From the President

AVA: Funnel Vision: My Challenge to You


I would like to open with a special memory from this past summer and a challenge for us all for this year. This summer, I had the great privilege of having lunch with Dr. Frances Moss; Dr. Moss’ church accompanist and former student at Calhoun College, Michelle West; and Shelli Rimes, director at Madison Academy and of the Huntsville Community Chorus Youth Chorale. Dr. Moss has been a music educator since 1962 and has served as past-president of both AVA and AMEA. She currently serves as Minister of Music and Laity at Austinville United Methodist Church in Decatur. I first met Dr. Moss at Carl Davis’ final concert as director of Decatur High School. Carl had invited her as a special guest, and he shared during the concert about how she had greatly influenced him to become a choral director. Prior to this, I only knew Dr. Moss by name, as I had watched for years as highly respected choral directors in our state were granted the Frances P. Moss Award in her honor during the All-State Choir concert.

During our lunch, I attempted to get Dr. Moss to tell me her background, at which point I was quickly told by Michelle that I would be hard-pressed to get Dr. Moss to talk about herself, as “Doc,” as she loving referred to her, is far too humble for that. I quickly understood what she meant. Dr. Moss spent the entire meal instead asking about my and Shelli’s choral programs and pouring encouragement into us. She was genuinely interested in our backgrounds and our futures. There was never a laundry list of items given about her accomplishments, though her accomplishments are many. Instead, we heard stories about past times in AVA and even listened as she still had ideas on how to serve the organization. We heard how Dr. Moss had completely changed Michelle’s life while she was in college by investing in her. Dr. Moss’ heart for her singers in her Chancel Choir, her congregation, her former students, and her friends is so very apparent. I left our lunch having been reminded that the relationships we build and the lives we change through our profession is the most important part – not our résumés, our titles, or our awards. Music is the medium through which we get to reach people and to bring beauty into the lives of others. What an amazing privilege and opportunity we have as choral directors!

My predecessor and mentor, Carl Davis, shared with me a quote that he’d once heard from Eph Ely. This quote hung in his office for years to serve as a reminder of what kind of director and person he strived to be. “Funnel vision – be interested in everyone and everything. Each day, make someone’s day better. Become someone to be reckoned with.” My challenge to myself and to you for this year is to have funnel vision! Let us not get so bogged down with deadlines and the pressures of receiving top scores that we forget to take time to know and love the human beings behind the voices we direct.

I also left my lunch with Dr. Moss with a newfound appreciation of how far our organization has come since her tenure as president. I encourage you all to go read about her on the AMEA website and to take time to reflect on where we’ve been and to be excited about where we are going as an organization. I am so thankful for all of the past-presidents like Dr. Moss that have come before me who have strived to better this organization through their service.
As you prepare for this year, please review the updates and reminders below.

I am honored to be serving with so many hard-working and forward-minded directors on the AVA Board. We had a very productive meeting this summer, and I would like to share a few of the decisions that were made. The AVA Board:

• Revised the AVA General Membership Handbook to reflect current policies and procedures.
• Reviewed the research conducted by the sight-reading committee and created revised guidelines to be implemented this year.
• Voted to use Acceptd for All-State Show Choir auditions this year in order to encourage more participation by alleviating travel and financial issues that are caused by having to travel for auditions.
• Decided to have two students from each school submit “Alabama” through Acceptd for All-State Choir auditions in order to test the program throughout the state.
• Revised the All-State audition form to a rubric-style format in order to clarify the process of scoring the students for the adjudicators and allow for more consistency in scores.

Please be sure to renew your NAfME membership as soon as possible if you have not already done so. AVA members must also register annually in the AVA Database, which can be found by clicking on the “AVA Membership Enrollment” tab under the AVA Menu at Your NAfME membership and AVA Database enrollment must be current to attend and/or participate in any AVA events, so renew and enroll today!

Fall Workshop will be held on September 7th at Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Our guest clinician, Dr. Lesley Mann, Asst. Professor of Choral Music at Belmont University, will present two interest sessions and a reading session. Dr. William Powell, Paul Edmonson, Margaret Heron, and Jim Schaeffer will also present mini “how-to” sessions on gospel music, dealing with your administration, theory, and sight-reading, respectively. In addition, we will be sharing the revised sight-reading guidelines, demonstrating the process for submitting online auditions through Acceptd, and reviewing the All-State music packets.

The 2018-2019 AVA Calendar of Events is posted on the AVA website and on page 39 of the Ala Breve. Visit the AVA website to also find a printable list of dates. With registration deadlines being as many as six weeks in advance of events, it is so easy for a deadline to sneak up on you. We all know how difficult it can be to obtain purchase orders and payments through school system bookkeeping departments quickly, so I encourage you to plan ahead for these deadlines now! Please send any questions, concerns, and/or ideas to I am hoping for a great year for you all!

Meg Jones, AVA President