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Two young LMS musicians earn their place on junior all-state band

Annika Hustad, 13, plays the flute during Langley Middle School’s band class. Annika’s proficiency on the instrument scored her a place in the Washington Music Educators Association’s Junior All-State for bands. - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Annika Hustad, 13, plays the flute during Langley Middle School’s band class. Annika’s proficiency on the instrument scored her a place in the Washington Music Educators Association’s Junior All-State for bands.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Hours of practice and rehearsals over lunch hours have paid off for two Langley Middle School students.

Eighth graders Annika Hustad and Mackenzee Collins were selected to participate in the Washington Music Educators Association’s Junior All-State for bands.

The two will assemble along with 570 young musicians from around the state in band, choir and orchestra to practice and perform in Yakima on Saturday, Feb. 15.

Annika and Mackenzee could not contain their excitement over the honor.

“I was really surprised,” said Annika, who plays the flute.

Annika didn’t think she would make the band, even though she practices every night and steps in to conduct class when needed.

“I have high standards for myself,” she said.

For the auditions, both girls, along with four other Langley Middle School hopefuls, practiced for weeks before sending in their audition tapes. The audition tested many skills such as pace and breathing.

Annika, 13, started playing the flute in the fifth grade after learning piano from her grandmother. It’s an enjoyable instrument, she said, because it expresses a lot of emotion and correct notes are difficult to achieve.

“I always like a good challenge,” she said.

Annika said she was eager to travel and perform with the band.

“It’s motivation to get better,” she added.

Battling others student musicians for the top spot is an added bonus for Annika.

That feeling was echoed by Mackenzee, 13. She enjoys playing with a group and being a part of the band.

Mackenzee first got the band bug in the fifth grade where she started playing the clarinet. She moved to the bass clarinet in the sixth grade.

“The bass line holds the band together,” she said.

Mackenzee rehearsed for weeks before sending in her audition tape. She spent her lunchtime breaks practicing in the band room. The news of making all-state junior band filled her with enthusiasm.

She’s thrilled about traveling to the performance and rehearsal, and is looking forward to the new opportunities the concert will bring.

“It lets you see new points of view; the professionals see things differently,” she said. ”Really, you get to be a better musician overall.”

The excitement was not lost on band and jazz band teacher Jess Monett, who saw each of the girls’ hard work pay off.

For Monett, Annika was an unmistakable choice. She’s a natural-born leader and comes from a strong musical family, she said.

“She definitely is a leader in the class and plays strong,” she said. “Her rhythm is very strong.”

Monett said Annika is obsessed with her love of music.

“She’s always really happy,” she said. “I’m happy she made it in.”

Monett said Mackenzee’s focused effort was a reason why the judges chose her.

“Mackenzee is a strong individual with a strong personality and great work ethic,” she said.

She provides a big sound on the bass clarinet and that came through in the audition, she said. “She worked really hard on the music and takes a lot of pride in her recording,” Monett said. “She wouldn’t settle for less.”

Monett said she was proud of both of her students for making the band.

“I’m happy they are working hard and facing challenges head on,” she said.

 

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