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‘They’ Don’t Make the Rules for Music; We All Can Have Input

By Richard Floyd, Music Director | Tuesday, November 20, 2012 10:55 AM

“They did it to us again!”  “UIL better wake-up and figure out what they are doing wrong.”  “Those people in Austin are out of touch.”  “Who makes our rules anyway?” 

Comments and questions like this can be heard in the exhibit halls at our annual conventions, read on social media chat boards and, in all likelihood, appear on countless Facebook pages. The implication is that rules are made behind closed doors and directors have little or no say in the structure of our contest rules and regulations. It is that mysterious “they” that controls our destiny.

But, in reality, there is no “they.”  The UIL is “us.”  In large part, we make the rules that structure our music competitions. Collectively the music educators of the state of Texas, in cooperation with school administrators, have the opportunity to shape, mold and modify virtually every segment of the UIL Music Plan. Each year rules are examined, proposals considered and modifications adopted in an effort to keep our contests educationally sound and relevant to our evolving educational climate.

So if there is no “they” then how do “we” (that’s you) get involved?  In actuality, there is a committee structure that guides the rules making and changing process. It consists of the Music Advisory Committee, UIL Legislative Council Standing Committee on Music, the Technical Advisory Committee, the UIL Legislative Council and the Commissioner of Education. Each cog of the process works like this.

The Music Advisory Committee is comprised of an elected band, choir and orchestra member from each of our 28 regions. That’s a total of 84 members. The committee is jointly chaired by the UIL State Director of Music and the President of the Texas Music Educators Association. The committee meets during our summer music conventions in San Antonio. The agenda for this meeting is comprised of rule proposals that have been submitted by individual directors, individual UIL music regions and the UIL state music office. This agenda is distributed in April so regions have the opportunity to discuss rule changes at their spring meetings. Based on this input action is taken on each agenda item during the summer meeting. The proposals that receive a majority vote are forwarded to the UIL Standing Committee on music for consideration in September. This is true grass-roots representation.

Proposals then are forwarded to the seven-member UIL Legislative Council Standing Committee on Music. These seven superintendents represent all conferences from A through AAAAA. It is their responsibility to consider all proposals and determine which rule changes should be forwarded to the full Legislative Council. They review proposals both in terms of educational value and fiscal impact and they can approve, modify or reject any proposal that comes to them. This committee meets in September in an open meeting that includes the opportunity for public testimony. Any individual is welcome to come before this committee and address proposed rule changes or any other topic related to UIL music competition.

Meeting with the Standing Committee on Music is the Technical Advisory Committee. This committee is comprised of six members appointed to three-year rotating terms by the UIL Executive Director plus the president of the Texas Music Educators Association. The Technical Advisory Committee has no voting power but its responsibility is to serve in an advisory capacity to the Standing Committee on Music. It is their role to assist the Music Committee in understanding and reviewing the technical nature of rules proposals and to make recommendations based on their collective experience as music educators.

Proposals approved by the Standing Committee on Music then move forward to the full Legislative Council that convenes each October. This committee consists of 20 elected superintendents representing all conferences and all UIL regions of the state. They are joined by eight additional school administrators appointed to provide gender and ethnic representation and equity. This committee reviews all rule changes in music, athletics, academics and policy. Proposals so passed are then submitted to the Commissioner of Education for final review and approval. If approved by the Commissioner of Education, the rules go into the effect the following year.

Some might say that the process is cumbersome, and there is no doubt that the wheels turn slowly over time. But as these steps unfold, there is ample time for thoughtful input, careful evaluation and sober reflection before new rules are adopted or old rules modified. The result is rules that have been vetted by music educators, representatives from all UIL music regions, fine arts administrators and ultimately approved by school superintendents responsible for the implementation of all UIL rules.

What if interested parties do not wish to avail themselves of this process?  Is there another way?  The answer is yes. Any individual, be it student, parent, teacher, administrator or simply an interested party can propose a rule directly to the UIL. Simply go to: and follow the prompts to create a rule proposal on line. All rule proposals are forwarded to the proper department and placed on the agenda for the appropriate committee for consideration at the next regularly scheduled meeting.

One of the underlying strengths of the UIL is the ownership we all share in the organization and its processes. Few organizations are more open to the publics they serve. We collectively have a voice in our destiny. It is up to each one of us to be proactive, speak out when we feel there is a need for change and share our vision for what UIL is and what we would like it to become in the years to come.