ABA: ALL STATE 2018 is in the books!

After coming off an amazing week of All-State Band I am flooded with words to express how band is alive and well in our great state.  The ABA All-State began with the Solo Festival held at Huntingdon College. The amount of talent and hard work is amazing and somehow the judges narrowed it down to seven finalists. Dalton Kulick from Hartselle High School was the winner of the finals and also received the first ABA Solo Festival Award of $500.00, which was awarded at his school on the Thursday following All-State.

The next day was filled with auditions and preparations for the rehearsals for over 650 students. Our clinicians, Col. Timothy Holtan, Julie Giroux, Rick Good and Cheryl Floyd began their rehearsals on Thursday night. This year we added clinics on Friday for the directors.  The first was a front ensemble clinic with Jeff Lee from New Mexico State University through Skype and was an informative clinic on amplification of the front ensemble.  Another clinic was a second part to the Middle School Coffee Talk from the AMEA conference with Brandon Peters, Leah Seng and David Caddell.  It was great to hear the new ideas from the clinicians and from the participants on how to get students motivated and working.  The last clinic of the day was a district level All-State audition procedure clinic, where we discussed our plan to standardize the process each district uses to audition for All-State.  The concert Friday night by the Alabama A&M Wind Ensemble conducted by Carlton Wright was not only outstanding but inspiring.  Saturday’s All-State concert was filled with beautiful musical moments.  All the bands did an outstanding job.  There were many.  One of highlights of the program was Julie Giroux’s new piece entitled “Our Castaways”, which is about the rescued animals we have as part of our families.  The cover and several pages of the score are covered with the pictures of our beloved pets and the proceeds of this project will be donated to the Humane Society.  All the bands were excellent and it always amazes me what our band students can and do accomplish in a matter of two days.   I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Gene Butler and District 6 directors for their tireless work on the logistics of this event.  Everything ran smoothly and professionally.

We have now been through an entire year under the evaluation process and the data we have collected is very eye opening.  I want to thank our district chairmen and vice-chairmen for the outstanding job they do in running their districts and for completing the extra work that gathering data requires.  Even though the evaluation is a 4 year cycle the board will be studying the information this summer to make sure nothing needs to be addressed sooner.  The data will be available to the membership after summer conference on www.abafest.com.

As we return to our schools preparing the final concerts, testing, recruitment and graduation, don’t forget to evaluate your year- the good, the band and the ugly.  Make plans to join us in Orange Beach on June 19-21 for the ABA Summer Conference.  The clinics so far are two clinics with David Gregory on working with your administration and the other on rehearsal techniques.  There will be a clinic on copyright law and Andy Nevala will be presenting a clinic on teaching Latin Jazz to your high school and middle school jazz bands.  With Andy’s clinic, he is asking directors to bring their instruments to be the reading jazz band for the clinic.  There will be a sign up for this clinic on the registration form.  Of course, we will still have the shrimp boil with the old fogey series.  So make plans to join us at the beach for a time to unwind, recharge and fellowship with our ABA family.  Thank you for allowing us to serve the membership as the ABA board of directors and as always, please let us know of concerns or ideas to make the organization a stronger, better ABA.

ABA: Birmingham or Bust!

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.

ABA: Make Plans for the AMEA Conference in Birmingham!


A new school year is filled with new beginners; making sure we have all our paper work done and trying to get all the drill on the field.  It has all flown by so quickly.  Soon we will be hearing the sounds of our holiday concerts and how many different ways we can play Jingle Bells.

In your busy schedules, make plans for the AMEA conference in January in BIRMINGHAM!  This venue is going to be great.  I would like to thank everyone who submitted performance and clinic applications.  We have an outstanding schedule of concerts and clinics.  As you prepare and think about applying for next year, I would like to encourage you to program your concerts with multiple levels of music like the Midwest Band convention.  The majority of bands in our state are typically CC classification (old classification system).  Their directors love to hear grade 6 literature but usually can’t play their programs.  Program your selections to have literature from different levels.  There is great music at all levels and that lends the opportunity to the small bands to hear great music they can take home and use with their bands.  For the performing group, it allows you to program some pieces that may not be as challenging and allow your upper-level selections to be even more difficult.  I believe this will make the performances better but allow them to be more educational to our younger directors in the smaller programs.

