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Hays students fill choir rosters

1/10/2014

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Molly Barnett said she knew it would be a bigger challenge to make a state honor choir in high school after reaching that peak all three years at Felten Middle School in Hays.

That's why being chosen to participate at state this year means so much to the Hays High School senior.

"We know that high school state choir is so much tougher to make," Barnett said. "When I heard that I made it, since this was my last year, that makes it even more special."

Barnett, an alto, will join 11 other vocalists from Hays High in performing at the Kansas Music Education Association state workshop next month in February.

Hays will be well-represented at the 2014 KMEA convention. Of the 24 state vocalists chosen from the Northwest District competition during the fall semester, 15 are from the two high schools in Hays. The three alternates are from Hays High as well.

"That's an amazing number," said Kathy Amrein, music teacher at Thomas More Prep-Marian, which qualified three students for the high school honor choir.

In addition, eighth-grader Tabitha Brandel from TMP's junior high choir was selected to participate in the state performance from audition tapes sent to the state.

And Hays Middle School qualified 14 for the Kansas Choral Directors Association treble choir that also will perform at the state convention.

Johnny Matlock, long-time vocal music instructor in Hays USD 489, said he's glad to be part of the strong music tradition in Hays.

"We have really supportive families; most of those (state qualifiers) study privately at Fort Hays State," Matlock said. "So it's not just myself working on it. And that's the way it is at TMP, too."

One of those who takes private lessons at Fort Hays is Barnett.

She said it was "a little discouraging" not making state her sophomore and junior years.

But that didn't stop her from trying again and again.

"I just had to keep working," Barnett said. "It was something I really wanted to make; it was all about perseverance."

"This girl never gives up," Matlock said. "She auditioned every year."

"I'm really happy for them," Matlock said of Barnett and other upperclassmen who stayed the course throughout their high school careers. "For some of them, this may be their first time getting into state, but they've been working for a long time."

Barnett, who has been participating in choir since her fifth-grade year at Wilson Elementary School, doesn't plan to major in music in college.

But she said she will stay involved in music in one way or another.

"I' definitely not going to leave it behind," she said. "It's been such a big part of my life."