AVA: Reflections on the Year, Anticipations of the Future

AVA: Reflections on the Year, Anticipations of the Future

I could never have imagined that I would be writing my final AMEA article during a time of quarantine. I know we are all desperately missing our students, colleagues, and music-making. I’m so grateful that technology is allowing us all to stay somewhat connected, but I know we all can’t wait for the chance to gather to create music again. The need for community created by our choirs has never been more apparent!

I cannot say thank you enough to all of our participating schools and directors for how you adapted to our new location and did so with grace and positivity. The AVA Board has already been evaluating areas for improvement for next year as we look forward to returning to the BJCC. We welcome any ideas you may have to make next year even better.

Thank you to all of our members who served as Choir Coordinator, Assistant Coordinator, Attendance Monitor, or in any other capacity and helped to keep the festival running smoothly. I would also like to specifically thank John Kincaid for his hard work in coordinating our concert site in a brand-new venue!
I would also like to say thank you to Melinda Doyle and the University of Montevallo Concert Choir and Brian Kittredge and the UAB Concert Choir for performing for our convocation. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to expose our students to these wonderful choral programs. We look forward to having more university choirs participate in the future. In addition to these convocation performances, we are also planning for next year to invite university choirs to set up recruitment tables in the Forum building so that our students can have the chance to see what choral opportunities are available to them throughout the state.

Next year’s All-State Festival will be March 4-6, 2021. Again, if you have any ideas for next year’s festival, please let us know.

The 2021 AMEA conference will be January 21-23 in Montgomery. The deadline to submit is June 1. Please do not let the fact that we do not have recordings from SCPA this year deter you. Submit Christmas recordings if that is what you have available! I would hate for us to have a small number of submissions this year simply because we did not have SCPA or spring concerts. Even if you are unsure of your recordings, I would still encourage you to submit.

Fall Workshop
Please mark your calendar now for this year’s Fall Workshop and make plans to attend! It will be on September 11 in Montgomery. At this workshop, we will announce any major decisions that are made during Summer Board and we will review All-State music to prepare for auditions. If you plan on participating in any AVA events next school year, I would strongly encourage you to attend. Also, if you are interested in presenting a short, 30-minute session during the workshop, please let us know. Though we love hearing from our guest clinician, it’s so beneficial to hear from our colleagues who are in the trenches with us every day!

Summer Board
The AVA will meet this summer to review and revise the handbook, approve All-State music, and plan events for this coming year. If you have anything that you would like added to the agenda for the board to discuss, please submit it in writing to Randall at randall.fields.ava@gmail.com before May 29.

AVA Board
As my time as AVA President comes to a close, I want to say again how much the relationships I’ve built while on the board have meant to me. This has been the biggest benefit and blessing to me. In serving on the board, I have had the privilege of getting to know so many of you across the state, an honor that otherwise might have not been possible. I am so thankful for all of you and am honored to serve with such great people. I look forward to continuing to serve you as Vice-President as I support Randall Fields in his new role as AVA President. I’d also like to say thank you to Ginny Coleman she rotates off of the board for her 10 years of service – an entire decade! – to the AVA. Ginny’s leadership has been invaluable to our organization. I have appreciated her efforts to make our organization more transparent and forward-thinking.

Thank you, again, for allowing me to serve as your AVA President. I look forward to seeing you all in September!


AVA: Updates and AMEA Conference Recap

Updates and AMEA Conference Recap

It was great to see many of you at the AMEA conference in January. We had some wonderful performances and sessions and also enjoyed having Michael Hanawalt from Florida State University join us as our clinician. I hope you were all able to take some new strategies and ideas to use with your choirs.

We also enjoyed performances by the Alabama Honor Choir and the Alabama All-State Show Choir. Thank you to all of you who had students audition and participate. The behavior, focus, and work ethic of all of the students was excellent. The Honor Choir learned some excellent repertoire with Dr. Gary Packwood in a really short amount of time and put on a great Friday night concert. The Show Choir’s performance on Saturday morning was definitely a highlight of the conference for me. Thank you to Ginny Coleman and Cameron Weiler for all of their organization and planning and to everyone who helped out behind the scenes.