As you also begin the process of selecting music for MPA, remember the new classification system.  It is listed in the bylaws on the myamea.org website.  The piece you select as your list piece will determine your level of sight reading.  Be sure you understand the legislation.

The AMEA conference is going to be a great event. The groups selected to perform are: Thompson Jazz Band, Southside High School, Jacksonville Jazz/Latin Ensemble, Hoover First Edition, Hillcrest High School, Redstone Brass, and Pelham High School.  Also, several great clinics that are listed in this Ala Breve.    The conference is a wonderful way to learn new ways and techniques to improve our programs.  It is also a great place to talk to veteran directors who may have similar situations and how they handle it, or new directors with cutting-edge ideas for us more mature (OLD) directors.

The board is continuing to strive to make ABA a stronger organization to serve its members, and we would like to thank you for your support, encouragement, and feedback to fuel us to stay on that track.

ABA: Evaluation––The Key to Success and Growth


As we begin another year of teaching music, whether we are on the practice field, in the general music classroom, or the choir room, we need to look at how we do our job.  Evaluation is a necessity in anything we do.  We need to constantly improve the job of teaching music.  Let me encourage you to stop and take a look at the process you go about to achieve your goals.  This is not something that comes naturally to some of us and very naturally to others.  We all have had students that fly by the seat of their pants but always seem to come out on top and those that plan when they breathe, and we appreciate both types of students and their abilities.  As educators we look at our students and evaluate their progress and set goals for them to achieve success.  But do we do this for ourselves?  It can be very difficult to find our shortcomings; places where we are weak and need improvement, but we must for our students.  To become better than we were before is a challenge we all must put before us.

As we start this school year, your ABA Board is working on an evaluation policy that will look at all aspects of ABA.  As an organization as large as ours, it can often become difficult to look at our policies and procedures as the leadership changes every two years.  We must write great policies that will stand through the changes in leadership to continue to move the Alabama Bandmasters into the future.  As a professional organization’s goal, we must ultimately grow as educators and allow our students to receive the best that the ABA has to offer.  As we begin to evaluate, I would like to encourage you to participate in surveys, evaluations, or events and even getting the app for the AMEA conference and rate the conference and clinics you attend.  Please remember the Alabama Bandmasters is an organization that serves its members and we can only do this through your input.  We must strive to improve and if we see policies and procedures that concern us we need to bring it to the attention of the ABA Board. Band directors are great with solutions. Let’s remember there may be more than one solution to any problem.

ABA Summer Conference 2017 was great and very well attended.  It helped that there was a tropical storm.   This year was also a first with joining ASBDA for their conference.  The ASBDA brought in Peter  Boonshaft, who was very motivational.  From the jazz clinics by James Crumb and Lloyd Jones to Smartmusic and Leigh Thomas with a marching band clinic and our own Becky Rodgers Warren with a music literacy clinic and Old Fogey series,  the conference was filled with something for everyone.  Also, the WGI winds clinic by Josh Walker hopefully planted a seed for something new for some of our members.  The conference closed with Southwind Drum Corps at Gulf Shores Middle School.  Hopefully, you were able to attend and get recharged.   The shrimp boil was a great success.  We would like to thank the sponsors:

  • Southern Performances––David Brannan
  • Mouchette Enterprises––Roland Mouchette
  • Group Travel Network––Justin Shuler and Dayna Brannan
  • Demoulin––Jeff Thurber and Frank Godfrey
  • AWB Apparel––Wayne Broom and Chester Bean
  • Art’s Music Shop––Mike Mason and Paul Freehling
  • Burns Tours––Margaret  Burns

The ABA would like to thank these sponsors for providing a great meal and event for our band family to come together and fellowship.

