Norman High School, agrees with Schroeder's assessment.

"I've worked with Sarah for two years, and, she is, in short, a perfection machine. She does anything and everything with a 'can do' attitude that just pulls everyone along," said Brown.

Allison, daughter of Kathy and Michael Chenard, said you do have to invest a lot of time to make it to the honor band level.

"I have been playing the saxophone for a little over two years now and practice for about eight hours each week," said Allison.

Allison said that during the All-State Band Clinic, the students met for three days, practicing up to 18 hours during that time. They ended the clinic on the third day with a performance.

Even with the long hours, both girls had high praise for their time in All-State Honor Band.

"The best part of the honor band was having the opportunity to play with amazing musicians from all around the state," said Allison.

Sarah, daughter of Jennifer and Don Gage, agrees.

"The best part for me was getting to recreate beautiful and exciting works of art by amazing composers with people, who, like me, absolutely love music."

While All-State Honor Band is a huge honor for a musician, both girls say they have other big goals for themselves.

"I plan to either audition my way into the symphony world or become a band director. I hope to one day become as incredible of a band director as the ones I have had," said Sarah.

"I would definitely like to be in the wind ensemble in high school and play the sax in college," said Allison. "I would also love to play in the Armed Forces Band and a New Orleans Jazz Band. I also think band directors have the best jobs ever, so I would love to give that a shot, too."