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By Kierstyn Murley
To Compete or to not Compete? That is the Question
She arrives at Avon high school and walks down to Mooresville’s practice room. She unloads her bag, rosins her bow, and tunes her cello. She is prepared for her solo at this year’s ISSMA contest.
            Each winter, the orchestra students participate in a solo and ensemble contest called ISSMA. Sophomore Amber Hicks is one of many students that participated in ISSMA this season.
            She participated in a solo and two ensembles. For her solo she played “Bouree” composed by W.H. squire. One ensemble that she participated in consisted of the six cellos in the Chamber orchestra. They played “Fugue” composed by Johann Pachelbel, and received a gold rating. The other ensemble was one of two groups of the chamber orchestra. The group played “Boisterous Bourree”, part one of Simple Symphony, composed by Benjamin Britten. This group also received a gold rating. Since this ensemble and the other Chamber ensemble received gold, they will be continuing on to compete at state.
Hicks has played with several orchestra members throughout her competing career.
            “Amber is always improving and pushing her limits to find out how skilled she can get. Her sound quality is increasing and she balances better with the orchestra, “ orchestra member, sophomore Matthew Lowe said.
            Lowe and Hicks have both been in orchestra since seventh grade. They have played together in duos since they started playing in orchestra. Together, they are a dynamic duo.  Lowe is also in Chamber along with Hicks and the other Orchestra members, and will also be competing in ISSMA.
            “ISSMA always encourages students to do his or her best,” Lowe said.
The students are given time to practice these solos and ensembles that they receive. Sometimes certain songs take longer to perfect than others. This depends on the difficulty of the song.
            “I received my solo over winter break, and practiced for roughly over a month and half,” Hicks said.
            Considering the level that her solo was at, Hicks needed more time to practice than others. She made sure to practice as much as possible within the time frame that she had. Once she had arrived to the competition, she felt prepared for what was ahead of her.
            “My goal was to bring home the gold,” Hicks said.
Realizing that she is only a sophomore, Hicks has multiple competitions ahead of her and multiple opportunities to reach her goal. She is also in the Chamber orchestra class, another accomplishment. She also plays the guitar than only the cello, which shows her skill set.
            “She has grown a lot since seventh grade. Her skills in playing have improved, and she plays out more than she used to. She has grown as soloist,” orchestra teacher, Sheryl Fyffe said.
            The Chamber will be going to state during March. There are also plans to extend their reputation to other states surrounding Indiana. Amber is one key component to many that are in this orchestra. Last year, chamber also advanced to state, this year the goal is to receive a high point rating. They are looking to score a perfect rating.
            “ISSMA competitions help you grow as an individual and a group participant, Taking solos and groups is a sure way to grow as a musician, as the judges will give key criticism,” Hicks said.

            She lifts her bow and pauses for affect. She receives a card with a written letter of what rating she receives. She dropped off her cello at the practice room, and continues to walk down to the medal table. Here, she will receive her medal. She waits in line behind other performers. She hands the man at the table her card. She receives a silver medal.

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