As I mentioned earlier, the ABA Board had a productive meeting.  We will be working toward the AMEA conference to develop a five year evaluation policy.  I am excited that we will be able to see how we are doing as an organization and profession and look at data to develop procedures to improve the organization.  Terry Ownby met with the Music Selection Committee and they were able to look at the All State Survey data.  We look forward to hearing from Terry about how they plan to move forward.  Terry is also working on the AMEA/ABA website with our new recording secretary Joel Henson to post the All State material in a better format.

Finally, become involved.  The AMEA and ABA provide great clinics and concerts.   In addition to those events, just to sit and talk with colleagues about how they would handle a situation is invaluable.  Why do we have to reinvent the wheel when our neighbor band director already has the plan?  Renew your NAfME membership and register for the AMEA Conference at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Remember the board is here for you.  Do not hesitate to contact your chairman or vice-chairman or anyone on the ABA Board.  I hope we all have a great start to school and the best year of our careers.

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!!


Mike Holmes2

AMEA Conference 2017 was extraordinary.  I was so impressed with the performances delivered by all of our outstanding ABA representative ensembles.  Mike Guzman led the Velvet Blue Jazz Orchestra in a very energetic and “tight” performance to kick off the Alabama Bandmasters Association’s first scheduled performance, the Hewitt-Trussville Middle School Honors Band (Brandon Peters-conductor) and Oak Mountain Middle School Advanced Band (Heather Holmes-conductor). Both were outstanding.  We definitely have some fine middle school band programs and directors in our organization. Oak Mountain High School Wind Ensemble (Kevin Ownby-conductor) and Bob Jones High School Wind Ensemble (Leigh Thomas-conductor) were in end- of-the-year form and it was only January.  The UAH Wind Ensemble under the baton of Dr. C. David Ragsdale offered a stellar performance with a little something for everyone in their program.  “That’s a middle school group?”  I heard that asked several times by those that attended the performance of the Pizitz Middle School Percussion and Jazz Ensembles (Kim Bain-Leah Seng-conductors).  These indeed were two very mature-sounding groups. The Homewood Middle School Percussion Ensemble (Chris Cooper, Terrence Cobb, and Lauren Nowak-conductors) presented a high energy, very-fun-for-the-audience performance. The Homewood Middle School Synergy Drum Circle, which is a special needs group of students, performed with the percussion ensemble and then returned to the stage with a bring the house down performance accompanied by keynote speaker Scott Lang.  And that is exactly what happened!  These students brought a level of energy, excitement, and love to the state’s music educators in the audience, as I have never before seen.  Thank you, Synergy for sharing your love and joy with us!

But wait, there’s more!  All-State auditions and Music Performance Assessment (MPA) will more than likely be over by the time you read this article. My hope is that these activities are a positive experience for you and your students and that they allow for musical growth for directors and students alike.  With a dedicated and diligent approach to preparation, All-State auditions and MPA should provide opportunities for your students to continue to progress and become stronger fundamental musicians.  They should provide you with the opportunity to better know your students as you work with them individually, in sectionals, and as a full ensemble in preparation for these events.  I have found over time that there is nothing that helps directors be prepared to stand on the podium more than knowing the capabilities of the students sitting in the chairs in front of them.

ALL-STATE BAND FESTIVAL IS ON THE MOVE.  As you will read in this issue we have four very successful and in-demand clinicians coming to Alabama to work with our outstanding all-state band students. Smiths Station High School director Gene Butler, with AMEA Executive Director Garry Taylor playing the role of negotiator, has been working, planning, and putting together our move to Montgomery – all while changing jobs.  Gene has done a great job and I am confident that we will have a positive and successful all-state band experience in Montgomery.  We will communicate details of the event’s venues, schedules, etc. by way of abafest emails and postings on the myamea.org website (Choose Band Division).  Check often for updates.

By the time we get to Montgomery, Spring will be in the air, birds will be singing, and the sun will be shining, so . . . DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!!

ABA: Are you ready for another great AMEA Professional Development Conference?

