Ashley Ghazal doesn’t skip a beat when it comes to her music and painting.
The 17-year-old junior at Skiatook High School made the 2012 All-District Honor Choir and the 2013 Oklahoma Music Educators Association’s All-State Women’s Choir.
“I’ve made All-District three years now and All-State five years,” she said. “But it still amazes me that I can achieve something like this.”
The All-District Choir performance was held on Nov. 6 at the First Baptist Church in downtown Tulsa. Ghazal performed with 12 of her classmates and students from surrounding schools.
The All-State Women’s Choir performance was held on Jan. 19 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
“The concert was absolutely amazing,” Ashley said. “There were 135 students in the All-State Women’s Choir and we sang eight songs.”
Ashley (Osage/Cherokee/Quapaw/Arabic) had to go through two rounds of auditions before being selected. She was competing against students from across the entire state of Oklahoma.
The first audition was held on Oct. 27 and the second was on Nov. 10.
Ashley practiced every day and put as much time as she could into learning the songs.
“For All-State I had to learn two songs by heart and when I went into the auditions the judges picked a section of the song,” she said. “I was unaware of the section the judges picked so all I could do was be prepared.”
Two days before the All-State performance she met her conductors and began rehearsing with the group.
“We got up at 8 a.m. and rehearsed until 9 p.m. with a few breaks in between for two days,” Ashley said. “Then we got up and rehearsed one last time before the performance that Saturday afternoon.”
Ashley was amazed with how much she learned and progressed in just a couple of days.
She believes she learned more in those three days than she does in a month or more at school.
“When we were rehearsing everyone was on the same page, we all want to learn as we could from the conductors,” she said. “It makes the experience more enjoyable when you are around people who have a passion for music like you do.”
When the big moment came to perform Ashley said she wasn’t nervous at all.
“I was excited and the adrenaline of singing with the other students was great,” she said. “It gave me chills.”
Ashley’s mother, sister and brother-in-law attended her performance.
“Her performance was amazing and very moving,” said Jackie Ghazal, Ashley’s mother. “Everything was so perfect and I liked seeing all the students’ reactions to the music.”
Ashley’s choir teacher, Ginger Meyer said Ashley came back from All-State with new ideas she wanted to share with her choir class.
“She wants to help our choir by using many of the techniques that were used in the All-State rehearsal,” Meyer said. “She is so sweet to everyone around her and she had no idea how beautiful she is.”
This year Skiatook High School had eight students who made it to All-State, which is more than they have ever had, Meyer added.
In December, Ashley had two Christmas performances. She had a piano recital in Skiatook where she played, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
At the high school’s Christmas Choir Concert, Ashley performed Michael Buble’s version of, “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
She also has been performing once a month at the Light House Church in Skiatook.
“I love performing in front of people and it has been great performing at the church,” she said. “I’m trying to get as much performing experiences as I can.”
On top of all her performances, Ashley still finds to paint. She sent a self-portrait of her playing the piano to the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest.
She is also getting ready to send an art piece of two elephants titled, “Broken Ivory,” to the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center Art Contest. Accompanying the painting will be an essay on elephant conservation.
Last year, Ashley submitted a painting of a Snow Leopard and won honorable mention along with $500.
“I’m hoping to win again and also raise awareness for endangered elephants and other animals,” she said.
She plans to submit work to the 2013 Tulsa’s Mayfest, and the 2013 Oklahoma Indian Summer Youth Art Scholarship Competition.
“I try to enter all the contests I hear about,” she said.
Somewhere in her busy schedule she has discovered a new hobby; writing poetry.
“I never thought I would enjoy doing something like that so much but it’s a great outlet,” she said.
She has been trying to write one poem a day and use them to help her write songs.
“My goal before I graduate is to have my own album ready to record,” she said. “It’s a big hope but I know I can do it if I put my mind to it.”
In the mean time, she plans to try out for All-District Choir and All-State Women’s Choir again.
“Through all the performances I have gained more confidence,” she said. “You don’t get the full experience of being a musician until you perform in front of people.”
Ghazal couldn’t be more proud of her daughter and describes her as a “special girl.”
“I could go on all day about her but I think she was the best one at all her performances,” Ghazal said.
After she graduates, Ashley is thinking of attending the University of Tulsa and performing at Church On The Move in Tulsa.
“You just have to remember you are moving people through your music and have to let go of that worry of what people are thinking and just let the music take over,” she said.