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CHS Senior Performing Saturday as Member of All-State Band

            Mason Hill is among an elite group of high school musicians performing in San Antonio this weekend as a member of the Texas Music Educators Association 5A All-State Symphonic Band.

            The Cleburne High School senior was selected for the All-State honor following an audition process that began when he was awarded first chair trumpet in the All-Region Band for Region 30. His performance advanced him to the Area round of auditions held in January, at which time he achieved the All-State honor.

            Making All-State has been a longtime goal for Hill, who first advanced to the Area round of auditions as a junior. Hill was among a CHS delegation of Texas Future Music Education members who attended the TMEA 2019 State Conference and experienced the music of All-State performers.

            “In my junior year, when I made it to Area, I realized I had a shot at state—and I wanted it,” Hill said. “When I got to hear those All-State Bands rehearsing last year, I knew I wanted to be a part of that—it was so prestigious. It reinforced my will to achieve All-State as a senior.”

            “I also love competition,” he said. “The whole competition aspect makes me want to do better myself. And music is where I am most competitive.”

            In addition to his achievements in the TMEA All-State (concert) Band program, Hill has also been a major competitor in the All-State Jazz Band process, reflecting his musical versatility and passion. He achieved Area Jazz Band honors as a junior and senior, which included the opportunity to audition for the All-State jazz ensemble.

            “After getting so close to state in jazz band this year, it made me want to achieve the top level in concert band even more,” he said. “I think auditioning for various competitions these past three years has really helped. It helps you be more comfortable in the setting as you audition before a judge and also your fellow competitors. For me, I have the mindset, ‘I’m going to be playing here—and I’m going to do good.’”

            Hill also credits participation in the TMEA All-State program in shaping him into a more serious musician.

            “I got more serious after making the All-Region Jazz Band my junior year,” Hill said. “I was going up against 6A kids and getting good placements. The etudes we have had to perform during our auditions have enhanced my playing ability—I’m a better musician. I also tried to take what I experienced and achieved last year and build on it. And I think I’ve gone up a few notches.”

            While he has been in San Antonio, Hill has faced one final hurdle, in auditioning for chair placement in the 5A Symphonic Band. Out of 21 All-State trumpet players from across Texas, Hill was awarded fourth chair. He and his fellow musicians will be featured in concert Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in the Lila Cockrell Theatre of the Henry B. González Convention Center.

            Cleburne HS Band Director Jason Jones, who is among the music teachers from across the state attending the TMEA conference, said he was very optimistic about Hill’s chances of making the All-State Band.

            “He was sounding really good,” Jones said. “I felt he would make it. Cleburne is included in Area B within the competition divisions. It’s a tough area and the largest when it comes to students competing in the All-State process. To rank high in chair placement at any level says a lot, but to make it out of Area B to state says a whole lot.”

            “I think Mason’s opportunity to go through the highest level of the audition process last year helped him,” Jones said. “He realized the level of competition and knew what needed to happen. He’s definitely put the work in. A lot of the students performing at the All-State level have also been studying with private music teachers for years, in addition to their school band programs.”

            “Mason hasn’t taken private lessons. He has taken this on—and has been motivated on his own to be great. That has required a lot of hard work. And it’s exciting to see him achieve this honor. It’s been almost 20 years since we have had a brass player make All-State. I’m very happy for him, and our program.”

            Hill has dedicated himself to a stringent practice schedule since the start of the school year, while also managing his school responsibilities as an academic leader and a very involved CHS student. Hill is a member of National Honor Society, Beta Club and competes in UIL Debate. He also serves as vice-president of the Golden Pride Band Council, trumpet section leader and performs in the CHS Jazz Band.

            “I have practiced, practiced, practiced—a lot,” he said. “It’s been my main focus because I really wanted to make state. Making first chair All-Region was a big confidence boost. Because we have such a strong and competitive region, I felt who I was playing against were my main competitors moving forward.”

            Hill battled the flu during the Christmas holidays which threw a wrench in his practice schedule and caused some concern.

            “That really worried me,” he said. “After about five days, I was able to get back to practicing. I prayed before my audition for state and had on my lucky “Gamma Throne” socks, but when I walked out of the audition, I felt I wasn’t going to make it.”

            “The group I was going up against all said, ‘dude, you definitely made it,’ but I wasn’t so sure. I messed up on an etude, but I also knew I was strong on another one that a lot of players didn’t do well on. When I learned that I had made All-State, I kind of yelled. It still feels surreal—I made it and I still can’t believe it. In my freshman year of band I would never have seen this for me. It’s definitely made my senior year. I get the ‘big’ patch for my letter jacket.”

            Hill still has UIL Solo and Ensemble to prepare for, in which he has competed at the state level since his freshman year. He is still determining his college of choice, although he knows he wants to major in music education.

            He also hopes to inspire fellow members of the Golden Pride to compete in the All-State Band audition process.

            “I’d like to see more people try for this,” he said. “I was happy to see three of us advance to the Area round this year. Last year, I went by myself. I want to see other bands say, ‘it’s Cleburne. They are here to play—they don’t mess around.’”

            More 66,800 students entered the TMEA All-State competitive process this year, which includes high school bands, orchestras and choirs. Approximately 1,795 are selected to perform in the 15 All-State ensembles within the three performing areas.