AVA: End-of-the-Year Wrap-up

Ginny Coleman

ALL-STATE
It was so nice to see many of you at the All-State festival in March. I appreciate those who served as concert coordinator, choir coordinator, attendance monitor, or in any other capacity to be sure that everything ran smoothly. I think that the students enjoyed their interaction with the conductors of the various choirs. I was also pleased with the final performances.
We appreciate Samford University for once again hosting All-State. Kenny Gannon, Brian Ernsberger and their staff were welcoming and helpful. We look forward to being back in 2018.

AMEA SUBMISSIONS
I hope that the recordings you received from SCPA were helpful to you this year. One of the reasons we decided to record each choir is so that you would have a high-quality recording in the event you decided to submit to perform at AMEA. If you are considering this, please know that the deadline is June 1. You can find instructions on the AMEA website. In addition, please consider submitting to present a session if you have something of value to share. We are always looking for new ideas!

SUMMER BOARD
The AVA Executive Board will meet for our summer board meeting at the beginning of June. If you have any ideas or suggestions that you would like the board to consider during our meeting, please submit in writing before the end of May. We want to hear your ideas and suggestions for improvement.

FALL WORKSHOP
Please go ahead and mark your calendars for the 2017 AVA Fall Workshop! As always, the workshop will be held on the Friday after Labor Day, which is September the 8th. We will meet in Montgomery again so that our colleagues in the north and south of the state can all save a hotel night if needed.

COMMUNICATION
This year we have made an effort to provide the AVA membership with increased instruction and reminders about registration deadlines, etc. We occasionally get questions about where to find information. You should expect information for all AVA events to be available on our website. For example, if you are attending an SCPA in another district you should be able to get all information concerning the event you are attending from the AVA website. Let your district chairman know if you have difficulty accessing anything.

The AVA Board is continually striving to 1) maintain adherence to our mission statement and 2) improve our functionality. Along those lines, we have begun discussion about the following:

  • Streamlining the All-State audition process using available recording technology rather than sending five judges on a tour around the state
  • Modifying the sight-reading portion of SCPA to allow directors to choose an appropriate sight- reading example for their students, based on student ability
  • The future of All-State Show Choir and how it fits into the structure of AVA

We are interested in thoughtful, written feedback in the form of an email to me or anyone else on the AVA Board. Please let us know if you have anything you would like to add to the conversation. Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.
Thank you for taking the time to read about your professional association. Please send questions, suggestions, or ideas to me at presidentofava@gmail.com.

I am looking forward to seeing you in September!

Ginny

 

AVA: Thank you for your contributions to the AMEA Conference!

Ginny Coleman

It was so nice to see many of you at our conference last month.  I appreciate all those who worked to be sure that everything ran smoothly.  Those who were in attendance enjoyed re-connecting with each other, sharing information, and attending sessions and concerts.  If you did not attend the AMEA conference this year, I encourage you to go ahead and make plans to do so next year.  We are excited and a little nervous about our move to Birmingham in 2018, and are looking forward to the opportunities that a different venue will open up for our conference.

I certainly enjoyed my interaction with J.D. Frizzell at the AMEA conference.  I particularly appreciated his session on teaching philosophy.  It is so important to reflect on what we do each day instead of merely running on autopilot.  I thought his reading session addressed content for various levels and included repertoire appropriate for our singers.  I encourage you to contact JW Pepper any time that you need literature as they provided the reading session booklets at no cost to AVA.  Our other sessions covered a variety of topics from “how to” vocal jazz and a cappella pop to proper diction to recruiting and retention.  If you have something new or interesting that you would like to share, I encourage you to submit to present at AMEA next year.

Congratulations to the students and directors who provided performances at the conference.  Because of our move to an alternate performance venue, we were able to hear more choirs than we have in the past.  We hope to continue the pattern of an alternative venue and a two-hour concert block at the 2018 AMEA Conference.  We encourage you to submit an application to perform.  This year, we will provide you with a recording of your SCPA performance as a part of your SCPA registration cost.  Our hope is that the recording will make it a little easier for you gather the materials needed for your application.

ALL-STATE FESTIVAL

We are looking forward to seeing you and your students who were chosen to be a member of an all-state choir in March.  You will find information about all-state and the conductors in this issue of the Ala Breve.  Or, you may visit the AVA website to view the information.  By the time you read this article your all-state correspondence packet will be available on the AVA website from our president-elect Meg Jones.

We appreciate Samford University for once again hosting all-state.  Kenny Gannon, Brian Ernsberger, and their staff have already begun working to be sure that our event is a success.  Thanks to everyone who has agreed to serve as a choir coordinator, assistant coordinator, or attendance monitor.  Your service is appreciated.

