Participating in a state honor choir can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"There are no guarantees that you will ever have anyone (from your school) chosen," said Detroit Lakes Middle School vocal music director Dorothy Satrom.
Hundreds of students from schools across Minnesota send in audition tapes, hoping for a chance to sing with one of the honor choirs at the annual convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) of Minnesota.
This year, Satrom had no less than seven students selected for the honor, including four first-timers.
Sam Champa, Tory Haglund, Kalley Waller and Austin Weber all took part in the Elementary Honor Choir for the first time this year, while past participants Max Boyd, Beth Champa and Emma Wood were chosen to participate in the 7th and 8th grade boys' and girls' honor choirs.
In addition, Boyd was selected to take part in the National Junior High Honor Choir, which will perform at the National ACDA Convention (March 4-7) in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Saturday, March 7.
Boyd said he's preparing for "eight hours of practice a day" in anticipation of the event.
Wood, who is also a past National Honor Choir participant, said the experience was "amazing," and noted that she found it fascinating to meet people with "so many different accents and ways they pronounce words."
Weber said meeting "a lot of great people" was also his favorite part of the State Honor Choir experience, and all seven honor choir participants said they would "definitely" recommend the experience to anyone who has the chance to participate.
But it does require a lot of preparation. Once your tape has been submitted and you are selected, each participant is given a CD and sheet music with the songs they are required to memorize -- no sheet music or teleprompters are allowed at the concert.
Haglund said he put the songs on his iPod and went over them as many times as possible before the convention, which took place just before Thanksgiving.
Honor choir rehearsals last approximately eight hours a day -- lunches are brought in for the students -- and the guest conductor "worked with us on every little possible flaw," Haglund added.