Mike Holmes2Football games, marching band contests, homecoming parades, shiny new instruments for the beginning band students, concerts, Veteran’s Day performances, air freshener for the middle school band room, the first day of fall and it’s still 95 degrees outside. Don’t you just love band? I love how much band students love band. What’s not to love? You get to learn to play an instrument which puts you in a position to perform music. You get to make friends for life, because you sit, march, eat, ride a bus, sweat, and make music with the same people all throughout middle school and high school. I also love the time I get to spend with my colleagues. Friday night games, standing on the sidelines at half-time watching, listening, and discussing how the bands are doing with the visiting band staff never gets old. I enjoy visiting at our District meetings listening to everyone talk about how many beginners they have this year, the theme of their marching band show, how hot it has been, and then to see how happy they are when A. B. Baggett walks in with a box of his homemade fudge.
Speaking of spending time with colleagues, it’s time to make plans to attend our January Alabama Music Educators Professional Development Conference. Those that have been selected to perform or present a session have had this conference on their minds for some time now. We should all plan to be in attendance to support our fellow music educators and their students. ABA will be well represented again this year. We have a nice variety of high school and middle school concert bands, jazz ensembles, and percussion ensembles performing. The Collegiate Honor Band sponsored by the Higher Ed Division will be a featured performing group. There is also an array of clinic/sessions that should prove to be of interest to our attendees. This issue of Ala Breve is filled with schedules, bios, registration forms, and all manner of information needed to prepare you for the conference. Please make every effort to attend. As you read this issue, you will become better informed of the details of the clinics and ensembles that will be performing. Renew your NAfME membership now if you have not done so. Your membership must be current in order to register for the conference. Pre-register now. Reserve your hotel room now. Our onsite pre-registration materials pick-up is very fast and easy. Don’t create a traffic jam by waiting until you get to the conference to renew your membership and register for the conference. See you in Montgomery!
Check the AMEA/ABA website regularly. You will find needed forms, All-State Band audition requirements, and access to the Cumulative Music list, ABA Directory, District and State Calendars, and other useful and needed information. Check the abafest.com site weekly for announcements and calendar updates. Your ABA state officers and district officers will be using this site to keep you informed as well as have you register for events such as All-State and MPA. I hope to see you at Midwest and AMEA. The sun is still shining, so DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!

ABA: Welcome back! News and words from the Alabama Bandmasters Association

Mike Holmes2There are so many things related to teaching band that are the same year after year. The fundamentals of teaching children to play an instrument remain the same. Good posture, hand position, embouchure formation, how to enter the band room, where to put your stuff, respect for one another, and the list goes on but does not change. However, if it is year one or year thirty-five, it is an exciting time. Why? Because it is never really the same. Our students are what keeps this journey fresh, interesting, and not routine. I love sixth grade students! They are fun, needy, interesting, open, and smarter than we know. To see them go from not knowing how to put an instrument together to playing with proficiency in just a few months is very special. We are with them as they grow up, and that is why they are so special to us. The students that stick with us from beginning to end are why we come back for “another great year” because we know that someday those are the students that will come back and stand on the podium ready to begin their first great year!

ABA Summer Conference 2016 was “one of the best ever.” That is a comment that was repeated to me many times as we prepared to wrap up. I am positive that if you attended, you were not disappointed. Many thanks to the 313th Army Reserve band for opening our conference with music provided by their fine Brass Quintet. The 313th Jazz Combo provided entertainment and knowledge as they served as the demonstration group for David Allinder’s informative clinic related to the Jazz Band rhythm section. Dr. Rick Good, Jeff Fondren, Nathan Haskew, David Waters, and Stephanie Ezell showcased the wealth of talent we have in our organization by presenting outstanding clinics as well. “The Lure of the Dark Side,” presented by lawyer Emily Hawk Mills, contained information that every educator needed to hear. If her advice is followed, there would never be another educator jailed for inappropriate contact or communication with a student.

What great attendance we had for the Social Hour/Shrimp Boil – approximately 160 directors and family members attended. Old Fogey Steve McLendon shared some wonderful memories as well as a great message to all that attended. President-Elect Doug Farris is already planning a great 2017 Summer Conference. Thank you to AWB Apparel, Southern Performances, Art’s Music Shop, Demoulin Uniforms, Sound Choices Recording, Super Holiday Tours, and Mouchette Enterprises for serving as sponsors of the Social Hour. Hopefully, you and your family also got in some much needed beach time as well. We will return to Hampton Inn-Orange Beach June 21-22, 2017.

