On Feb. 4th, Eastwood guitar students performed pieces in front of judges at UIL Solo & Ensemble, held at Hanks High School. Participants ranged from beginners to advanced students, and the pieces they played were designed to challenge each student individually. This year, several of Contreras' students will be advancing to the state guitar competition, which be held in May. These students include juniors Emilio Rios, Ian Murphy, Zair Cervantes, and senior Nick Aranda.
Junior Emilio Rios, who is advancing, said that the state competition will be far more challenging than the last one. He also said that UIL gives students the chance to challenge themselves while enjoying what they love.
"I love to play guitar and it's a fun way to challenge yourself," Rios said. "At the state competition, they score more strictly," Rios said. "They look for mistakes and more detail."
Junior Ian Murphy, who will be joining Rios at state, said that he hopes for a challenge at the state competition.
"I hope to be challenged and that I'll do even better than I did at the previous competition," Murphy said.
Daniel Contreras, who is the head of the Eastwood Guitar program, said that though this year had a rocky start, the competition went very well.
"This year was a little bit tough because a lot of the seniors that participated last year graduated," Contreras said. "Though this was the case, the students that did participate did really really well. The level of the pieces we did this year was the most difficult we've ever done. The students did so awesome with these pieces."
With so many students advancing to state, students in the program take pride in their participation in the event. Third year participant and senior Alex Lunn said that the students who participated accomplished a lot, and that she takes pride in the program's accomplishments.
"The guitar program as a whole did really well this year," Lunn said. "I couldn't be more proud of everyone who participated."
Contreras said that the main reason guitar players participate in the competition is so that students can learn to be more independent in their skill. He said that independence is key with music.
"Our goals for this years UIL competition were to have the students direct their own pieces and for them to be more independent in their learning," Contreras said. "The more independence they have, the easier practice will be. The students did just that."
The state competition is scheduled to take place May 27 at Del Valle High School.