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!

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!!