We had a very productive ABA Board meeting. I am honored to be working with such great people. The Music Selection Committee once again has added quite a few new compositions to our cumulative list. The Constitution Committee chaired by Doug Farris submitted a number of recommendations to clean-up our Bylaws and Board Policy. The Bylaw changes will be emailed to all ABA members to review prior to acting on them at the AMEA Conference. Executive Secretary Harry McAfee received a well-deserved positive review from the board as well. Thanks to Harry for a job well done. John Cooper and Chris Lindley presented our new Adjudicator Certification Training Clinic, and it was very well received by all in attendance. This is a “work in progress” and will continue to evolve. Check abafest and our ABA/AMEA webpage for future updates related to the application process and requirements.

As a member of NAfME/AMEA/ABA, you also have responsibilities. Return all dues, fees, registrations, and respond to all correspondence in a timely manner. Renew your NAfME membership now if you have not done so. All Alabama memberships expired in June 2016. Please do not wait until the AMEA Professional Development Conference in January to renew as this creates delays in the onsite registration and pre-registration pick-up process. Check the AMEA/ABA website regularly. You will find needed forms, All-State Band audition requirements and etudes, Cumulative Music list, ABA Directory, and other useful and needed information. Check the abafest.com site weekly for announcements and calendar updates. Your ABA state officers and district officers will continue to use this site to keep you informed as well as have you register for events such as All-State and MPA.

Conference registration and lodging reservations are available now. Visit the AMEA website to access this information. Pre-register today and save. We have a great line-up of performing ensembles and clinics/sessions representing ABA for this conference.

I wish you success as you begin another great year. And DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!

We began this “process”…

Mike Holmes2We began this “process” in the summer of 2015. Setting goals, making plans to ensure that the goals are met, and we hit the ground running. We have now reached a point that we can evaluate our level of success. It has been a great year, and as they all do, it has passed quickly. There are points along the way that seem to never end, but they do. It puts a smile on my face when I look back to where we started and see how far we have come. The sound of beginners are now the sounds of young musicians; the middle school band members are maturing as young musicians; and we aren’t looking forward to having to say goodbye to our seniors. It is a great feeling to know that goals have been met and our students have had a successful, positive, and rewarding experience. And now it is time to get ready for another great year of band!

All-State Solo Festival was once again hosted by The University of South Alabama Department of Music and what gracious hosts they were. Department Head Dr. Greg Grunner and Director of Bands Dr. Will Petersen could not have provided us with a more welcoming environment for our students, directors, and parents for this Festival. We had 80+ of Alabama’s finest young musicians participate. The judges somehow managed to choose seven to participate in the Finals (finalists are pictured in this issue). The Friday night Wind Ensemble performance somehow managed to top their outstanding performance of 2015. It was fantastic! This is a band program that I would be proud to have any of my students join.

All-State Band Festival 2016 was once again a successful musical experience. It is very interesting to get the opportunity to experience this event from different perspectives. I have attended All-State Festival as a participant, a young band director, as a more seasoned band director with several students participating, as an ABA District officer and now as an ABA Vice-President and President. I can truly say that attending All-State in any capacity is extremely rewarding. I would encourage all directors to attend when possible whether you have students participating or not. All four band’s performances were impressive. Professor Cramer stated in an email I receive a few days after All-State, “All-State was great fun; the students displayed a wonderful attitude and were very polite and eager to do better with each rehearsal,” and “I was impressed with each ensemble’s performance.” Professor Ray Cramer, Dr. David Willson, Mr. Carlton Wright, and Dr. Deborah Confredo were a pleasure to have as guest clinicians.

