Maggie Chapman wanted to go to the Iowa All-State Festival from the time she was in middle school.
“We would come up here as middle schoolers for band concerts and all of the All-State pictures used to be hanging on the wall between the choir room and the band room,” she said. “I’d walk by and see people I know and I knew I wanted to be up there. That’s something I wanted to do.”
When she was in eighth grade and students were asked if they wanted to go to All-State, she raised her hand.
She and fellow Denison High School (DHS) senior Noah Fredericksen were both selected for All-State in all four of their years in high school.
The 2019 Iowa All-State Festival took place at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on November 23.
Chapman, who plays contra clarinet, was selected for All-State Band and Fredericksen was selected for the All-State Chorus.
Chapman said that after she made All-State as a freshman, the pressure was on to make it the next year.
“Freshman year was kind of nerve-racking because you don’t know if you’re going to make it,” she said. “And then each year the goal became more evident because you want to make it and be that four-year All-Stater.”
Fredericksen said All-State wasn’t always his goal - and he didn’t think he’d make the cut in his freshman year.
“But it’s always good to try,” he said. “Once I made it, then it was always, ‘Now that I made it this year, I have to make it next year.’ It’s always worrying about the next year.”
He said he felt a huge release of pressure when he made it to All-State this year.
Chapman said she had All-State role models she has known since she was knee-high.
One was Jena Nahnsen, who graduated from DHS in 2016 after making All-State in each of her four years.
“She did it and then I knew I wanted to be the next Jena because we haven’t had a four-year All-Stater for band since her,” Chapman said.
Fredericksen said he looked up to his sister, Aimee, who is a percussionist.
“She never made All-State for percussion but percussion is probably one of the hardest instruments you could make it on because there are so few,” he said. “But she was always working and her motivation always motivated me.”
Fredericksen also looked up to former DHS students Lexi Vasquez and Zach Ahrenholtz.
“Their leadership helped motivate me into becoming an All-Stater, especially Lexi because in my freshman year she really pushed me to be a better singer,” he said.
“That’s probably one of the big reasons I made All-State my freshman year.”
Chapman said students who want to make All-State have to work for it.
“It’s hard, especially your freshman year because you’re new to everything,” she said. “But just put in the work, be committed, and don’t give up.”
The experience is worthwhile even for students who are not selected.
“Even if you don’t make it, you’re a better musician for going through the process,” Chapman said.
Fredericksen said his advice for the students who come next is to stay focused.
“If your goal is to make All-State, even one year, it’s always important to keep that in your mind at all times,” he said.
“Every time you get to practice there’s always a chance to improve.”
Students performing with a group have another responsibility, he said.
“Make sure that if you’re working with a group – if you’re in choir – to really focus not just on singing well with your group but getting to know your group well, too,” he said. “Once you have that connection with them they become more like a family.”
Chapman said All-State is a three-month process.
“During those three months of All-State it’s just All-State; everything else is secondary,” she said. “You focus on All-State.”
She uses the audition process skills she learned in All-State whenever she auditions for honor bands.
“All-State, in itself, is a process,” Fredericksen said. “You need to make sure that you stay with what you’re singing and you need to keep singing that.
“You can’t get sidetracked with anything else in those three months.”
Participating in All-State was useful for his goal of having a career in music, he said.
“It will really help give me an edge,” he said. “I think it helps my voice in a lot of ways and it also helps me financially, too, with scholarships and things like that.”
He plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa.
Chapman said she doesn’t plan to aim for a career in music.
“But the All-State process has taught self-discipline and the importance of commitment and pushing yourself to the limit - and going further,” she said.
She said she plans to participate in collegiate band in some fashion.
Chapman plans to attend Iowa State University or the University of Nebraska.
Not everything about All-State involved work, Fredericksen said.
“It’s the All-State experience when you’re practicing and performing, but it’s also the fun things,” he said. “Part of the reason we like to go to All-State is a lot of us music nerds go hang out for an hour at Hickory Park (a restaurant in Ames).”
He said everyone gets to relax and enjoy the moment.
“When you make All-State and you get to Ames for the festival, it’s super laid back,” Chapman said.
Along with Hickory Park, Cold Stone Creamery is another regular destination, she said.
The students also have game nights during the festival.
“It’s a time for us to come together as more of a band family and a choir family,” she said.