Bylaw Change

During the general membership meeting at AMEA, the membership voted to change Article VII, Section 7.1 of the AVA Bylaws to read “The Executive Board will appoint All-State adjudicators. Adjudicators will not judge their own students.” The membership asked the AVA board to create qualifications for All-State adjudicators. The board will work on developing the list of qualifications during the AVA summer board meeting and we welcome any feedback from the membership regarding this.

All-State Choral Festival

I am really excited about our move to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. While I know there will be some kinks to work out, I think that this move is going to open up a lot of opportunities for our students. One of the opportunities that I am most excited about is the ability to invite collegiate-level choirs to perform for our students during our convocation. This year, we are thrilled to have as our guests the University of Alabama and Birmingham Concert Choir under the direction of Dr. Brian Kittredge and the University of Montevallo Concert Choir under the direction of Dr. Melinda Doyle.

Our festival schedule is slightly different this year due to our new location, so please make sure to look at it early and make plans especially for the meal breaks. Thank you to Cathy Spence, director at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in downtown Birmingham, for compiling a list of nearby restaurants for us.

AVA Officer Elections

The AVA Bylaws, Article I, Section 1.1 states “A nominating committee consisting of the current year’s Executive Board will select one qualified candidate (Constitution Article VI, Section 6.1) for the office of President-Elect and one qualified candidate for the office of Recording Secretary. These candidates will be presented to the Board at the AVA board meeting at AMEA. Upon approval, the candidates will be presented at the general membership meeting at AMEA at which time nominations of qualified candidates will be accepted for a predetermined time period. The membership will have time between AMEA and All-State to voice questions and concerns regarding candidates. Officers shall be elected by a plurality of those members present and voting at the All-State general membership meeting.”

The Executive Board has nominated Hilen Wilson for the office of President-Elect and has nominated our current Recording Secretary, Margaret Heron, to remain in her role for another term. Hilen Wilson is currently the choral director at Paul W. Bryant High School and the Tuscaloosa Fine Arts Academy. She is in her seventh year of teaching at the secondary level. Mrs. Wilson has served as the District II Chairman for the Alabama Vocal Association for the last 6 years. Hilen has several years’ experience with the Alabama American Choral Directors Association where she currently serves as the Children’s Choir Repertoire and Resources Chair. She has also served on the Mentoring Committee, Summer Conference Committee, and Student Representative at the state level.

The deadline to make additional nominations is February 20. Nominations may be sent to the AVA board at theavaboard@gmail.com. The vote will take place during the AVA general membership meeting on Friday, March 6 at 8:45am during the All-State Choir Festival.

I hope that your semester is filling with great music and memory making with your students and I look forward to seeing you all very soon at All-State! If you have any comments, suggestions, or concerns, please contact me at .meg.jones.ava@gmail.com.

Thank you, Meg

AVA: Updates and Upcoming Events

AVA Updates And Upcoming Events

It was great to see many of you at this year’s Fall Workshop. We greatly appreciate Huntingdon College and Dr. Damion Womack for hosting us again this year. Thank you also to everyone who responded to our membership survey. We received wonderfully positive feedback from those in attendance about all of the sessions. Please continue to send us any feedback or ideas for our future workshops. For those who were unable to attend, please see the AVA website for handouts and presentations.

CHANGES FOR 2019-2020
Here are the changes that were shared during our Fall Workshop General Membership Meeting:

All-State Festival student fees were increased to $35 in anticipation of increased costs due to being at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex this year.

The State Choral Performance Assessment adjudication form now includes an auxiliary information form. We hope this form will be useful to the adjudicators in providing relevant feedback. The score spreads on the adjudication form were also adjusted slightly. The minimum point total to receive a superior rating is now 74 points.

