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Young Musician Earns Award
Oakdale High School junior Aimee Ramirez was recently awarded a superior rating for her flute performance from the Central Valley chapter California Music Educators Association solo/ensemble competition. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

Oakdale High School junior Aimee Ramirez received a “Superior” rating for her flute performance along with a certificate and medal from the Central Valley chapter of California Music Educators Association (CMEA) in a recent solo/ensemble competition. Ratings for the competition are: needs improvement, fair, good, excellent, and superior.

“Aimee is extremely dedicated to her craft and for the last year or so has practiced at least an hour a day, and double that time during the breaks and in the summer,” said Oakdale district band director Ross McGinnis. “This definitely shows. I have her for two music classes every day and she just keeps getting better. She’s not resting on any laurels either, after a competition she doesn’t look back and sets her sights to the next challenge at the next level.”

He stated that to prepare and participate within this festival, it takes an immense amount of self-motivation, as rehearsals are often done outside of class time, and though the student performers may be periodically coached by instructors or private teachers, much of the success lies with their own will, dedication, and self-discipline.

After trying out several pieces, Ramirez chose a solo piece with the help of her mentor, flautist Molly Michel, called “Jade” for her competition performance, which took place at CSU Stanislaus.

“Jade was written and composed by a French Impressionist, Pierre-Octave Ferroud, around 1920,” Ramirez reported. “It was one piece from a three-part suite for flute alone. Everyone had discovered China at the time and composers were looking for a way to lighten music up after the all the late 19th century big heavy pieces. In its way, this piece is a breakthrough; three short pieces alone written in the Chinese style for flute alone.”

She added that the competition was a great experience, but intense because of the judge’s credentials. She noted that he told her he enjoyed her tone very much and also offered her some helpful critique.

“These CMEA festivals set the bar for any given chapter or area,” McGinnis said, adding that judges and clinicians travel from hundreds of miles around and are the most reputable in their field.

“The solo/ensemble festival is meant to provide an adjudicated venue for young musicians to perform outside of the conventional large ensembles, such as marching, jazz or concert bands,” he explained.

Ramirez performs in the OHS jazz band, the OHS marching and concert band, with St. Mary’s choir and youth choir, and also on Fridays at a local yogurt shop.

“She’s also becoming quite proficient at jazz improv, winning awards at CMEA and NCBA jazz festivals along with a few other dedicated OHS music students,” McGinnis added. “When other members of the bands see Aimee and others like her excel through hard work, practice and consistent ‘correctness’ in rehearsals, they know it can be done by someone in their age bracket, which motivates excellence in each individual student. The end product is a band that is striving to be the best that it can be, individually and as a whole, and that’s all I really ask from them as a director.”

CMEA is a federated unit of the National Association of Music Education.