SCPA

In an effort to connect with our colleagues who are not plugged in with AVA, we are offering a free registration initiative for State Choral Performance Assessment.  Directors may register one choir for free (school fee and student fees waived) if their school has not participated in SCPA in the past three years.  Please share with your colleagues who may be interested in taking advantage of this offer.

We are also pleased to be able to provide additional services this year during our SCPA event.  Each district chair will contract a recording engineer to record all choirs that perform at SCPA.  After SCPA is complete, each director will receive a copy of his/her ensemble’s recordings at no additional cost.

COMMUNICATION

This year we have made an effort to provide the AVA membership with increased instruction and reminders about registration deadlines, etc.  We occasionally get questions about where to find information.  You should expect all information for all AVA events to be available on our website.  For example, if you are attending an SCPA in another district, you should be able to get all information concerning the event you are attending from the AVA website.  Let your district chairman know if you have difficulty accessing anything.

The AVA Board is continually striving to 1) maintain adherence to our mission statement and 2) improve our functionality.  Along those lines, we have begun discussion about the following:

  • Streamlining the All-State audition process using available recording technology rather than sending five judges on a tour around the state
  • Modifying the sight-reading portion of SCPA to allow directors to choose an appropriate sight-reading example for their students based on students’ ability
  • The future of All-State Show Choir and how it fits into the structure of AVA

We are interested in thoughtful, written feedback in the form of an email to me or anyone else on the AVA Board.  Please let us know if you have anything you would like to add to the conversation.  Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read about your professional association.  Please send questions, suggestions, or ideas to me at presidentofava@gmail.com. I am looking forward to seeing you in March!

Ginny

 

AVA: It’s hard to believe that the school year is already a quarter complete!

Ginny Coleman It’s hard to believe that the school year is already a quarter complete! Thanks to all who helped to make this year’s Fall Workshop a success. I hope that you enjoyed connecting with your colleagues around the state. I think our interaction with Dr. Redding was just a small sample of what our SATB All-State students will experience in March. Please continue to send your feedback about Fall Workshop. How can we better fulfill our mission through our Fall Workshop event? If you have great ideas, let us know.
NEW FOR THIS YEAR
Online registration is up and running for all events. We appreciate you helping us work out the kinks in the online registration process. Please be sure to read the instructions within the registration forms and continue to send your questions and concerns. Your feedback is valued.
In an effort to connect with our colleagues who are not plugged in with AVA, we are offering a free registration initiative for State Choral Performance Assessment. Directors may register one choir for free (school fee and student fees waived) if their school has not participated in SCPA in the past three years. Please share with your colleagues who may be interested in taking advantage of this offer.
We are also pleased to be able to provide additional services this year during our SCPA event. Each district chair will contract a recording engineer to record all choirs that perform at SCPA. After SCPA is complete, each director will receive a copy of his/her ensemble’s recordings at no additional cost.
UPCOMING EVENTS
We look forward to hearing your students at All-State auditions next month.
Please be sure to check the instruction pages provided in your music packets and on the website and make sure that your students are singing the correct notes for your district. All-State results will not be mailed this year, but will be posted online. After auditions are complete, look for an e-mail notifying you that results have been posted.

Our AMEA Conference will be held January 18th-21st at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Montgomery. We look forward to having J.D. Frizzell join us for this conference. He will present sessions entitled “Reinvigorating The Choral Warm Up: Invest Time To Save Time” and “A Choir Director’s Teaching Philosophy: Choosing Inspiration, Empowerment, and Success.” He will also share a reading session (sponsored by J.W. Pepper) entitled “Poignant, Yet Accessible Music for Mixed Voice Middle School and High School Choirs.” Other session topics cover such as expressiveness, beginning a cappella pop, recruiting and retention, vocal jazz, and diction.

Congratulations to the choirs who submitted and were selected to share performances with us at AMEA. We will hear from middle schools, high schools, and colleges from all over the state. The number of submissions that we received has increased from previous years. Please consider submitting for the 2018 AMEA Conference. Use the recordings that you receive from your SCPA performance and complete an application by June 1 to be considered.

Thank you for taking to the time to read about your professional association. Please send questions, suggestions, or ideas to me at presidentofava@gmail.com. Your feedback is always appreciated. I am looking forward to seeing you in January!

Ginny

AVA: Welcome to another new school year.

Ginny Coleman I am very honored to be trusted with the task of leading the AVA over the next two years. After serving for six years on the AVA Board, I have identified some areas that I believe could use our attention. In this column I would like to discuss three of them: increasing our efficiency through the use of technology, focusing our mission statement, and reaching out to our membership.

TECHNOLOGY

I am very pleased to continue Carl Davis’ initiative to move our organization forward in its use of technologies that facilitate record keeping, registering for events, and communicating with our membership. We have tested several of these technologies over the past few years and feel confident that this is a time to move away from paper notifications and “snail-mail” and make use of the technology that is available to us.

In an effort to increase efficiency and reduce costs, we will be moving more of our communications from hard copy to electronic format. This year, we will e-mail most newsletters and correspondence, including All-State notification letters. We will continue to use tools like Vertical Response to send e-mails to our membership. We will continue to require registration with the AVA database so that we are sure to have your preferred e-mail address on file. We will also use Remind, a communication tool that will allow you to receive reminders of deadlines and other notifications via text message. You can join the AVA Member Remind group now by texting @avadir to 81010.

This year, registration for every AVA event will be available online. Our Executive Secretary/Webmaster is working diligently to have all of these forms ready for us by the beginning of the school year. The AVA Board has been testing the new forms and feedback is overall very positive. We think that you will find them to be very user friendly. However, we realize that with the move to any new technology there will be a learning curve. We will have a short session on using the new forms at our Fall Workshop. You may also reach out to any of the AVA Board members if you have difficulty when using the new forms.

Moving forward, we hope to find other ways that we can use technology to increase our efficiency. The AVA Board has already begun to explore the potential to reduce our All-State audition expenses through the use of various recording technologies. We welcome your input and ideas in this area.

MISSION STATEMENT

According to our handbook, the mission of the AVA is to provide a variety of educational experiences for students that will encourage their lifetime appreciation of and participation in the art of choral music. Our goals include promoting cooperation among choral directors in Alabama, enhancing the programs of vocal music in schools in Alabama, providing a means for professional ideas and methods to be shared, and promoting growth and higher standards in music education throughout the state.

In my personal and professional life, I constantly strive to do what I say I am going to do. I do not always succeed. However, it is a goal that I keep in the forefront of my mind because I want to be a person of integrity. As an organization, I believe that we must also do what we say we are going to do. Over the past six years of service to AVA, I have often wondered if we are truly following our mission statement and accomplishing the goals we have made. Do our events and services carry out the mission that we have identified or are we just doing what has always been done? Are there other things that we could be doing instead to better accomplish these goals? Please do not misunderstand me. I firmly believe in the value of many of the things that we do as an organization. But, if we do not occasionally pause to think about what we are doing and why we are doing it, we run the risk of becoming an organization that exists only to perpetuate itself. I would like to challenge you to identify areas where we can improve. Your ideas are always welcome.

REACHING OUT

There will be no way that we can fulfill our mission of serving the students in Alabama if we do not reach the teachers. Teachers are our connection to the students. A recent study identified several reasons why Alabama teachers do not participate in AVA events. While many of these circumstances are out of our control, we can do a better job of connecting with our teachers who may be new, struggling, or isolated. Some of our ideas include:
=Continuing the New Teacher Luncheon at Fall Workshop
=Reduced Fall Workshop registration fee for first-year teachers
=Free Fall Workshop registration for veteran teachers who have not attended in the past 3 years
=Free event registration for schools that have not participated in recent years
=Adjusting our performance assessment guidelines to give more adjudication options at SCPA

If you have ideas for other ways that we can connect with teachers who may be new, struggling, or isolated, please let us know. Your feedback is appreciated.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Our Fall Workshop will be held September 9th at First United Methodist Church in Montgomery. Dr. Jeffery Redding, who will also serve as our High School SATB All-State clinician, will present two interest sessions and a reading session. Dr. Andrew Minear, new choral director at UA, will also present a session. We will spend time reading the All-State music, meet briefly with our districts, and answer any questions about online registration forms. JW Pepper will be there to sell All-State music. Register online by visiting www.alavocal.org. Please attend and encourage others to attend as well.

Thank you for taking to the time to read about your professional association. Please send questions, suggestions, or ideas to me at presidentofava@gmail.com. Your feedback is always appreciated. Have a great start to your school year!

Ginny

Beginning, Middle, End.

Carl DavisAs I begin this last article for the Ala Breve, I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 7:8. “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Remembering All-State Festival reminds me also that the end is in sight. The Spring Concert is over and only our performance at Baccalaureate remains, quickening the planning for the next school year. I love the cyclical nature of our profession.