Thank you!! All-State Festival is a huge event for our organization. The District VII directors led by All-State site coordinator David Pryor went above and beyond what was required, and District chair William Mixon provided us with two consecutive years of a well-organized event. 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, 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 647 students participating was only the tip of the iceberg compared to the hundreds more who auditioned and participated in their District Honor bands. You make me proud! A special debt of gratitude is owed to our graduating District Chairs — Taylor Cash (II), Joel Henson (IV), Dale Bloodworth (VI), and Trent Burkett (VIII). You are to be commended for the work you have done. It has been an honor to serve alongside you.

Summer Conference 2016 will be here before you know it (June 22-23, 2016). Register now  Information regarding lodging at the host hotel is also available at abafest.com. Join us at the Hampton Inn Orange Beach to celebrate the end of a successful year and the kick-off to another year. We have a great schedule of events, including the Wednesday evening Social Hour (low country boil and chicken fingers) that will feature “Old Fogey” Steve McLendon of Dothan HS (retired) as guest speaker. Visit abafest for a complete line-up of clinics and sessions. It will be hot; there will be plenty of Orange Beach sunshine, so DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!!

The Process-Moving Forward (stay in step)

Mike Holmes2We all have different perspectives on where we are at varying times throughout the year. Beginning band members are mastering opening a clarinet case without spilling instruments parts all over the floor. They are learning how to enter the band room, where to put their stuff, how to sit, breathe, and hold an instrument properly. Excitement and enthusiasm levels are high for both students and instructors. Second and third year students are getting back in shape, some preparing for pep rallies or the occasional middle school football game, Veteran’s Day programs, and Holiday concerts. They really love those pep rallies. Visit any high school campus for a little ESPN, a variety of “show” music, and you may even have an opportunity to “Stand Up and Get Crunk” (that one always makes me cry). Many of my colleagues have also been working on music for their Fall Concert during band class while “cleaning” the marching band show in the afternoons. This time of year working 40, 50, 60+ hours are routine for directors and students alike. Homework, after school practice, part-time jobs, and all of the other activities available keep our students busy from breakfast to bedtime. Both student and teacher love the band experience. That’s why we keep coming back for more.

My high school diploma is a vocational diploma with an emphasis in carpentry. But that didn’t matter. I so loved my experience in band that a couple of months before graduation I knew I wasn’t ready for it to end. So, to whom did I go for direction, my band directors, Johnny Jacobs and Michial Mayhall? They made a call, and by the middle of the next week, I was auditioning for a scholarship with Dr. Jimmy Simpson, who was then band director at The University of North Alabama. The rest is history. You mean the world to your students. If you work as hard as they do and are honest and fair with them, they will never let you down. If things aren’t always working out as planned, take a look in the mirror. It’s usually on us and our students are counting on us to right the ship when needed. And we will, because we are band directors and that is our “Super Power.”

USMCbandWhat a great month September has been in Alabama. Two “President’s Own” performances on two of our high school campuses, both Florence HS and Homewood HS. Thanks to the band staffs (should that be staves?) at both schools for hosting. I had the pleasure of attending the concert at Homewood HS the night before I completed this article. Those Marines did not disappoint. Marches, Sinatra, an Alabama born clarinet soloist, and “Lincolnshire Posey”, were all on the menu, and we all left full. This was definitely taxpayer money well spent.

This issue of Ala Breve will be filled with schedules, bios, registration forms, and all manner of information needed to prepare you for the AMEA In-Service Conference in January 2016. Please make every effort to attend. As you read this issue, you will become better informed of all that is offered in the way of clinics, business meetings, and performances. ABA will have numerous performances and clinics to present. Renew your NAfME membership now if you have not done so. Please do not wait until the AMEA In-Service in January to renew as this creates delays in the onsite registration and pre-registration pick-up process.

Check the AMEA/ABA website regularly. You will find needed forms, All-State Band audition requirements and etudes, Cumulative Music list, ABA Directory, District and State Calendar, and other useful and needed information. Check the abafest.com site weekly for announcements and calendar updates. Your ABA state officers and district officers will be using this site to keep you informed as well as have you register for events such as All-State and MPA. We are just getting started. I hope to see you at Midwest and AMEA.

Keep it going for your students and DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!