Puff’s dedication earns spot at state choir festival


Kalonga Mwenda

Senior Jay Puff advancement to the prestigious PMEA all-state choir festival. 

Kalonga Mwenda and Simran Rijal

Senior Jay Puff was left both surprised and satisfied with their advancement to the prestigious PMEA all-state choir festival. 

The district and regional festivals have already happened, and Puff now is headed toward the state level, which will run from April 19-22 in the Poconos. 

“I definitely thought I was going to make it to states; however, I was surprised I got the first chair because I felt a moment of panic during my audition to make it into states,” Puff said.

The PMEA features talented singers from across Pennsylvania school districts. With this level of competition, there is lots of pressure, but Baldwin choir instructor Kristen Tranter had so much confidence in Puff’s singing ability that he “made all the reservations prior to the audition results being posted.”

Puff has always been fascinated with music since their early childhood, and they have been singing for Baldwin’s choir program since the fifth grade. They attribute this to their grandfather helping them uncover their passion for it.

Being a singer for many years, they have gained a reputation as a hard worker. Long-time friends and seniors Katherine Powell and Alyssa Holby have seen Puff’s work ethic first-hand.

“They’re so meticulous with going through their music and having the right notes,” Powell said.

“For the last six months they’ve been practicing for PMEA every day,” Holby said. “Jay has always had this natural talent. Now they’re working towards building that and it’s impressive.”

Tranter offered high praise for Puff.

“Jay, who worked relentlessly on this audition, is one of the best singers I’ve had in my 25 years,” Tranter said. “I am very proud of this student’s accomplishments.”

PMEA president Scott Cullen said the program recognizes the state’s best student singers.

“Coming together for a unique performance experience like the PMEA All-State Festival is a top honor for student musicians in Pennsylvania,” Cullen said.

Puff says much of their success comes from the hard work they do on their own.

“I did a lot of independent work, taking the time out of my own day. I also think I just have a really good ear for music,” Puff said.

Surprisingly, Puff does not want to pursue music as a career. 

“I think a career as a software engineer would be very cool. I would get to make my own schedule and there’s a lot of freedom in it,” Puff said.

Puff feels a great sense of accomplishment as a singer from childhood to now.

“I feel like I come off as nonchalant with everything I do in the choir, but I know younger me would be screaming with joy,” Puff said.

Puff’s advice to upcoming choir students is to “always take risks.”

“There is not a single time I have ever done something risky in the choir without enjoying it,” Puff said.