The SCPA sight-reading rubric was revised to add the dotted quarter note to the Advanced MS/Intermediate HS level.


All-State auditions are fast approaching. Prior to the auditions, please make sure that your students have all of the required pieces, including “Alabama;” that all of their measures have been numbered; and that their adjudicator forms have been signed by a parent. Also, be certain to follow the instruction pages included in the music packets to ensure that your students are learning the correct notes for your district.

We are continuing to evaluate our All-State audition process in order to make it easier on our judges while also maintaining the integrity, rigor, and low cost of our current format. I shared with the membership at Fall Workshop that we will vote during AMEA to revise our bylaws in order to broaden who is allowed to judge our auditions. A motion will be made to change Article VII, Section 7.1 to read “The Executive Board will determine who serves as All-State audition adjudicators. Adjudicators will not judge their own students.” The handbook currently states that the Executive Board and Past-Presidents will serve as adjudicators. We believe we have qualified, capable, and willing retired directors who could serve as adjudicators in the future, if needed. This change will allow us to utilize those directors.


The Honor Choir Festival will take place during the AMEA conference. You may nominate up to two balanced quartets of your best sight-readers. The clinician for the festival will be Dr. Deana Joseph from Georgia State University. We hope to see great participation from across the state due to the new sight- reading format! There is no screening or preparation required for your students to participate. Register your students, order the music packets, and bring them to the festival to enjoy learning great music with a great clinician!


The 2020 AMEA Conference will be January 16-18 at the Renaissance Montgomery. Our guest clinician will be Dr. Tim Seelig, Artistic Director and Conductor of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Dr. Seelig, who is said to be known for his enthusiasm and sense of humor, is the author of multiple best-selling books and DVDs on choral technique. I am very excited to be bringing him to Alabama and I hope to see his sessions completely full with AVA members!

Congratulations to all of the choirs who were accepted to perform at the conference. We will have performances from middle school, high school, and collegiate choirs from across the state. It is a great honor to be selected to perform during this state-wide conference, so please be sure to come and support these groups and enjoy the music they are going to share. In addition to these groups, we will also have performances by the Alabama Honor Choir and Alabama All-State Show Choir.

I am looking forward to seeing you all in January. Until then, if I can be of help in any way or if you have any suggestions or ideas, please contact me at meg.jones.ava@gmail.com. See you at AMEA!


AVA: Fall Updates and Reminders


I hope you all have had a wonderful summer and have enjoyed some time to rest and prepare for this year. I enjoyed seeing many of you in July at the ACDA Summer Conference in Tuscaloosa. I especially enjoyed connecting again with this past year’s All-State Middle School Mixed choir clinician, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, and hearing everything he had to share with us. I left the conference refreshed and ready to jump head-first into the school year. If you have never attended this conference, I encourage you to do so in the future. It always gets me back in “school mode” and excited to start back. Thank you to the Alabama ACDA leadership for organizing and providing great sessions and social events.

NAfME Membership

If you have not already done so, please renew your NAfME membership. In order to log onto the website to register for AVA events, your membership must be current.

AVA Mailing List Sign-Up

In addition to having a current NAfME membership, the AVA also requires annual sign-up on the AVA mailing list in order to receive communications. All directors must complete this even if there have been no changes since the previous school year. The link to sign up for the mailing list is on the AVA website at www.myamea.org/ava. Please make sure to complete this as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss any important information.

Summer Board Decisions and Changes for 2019-2020

The AVA had another productive meeting this summer to plan for this year. I will be talking in more detail at Fall Workshop about some of the decisions that were made, but here are a few highlights:

● We will continue with our usual in-person auditions for this year’s All-State auditions. No changes will be made at this time, though we are still considering moving to recorded auditions in the future.

● The All-State Festival registration fee was increased to $35 to account for increased costs due to moving our festival to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

● The All-State Show Choir Festival will be held during the AMEA Conference this year and will not perform during the All-State Choral Festival. As decided by the membership at our All-State General Membership Meeting, ASSC students are no longer required to audition for the All-State Choral Festival.

● The SCPA Adjudication Rubric was reevaluated and the point spread for each rating was adjusted slightly. The new point range for a superior rating is 74-88.

● The SPCA Adjudication Form was changed to include the Auxiliary Information Form. Each directorwill now complete the auxiliary form as part of the adjudication form in order to provide the adjudicators with background information about the choirs.

● The Sight-Reading Rubric was changed in order to include a dotted-quarter note at the Advanced Middle School/ Intermediate High School levels.

2019-2020 AVA Events

Please visit the AVA website to find the dates for all events for the year. Be aware now of all registration deadlines and plan ahead to avoid paying any late fees.

Fall Workshop

Our next event will be the Fall Workshop at Huntingdon College on Friday, September 6. I am so excited that this past year’s High School All-State Choir clinician, Derrick Fox from the University of Nebraska- Omaha, will be joining us. We will also have All-State music information sessions, mini break-out sessions, and our General Membership Meeting. Registration is now open on the AVA website. I hope to see you all there!

Thank you for taking the time to read about our organization. I would like to encourage you not only to read but to also “jump in” and serve where you are able. We all bring different areas of strength to this organization and are all needed in order to best function. As I begin my final year as AVA President and sixth year on the board, I can truly say that serving our organization is worthwhile, rewarding, and fun. Thank you to everyone who has helped out, even in ways that may seem insignificant. I can assure you that no task is too small or not appreciated.

Please let me know if I can be of service to you in any way or if you have any questions or suggestions about our organization. You may email me at meg.jones.ava@gmail.com.

I wish you all the best for the starts of your school year and I look forward to seeing you all at the Fall Workshop!


Meg Jones

AVA: News From AVA

Thank you again to everyone who contributed to making this year’s All-State Choral Festival a success. This event would not be possible without so many of you being willing to serve. I hope the festival was a wonderful experience for your students and that they brought their enthusiasm back to your choir rooms.
Thank you also to Eric Mathis and Kenny Gannon for their help in hosting us at Samford University again this year. We have loved our years of All-State on their beautiful campus.

Fall Workshop
We had a wonderful time this past year at Huntingdon College and we are so excited to return there this fall! We are also so thrilled to have Dr. Derrick Fox, who conducted the SATB choir at this year’s All-State, return to Alabama as our Fall Workshop clinician. I enjoyed getting to watch Dr. Fox work with our students and I believe he will bring some great insight and motivation to us this fall. Please go ahead and mark your calendars for September 6 and make plans to join us!

In my follow-up email from All-State, I mentioned that we are interested in continuing our mini break-out sessions at Fall Workshop. If you have anything you would like to present or if you have ideas for sessions, please let me know.

We will be returning to Montgomery for this year’s AMEA Professional Development Conference. Our guest clinician will be Dr. Tim Seelig who serves as Artistic Direction or the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Dr. Seelig is also the author of The Perfect Blend, The Perfect Rehearsal, The Perfect Choral Workbook, The Music Within and Quick Fixes. I’m looking forward to hear what Dr. Seelig has in store for us!

Please consider submitting to present a session or to have your choir perform at the conference. The deadline to apply is June 1 and the application may be found on the AMEA website under the “Conference” tab under “Information.” We have continued including recordings of your SCPA performances for you to use for the performance application.

Honor Choir
During this year’s AMEA Professional Development Conference, we will have our Honor Choir Festival for 10th-12th grade students. Dr. Deanna Joseph from the Georgia State School of Music will be joining us as our clinician. Instead of selecting students based on district screenings on the Honor Choir music, students will be selected on their sight-reading ability, as this year’s choir will be a sight-reading choir. Directors may nominate up to two balanced quartets consisting of their best sight-readers.

Thank you so much to you all for your input and thoughtful consideration about the future of All-State Show Choir. At All-State, the membership voted to remove the requirement that ASSC students participate in the All-State Choral Festival. We will continue to evaluate the purpose and effectiveness of this event in the future. Thank you to Jane Powell who has graciously served as our Show Choir Coordinator for numerous years. We are so very grateful to her and her efforts in making ASSC a meaningful and memorable experience for our students! For 2020, Ginny Coleman will be assuming the role of Show Choir Coordinator. Please contact Ginny if you would like to assist or serve in any capacity with the ASSC festival.

Summer Board
This year’s Summer Board meeting will be held on June 3-5. If you have feedback or any items you would like me to add to our agenda for discussion and review during our meeting, please provide that to me through written feedback prior to June 1. You may do that by emailing me at presidentofava@gmail.com or by completing the membership survey that was sent out during and after All-State.

I hope you all have a wonderful summer and are able to find some time to reflect on this school year and to rest and refocus for this coming fall. If I can be of help to you in any way, please let me know.

I look forward to seeing you all at Fall Workshop!


AVA: News and Updates

AMEA Conference

It was so great to see so many of you at the AMEA Conference. While I always love going to concerts and sessions, some of my favorite moments of our conferences and workshops are in conversations with my colleagues. It’s always a time for me to reconnect and remind myself that I am not in this alone. Being the only teachers of our disciplines at our schools can feel like being on an island, so coming together with other choral directors always leaves me encouraged and renewed.

Congratulations and thank you to all of this year’s performing ensembles. It was obvious that there were tremendous amounts of hard work and thoughtful planning behind all of the performances. Your choirs made me smile, moved me to tears, and inspired me. Thank you for going above and beyond to share your music with all of us.

Also, thank you to our session presenters. We had a great variety of topics and it was great to have several of our own AVA directors presenting in addition to our invited clinician, Dr. Lori Hetzel. Please consider applying to present a session next year. You all are doing great things in your classrooms and we can all benefit from learning from each other!

Next year, the AMEA conference will be returning to Montgomery. We are exploring some great options for our concert sessions and so we hope you will apply to perform. We are again providing recordings of your SCPA performances as part of your registration and we hope you will take advantage of this and submit a performance application to AMEA.

All-State Auditions

Thank you to everyone for helping us test Acceptd as a potential platform for conducting auditions in the future. Before the All-State General Membership Meeting, please take a few minutes to reflect on the process. Ginny Coleman, Vice-President, will be sharing a survey with you all during the festival to gather your feedback. We would love to hear any of your thoughts and concerns.


This year’s All-State Festival is going to feature some wonderful music and clinicians. Please take a moment to read about the clinicians in this issue of the Ala Breve. You may also visit the AVA website to view the official All-State correspondence which contains rehearsal duties, the schedule, and more details. Thank you so much to all of you who have volunteered to serve in various capacities throughout the festival. It is a huge event and could not happen without your service.

All-State Show Choir

In the past several years, we have been modifying the ASSC festival and auditions in different ways in an effort to raise participation numbers. We have moved the festival date so as to not coincide with show choir season, have included 9th-grade students, and have conducted auditions by video to prevent schools from having to travel and miss school. Despite all of these efforts, our All-State Show Choir participation has not increased. I plan to make a motion at this year’s All-State General Membership Meeting to remove the requirement that ASSC students also make a traditional All-State Choir. Due to feedback on recent surveys, I know that our AVA members are split in their opinions regarding this requirement. Therefore, we anticipate needing to take a vote by ballot during the meeting. Please make every effort to attend the meeting to cast your vote.


As SCPA approaches, please take a few minutes to read through the new guidelines and rubric. We are very excited about the new levels of sight reading that will hopefully encourage schools that have previously been hesitant about SCPA to participate. In addition to the new level guidelines, we also changed the Standing Rules to allow directors to establish tonality once at any time during the 5-minute study period. This will allow choirs who use audiation during the study period to audiate in the key of the sight-reading example.

Looking Ahead

During the All-State Festival, we will share a survey regarding event dates for next year. This survey was a great help to the District Chairmen last year in their planning. Please take some time before the festival to view your school calendar for next year and to prepare to share your requests with your District Chairman through the survey.

As always, we welcome any and all feedback from the membership. The AVA Board seeks to be transparent and to serve you all as best as we are able. Please contact me at presidentofava@gmail.com with any thoughts, concerns, or questions. I look forward to seeing you all in March!


Meg Jones

AVA: Updates and Coming Events

Thank you to everyone who came to this year’s Fall Workshop, and thank you to Dr. Damion Womack and Huntingdon College for hosting us. I hope that you all were able to leave with some new strategies and ideas to use with your choirs and that you were able to enjoy some time visiting with your colleagues.


At Fall Workshop, the membership voted to change the eligibility requirements for the Pat Blackwell Music Education Award to make them align with the Outstanding Choral Student requirements. Article XV, Section 15.2 of the AVA Bylaws now states:

In addition to the general eligibility requirements for AVA events listed in Article IV, each nominee for the Pat Blackwell Music Education Award must:

A. Have been a performing member of an All-State choir (SATB, TTBB, SSAA) the preceding year. B. Have been selected for the current year’s All-State choir.
C. Be a senior with an overall C average or above
D. Be in good standing with his/her school and choral department

E. Intend to major in choral music education in college. NEW SIGHT-READING GUIDELINES

AVA Vice-President Ginny Coleman proposed in 2016 that we reevaluate our sight-reading requirements to allow for varying levels of choirs. She appointed me to work with a committee to research other states’ guidelines and to involve the membership in creating new guidelines for us. The AVA board felt this was necessary because other disciplines are tested on various levels based on student

experience. The sight-reading committee chose to adopt the guidelines for levels Ginny had created, and with the help of the sight-reading committee, we created a chart that shows what will be expected of each level. In addition, we chose to allow beginning groups to read one voice-split less than their stage voicings. For example, a beginning SAB choir may choose to read a 2-pt example or a beginning TTB group may read a TB example. We just ask that each director write a rationale for the need on the judge’s sheet so that the judge will understand the necessity. For example, a 20-person beginning SAB group with only a few baritones might choose to read 2-pt. and would write on the form that they are reading 2-pt. due to the size of the choir, small number of baritones, and their level of experience.

As to what is expected of each level, we created our chart using the old AVA guidelines, so for most of our choirs, the level of difficulty will seem about the same. However, we believe these new guidelines will allow more beginning high school choirs and 1-2 grade junior high and high schools to
participate. We also felt there was a need for an advanced level. Until now, we have had 9th-grade schools, 9th-12th-grade schools with no feeder programs, and 9th-12th-grade schools with 6th-8th- grade feeder programs reading at the same level of difficulty.

Lastly, we updated our sight-reading procedures to allow for tonality to be established once during the 5-minute study period and again before each singing of the example. We know that many directors have their students audiate during the study time and would prefer them to audiate in the correct key. The new standing rules state that “Tonality may be established by playing the tonic or chord once at any point during the study period.”

The new sight-reading guidelines may be found in the revised General Membership Handbook on the AVA website.


All-State auditions are fast approaching. Please be sure to read the All-State Audition Standing Rules before your audition date. Make certain that each of your students has the All-State Adjudication Form F2.2 complete with parent signature and song titles listed in audition order. The lists of song titles in audition order may be found on the AVA website. Also, every student will sing an excerpt from Ed Robertson’s arrangement of “Alabama” as part of the audition. This piece is not included in All-State music packets, so make sure your students each have an original copy of this piece and have learned it. This year, we are also having all directors submit two of their All-State auditionees singing “Alabama” through Acceptd.com. This will allow each school to interact with the service and to discover any concerns we may have in regards to using them in the future. After All-State auditions, please email me any questions or concerns while they are fresh on your mind so that we can discuss them at AMEA.


