The second time is the charm for junior musician, Caleb Piersma. He was accepted to the All-State Band, from the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, “I was very excited when I found out,” he says. “Some might say I practiced obsessively for it, I was really trying for it.”
He is just the second Otsego student to be selected for the All-State Band, but the first to be a 1st chair, “I was not expecting that.” His older brother, Ryan, was the first (selected in 2015 and 2016.) Ryan’s experience was part of what made Caleb want to try for it.
Mitch Piersma, Otsego’s band director, is not only a proud teacher, but proud dad. “I heard him practice for this at home for hours on end. I was hoping his hard work would get rewarded but to be 1st chair was a real feather in his cap,” he says. As a band director, he says this is a great nod for Otsego, “Many of the All State spots go to big schools, in particular the suburbs of Detroit and Grand Rapids. That we have a 1st chair player in this group says a lot for Caleb’s work ethic and makes our school and band program proud.”
Students are selected through a rigorous audition. They must prepare an announced etude, a series of scales and sight-reading during each 10 minute recorded audition. The audition is submitted without a name or school attached to the student. The MSBOA reports that on average, 2,000 students audition for about 400 slots on five different ensembles. There are two middle school ensembles (orchestra and band), two high school ensembles (orchestra and band) and a jazz ensemble. Caleb is in the High School Band which is made up of about 85 students.
Caleb is now rehearsing the music on his own. The entire ensemble will come together to practice for two days, January 24 & 25, before their performance at the Michigan Music Conference on Saturday, January 26th at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids.