ABA: We are ABA!

We are ABA! As cliché as it seems, that is the phrase that is stuck in my head coming home from the 2019 All-State Band Festival. In my time on the board, we have striven to make the organization stronger, moving in a forward direction to serve our membership and their students. With this festival, there were numerous acts of teamwork, professionalism, and evidence of the undeniable importance of music education in the state of Alabama.

I would like to first commend and congratulate Regina Raney and Emily Parker, chairman and vice chairman of District I. Their organization and forward thinking created an experience of professionalism and teamwork. The directors of District I did an outstanding job stepping up with great attitudes whenever needed. Huntsville was truly welcoming for ABA considering all the activities of the week. Vicky Yates and her staff at the VBC were truly great.

Our All-State Festival began with the super solo festival at UAH on Wednesday. Close to ninety participants signed up for the competition. Our judging panel of Dr. Meghan Merciers, Dr. Jimmy Simpson, Dr. Rusty Logan, Dr. David McCullough, and Dr. Grant Dalton had the daunting task of listening, adjudicating and scoring the finest musicians in our state. Dr. Merciers and Dr. Simpson began at 8:00 am and judged until 7:00 pm. After a long day of great music, our eight finalists were chosen. The finals concert was amazing! It is proof that music education is alive and well in our state. The finalist were 8th place Brooke Bailey, Hewitt Trussville HS; 7th place Caroline Habig, Hoover HS; 6th place Emily Warren, Hewitt-Trussville HS; 5th place Jackson Hanks, Hoover HS; 4th place Theo Hornsby, Trinity Presbyterian; 3rd place Anna Grace Hargett, Spain Park HS; 2nd place Samantha Trentacoste, Oak Mountain HS; 1st place and winner Henry Otts, Fairhope HS;. This year in addition to the Alabama Bandmasters’ Association award of $500.00 to the winner, several universities awarded scholarships to the winner and all the other finalists. The scholarships are as follows:

On Thursday we began the day setting up bands, moving percussion equipment, and preparing for auditions. Keith Anderson was outstanding in serving as percussion coordinator. Organizing the long lists of percussion from four different schools is an enormous task. Many directors from District I arrived early to set up and moved right into judging chair placements. Emily Parker’s organization of the chair placements made for one of the quickest audition days. There were approximately 640 students auditioned in three hours and fifteen minutes. Many thanks to Emily and the staff at First Baptist Huntsville. Next came clinicians arriving and meeting hosts and preparing to make great music with the enormous bands in two days. Our band hosts; James Champion, Red Band; Mike Guzman, White Band; Heather Henson, Blue Band; and Connie and Tim Hammond, Middle School Band made the impossible possible with their tireless work and effort. As the first notes began it was obvious that the concert on Saturday was going to be spectacular. Our clinicians; Dr. Cynthia Turner Johnston, Dr. Catherine Rand, Dr. Dennis Llineas, and Dr. Liz Jackson. Kirchhoff began rehearsals with some very high expectations of our students. From Carmina Burana ringing from the Blue Band, Longford Legend from the Middle School Band, Amparito Roca from White Band and Red Band’s Of Our New Day Begun, the buzz was going around. Our students were engaged and ready for the task before them. While the bands were beginning rehearsals, the ABA board was working in a board meeting. Discussion, evaluating and planning on how we can make our organization better in every way. It has been my privilege and goal that as a board, we are here to serve, evaluate and grow as an organization.

This year, our Friday night concert was the UAH Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. David Ragsdale. What an amazing end to the days of rehearsal. From auditions through beginning notes of the All-State bands and finishing the day truly hearing what a university band is capable of achieving was a great example of how music education works. From the heights of joy to emotions of remembrance of loss, the UAH Wind Ensemble took listeners on a roller coaster ride with some unexpected fireworks thanks to Panoply Arts Festival. With all the activities on Friday at the VBC, the set up for the rehearsals and concert had to happen at 6:00 am. A team of our directors came to the arena and in a little over 30 minutes, the arena floor went from a blank floor to an All-State set up of four bands. Teamwork and cooperation were prevalent along with the fun we had working together.

