ABA: A Great Mentor Remembered

Mike Holmes2

We began with a “process” four years ago. An agenda was set with goals to be met and much work to be done. We went to work continuing what those had set in motion that came before us. Much has been accomplished and as we look forward there is still more to be done. I have learned to appreciate the efforts of those that cleared the path to get us to where we are today. One such individual, Dr. Lacey Powell, has served as a mentor, leader, and great friend. I have taught for thirty-six years, and Dr. Powell has always been a presence. Just two short years ago he was unable to attend our AMEA Conference. I was posting nightly summaries through our abafest email account of the ABA-related clinics and events of the conference. After the second day I received a very nice message from Lacey. He wanted to say thanks for the daily reports and that it had helped him feel as though he was still part of a conference that he very much wanted to attend. He never missed an opportunity to offer words of praise when you did well or words of encouragement when you needed to do better. Dr. Powell filled the bill as a featured speaker during the “Old Fogey” segment of our Summer Conference many years ago. At the end of his presentation, we had all received a thorough lesson on the history of AMEA and ABA as well as much needed advice on how to be a better band director and person. Dr. Powell’s presence will be missed but the legacy he leaves behind is something for which we can all be grateful.

All-State Solo Festival (day one) was to be hosted by Mr. Eddy Williams and the Huntingdon College Music Department. But Mother Nature had other plans for our state at the time. I want to thank Eddy and Rusty Logan as they had everything ready to go. As you all know, severe weather reared its ugly head and created problems across the state. All we had to deal with was making a tough decision while others were dealing with damage to their homes, other property, concern for family and friends, and staying safe themselves. President-Elect Doug Farris, along with members of our board, began planning a make-up event, which was carried out regionally throughout the state. This was done to give those students that had worked so hard to prepare for this prestigious event an opportunity to perform, receive feedback, and still have the possibility of earning that coveted Superior Rating and the medal that accompanies it. Mission accomplished!

All-State Band Festival 2017 (day two) was filled with “excitement” as well. On Thursday, the day All- State rehearsals began, Middle School Band Clinician Mr. James Swearingen was stranded at the airport in Ohio on standby for a flight to Atlanta and then to Montgomery. Red Band Clinician Dr. Rick Clary was on standby for a flight out of Atlanta to Montgomery, and White Band Clinician Mr. Alfred Watkins was parked in traffic somewhere near Atlanta. Blue Band Clinician Will Petersen, thankfully, was enjoying his time in Montgomery waiting for rehearsal to begin. A glimmer of hope came when Mr. Swearingen was put on a flight to Atlanta. The flight from Atlanta to Montgomery that was to transport Mr. Swearingen and Dr. Clary was cancelled. But we would not be foiled. Anticipating that this could happen, we dispatched a very willing Tim Hammond to drive to Atlanta to be on hand just in case the flight was cancelled. Yes, we are good! Tim retrieved Jim and Rick, and they eventually made it in time to get in about an hour’s rehearsal time with their respective bands on Thursday evening. Alfred made it to Montgomery about thirty minutes prior to the beginning of his rehearsal. Thanks to Connie Hammond and David Raney for covering the Middle School and Red Band rehearsal until Jim and Rick arrived. We think Rick finally got his luggage today. That’s a story for another day. All the while, Will was enjoying a very relaxed beginning to his Blue Band rehearsal. So day two was just as fun as day one. In the end, it was a great All-State Festival with our amazing students under the direction of our outstanding panel of
clinicians, presenting another All-State Concert that will long be remembered as being phenomenal. Congratulations to Dr. Mark Walker and the Troy University Symphony Band. We really appreciate all of the hard work you put into providing an outstanding Friday evening concert.

Thank you!! All-State Festival is a huge event for our organization. The District VI directors led by All- State site coordinator Gene Butler, provided us with a well-organized event, making the move to Montgomery a smooth transition.

If you enjoy hard work, you should volunteer to serve as “Band Host.” James Ed Champion, Damon McAllister, Heather Henson, and Connie Hammond (and Tim) did a masterful job of taking care of the needs of our students and clinicians. ABA Executive Officers Doug Farris, Terry Ownby, Rusty Courson, Mark Foster, Kim Bain, and Harry McAfee worked together, along with our District Chairs and Vice- Chairs, to see to it that our students could count on a positive All-State experience. I would also like to thank all of our directors that were present to judge chair auditions, work the tabulation room, and be on call if needed. All of the directors throughout our state are commended for the assistance provided to all of the students that auditioned.
The 650 students participating were only the tip of the iceberg compared to the hundreds more that auditioned at the district level. A special debt of gratitude is owed to our graduating District Chairs – Marsha Asquith (I), Nancy Frith (III), Jed Smart (V), and William Mixon (VII). You are to be commended for the work you have done. It has been an honor to serve alongside you.

The End is in Sight
Summer Conference 2017 is just around the corner and soon to be ABA President Doug Farris has a great conference planned for us. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve these past four years on the AMEA Board, especially as President of the Alabama Bandmasters Association. During this time the board has been filled with dedicated, talented, and professional individuals. The ABA Board, consisting of your District officers, works diligently to see to it that you remain informed and that ABA District level activities are conducted in an efficient and professional manner. Our Jazz Education Division has grown and improved under the leadership of Dr. Mark Foster, and we expect that to continue with Kim Bain at the helm. Much has been accomplished and there is always more to do. Thank you to John Cooper, Rusty Courson, Harry McAfee, and all that have served on the ABA Board during my term as Vice- President and President. I appreciate the patience, guidance, and understanding that you have provided to me. I will continue as Past-President for the next two years as a retired band director, and I am very comfortable handing the gavel to President-Elect Doug Farris. Doug has been outstanding in carrying out the duties of his office. We welcome Terry Ownby as ABA Vice-President/President-Elect and Joel Henson as Recording Secretary. We will also have the Vice-Chairs of the odd numbered districts move into the position of District Chair and newly elected ABA members filling the office of Vice-Chairs. Welcome aboard!

To all of our members, I say thank you as well. You are an inspiration to your students, their parents, and me. Continue to work hard and do what it takes to get the job done. However, remember to take care of yourself physically, financially, and emotionally. Occasionally you will need to rest, hydrate, get a check-up, go fishing, take a vacation, spend as much or more time with your family as you do with your band family and…DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!!