John Alexander

Okoboji's John Alexander was one of just N'West Iowa students to be named an all-state selection four straight years.

MILFORD—John Alexander has been playing the violin since he was 3 years old.

“My mom kind of got me started with it,” Alexander said. “She just thought it was something I would enjoy. Neither of my parents have a musical background.”

For someone who has been practicing that long, it should not come as too much of a surprise that Alexander was one of just two students in N’West Iowa to be an All-State Music Festival selection four straight years.

He also is just the third in Okoboji history, following a 2013 graduate Brandon Clary, and Mallory Luers, a 2015 graduate.

Alexander said he was not overly nervous about performing for the judges this year while seeking his fourth all-state honor.

“I knew that most of the competition in our area were seniors last year,” Alexander said. “The people that were accepted in front of me from past years were all gone. I just knew I had to have everything well-prepared like I have in the past.”

After two days of rehearsals, Alexander will play in the 73rd annual Iowa All-State Music Festival Concert today (Saturday, Nov. 23) in Ames.

Alexander looks forward to the concert, although not as much the rehearsals.

“With all due respect, I do look forward to it being the last time I have to sit through the rehearsals,” Alexander said. “I really enjoy the festival as a whole. Year in and year out I truly enjoy it, but I think it’s good this will be the last time.”

He said playing an instrument at a high level requires good teachers. Alexander receives lessons from Dr. Ioana Galu, a violin professor at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

“She gives me really good practicing techniques where I can basically optimize my practicing time,” Alexander said. “You hear about a lot of people that sit down and practice for hours and hours, but I feel like if you have the right strategies, you get a lot more quality practice time and you don’t have to put in that huge block of time.”

He said people assume he typically practices for hours upon hours every day.

“You’d be really surprised how much I do practice,” Alexander said. “I try to get in at least an hour every day, but even that doesn’t happen sometimes. I think it’s all about practicing strategy and how you organize your practice time that you do have.”

Alexander said he plans on continuing violin lessons in college although he is not sure where he will be receiving his higher education.

“From there, whether I decide to minor or major, it just depends on where I go and the course load I have for what I decide on majoring in,” he said.

N’West Iowa All-State Selections:

The top students in N’West Iowa’s high school bands, choruses and orchestras will perform in concert in Ames tonight (Saturday, Nov. 23). Forty-four high school students from the area were chosen to perform at the 73rd annual All-State Music Festival Concert.

The Iowa High School Music Association and Iowa Music Educators Association host the event.

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum on the campus of Iowa State University.

The 44 high school students from N’West Iowa selected for the festival were:


• Anna Godtland, senior, trombone, second year.


• Samantha Ebel, senior, first soprano, first year.

• Anna Van Aartsen, freshman, first soprano, first year.

• Anna Warntjes, freshman, first alto, first year.


• Zach Kraft, junior, first bass, first year.

• Kaylee Linden, freshman, second alto, first year.

• Ty Linden, senior, first bass, first year.

• Trevor Oloff, junior, first tenor, second year.


• Tessa Burg, senior, alto, third year.

• Ethan Hexamer, senior, baritone, first year.

• Hannah Hulstein, sophomore, string bass, second year.

• Rachel Jorgensen, senior, soprano, second year.

• Ashlyn Vander Stelt, junior, soprano, first year.


• John Alexander, senior, violin, fourth year.

• William Alexander, junior, cello, second year.

• Samuel Heikens, junior, percussion, third year.


• Kellen De Kok, junior, French horn, first year.

• Rachel Maggert sophomore, alto, first year.


• James Dagel, junior, French horn, second year

• Jacob Nobles, freshman, tenor, first year

• Carson Steichen, sophomore, euphonium, first year.


• Sophie Else, junior, first soprano, first year.

• Austin Faber, senior, second tenor, second year.

• Reese Faber, freshman, second bass, first year.

• Logan Fehlhafer, senior, second bass, second year.

• Ellie Hurst, junior, trumpet, third year.

• William Hurst, freshman, first tenor, first year.

• Katelyn Ten Pas, senior, second soprano, first year.

• Ashlyn Van Voorst, sophomore, second alto, first year.

• Brooklyn Vander Velde, senior, second soprano, second year.

• Samantha Vermeer, junior, first alto, first year.


• Sierra Meyer, junior, alto saxophone; second year.


• Courtney Joiner, sophomore, clarinet, first year.

• Hannah Landman, senior, viola, first year.

• Naomi Lief, senior, viola, second year.

• Gabrielle Miedema, junior, violin, first year.

• Kaeley Meyer, sophomore, violin, second year.

• Joya Schreurs, senior, violin, first year.

• Kaylee Van Donge, senior, clarinet, second year.

• JoyLyn Vande Berg, freshman, viola, first year.

• Karli Vanden Brink, senior, violin, first year.


• Lindsey Funke, senior, flute, second year.

• Lydia Lee, senior, clarinet, fourth year.


• Sage Hoekstra, junior, soprano, first year.

• Emily Zuidema, junior, alto, first year.