Emma Meadows on winning first place in LEST (Portland, Oregon)

Emma group
Emma Meadows, first row, second from left

Emma Virginia Meadows is 14. She is in the 8th grade at Peace Lutheran School in Bremerton, Washington. In addition to playing guitar, Emma enjoys basketball, art and writing.

Rick Cox, the director of the guitar program at Peace Lutheran. Rick introduced us to Emma by writing:

Our group of eleven young guitarists recently performed at the L.E.S.T. (Lutheran Elementary School Tournament) that is held in Portland Oregon annually.  The group performed “Izika Zumba” to rave reviews from the judges (and audience) and was awarded first place in a pool of several guitar ensembles as well as school bands.


Emma writes: Composed of eleven student guitarists, you could say that this group has a feel for the fret board. The Peace Lutheran guitar ensemble of Bremerton, WA, is taught by Rick Cox of Washington Academy of Music.

It’s quite a beautiful thing really, to see all of my classmates come together and make music. No matter how different we all are outside the music room. There are so many personalities in that room and it’s great to have something that forms us into one. Somebody is always is always laughing or teaching or playing their own tune, it’s a fun atmosphere.

The past few months were spent practicing and training for L.E.S.T. (Lutheran Elementary School Tournament) which took place in mid-February at Concordia University, Portland. Imagine a mixture of theater, sports, music, art, and academics all rolled into one three-day event. Oh, and don’t forget the chaos. We were one of fifteen Lutheran schools from the northwest.

Hours of practice on our South-African piece “Izika Zumba” took us down to Oregon in good shape. With percussion and a lively tune, we packed up our guitars with confidence. Arriving on a Wednesday night to our hotel, we had two days’ worth of events until our performance on Saturday morning. We ran, sang, danced, and cheered our hearts out until finally arriving in the warm-up room, dressed up and guitars in hand.

Tuned? Check. Music? Check. Footstool? Got it. Game face? For this…well, sure. We made our way to the hall where we were performed for an audience and a judge. I couldn’t sense nervousness anywhere. We started off, playing the song that our fingers danced to.

lest blue ribbonFinishing it up with a bow, we felt good. We received acclaim from the audience and a remarkable compliment from the judge. Award ceremonies would reveal if we had placed. Our ensemble had a Blue Ribbon Performance! Scoring a 24 out of 25, my peers and I did outstanding. We missed only one point, gaining us yet another instrumental ensemble award. In all of my years attending this school, a Blue Ribbon Guitar plaque had never been placed in the trophy case. As an eighth grader, I rounded up my final L.E.S.T. with success and satisfaction.

It has been a privilege to be a part of this group. Since fifth grade, I have been playing and growing amongst the people that love the same thing that I do. I have been inspired by every year’s class and always learn so much. Friendship, passion, practice, leadership; all in that classroom. Guitar is a part of me that I will walk out of these school doors with. And I can assure you, our songs aren’t over yet.

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