January 21, 2022

Area junior high students among all-state musicians

Noteworthy achievers

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Homer Junior High School students, Alyssa Swayze, left, Mackenzie Lyman, Sophia Wineburg, Stuart Carr and Christopher Slade are among the junior high area All-State musicians from Cortland County. They are seen here Nov. 21 in John Melvin’s class.

Stuart Carr had to bone up on his Latin to compete in the Junior High Area All-State singing competition.

The tenor met once or twice a week with his music teacher, John Melvin, as well as honed his singing skills in chorus class.

“We went over the parts. Some are in different languages. We had to know the different pronunciations. Latin was one language,” the seventh grader said.

Sixteen Homer Junior High School students were selected for the Junior High Area All-State competition in Cortland County, at a special festival in October at Ithaca High School.

“I’m thrilled as can be,” said Melvin, vocal music teacher at the school. “We had to have the district scramble to find a bigger bus. … It was nice to have that problem.”

Other winners in Cortland County were Cortland Junior High, which had two kids, and McGraw Junior High, which had four.

Melvin has never seen 16 make Junior High Area All-State. It’s usually six vocalists and four band members, he said. “It’s probably the cycle of the students. We had a surge in vocal students.”

Teens did their New York State School Music Association solos in the spring. Students are rated and in September, the scores are sent to the host school for the festival. Students are selected from there and then prepare for the concert in October.

Music makers in junior high

These junior high school students in Cortland County were named Junior High Area All-State musicians. They are part of district 3, which is in Central New York.

Cortland Jr. Sr. High School:
Band: Christian Compton
Mixed Chorus: Emerson Johnson

Homer Jr. High:
The Treble Chorus: Leah Bouwens, Adia Henkel, Grace Johnston, Lily Robideau, Alyssa Swayze, Abigail Williams, Sophia Wineburg
Mixed Chorus: Lavinia Caravella, Stuart Carr, Chris Slade
Band members: Hannah Bouwens, Nik Kruman, Aaron Lener, Mackenzie Lyman, Morgan Robideau, Nina Svereika

Mixed Chorus: Gabriel Kahle, Kaylee Lang, Hailey McCall, Owen Thomas

“My goal is that they have a love of singing,” Melvin said. “After that, they have to be able to read some music.”

The festival took place at Ithaca High School. Carr sang five songs to be selected for mixed chorus, the likes of “Mo Di Mo,” “900 Miles,” and “La Violata.”

“My whole family is musical. I feel great that I could do it,” Carr said. His mother, Bryn Carr, sings in programs at the Center for the Arts of Homer.

Christopher Slade, a seventh grade, also made the mixed chorus.

“I feel good that I advanced into allstate,” Slade said. “I really like the music. It was really good. I like that they are ina lot of different languages. It was really cool to be able to sing them.”

Mackenzie Lyman, an eighth grader, plays clarinet and was selected for a band ensemble. She got a 26 out of 28 on her NYSSMA solo to be considered. She practices five out of seven days and has played the clarinet since fourth grade.

Lyman really enjoyed playing with other teens at the same level or better.

“It was really eye opening. It’s not just you. It’s you and these other kids,” she said. “I worked through so many things to get here. I felt happy that all my hard work and effort paid off.”

Sophia Wineburg, an alto and an eighth grader, made the All State Treble Chorus of 40. She scored a 95 out of 100 at her NYSSMA solo, she said. “I was kind of nervous, but the judges were really nice.”

Wineburg said performing at the all-state event in Ithaca was fun. One of her four songs she sang was “I’se a Bye.”

Alyssa Swayze, also a member of the Treble Chorus, said the teens spent tenth period and after school a lot of days practicing. “Sometimes my friends and I got together and sang,” she added.

She plans to continue with singing. She would tell others preparing for NYSSMA, a necessary step to be considered for all-state: “Don’t be nervous. It’s not as bad as you think. The judges are really nice, too.”