In spite of the weather, what a great conference in a new location. As with anything new, there were some hiccups but the positives very much outweighed the negatives or newness. I would like to thank all the performing groups; Southside HS, Jacksonville State University, Thompson Jazz Band, Hoover First Edition, Hillcrest HS, Pelham HS, the ASO, the All State Jazz Bands and Vocatve. Music education is alive and well in our state. The clinics were on great topics and gave new information for directors of all levels. The state of Alabama has some phenomenal programs and directors that have great talents to share. As you come away from the conference, be inspired to apply for next year. Come up with the next outstanding inspirational clinic sharing your ideas and techniques that make your programs great.
Your ABA board is striving to make the organization more sound and stronger for the years to come. The board has adopted a four year self study that will be collecting data over the next four years to be studied by a committee outside the board and make recommendations on improvement. We hope this is a great first step in bringing our organization forward and more equitable for all.
As we have just finished the All-State auditions, there were over 4500 students to register for All-State. This is a daunting task for everyone involved. I would like to thank the board for their organization, our members for the work in judging, tabulations and running, but most of all, our students for preparing and auditioning. This year, All-State will have some great clinicians; Red Band, Retired Colonel Timothy Holtan; White Band, Julie Giroux; Blue Band Rick Good; Middle School Band Cheryl Floyd. We will also be offering the second edition to the Coffee Shop, a middle school band chat with Brandon Peters, Leah Seng, and David Caddell on Friday. The Friday night concert will be the Alabama A&M Wind Ensemble under the direction of Carlton Wright.
Before we set our eyes on All-State, there is a small hurdle of Music Performance Assessment. Let me encourage you to make sure you understand the new classification system as you register and prepare your groups. Call you colleagues and ask them to come listen, make recordings and share with mentors for advice on how to make your band better. Take every advantage to make your band the best they can be. While another director was in front of my band, a young director asked, “Are you worried that another person can get more music out of the group?” I said, “No, because sometimes hearing the same words from someone else is all it takes. The bottom line is the band is better and in the end, isn’t that what we want?” So remember, it doesn’t make you a bad director if someone else can spark a flame in your students. It is then your job to nurture the spark into a flame and passion that will always burn for music and excellence.