Okeeheelee clarinet player’s a star at All-State

By Jessica Peña-Diaz

Eighth-grader Adam Bouhamdan started playing the clarinet only a year and a half ago. But in January, he became the first band student from Okeeheelee Middle School in 10 years to audition and be selected for All-State Band, according to Okeeheelee band director Sarah Shearon-Smith.

Adam, 14, says he was “jumping off the walls” when he found out he was going to All-State, an annual Florida Bandmaster Association event in which Florida’s top student musicians gather to practice and perform together.

This year, All-State took place in Tampa. To get there, Adam had to audition. He was tested on his scales, playing two songs, and sight reading at Independence Middle School. Students are compared to other students playing the same instruments, and the best-sounding players are selected.

Eighth-grader Adam Bouhamdan practices on bass clarinet in the band room before school starts at Okeeheelee Middle in the spring of 2015.

Eighth-grader Adam Bouhamdan practices on bass clarinet in the band room before school starts at Okeeheelee Middle in the spring of 2015.

In Tampa, Adam competed with other bass clarinet players to see which chair (or place in the All-State Band) he would have. Of the three bass clarinet players who participated, he got the top spot – first chair. The musicians practiced for 8 hours a day over three days and then performed the fourth day at the Tampa Convention Center, he said. He received a plaque and a medal.

He gets his inspiration from his mom, who played instruments as a kid and had him try it out.

Adam has been successful because he practices and works very hard, Shearon-Smith said.
One of his classmates agreed. “He is in there (in the band room) every morning playing and plays non-stop at home,” fellow band student Eris Sypher-Beliard said. “He’s really good… we sometimes play ‘Phantom of the Opera’ together.”

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