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Awards & Recognition

2016
Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: First Place (Daniel Anthony, Opinion Category); Fifth Place (Brendan Jubulis, Sports)

2015
Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)
Student Keystone Press Awards Honorable Mention (Website)

2014
Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

Villa senior Emmal Dashti qualifies for regions at PMEA competition

Villa+senior+Emmal+Dashti+qualifies+for+regions+at+PMEA+competition

With dedication, passion, and hours of practice, Villa senior Emmal Dashti placed first chair in the flute 2 section of the PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educator Association) District 2 Band Festival. This festival took place at the end of January, and because she placed first chair, Emmal has officially qualified for Regions and to audition for the All State Band. 

This is a huge deal not only for Emmal, but for the entire arts program at Villa Maria Academy. So much work goes into playing an instrument, and if anyone deserves this opportunity, it is Emmal. 

She has been a musician for nine years, and in addition to playing the flute, she can play seven other instruments. These include the trumpet, trombone, flugelhorn, piano, cello, guitar, and recorder. Playing the recorder is what actually got her into playing music. 

“After making my way through my recorder program, at perhaps an ungodly speed, my music teacher chose me as one of the few students to join the elementary school band for the following year,” Emmal explained. “My teacher placed me on the flute, and I was one out of ten students chosen for the program, despite the sixty person class. Perhaps he was tired of me nagging him about recorder fingerings, or finishing whole recorder packets two days at a time. It was from that point in fourth grade that I began my interest in music and the flute.” 

As Emmal progressed in both her passions and skills in music, she began to formulate little habits that helped her calm her nervous energy before performing. 

“I am a nervous wreck when I am about to perform or audition,” Emmal said. “My mind will be racing with all of the things that could go wrong, and I even begin hyper-practicing sections that I find to be difficult. For a very long time, being a worrywart was second nature to who I was as a musician. While my improvement in my skills has left me with more confidence in my ability as a player, that does not mean I am entirely worry-free either. I often find myself doing small scale things, like tapping my foot on tempo, or humming backstage. I also find focusing on other things to be incredibly helpful, whether that be attempting to calculate the probability that I actually mess up one of the sections, or talking to a bandmate backstage.”

Now that she has qualified for Regions, the next step she has to take is preparing for the All State Band, which is the highest and final advancement of District placement. This year was particularly unique in both the schedule to audition for the band and the set-up. All auditions had to be submitted digitally instead of the standard in-person performance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the time frame for auditions was significantly shortened. In past years, students had up to a month to prepare for the All State Band, but this year, students had five days to learn both the excerpts and submit their auditions. 

“As one can expect, it was rather hectic,” Emmal stated. “But with continued assistance from Mr. Alesso, I have successfully been able to submit my auditions and I am now awaiting the results of the process. And I of course still have District Jazz Band and Regions to look forward to as well.”

Throughout this complicated and overwhelming process of constantly auditioning and performing, Emmal is content with how far she has come. 

“This experience as a whole has been something far more than I could describe with a simple set of words,” Emmal explained. “There have been moments where I have been practically vibrating from anxiety and anticipation, and others where I could have fallen asleep from a sense of ease. There have been moments where my wrists ached from playing so continuously, and others where I could feel a comfort in grazing my fingers over the keys. Considering this was my very first time officially auditioning for my position in a band, it would be a disservice to my efforts and the efforts of those that have guided me to claim I was not proud. I am proud of how far I have come in the span of the nine years that I have been a musician, and how I went from playing hot cross buns on repeat to qualifying to audition for events like All State.”

As Emmal mentioned, Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Music Director Mr. Alesso has helped Emmal significantly with her auditions and preparing her music. He is so proud of all she has accomplished, and nothing makes him happier than seeing her hard work pay off. 

“I think my favorite part of this process was seeing Emmal progress and watching her get better each time she played,” Mr. Alesso said. “We found a way to make it fun and not as stressful.”

Mr. Alesso and Emmal will continue their hard work as she prepares for Regions and District Jazz Band, and Emmal’s love for music does not have a visible end in sight. 

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About the Contributor
Olivia Buckel, Senior Editor-in-Chief
Olivia is the senior editor-in-chief of The Rambler. She was the junior editor of The Rambler during the 2021-2022 school year, and has written over twenty articles. She enjoys going to the movies, reading, and skiing in her free time, and hopes to pursue English at a four-year university.
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