I consider All-State Festival as the crest of our year. The conductors were outstanding and offered our students a wealth of instruction. Not only for students, but professional development for teachers was second to none. Meg Rudolph planned an excellent array of sessions, for which many of you afforded yourselves the opportunity of attending. I hope this is a tradition that Meg is willing to continue. The best in-service occurs when we watch a master teacher at work. We were afforded this opportunity for approximately twelve hours during the festival. Watching the conductors has always been my favorite aspect of attending the All-State festival. I hope this year you were able to spend time after the festival evaluating your own rehearsals in light of the good teaching that you were able to witness over the course of the festival. Thank you Kenny Gannon and Tim Banks. Our organization has never felt so welcomed to Samford University. Your selfless patience with us has not gone unnoticed. Your willingness to address all the needs that we bring to the venue are appreciated. I hope the relationship that we enjoy at Samford is in the “middle” category of a cycle and that we can continue this relationship for years to come.

The cyclical nature of our profession has impacted the makeup of our AVA board. As my tenure as AVA president ends and Ginny Coleman’s presidency begins, Districts I, III, IV, V, and VII begin next year with new district chairmen. The executive board will also change—adding Cathy Spence as the recording secretary. Support Ginny Coleman as your new president. She is a great organizational planner and I think that you will be proud to be a member of the organization of which she is president.

Please submit to perform at the AMEA Conference. We are going to remain in the alternative performance venue within the conference center for one more year. Then the conference will move to the civic center in Birmingham. We then can enjoy the better acoustics of the concert hall. Hopefully, we will successfully address the issues which were noted in the ball room this year in Montgomery. We are meeting in June with Garry Taylor to address these concerns. I think that the hall provides a good facility acoustically for our ensembles. Submissions are due by June 1.

The AVA summer board meeting is June 4–8 in Tuscaloosa. Should you have anything you would like the board to discuss, please forward your communication before the meeting in June.

Your NAfME membership is ending June 30th. Remember to renew your NAfME membership before the end of school. I wish you all the best as you end the school year.

I appreciate the opportunity to have served as AVA president for the past two years. I consider that we all have a responsibility to serve the organization that has served all of our individual school programs. See you at Fall Workshop.

Carl Davis

Thank yous, congratulations, and moving forward to new website.

Carl Davis

We just enjoyed a superb winter conference reconnecting with each other, sharing information, and attending sessions and concerts. We certainly seek your feedback concerning the move of the concert venue for choral performances to the ballroom from the Performing Arts Center Auditorium. The move afforded us the opportunity to enjoy a two-hour concert block to which some of us affiliated with ACDA are accustomed. I think that the Honor Choir strained the capabilities of the room; however, we will not have to be concerned with such a large ensemble next year.

I appreciated my interaction with Dr. Jeffrey Benson. I think over the past three years we have certainly gained collaboration with some of our very finest in the profession—Dr. Chris Aspaas, Dr. Tucker Biddlecombe, and Dr. Jeffrey Benson. Dr. Benson, I hope, has offered us an opened door to some future association—either at an All-State festival or honor choir. I thought his reading session addressed content for various levels that is quite usable. There was nothing substandard and a majority of the literature is accessible by all. I encourage you to contact JW Pepper anytime that you need literature as they provided the reading session booklets at no cost to AVA. I got to attend some quite effective sessions by our own presenters. We were afforded sessions targeting functional aspects of the choral rehearsal— vocal health, theory, rehearsal pacing, sight-reading, and reasoning of why we select the literature that we do. Again this year, my hopes were that your students rehearsing this spring semester would directly benefit from your attendance.

I congratulate the directors who provided performances at the conference. I want to encourage you to submit for a performance. Certainly consider recording your SCPA selections and submitting for a concert performance.

Being chosen for All-State Chorus is one of the highest honors a choral student in the state can receive. We auditioned approximately 3,000 students in November with approximately one-third of those being chosen for one of our five All-State ensembles. Those students will interact with some of our finest vocal conductors. Go to the AVA website to read information concerning the all-state festival.

Be aware that the all-state schedule this year is again quite different. All ensembles are on the campus of Samford University. By the time that you read this article your All-State information will be available on the AVA website from our president-elect Ginny Coleman.

AVA events to be disseminated via our website. If you are attending an SCPA in another district you should be able to get all information concerning the event you are attending from that district’s web page. Let your district chairman know if you have difficulty accessing the information.

Lastly, I look forward to our website moving to the newly hosted AMEA website. We should transition over the spring and summer to the new site. Registration for Fall Workshop will be done just as you registered for the AMEA conference. Pending some more training and us discovering what is available, hopefully all registrations will be done online this next school year—more info to come at the All-State Festival concerning this. Please communicate with your district chairman.

See you at Samford.

Carl

Dr. Carl Davis, President

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