Leaving their first state band competition on top felt great said Whitney Young juniors Miles Hardemon, a trumpet player, and Sui Lin Tam, a percussionist.

The 17-year-olds auditioned for the 2018 Illinois All-State for the Illinois Music Educators Association, or ILMEA. The All-State level auditions were held Jan. 25-27 at the Civic Center in Peoria, Ill.

Whitney Young’s Director of Bands, Jim Barbick, said Miles and Sui Lin auditioned into the top spots for their instruments. Sui Lin, was named principal percussionist in the ILMEA All-State Honors Band and Miles, principal trumpet in the ILMEA All-State Honors Jazz Combo.

“Of 25,000 students who audition from across the state, only 600 are selected to participate in All-State ensembles,” Barbick said. “Whitney Young advanced more student musicians to the state level than ever before.

As musicians, Miles and Sui Lin are very serious about their music. They have worked very hard to get to this level over many years, and it is nice to see them get well-deserved recognition.”

“I practiced hard,” Sui Lin said about the weeks before the audition. “I really wanted to do well in it so I worked hard, more than I’ve ever done for any audition.”

There were days where she would practice after school for two to three hours, she said.

Miles did the same, he said. He put in the hours, and it paid off in the end, he said.

“I knew the competition would be tough just because it had a lot of different people from districts all over the state,” he said.

Both students admitted that although they practiced hard and played well, their nerves got to them on audition day.

“I was pretty nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Miles, who has been playing the trumpet since fourth grade.

“I didn’t necessarily have a lot of time to warm up before the audition so I came in, I was sweating a little bit, I wasn’t confident, but I did well,” he said.

Sui Lin, said she’s glad she played well even through the nerves. She wanted to audition her freshman year, but freshmen aren’t eligible, she said.


One thing she noted was that percussion is more male-dominated and she’d like to see more females participate, but she doesn’t let it intimidate her.

“At first I was hesitant because I was like percussion is so bangy, but it’s actually really nice,” Sui Lin said. “You don’t just play drums, but you can play mallets like the xylophone or marimba and it’s all just so unique.”

She and Miles said they plan to study music in college.

And Miles added that being a part of the band has been a great experience.

“It’s great being around a bunch of people, who in a sense, somewhat motivate me to become better regardless of their skill level or whether they plan to pursue a career in music or not,” he said. “I know they all can appreciate the art, they can all take it serious.”