All-West brings together young musicians for a life-changing experience


West Tennessee Band and Orchestra Association

Sarah Moon and other members of the All-West program perform at the end of the conference at the Cannon Center.

Kim Huang, Reporter

Every year, the West Tennessee Band and Orchestra Association (WTSBOA) organizes the All-West Clinic and Convention, a prestigious two-to-three-day program that brings together the brightest middle and high school musicians in West Tennessee. The process begins with nerve-wracking competitive auditions, followed by long hours of rehearsing and, eventually, a culminating performance held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. 

Although All-West is a competitive environment, many students enjoy attending because of the people they met there, like Michelle Jun (12), who used to attend Houston Middle School. 

“[All-West] was so fun because I got to see all my friends outside of St. Mary’s,” Michelle Jun (12) said. “I met [my Houston friends] again during All-West.” 

For cellist Sarah Moon (11), All-West was a bittersweet goodbye to long-time friends. 

“This year, I was able to be with my senior friends and play with them for the last time,” Moon said. 

Many students highly recommend auditioning for All-West regardless of years of musical experience. Celine Kim (9), who plays the flute, attended All-West band despite having only been playing for less than a year. 

“It was a good experience,” Kim said. “If you’re really passionate, then just do it.”

At the 2023 All-West, participants learned many valuable life lessons. Still relatively inexperienced compared to musicians like Moon and Jun, Kim learned that in music, mistakes happen regularly and that encountering one is a good learning opportunity.  

“If you mess up, it’s not the end of the world,” Kim said. “Just keep going.”

All-West impacts its musicians on many counts. For students like Moon, All-West has improved more than just their social life.

“Playing the cello has helped me gain more connections to the music world and the music aspect of life,” Moon said. “People don’t give classical music more attention, and they should, because it’s actually really good.”