For this year’s auditions, each student will submit four vocal videos and two dance videos through Acceptd. For the vocal videos, students will sing along with the Matthew Curtis accompaniment tracks. For the dance portion, the choreography video will be online on YouTube one week prior to the submission deadline. Each student must submit a front-view and a back-view video so that the judges can make sure the students have the dance memorized. Students will need to sing their parts while dancing.


The 2019 AMEA Conference will be held January 17-19 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham. Our guest clinician will be Dr. Lori Hetzel from the University of Kentucky. She will be presenting sessions entitled “Unleashing the Power and Beauty of the Female Voice in a Choral Ensemble” and “Empowering the Treble Chorus with Quality Repertoire.” J.W. Pepper will also be sponsoring a reading session of repertoire chosen by Dr. Hetzel. In addition, we will have some wonderful concerts and sessions by choral directors and choirs in our state. I hope to see you all there!


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 www.myamea.org/ava. 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 presidentofava@gmail.com. I am hoping for a great year for you all!

Meg Jones, AVA President




Ginny Coleman


As the school year comes to a close, and my time as AVA President comes to an end, I have spent some time reflecting on the work that we have done over the past few years.  I am proud of the advances that our organization has made.  We have increased our efficiency through the use of technology, focused on our mission statement, and worked to reach out to the membership.  We have also looked closely at our policies and made improvements where necessary. Although we have made improvements, there will always be work to do, and I hope that you will also consider serving this organization that provides so many opportunities for your students.  I appreciate the opportunity to have served as AVA President for the past two years.  I am looking forward to continuing to serve in a different capacity.


It was so nice to see many of you at the All-State festival in March.  I appreciate all those who served as concert coordinator, choir coordinator, attendance monitor, or in any other capacity to be sure that everything ran smoothly.  I think that the students enjoyed their interaction with the conductors of the various choirs.  I was also pleased with the final performances.

We appreciate Samford University for once again hosting All-State.  Kenny Gannon, Tim Banks, and the staff at Samford were welcoming and helpful.  We look forward to being back in 2019.


I hope that the recordings you received from SCPA were helpful to you this year.  One of the reasons that we decided to begin recording each choir is so that each of you would have a high-quality recording in the event you decided to submit to perform at AMEA.  I am proud of the increase in submissions that we have had over the past several years. This increase has contributed to increased quality of performances.  If you are considering this, please know that the deadline is June 1.  You can find instructions on the AMEA website.

In addition, please also consider submitting to present a session if you have something of value to share.  We are always looking for new ideas!


As my tenure as president ends, and Meg Jones’ presidency begins, the AVA board will welcome five new members.  I encourage you to support Meg and the new board members.  Share your ideas and concerns with them.  The new AVA Governing Board will meet for our summer board meeting mid-June.  If you have any ideas or suggestions that you would like the board to consider during our meeting time, please submit in writing before the end of May.  We want to hear your ideas and suggestions for improvement.


Please go ahead and mark your calendars for our 2018 AVA Fall Workshop!  As always, the workshop will be held on the Friday after Labor Day, which is September the 7th.  We will meet in Montgomery at Huntington College so that our colleagues in the north and south of the state can all save a hotel night if needed.


Over the past several years, we have made an effort to provide the AVA membership with increased instructions and reminders about registration deadlines, etc.  We occasionally get questions about where to find information.  You should expect all information for all AVA events to be available on our website.  For example, if you are attending an SCPA in another district you should be able to get all information concerning the event you are attending from the AVA website. Let your district chairman know if you have difficulty accessing anything.


