Moments later, the surprise was revealed and Kelly learned that she had been selected to the All State band.
Six high school band members tried out for All State band on March 20 at St. Cloud State University. For the audition, they had to learn scales, play a solo, and demonstrate their ability to sight read music.
Mara said that over 2,500 students from across the state audition for All State band, choir, and orchestra and that only 400 are chosen.
"Her instrument, alto sax, is obviously very popular, so there are going to be a lot of people auditioning," said Mara. Only six alto saxophone players are chosen for the band and just two for the orchestra.
Students must audition in their junior year or before. Seniors are not eligible.
Selections for the All State ensembles are normally dominated by large schools in urban areas. "It's really pretty hard for rural schools to get in," said Mara.
Kelly will be attending a week-long camp at St. Cloud State in August. During the week, the band will rehearse all week and give a concert at the end. Then they will reunite next February, and rehearse for a day before performing at the state convention for the Minnesota Music Educators Association.
Kelly started playing the alto saxophone in fifth grade and has taken lessons at school and privately. She plays with the high school concert, jazz, marching, and pep bands.
"She's a great kid," said Mara. "She's involved in every aspect of school...and every aspect of band."
In addition to playing through school, Kelly was a member of the St. Cloud All City Marching Band as a ninth grader and has played with the Jack Schultz Orchestra, a big band group.
"She's very talented, and she's fun to be around," Mara added.
Kelly said she was interested in All State band for the experience, for the chance to meet people, and for the challenge. "I think it will be fun," she said. "It'll get me more ready for college by playing with different people."
She plans on majoring in music performance in college and may minor in psychology. She has an interest in music therapy.
Mackenzie Merrill was selected to play the horn in the All State orchestra last year. The orchestra camp was held at Winona State last summer. They rehearsed as a full orchestra and also in small groups. "My jaw was sore at the end of the week from playing so much," said Mackenzie.
She still keeps in touch with friends she made in the orchestra.
"You're playing with the best musicians in the state, so it really opens your eyes up to what you can do," said Mackenzie.
Her experience with the All State orchestra led her to try out for a youth symphony in St. Paul that rehearses every Saturday. Their last concert will be Sunday, May 2.
Mackenzie takes private lessons, too, and plans to major in music at DePaul University in Chicago.
"I owe a lot of it to All State because I had no idea what it could be like until I went there," said Mackenzie.
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