As the concert approached there was much excitement from students and directors. The concert was inspiring and provided more evidence that instrumental music education is thriving in Alabama. The professionalism, teamwork, and excellence was what I had hoped for at the end of my term as president. This only sets the stage for other great performances and experiences for our directors and students. As the concert closes and we all began our travels home, it is important to reflect, evaluate, and begin preparations for what is next. I have been so honored and humbled by the members of the ABA Board for supporting, guiding, and encouraging me during my term. Becky Rodgers Warren instilled in me the ideal of servant leadership. It has served me well and I thank her. Following Mike Holmes as president has been a great experience. His wisdom, patience, and forethought are what I have always admired in him as a teacher and a fellow member of the board. Our organization is in very capable hands with Terry Ownby and Joel Henson. I look forward to serving with them for two years. At this event, our executive secretary Harry McAfee announced his resignation effective the end of June. Harry has been our lighthouse throughout the years. His contribution and dedication to our organization have been a model to us all. We thank him for his service and will be celebrating his time with us at the summer conference. We all owe Harry a debt of gratitude for his years as Executive Secretary.

As we begin to look forward, we must continue to look for ways to promote and better the organization and music education. As the ABA Board moves forward please read the emails, search out the bylaws, become familiar with how the organization works and above all else, SERVE. Whether it is your students, those from across the state, or your organization, roll up your sleeves and let’s see what is possible for our membership, our state and most of all, our students.


ABA: An AMEA Conference for the Record Books!

This year’s conference was outstanding with so many opportunities for professional development. Wednesday began with the AMEA board and ABA board meeting to finalize the conference and planning for the future. Thursday’s concert schedule was a great view into the instrumental education in Alabama. The day started on aspectacular note with the Liberty Park 7th & 8th Middle School Band and Oak Mountain High School Symphonic Band. The concerts from Muscle Shoals High School Wind Ensemble and Thompson High School Wind Ensemble were both amazing glimpses into what our bands can achieve. The night continued with the UAB Wind Symphony which was outstanding. A new event with the 10 pm concert featured the Alabama Winds. Their concert included “In My Father’s Eyes” by Julie Giroux. It is dedicated to the 1963 bombing victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church. It featured the choir from the 16th St. Baptist Church. It was a moment none of us will soon forget. Friday’s concerts with Fairhope Middle School Symphonic Band and Spain Park High Symphonic Winds were equally as great. Thanks to these directors and students for your hard work and dedication to your programs. So many of the clinics were done by our own members. Many thanks to all the clinicians for sharing your wonderful talents. As you begin preparing for MPA consider applying to perform next year. We have great bands in this state at all levels. Bite the bullet and apply to perform.

As we have just finished all districts all-state auditions, we must learn the process to benefit our students. For any ABA event, read the handbook on that section. The most recent edition can be found on myamea.org. When you don’t prepare, it’s your students that suffer. It also causes stress on the chairmen and people organizing the event.

MPA is our next event. As you prepare, remember everyone cannot perform at 11:00am on the last day. Be flexible and cooperate so when the adjudication starts it is as stress-free as it can be.

The solo festival will register online this year. The link will be emailed and posted on the abafest.com website. Fill out all information and print the last page of the receipt email. The band director, student, and parent must sign this page before mailing with payment to Harry McAfee.

Directors are so passionate about their students. When we are involved in ABA events they are all our students. Everyone deserves our full professional attention.

At All-state this year, we will have elections for Jazz President-Elect, Recording Secretary, and ABA President-Elect. The nominating committee is Chris Lindley from Albertville High School, David Caddell from Echols Middle School, and Will Mixon from Gulf Shores High School. If you have recommendations, please contact them. The organization needs the best person for these positions.

Lastly, abafest.com in its current form will end July 31st. Please watch for instructions, go to district meetings and read emails. “I don’t know” can’t be an excuse. Do we accept that from our students? Let’s be professional and remember we are band directors and can make magic out of situations that possibly could not succeed. Good Luck at MPA and we will see you in Huntsville for All-State.

At All-State we will discuss and vote on the following legislation:



Article XVI, Section 3
c. No electronic instruments may be used unless included in the score by the composer. Any other exceptions to must be presented to the Chairman of the Music Selection Committee (Vice-President) for approval.

Change to/Add:
Article XVI, Section 3
Electronic instruments may be used if they are included in the score by the composer or with approval from the Chairman of the Music Selection Committee (Vice President). An electronic piano and necessary hardware, provided by the band performing, will be allowed to be used to substitute for a piano part that is included in the score by the composer.

There are many publications that require a piano part. This change to the bylaws will allow directors to choose to perform on an acoustic piano (if available) or an electronic piano. The main advantages to the electronic piano are the student can prepare for assessment on the instrument they will perform on and you can ensure that it is in tune

Article XX. Non-Traditional Students

This article outlines the process to allow non-traditional students to participate in a band with Alabama Bandmaster Association member public schools. The guidelines below outline participation for all activities sponsored by the Alabama Bandmasters Association.

