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January Gives Us Time to Think and Plan for Future

By Richard Floyd, Music Director | Thursday, January 24, 2013 12:35 PM

If there is such a thing, January is perhaps one of the quietest times of the year in the UIL State Music Office. Why? Marching season is behind us, the TMEA Convention is just around the corner and directors are busily preparing for Region Solo and Ensemble Contests while planning their spring concert programs.  Most phone calls and emails have to do with solo and ensemble issues or questions about specific repertoire performance requirements. We take great pride in answering all inquiries in 24 hours or less.

So, what else do we do?  Many years ago while I was still on the faculty at Baylor University, I had a colleague who was a history professor say to me, “Dick, sometimes we forget that one of the things the university pays us to do is to sit and think.”  I never forgot that comment, and I took it to heart.  Sometimes it is wise and productive to simply step back, ask ourselves probing questions and take stock of where we are and where we are going.  In other words, think. January gives us an advantageous opportunity to do so.

As we do just that, here are a few of the things we are contemplating.  While a great many administrative tasks related to our competitions are done electronically and online, we continue to search for more and better ways to streamline the bureaucracy.  Receiving high priority at present is an initiative that will result in electronic, online posting of State Solo and Ensemble Contest results instantly and in real time.  Instead of the cumbersome process of hand recording the results, making copies and posting them on the windows at the contest sites, the results will be inputted directly into the TSSEC website database.  Directors, students, parents and other interested parties will be able to go online and access results on their computers or smart phones as they are posted.  Plans call for us to pilot this concept at the 2013 TSSEC.

Speaking of technology, during the 2012 State Marching Band Contest we experimented with a program that allows us to upload judge comments to a protected website where they could be heard immediately by directors.  Many directors viewed this service favorably, and we plan to continue to refine the process for the future.

The state office also is evaluating the efficiency of the new online system being used for publishers to submit new music for the Prescribed Music List and by the band, choir and orchestra PML committees to review these submissions.  All three committees met in Austin on Jan. 20 (MLK Day), discussed the process and made recommendations for continued refinement.  For the record, the UIL developed and pioneered this process. The American Bandmaster Association has successfully adopted the process for the review and evaluation of that organization’s Sousa/Ostwald Composition Competition.  Other entities are likely to follow suit. 

Speaking of the Prescribed Music List, during the transition to the new, every year review of repertoire, many of the solo and ensemble lists remained untouched.  That is now being remedied.  New music for these lists is being reviewed at present, and we anticipate new additions to many of these lists for the 2013-2014 school term.

Here is more PML news.  Over the past 18 months we have put forth a concerted effort to expand our holdings of repertoire included on the Prescribed Music List.  We have contacted publishers both within the United States and abroad requesting reference copies of all PML repertoire.  We are receiving music almost on a daily basis and immediately catalog and file new additions to our library.  These reference copies allow us to be more accurate and efficient in answering director’s questions about contest selections. 

At the same time State Solo and Ensemble Contest judges are being hired, facilities are being reserved for state competition and the TSSEC online entry system is being readied for the 2013 contest. 

With all that said, perhaps paramount in importance at present is the ongoing transition in anticipation of Brad Kent assuming the position of State Director of Music in September 2013.  Every effort is being made to make the transition seamless while providing the highest level of service possible for the schools, music educators and students of Texas.  We are all excited about the future.