Anna Thompson Makes All-State

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Music is an aural type of art that uses phrasing, dynamics, style, and tone color to convey emotion and touch the hearts of the listener. People may make music with a variety of instruments. Anna Thompson, a senior, plays the violin. This student is so successful at playing her instrument that she was recently accepted into the All Virginia Orchestra program.

Anna Thompson has been playing the violin for 13 years, she started the instrument when she was five. “My mom has always been my biggest source of encouragement throughout my life. In years past she has always motivated me to keep practicing, even when I wanted to give up. Practicing the same piece everyday can be draining and there were times this year when I wanted to quit. I felt as though I was wasting my time, but my mom continually reminds me that with hard work, I can achieve my goals. The orchestra teacher at school, Mrs. Rolf has also been extremely supportive. She always makes sure that I am prepared and ready for every one of my auditions.”

All Virginia Orchestra is a highly competitive orchestra made up of students from across the state that were chosen in their regions orchestra and then auditioned and selected at the state level. For the violin section, only 40 violins are chosen from across the state each year. After being selected, students will have the opportunity to perform with a guest conductor in Richmond, although with the pandemic, it will be online this year. In order to be eligible to audition, Anna had to audition and place in the North Central Virginia Regional Orchestra. The North Central Virginia Regional Orchestra consists of students from the Shenandoah area stretching all the way to Richmond. This year she placed in the  first violin section, which allowed her to secure a position to audition for the All-Virginia Orchestra. The repertoire to audition is usually made up of highly difficult etudes and excerpts, normally performed by professional orchestras. 

Every year the audition consists of two prepared pieces (an excerpt and an etude). People who audition have to memorize and prepare all of the major and minor scales. During the audition, the judges will call out one major and minor scale to play at random. Anna practices these scales with a tuner to ensure that they are accurate. Lastly, there is a sight reading portion of the audition where the musician has 30 seconds to study a section of music and then play it. To prepare for this, she practices sight reading music that she has never seen before. This year’s audition excerpt was a section from the second movement to Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, which was very fast, Anna constantly practiced it with a metronome. The etude was a section from Rode’s Caprice No. 21 which consisted of continuous leaps from a lower octave to a higher octave. When asked about how she felt when she heard she got into this program, Anna said, “I auditioned for the first time and placed in the All-State Orchestra during my sophomore year. This year I was shocked and overjoyed to find out that I had been selected. I am incredibly excited to have been chosen. The following year it felt as though there was expectation that I would place again. Last year when I auditioned, I was not selected to be in the orchestra and felt that I had not pushed myself hard enough.” 

Practicing is incredibly important, especially when it is slow and tedious. The judges for the All-State orchestra are highly trained musicians and can hear the smallest mistakes, whether a note is a little flat or the dynamics are not clear enough to their liking. “It is crucial that I play every note slowly, into a tuner, so that my notes and articulation are precise. Once I do this, I can then move on to speed up the tempo. I also try to prepare myself mentally for auditions. I have had times where I have messed up in an audition because my nervousness takes over. I practice building my confidence before auditions so that I am able to play to the best of my abilities,” said Anna. You’ll never know if you’ll succeed unless you try Bears. So remember to never give up and always try your best!