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Two SHS band members play their way to the top
First chair photo Web
Colby Parker, left, and Melanie Schmid recently earned first chair in their instruments at the Georgia All-State Band competition held recently in Atlanta. Parker plays the tuba, while Schmid plays the French horn. - photo by JAMES HEALY/staff
    Auditioning for the Georgia All-State Band is one of the most prestigious and toughest competitions high school musicians face each year. To earn first chair in your instrument — beating out about 1,000 of the most talented musicians in the state — is a remarkable achievement. To do it twice is almost unheard of.
    But that’s exactly what two Statesboro High School students recently accomplished.
    Senior Melanie Schmid, with the French horn, and sophomore Colby Parker, with the tuba, earned top spots in their instruments at final auditions held recently in Atlanta. It is the second first chair award for both. Melanie won first chair last year as a junior, while Colby won two years ago as an eighth grader at Langston Chapel Middle School.
    The All-State bands will perform in  concert in Savannah March 5-7.
    Band director Joe Ferguson said it’s the first time in school history that two of its musicians earned first chair honors in the Georgia All-State Band.
    Bill Schmid, Melanie’s father, said: “Melanie was putting so much pressure on herself I thought that she’d be really disappointed if she didn’t win. My wife’s cell phone rang, Melanie answered it, and the next thing I knew Melanie was jumping up and down and yelling her head off. Needless to say, my wife Alice and I were both very pleased as well”.
     Despite her success last year, Melanie, wasn’t sure if she could win first chair again.
“I’m in the middle of preparing for five college music auditions, and I was getting kind of overwhelmed with all the work I had to do,” she said. “Honestly, I was a little amazed that I was able to pull it all together. That makes this honor that much sweeter.”
     Carolyn Altman, Colby’s mom, was equally excited about her son’s accomplishment. She said: “Langston Chapel Middle School teacher Holly Lloyd let him play every instrument there was when he was in sixth grade. He came home one day and said, ‘Mom, it’s the tuba.’
     “He hasn’t ever looked back since. He has never even started to lose interest in the tuba, and I have never had to push him to practice. Really, I have nothing to do with this whole thing. It’s all Colby, every bit of it.”
     For Colby, practicing is no chore. He said he views practicing “not as something I have to do, but what I want to do.”
    “After winning first chair in eighth grade, and then not getting it the next year, I realized just how hard getting FC was. Therefore, I began to take practicing even more seriously. I knew who I was competing against, however, and I felt that I had a good chance to do real well at All-State.”
     The talents of their children and traveling to most of the same competitions have brought the families of Melanie and Colby closer. And the Schmids and Altman give a lot of credit to Holly Lloyd at Langston Chapel. They say her patience and enthusiasm the kids want to practice, to show her they can do better.
    “To have two students from the same school win first chair at All-State is unbelievable, but for those same students to have won first chair in their instrument twice — one of them being back-to-back — is simply unheard of,” said Lloyd, who is music teacher at Langston Chapel Middle.
    Melanie, Colby and their families also praised the hard work that band director Joe Ferguson has put in with their children.
    As for Joe, he’s just delighted to be a part of the remarkable achievement.
    “Do you know how rare it is for a repeat FC at All-State? It just doesn’t happen,” Ferguson said.
    Well, for Melanie Schmid and Colby Parker it did.

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