For hours a day, 7 days a week, for 6 months all accelerating up to one performance. Make all the time, dedication, practice worth it. 5th in the state, that will have to do for Jillian Kouzel, an oboe musician, who auditioned for the All-State band last weekend.
“It was amazing, I made the top orchestra, which has been my goal since my sophomore year,” Kouzel, 12, said. “It was totally worth it, like the orchestra was incredible and out of this world amazing.”
After the all-state music came out on July 21st, Kouzel went to work, meticulously working on her musicality and expression. After getting first in District,Region and Area auditions, Kouzel was given new music to prepare for her all state audition.
“I was a little disappointed by this part because for the audition I thought I had done really really well, and the excerpts this year were really hard and I practiced them a lot and when we played them I thought I did better than at least a lot more people in the room,” Kouzel said. “I mean everyone is still really good but I just though I did better.”
When arriving at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center, Kouzel had to focus on her audition and ignore the intriguing freedom of downtown for the time being.
“They basically book your schedule when you make all-state,” Kouzel said. “I went to an assembly where they gave a speech on what it means to be an all-stater and then after that we had auditions and they usually only audition 4 oboes at a time, but I got to meet more people and the oboes were all awesome.”
For Kouzel, the experience is more than the competition, it’s about the people and interactions between a common musical goal. The experience is greater than the serious side of oboe rivalry.
“The people were really good, but most importantly they were all relatable and a lot of fun to hang out with and talk to,” Kouzel said. “In the room they were all supporting each other, which is like the best thing in the world, and we all just had fun.”
For the convention to go smoothly, students are not the only ones who have to work and play as one group. The conductors have to act as the glue, making musicality as intriguing as possible.
“The rehearsals were a lot of fun, like the conductors really knew how to relate to high school students,” Kouzel said. “So many huge influential musical people came into our rehearsals, so the rehearsals were packed, the sides of the room were filled with chairs, and people were standing and listening to us play.”
Having a different perspective on the idea of competition may just be beneficial for Kouzel, for concentrating on self fulfillment seems to bring her an edge when performing.
“You wanna show all the work you have put into it and make yourself proud,” Kouzel said. “Another thing is that you are a performer, so when you are auditioning you want to intrigue the listener and make them enjoy the music, so that’s why I just forget about the notes and just express myself.”
Even after her third year performing with the Texas All-State band it’s still an exciting experience with new people and new challenges each time. With this being her senior year, she took the time to notice and enjoy the small things about her last and final All-State performance.
“It was better than I could have imagined,” Kouzel said. “But this year, as a section, we were all so fun, like even in the middle of a rehearsal we would be playing tic-tac-toe on our music, so that just made it more than what I expected.”