Section 1. Home School Guidelines

a. Enrollment

1) Students must enroll in a member public school in order to participate in a band performance or practice.
2) Must be enrolled at the member public school that serves the area in which the student’s guardians reside.
3) Must be enrolled within the first 20 days of the semester in the school they are zoned to attend.
4) All home school students are eligible once enrolled based on local board policy.

b. Academic Accountability
1) Must be enrolled and attend two electives offered by the school.

i. One of these electives is required to be the band class the student participates with at performances.
ii. The other elective class can be taken on campus or through the school ’s virtual program.
iii. The ABA recommends that the other elective is not an additional band class or private lessons class.

c. Practice Time
1) A home school student’s practice time must be equivalent to but not to exceed that of a traditional student during the school day.

Section 2. Virtual School Guidelines

a. Enrollment

1) Virtual school students must follow all ALSDE policies.
2) Local board policy must be in accordance will all ABA bylaws.

b. Academic Accountability1) The student must be enrolled and attend the band class the student participates with at performances.

c. Practice Time:

1) A home school student’s practice time must be equivalent to but not to exceed that of a traditional student during the school day.

Section 3. Charter School Guidelines a. Enrollment

1) Alabama public charter school students must enroll within the first 20 days of the semester in the school they are zoned to attend.

2) For eligibility in an Alabama public charter school, enrollment must be at the public charter school that serves the area in which the student’s parents reside and all other requirements are met.

3) If a public charter school (conversion or start up) does not have band, the student may return to his/her home school (based on the student’s residence) to participate.

b. Academic Accountability
1) The student must be enrolled and attend the band class the student participates with at performances.

c. Practice Time:
1) A home school student’s practice time must be equivalent to but not to exceed that of a traditional student

during the school day.

Mentioned in Article XI, Section 1, Letter g (pg. 9) – All-State Auditions, & Article XVI, Section 3, Letter h (pg. 16) – MPA

1) Only students who are enrolled in their high school, junior high school, or middle school band are eligible to participate in the Alabama Bandmasters Music Performance Assessment.
2) Students who are being home schooled under guidelines established by the State Department of Education may participate in the Alabama Bandmasters Music Performance Assessments as long as they meet the following prerequisite: Membership in an instrumental ensemble that meets on a regular basis to rehearse and perform traditional band literature, whose conductor meets all membership requirements of the Alabama Bandmasters Association.

ABA: Take Care of Business – Register for AMEA

As the school year has begun with 12+ hour days, working with beginners on their new instruments and preparing for all the next events of the year, don’t forget to register for the AMEA Conference in Birmingham, January 17-19 2019. The conference is a great way to re-energize at the beginning of the second semester. With the number of applicants, Garry and I discussed different scheduling possibilities, and that includes an amazing program by The Alabama Winds. Let me encourage you to make plans now to attend their concert, set for 10 pm Thursday night. You do not want to miss it! In addition to this treat, we’ve planned many clinics covering a wide range of topics that we hope will inspire you to ‘learn and return’ by taking some new ideas and energy back to your own programs.

The board received thirty-five applications to perform. Choosing from all the applicants was a great problem to have and shows our bands are continuing to improve and are wanting to share their outstanding students with the music educators of Alabama. The groups that have been selected are truly outstanding, and include Liberty Park 7&8 MS Band, Oak Mountain HS Symphonic Band, Music Shoals HS Wind Ensemble, Thompson HS Wind Ensemble, UAB Wind Symphony, Alabama Winds, Bob Jones HS Percussion Ensemble, Auburn University Jazz Band, Fairhope MS Symphonic Band, and the Intercollegiate Band.

Please remember that the middle school etudes are selections from the Rubank Advanced Volume I. These students must present a copy of the book at the registration table at the district level. String bass and percussion will continue with the current cycle of etudes. The scales for the middle school must be performed at the range listed on the website. There is also a four-minute time limit on the middle school scales. As a professional organization, we must strive to adhere to the rules and regulations that are in place for the benefit and fairness of our students’ success.

The music performance classifications have changed for this year. Your district chairmen should have discussed these changes in detail at your district meetings or through email. The current bylaws are online at www.myamea.org. Please read the bylaws first before calling and asking a question whose answer can be easily found. Your ABA board works very hard for you while maintaining their own band programs, and we ask that you please be patient with them at the busy times of the year. Read their emails, get registrations done on time, and participate and help during your district events. Band directors demand so much of our students on a daily basis, but we often do not live up to what is expected of us as members of ABA. I am speaking to myself as well when I say this: let us strive to do our jobs for our students and for their success at ABA events. When judging all-state auditions, they are all your students and need professionalism and fairness. When you don’t meet deadlines, judge at district All-State auditions, or follow the bylaws and guidelines, it is your students that potentially suffer.

