Get to know Hebron’s TMEA four year all-staters


Provided by Brock Alsaffar

Hebron’s 6A varsity honor band performs at the TMEA convention in San Antonio on Feb. 10. The band was given the opportunity by TMEA to perform a variety of different musical pieces for thousands of people.

The Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) is an organization committed to giving students at all levels a well-balanced education. The TMEA band and choir all-state process consists of four rounds of auditions, each being an elimination round. Fewer than 50% of students from each round advance to region and area auditions. After these, a minimal number of students advance to the all-state phase.

Here is a look at the two senior musicians who made it to the all-state phase all four of their high school years.

Band – Senior Zavier Vega-Yu: 

Zavier Vega-Yu rehearses his tuba part for the TMEA convention. Vega-Yu played with the wind symphony band as well as took part in all-state. (Provided by Zavier Vega-Yu)

Senior Zavier Vega-Yu plays the tuba and has been a part of Hebron’s band for four years. 

“Making all-state four years in a row is not something that happens often,” Vega-Yu said. “When I was a freshman, I used to look up to all the previous four year [all-staters and I thought], ‘wow, they were really good.’ I never really thought I would be a four year all-stater as well, so it’s like a dream come true to have that title.” 

More than 66,000 students audition every year, but less than 5% make it to all-state. Throughout the year, the band works as a group in different competitive areas, but TMEA awards are given based on individual performance. 

“For some kids, [TMEA auditions] involve overcoming performance anxiety [and] making sure that their preparation level is strong enough to withstand [that] anxiety,” head band director Andy Sealy said. “It’s a lot different than performing as part of a larger ensemble, like the marching band or the concert band. It is very much a one-on-one, individual sport.”

Through auditioning with so many talented musicians, Vega-Yu was given an opportunity to challenge his musicianship, build self-discipline and train himself to perform in high pressure circumstances. Vega-Yu said becoming an all-stater didn’t just make him a better musician — it helped him in many different ways. 

“All that practice and work that I put in gave me a lot of new perspectives and understandings on what it means to truly work hard in other aspects of life too,” Vega-Yu said. “Practicing all those hours throughout freshman, sophomore, junior [and] senior year really [translated] to other aspects [my] of life.” 

Through his success in music, Vega-Yu has been a leader to other band students. He is an officer for the band and has worked on developing section culture and making it more of a group of friends rather than just students in a band together. 

“It’s because of [his and a few others’] efforts that [the band’s] culture can thrive, and it’s really awesome to watch those kids do everything together,” Sealy said. “They push [and encourage] one another. [Whenever] you walk [into] the band hall, [you see that] the tuba players have a wonderful culture, and I think Zavier is the leader of that culture.”

Choir – Senior Audrey Shin: 

(Left to right) Senior Ella Mesumbe, Dr. Julie Yu, seniors John Michael Manon and Audrey Shin pose at the 2023 TMEA convention. Dr. Julie Yu was the students clinician for TMEA. (Provided by Audrey Shin)

Senior Audrey Shin has been balancing being a part of the annual all-school musical and rehearsing for TMEA region auditions all at once the past four years. Due to this, Shin had to often rest her voice and be careful about how she rehearsed — she found alternatives in her practicing, like just listening to the music and counting through it. 

“It was just [that] any moment where [I wasn’t] at rehearsal, [I] had to practice [my] music,” Shin said. “[I also] didn’t want to overuse [my] voice because [I wanted] to have [it] for the musical — so [I would] just [have] to practice in ways where [I wasn’t] singing.” 

To Shin, becoming an all-stater wasn’t about just being a good singer. Starting at a young age, she said she experienced and truly understood music in ways that helped her excel. 

“I’m very lucky that I was educated on the [musicality] aspect,” Shin said. “ I wouldn’t say, necessarily, it just means that I’m [a good singer] because I feel like [if] you [do] not have the best tone but you really know the music, then you [can] work your way up.” 

After making all-state choir the past three years, Shin said there was a pressure to make it once again this year, despite the never ending stress of college auditions for musical theater programs. 

“I’ve felt a lot of pressure since freshman year,” Shin said. “I’ve always felt like ‘Oh, I have to make it next year. OK, now I [have] to make it [again].’ This year, I [felt] if I don’t make it this year, [it] will be really embarrassing.”

Despite her chaotic schedule, Shin was able to persevere once again. Shin said being a part of an all-state choir provides a different experience than choir at school, as all of the people around her are at her same level, if not better, at TMEA. 

“Singing in choirs at your school is fun, but not everyone’s at your level of commitment,” Shin said. “When you go to all-state, everyone’s better than you or equal, and they all work just as hard. It’s really nice to make music with people who share the same passion for it as you.”