The AVA Board is continually striving to 1) maintain adherence to our mission statement and 2) improve our functionality. Along those lines, we have begun discussion about the following:

  • Streamlining the All-State audition process using available recording technology rather than sending 5 judges on a tour around the state
  • Modifying the All-State audition form to a rubric-style adjudication form
  • Modifying the sight-reading portion of SCPA to allow directors to choose an appropriate sight-reading example for their students based on students’ ability
  • The future of All-State Show Choir and how it fits into the structure of AVA
  • The future of Honor Choir and how it fits into the structure of AVA

We are interested in thoughtful, written feedback in the form of an email to me or anyone else on the AVA Board.  Please let us know if you have anything you would like to add to the conversation.  Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.  You may send your questions, suggestions, or ideas to presidentofava@gmail.com.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve as AVA President.  And, thank you for taking the time to read about your professional association.  I am looking forward to seeing you in September!


AVA: Thank you for your contributions to the AMEA Conference

Ginny Coleman


It was so nice to see many of you at our conference last month.  Despite the winter weather and the move to a new venue, we had a great turnout!  I appreciate all those who worked to be sure that everything ran smoothly.  Those who were in attendance enjoyed re-connecting with each other, sharing information, and attending sessions and concerts.  If you did not attend the AMEA conference this year, I encourage you to go ahead and make plans to do so next year.  The conference will be held January 17-19, 2019 at the BJCC.

I certainly enjoyed my interaction with Dan Davison at the AMEA conference.  I particularly appreciated his session on teaching the changing male voice.  I thought his reading session addressed content for various levels and included repertoire appropriate for our singers.  I encourage you to contact JW Pepper any time that you need literature as they provided the reading session booklets at no cost to AVA.  Other sessions covered a range of topics from sight-reading to authentic assessment.  If you have something new or interesting that you would like to share, I encourage you to submit to present at AMEA next year.

Congratulations to the students and directors who provided performances at the conference, including the AVA Honor Choir.  We encourage you to submit an application to perform.  Like last year, we will provide you with a recording of your SCPA performance as a part of your SCPA registration cost.  Our hope is that the recording will make it a little easier for you gather the materials needed for your application.


We are looking forward to seeing you and your students who were chosen to be a member of an All-State Choir in March.  By the time that you read this article your All-State correspondence packet will be available on the AVA website from our president-elect Meg Jones.

We appreciate Samford University for once again hosting All-State.  Kenny Gannon, Tim Banks, and the staff at Samford have already begun working to be sure that our event is a success.  Thanks to everyone who has agreed to serve as a choir coordinator, assistant coordinator, or attendance monitor.  Your service is appreciated.


In an effort to connect with our colleagues who are not plugged in with AVA, we are again offering a free registration initiative for State Choral Performance Assessment.  Directors may register one choir for free (school fee and student fees waived) if their school has not participated in SCPA in the past three years.  Please share with your colleagues who may be interested in taking advantage of this offer.

We are also pleased to be able to provide additional services this year during our SCPA event.  Each district chair will contract a recording engineer to record all choirs that perform at SCPA.  After SCPA is complete, each director will receive a copy of his/her ensemble’s recordings at no additional cost.


The AVA Board is continually striving to 1) maintain adherence to our mission statement and 2) improve our functionality.  Along those lines, we have begun discussion about the following:

  • Streamlining the All-State audition process using available recording technology rather than sending 5 judges on a tour around the state
  • Modifying the All-State audition form to a rubric-style adjudication form
  • Modifying the sight-reading portion of SCPA to allow directors to choose an appropriate sight-reading example for their students based on students’ ability
  • The future of All-State Show Choir and how it fits into the structure of AVA
  • The future of Honor Choir and how it fits into the structure of AVA
  • We sent a survey at the end of the AVA Membership meeting on January 19th.  If you did not already complete the survey, please do.  We will use the information gathered from the survey when scheduling AVA event dates for the 2018-2019 school year.  We are also interested in thoughtful, written feedback in the form of an email to me or anyone else on the AVA Board.  Please let us know if you have anything you would like to add to the conversation.  Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you for taking to the time to read about your professional association.  Please send questions, suggestions, or ideas to me at presidentofava@gmail.com. I am looking forward to seeing you in March!