HOWARD LAKE, MN Ariana Higgins of Howard Lake, a freshman at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School, absolutely loves to sing.
She shines locally as a choir student and sings the national anthem before high school gymnastics and football games. She likes watching The Voice and American Idol and wonders if she might be up on the big stage someday.
“I’m a choir kid,” she said. “I’ve been singing since I could talk.”
Last month, Higgins was selected to perform in the Women’s Choir at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Honors Choir.
Higgins had to apply for the chorus by submitting a recording. She was one of 128 (freshman and sophomore) girls from across Minnesota, and the only student from HLWW to be selected for the Women’s Chorus.
“It was a great experience,” Higgins said. “I’m so glad I tried out.”
The ACDA Honors Choir consisted of not only the Women’s Chorus, but a mixed ensemble, as well. Both groups went to Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis Feb. 11 for an all-day rehearsal and an evening concert.
The students, who had received the music in advance, arrived at 7 a.m. and began rehearsing as a whole choir and in sections. Higgins was chosen as a Soprano 2.
HLWW Choir Director Alexandra Thrasher said Higgins is one of her best students, and that getting into the ACDA Honors Choir is a huge honor.
“She’s extremely dedicated and is always wanting to do the best, not only for herself, but is always encouraging our choir to do their best,” Thrasher said.
The guest conductor for the women’s chorus was Stephanie Trump, who teaches choir at Armstrong High School, and is the adjunct instructor of music at the University of Northwestern.
Higgins said she learned a lot during the one-day event, and was able to bring some new breathing exercises back to the HLWW choir.
“Overall, it was so worth it,” Higgins said. “There are so many people you can connect with there.”
Higgins, 15, will have the opportunity to try out for the honors choir again as a sophomore next year.
High school juniors and seniors have a similar music opportunity, as they are able to try out for the Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Program, which is a program to develop the finest musicians and leaders among Minnesota’s most accomplished high school students. Higgins said it’s her ultimate goal to be selected for the All-State Choir.
“I definitely think that’s a possibility for her,” Thrasher said.
Higgins has brought singing into nearly every aspect of her life. She competes in gymnastics, and is a cheerleader for the football team. She joined choir in sixth grade, and has had a solo in every concert in which she has performed.
Her two older sisters also sing, and Ariana will be joining sister, Brianna Higgins, a senior, in a duet at the upcoming regional solo and ensemble contest Monday, April 11.
Ariana recently applied to join the FFA Chorus, and has turned into a bit of an entrepreneur. As part of the FFA’s Supervised Agricultural Experience, Ariana has started her own business of upcycling old wooden furniture. For example, she’s turned an old dresser into an ottoman. She plans to use the money from her upcycling business to pay for a trip to Italy with the FFA.
Ariana shares her passion for singing with children in her church by stepping up into a children’s choir director role at the First Presbyterian Church of Howard Lake.
The daughter of Tami Free and Daniel Higgins, Ariana said her parents don’t have the same musical talent as she and her siblings do.
Ariana’s current favorite song is “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri, but she enjoys singing along to just about anything.
“It’s kind of like a stress reliever,” she said. “It just kind of connects me. If I’m having a bad day, it helps.”