If you have not already updated your directory on abafest and myamea, please do so immediately. We are still finding mistakes in member’s information. This helps the organization keep you informed and

to make sure your registrations are processed correctly. The ABA has asked that when you are registering for events, you complete the process yourself by mailing the payment and registration to the appropriate person at ABA. We constantly receive checks and registrations sent to the wrong places, causing delays in processing. Thanks for your attention to this detail.

All-State 2019 will be in Huntsville. Please use the hotel links on the website to book rooms. It is easier for you and benefits the organization!

Finally, the AMEA conference is more than great concerts, inspirational and educational clinics, and meetings. It is a time to listen to veteran directors on how they have conquered the problems the younger directors face. And for veteran directors, it’s a great time to hear new ideas, innovative techniques, and to be inspired about a fresh look at a career to which they have devoted their professional lives. Find a way to join us at the AMEA conference and let’s continue to make our organization stronger for the benefit of our students.

ABA: New Beginnings, New Opportunities!

As we begin a new school year here in the scorching south, let’s remember the advice of Mike Holmes; SUNSCREEN!!! This heat makes me wish for an indoor practice facility. While we were on break, the summer conference was a great success. Your ABA Board is working diligently to improve the association and to strive to evaluate and make decisions that will begin to move us forward.

First, I would like to thank President-elect Terry Ownby and the members of the Music Selection Committee for their continued hard work on the All-State etudes. The middle school etudes will now be found in the Rubank Advanced Vol. 1 for this school year. The high school etudes will remain on their current cycle but will be reviewed by university instructors for the different instruments to recommend changes.

Second, the ABA evaluated the data from all ABA events gathered this past year and the findings will be shared with the membership in the near future. The board also approved the printing of the bylaws and policy handbook. ABA will be selling advertisement space in the books to offset the cost of printing and mailing. They will go out in September once the directory has been updated. Many of our directors are new, have new jobs, or are in newly created jobs. Please update your profile on abafest.com and also on myamea.org. It is very important to update both profiles.

There are two items of legislation to be voted on at AMEA. 2018-1 is legislation to include home school students in public school bands. It follows along with the AHSAA policy on home school students. 2018-2 is dealing with Solo and Ensemble and just corrects a mistake in the bylaws.

The board also participated in training for the different events they host in order to standardize procedures across the state. So, to say the first day of summer conference was busy is an understatement but very productive. The clinics this summer were outstanding; Jennifer Farris with eye opening copyright law, David Gregory with two informative clinics, Andy Nevala on Latin jazz with our own directors as a reading band, and David Waters with Harmony Director. We would like to thank Kim Bain for putting together the entertainment for the Shrimp Boil and Pat Stegall for his words as the Old Fogey. The conference shrimp boil could not be possible without our sponsors: AWB Apparel (Wayne Broom), Southern Performances (David Brannon), Group Travel Network (Justin Shuler), Mouchette Enterprises (Roland Mouchette), Custom Fundraising Solutions (Charlie Colwell), Demoulin (Jeff Therber and Frank Godfrey), Arts Music Shop (Mike Mason and Paul Freehling). Also, Scott Thompson Band Supply for the donuts and coffee.

AMEA is right around the corner and will be a great in-service opportunity. Thirty-five groups submitted to play at AMEA. All the groups submitted were outstanding and there will be some great performances. Once bands are selected, please consider playing music from all levels to showcase music ideal for any size band. Remember to book your rooms early. This year the performances will be in the BJCC Theater instead of the concert hall.

As I said earlier, many directors have new jobs. Please reach out to your new neighbors. Especially reach out to our first year directors to offer help, advise, and support so they have a great first year experience. As we continue to move forward, let’s continue to evaluate and make our programs better. If there is anything we can do as a board, please do not hesitate to ask. Once you receive your handbook, READ IT! My high school director, Becky Rodgers Warren, gave me the best advice as a new director. Read the handbook as the year progresses. Before each event READ THE HANDBOOK! Then as you evaluate your year go back and READ THE HANDBOOK. That was one of the best pieces of advice I received and has served me well through the years.

Good luck on a great year and remember – don’t forget the SUNSCREEN!