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Committees Guide Music Contests

By Richard Floyd, Music Director | Friday, March 01, 2013 11:15 AM

When I’m asked to identify key components that I feel are central to the success of our UIL music programs, one of the first elements that comes to mind is our committee structure. We are blessed with countless directors and music educators who are highly capable and ever willing to serve on committees appointed to guide many facets of our UIL music competitions. This talent pool remains a priceless resource for the good and betterment of our programs. In addition, the engagement of rank and file teachers who are “in the trenches” helps ensure that our events are relevant and in sync with our curriculum and educational objectives.

Committees consist of five to seven members, and in each case, appointees serve rotating terms so there is always sufficient overlap to ensure consistency and continuity. There is also a commitment to maintaining a balance between large schools and small schools as well as middle schools and high schools.

There are three Prescribed Music List committees representing band, choir and orchestra respectively. Each committee consists of seven members. Committee members serve a three-year term. Two new members are appointed to the committee each spring to replace the two individuals who have completed their service. One of the exiting committee members is then chosen to serve as chair of the committee for the following year.  The committees begin their work in the fall when publishers begin to submit new releases electronically via the online submission system. As the year unfolds committee members review submissions and make decisions regarding the merit of each piece and its suitability for addition to the list. Members also make a decision regarding difficulty of each work and assign an appropriate grade level depending on difficulty. The committees also can exercise the option of removing works from the list if there is compelling justification for doing so.  The committees complete their work by the end of the school term. Then, during the summer the PML Online database is updated, and committee recommendations become a part of the official list for the following year.

The three Sight-reading Music Selection committees consist of five members with individual members serving a two-year term.  Two members rotate off one year and the other three members rotate off the following year to provide continuity and consistency in the process.  Protocol for these three committees varies slightly to better serve the unique priorities of the band, choir and orchestra sight-reading procedures.

The vocal committee functions under the guidance of Dr. Vivian Munn of University of Texas Pan American. She is a sight-reading music authority and has been the guiding force behind this committee for nearly two decades. Composers submit works for committee consideration and the committee meets each summer to review, refine and edit submissions to ensure that the music will meet the criteria for each classification and voicing. Once final decisions are made, the music is published by RBC Music and made available to the Music Region Executive Secretaries for contests the following spring. When the contest season is complete the music becomes available for purchase.

The orchestra committee convenes for a two-day meeting in the fall of each year. This committee reviews available published music in lieu of soliciting music composed specifically for sight-reading competition. The music is pre-screened to insure that only the most relevant scores are considered. Committee members put forth a concerted effort to select music that is consistent with the criteria for each orchestra classification. This process is used since there is not a sufficient volume of sales to support the composition of specific works for each contest.

The band committee begins its work in the spring. The preceding fall the UIL State Music Office commissions composers to write a work for each of the six levels. Scores are due in March. The state office then reviews the works to make sure that the criteria is followed in terms of range, rhythm and length. In some cases the scores are returned to the composers for modifications. Once this step of the process is met the scores are sent to the committee members for their careful and thoughtful review. Over the following months the collective evaluations of committee members is compiled and revisions made when and if needed to closely align the works with the criteria. A final committee meeting during the Texas Bandmasters Association Convention in San Antonio results in a final approval and the scores are submitted to an editor for formatting and part extraction.

It is important to remember that these committees are composed of music educators from across the state. They are our colleagues and are appointed based on their professional credentials and depth of experience in the specific performance mediums they will serve. Through the current rotation system, six to nine music educators are selected each year to serve in these roles. Anyone interested in serving on one of these vitally important committees is encouraged to contact the UIL State Music Office and express his or her interest in doing so.