A North Surry senior’s tweaking her strategy going in the latest round of Northwest District Band competition has let her hit a high note by being named to district honors band as second chair, contra bass clarinet. Avery Pike said she had competed her freshman year but just “didn’t get it with the bass clarinet.”
“I got really depressed after that,” said Pike. “This ( contra bass clarinet) was a rare instrument in competition this year which I think helped.” She said her tryout for the group required her to read her solo musical piece by sight, so even having a slight edge didn’t take all the anxiety out of the process.
She said she originally started out on clarinet and began working her way to instruments with lower sounds because she liked tubas.
“I will always try to keep playing and performing. I enjoy music more than anything,” added Pike. ” It’s pretty much my hobby, but I approach it as a job. It is one of the most important things in my life.”
Pike said since she was a child, she wanted to play tuba or “a big clarinet” and has been playing since sixth grade. Her love of performing seemed to start when she was little and liked having the gift of being able to make people laugh.
“I also was in the sixth-grade chorus, but my voice got tired and I thought band sounded prettier than chorus,” remembered Pike. “In band, we got to play more upbeat tunes than in chorus.” She said that much of her middle school band experience was spent learning to play and she has enjoyed marching band and its field trips.
She said band also has allowed her to meet many of her best friends and likened being a band member to becoming part of a family. Pike added that even before her second chair honor (first chair winners advance to state competition), she plans to continue playing with a band whether or not she goes to college.
“No matter how hard it gets, I am one of those that feels marching band should be classified as a sport,” said Pike. “I’m also one of those high school kids that is firmly based in the arts and theater arts as well. It’s awesome to do each. One of the paths I want to go on is to be on Broadway in an orchestra pit. I also want to be in on any production where there’s a band in the pit at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.”
Band Director Blake McCraw made his debut in his post at North Surry this year and praised his young musical student.
“She’s (Pike) a hard worker. We’re really proud of her. It’s a big deal,” said McCraw. “We have a lot of band members here that work hard and want to be the best they can. That’s what’s great about the school. I believe she (Pike) is the only county high school student named to the district honors band. The Northwest District is made up of 16 different counties.”
McCraw said the auditions were held Jan. 5 with those named to honors band participating in a final concert Feb. 3 at Reynolds High School. Earlier, clinics were held at Wake Forest University.
Pike said she really enjoyed performing with the full honors band, which recast some contemporary, “electrified” music in the band style. She said it was a wonderful experience to be among new people performing an exciting new piece of music.
“She’s the only student in Surry County to be a part of this particular concert which is really great,” concluded McCraw, who came to his new post from Winston-Salem. “It’s wonderful to work in a place where arts are valued. Our administration here is very good to care for us. We have great students that are self-driven and work hard. All the way around, I love coming to work every day.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.