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Originally published: 2013-01-22 17:15:50
Last modified: 2013-01-22 17:15:50

Five Avery students make All-District Band

Matthew Hundley / (

Five of Avery County Schools’ most talented musicians will participate in the All-District Band after being selected from thousands of contestants. Each year, Avery County students compete against students from around the district for seats in several bands at the high school and middle school levels.

“Many try out but few are chosen,” said Dee Raby, band director for Avery County High School. “There are about 2000 kids total – high school and middle school – that try out for these spots. Out of 2000 only maybe 400 students get into these bands. They go up against kids from Hickory, Davidson and Morganton. It is very stiff competition. It is the best of the best.”

This year, five students from Avery Middle, Cranberry Middle and Avery County High School have each received seats in the various bands.

ACHS’s McKinley Calloway will perform as third chair snare drum in the High School concert band. From Avery Middle School, Stephanie Burleson will perform as first chair trumpet in the concert band, Alston Mongold will be fourth chair tuba in the concert band and Austin Martin will play as third chair snare drum in the symphonic band. From Cranberry Middle, Jacob Daniels will be fifth chair in the symphonic band, which also earned him the opportunity to try out for a position in the All-State Honor band. 

This will make the third year in a row that ACS has sent four or more students to the all-district concert. 

According to Raby, what makes the students’ success so remarkable is the extremely high level of competition for a seat in the district band.

Students who try out for the All-District band audition only do so after extensive practice each day after school and on their own. The auditions include everything from playing scales to sight-reading music to a solo performance. 

In addition to the high level of talent required to complete the audition, the students are then compared to thousands of other contestants from around the region.

“Many of those students who try out from those counties down the mountain have top-of-the-line instruments and private lessons. Our students go down there with these instruments,” said Raby, indicating the typical in-class instruments in the band room. “Our kids do not get private lessons. For them to make this is astounding.”

The All-District bands will perform at Wake Forest University at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, for middle school students, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3 for high school students. 

For more information on how to attend the concert and see Avery’s masterful musicians in action, call Raby at (828) 733-0151.