DHS Musicians earn prestigious All-State honors

For the first time in almost four decades, Denison High School’s award-winning band has two students who have been named to the Texas Music Educators Association’s prestigious All-State Band. Luke Sparlin and David Ariza, both DHS juniors, recently earned second chair positions at the rigorous Area competition, qualifying them for coveted spots on the All-State Band roster.

“Please join me in congratulating Luke and David for this incredible accomplishment,” said Melissa Lewis, DHS Director of Bands. “This puts Luke in the top 20 5A trumpet musicians -- and David in the top 14 5A horn musicians -- in the entire state of Texas!”

According to Sparlin, the All-State honor provides a sense of validity to what dedication and discipline can manifest.

“These results are not a product of this year, but are a product of the years of time and effort spent on making better sounds than I had the day before,” said Sparlin. “Dr. Aaron Jensen (private music instructor provided through the Thelma Braun Music Enrichment Program) has opened a door which would have otherwise been locked, allowing me to pass through. He provided the coaching necessary to not only qualify for All-State, but to become better at something I love by challenging my development in ways that no one else has."

Ariza also attributes his success to hard work and excellent instruction. “If you were to tell me my freshman year that I would make the All-State band, I would have told you that I am not good enough to even come close. When the pandemic hit, I took the time to self-evaluate my previous attempts at the TMEA auditions and realized that if I truly wanted to make All-State, I was going to have to put in a lot of time practicing the etudes everyday consistently.

“As the school year progressed, I practiced every day for an hour or two, until I could get the audition material to the best of my ability,” added Ariza. “It was very difficult not to get discouraged at the amount of progress I made each day…but my private lesson teacher, Mr. Marsh, (also made available through the Thelma Braun Music Enrichment Program) really helped me to refine the etudes for each phase of the audition. Without him, I would not have made the All-State band. Finally, when the Area results came in last week, I felt so accomplished and grateful for the amount of work Mr. Marsh, the band directors, and my parents have put in to help me reach an extraordinary feat!”

Axton Grams, also a DHS junior, earned fourth chair in Area competition, landing him only one chair away from advancing to State. “This is incredible for his first time advancing to the Area level of competition,” said Lewis. “And, as a junior, he will get to try again next year!”

Lewis was quick to commend the students on their tireless hard work, which began all the way back in July. “They have gone through three rigorous rounds of auditions that began with over 1,000 students in our Region alone. We are so grateful for the outstanding private lesson instructors, and scholarships made available through the Thelma Braun Music Enrichment Program. It really is GREAT to be a Yellow Jacket!”

James Brown, a senior member of the DHS choir and band programs, was also named Alternate to the Tenor-Bass Large School Texas All-State Choir.

"James began his auditions in September with over 1,000 students from 5A and 6A schools in our competitive region alone,” said DHS Choir Director Hunter Sitz. “Through an incredible amount of work and practice, he advanced all the way to the final round of auditions, earning 9th chair Alternate honors on the State Tenor-Bass Choir – just one chair away from advancing to State. James has come closer to this achievement than any other Denison student in the past two decades. We are so proud of him for his incredible work ethic, tenacity, and superior representation of the Fine Arts in Denison, TX."

Lewis also pointed out the correlation between music/fine arts education and high academic scores. “State music qualifiers continue to consistently earn higher SAT scores than state and national averages, which further supports research showing that participating in music enhances learning in core academic subjects,” said Lewis. “Luke currently ranks 1st in his DHS Class of 2022, and David ranks 4th. The two All-Staters are not only highly accomplished musicians, but also embody the ideal of what a Yellow Jacket should be. They are involved in advanced classes, participate in athletics, and are student leaders in the Touch of Gold band program. As DHS juniors, they still have time to decide what part music will play in their lives after high school. However, the dedication and focus that they showed to their instruments will take them far no matter what they decide to pursue.”



Luke Sparlin, a junior at DHS, earned a second chair position at Area competition, which earned him a spot on the prestigious All-State Band and put him in the top 20 5A trumpet musicians in the state of Texas.



David Ariza, a junior at DHS, earned a second chair position at Area, which landed him a coveted spot on the All-State Band. It also ranked him in the top 14 5A horn musicians in the state of Texas.



DHS band musician Axton Grams, a junior, earned fourth chair honors in Area competition, landing him only one chair away from advancing to State.



James Brown, a senior member of the DHS choir and band programs, earned Alternate to the Tenor-Bass Large School Texas All-State Choir, just one chair away from advancing to State.

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