By Meredith Pruden

Four Sandy Springs Middle School students have made it to the Georgia Music Educators Association 2007 All State event to be held this March in Savannah.

Eighth graders Megan Rich, Andrew Lowenthal, Anthony Prince and Trevor Dworetz have practiced their art since early childhood.

Rich, 14, has been accepted to the All State competition for her choral accomplishments. She started singing in school in kindergarten and joined her church choir in the third grade. Originally from Pennsylvania, Rich is a new student this year at Sandy Springs Middle and is also an experienced pianist and flutist, both of which she said helped her learn to read music.

Lowenthal, also 14, began his clarinet career in Woodland Charter Elementary School’s fourth grade band. It was in Woodland’s music program he met Prince, but Lowenthal had already known another band mate, Dworetz, almost since birth. Lowenthal said he began his quest for All State in the sixth grade when he first auditioned for District Honor Band. It wasn’t until seventh grade that he made it to District and this year to All State.

A lifelong friend of Lowenthal, Dworetz, also made it to All State this year for his skill on the trombone. Dworetz started taking private lessons on the trombone in the third grade but had already been playing baritone for some time because his arms were not long enough for the trombone slide. Now, at only 14, Dworetz is first chair trombone in both District Honor Band and All State.

“Trevor is very, very talented,” said Band Director Andrew Harwood. “Andrew is one of those kids who puts his nose to the grindstone and just works and works. They’re great kids.”

Another great kid, according to Orchestra Director Lenin Pena, is Prince, 13, who has played viola since age 6. Prince said he just wants to play viola to the best of his ability regardless of the small amount of occasional pressure. Pena said it shows.

“Anthony came here in the sixth grade at the same time I came here,” Pena said. “His starting point was average and All State is very demanding because the requirements are exceedingly hard. His first tryout was difficult because he didn’t have the technique yet – he had the will, but the technique wasn’t there. These past two years have been about getting him to the level of expertise.”

Prince has certainly proved he has the right stuff and said he plans to continue his musical career.

Despite many other hobbies and athletic obligations, including basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, football, ballet and several additional instruments, the four All State musicians manage to find plenty of time to practice and hone their crafts. For some, practice time runs as long as an hour and a half per day leading up to District Honor Band and All State.

More than 40 percent of the school’s 800 students are involved in the fine arts programs, but Rich, Lowenthal, Prince and Dworetz stand out for their energy and dedication to their craft.

“They’re just great,” Harwood, who was once in the U.S. Army Band said. “They’re why you get into teaching.”

Being accepted into the All State band, orchestra or chorus, respectively, can also take these hard-working achievers far.

“All State is the trademark for music students,” said Pena, a Honduras native who came to the United States on a music scholarship and has been at Sandy Springs Middle for three years. “It a kid has been to All State, that gives them a certain status. It’s like the CRCT [the academic testing requirement] of music.”