Dear TMAA Members,

I know this has been a difficult year for many in the Gulf Coast area due to Hurricane Harvey. My school district, along with many others, was closed for two weeks after the storm and trying to catch up with instruction has been a challenge. I wish all of those who were impacted by the storm, either from damage to their homes or a delayed start to the school year, the best as we approach the end of the first semester. Although this year has had some unique challenges, it was also encouraging to see so many individuals and organizations devoting time, effort and resources to help those impacted by the storm.

As you read this 2017 TMAA newsletter, you will discover that during the past year the TMAA Executive Committee has implemented several new membership procedures and has formed two new committees to study aspects of a couple of our UIL events. We hope that the work of these committees will produce some worthwhile recommendations. Effective this year, the TMAA General Business Meeting will now be conducted online during the time annual membership dues are paid.  Members will continue to receive the annual
online TMAA newsletter, Constructive Comments, which will include an online ballot used in electing officers, electing members of the Committee on Standards and Performance Practices (CSAPP), and approving constitutional amendments. The ballot and newsletter will be distributed in November/December of each year. Executing the ballot will signify meeting attendance, at which time members will be prompted to pay dues. Failure to execute the ballot will result in an inability to access the dues payment process. We hope this will be a welcome change and an efficient use of time for all TMAA members.

At the beginning of this semester, we notified the membership that TMAA had recently formed two ad-hoc committees. The first ad-hoc committee, chaired by TMAA Past President Mark McGahey, is studying possible revisions to the UIL Area/State marching band adjudication sheets. The committee hopes to develop an evaluation vehicle that is as progressive as the current trends in marching band performance while acknowledging the diversity of the marching styles across the state. The committee was formed in the spring of 2017 with members representing all geographic areas of the state, as well as representatives from the various school classifications. I am chair of the second committee, which is studying the current UIL sight-reading process used for band, orchestra and vocal contests. This committee consists of the members of the TMAA Executive Committee, who represent all divisions, as well as two members (one middle school and one high school) from each division. Our intention is to consider ways to simplify and make the sight-reading process more like what directors actually utilize when sight reading a piece of music in a normal classroom setting. If you would like to provide input to either of these committees, please contact any of the committee members listed on the TMAA website (  Proposals submitted to the UIL by these ad-hoc committees will require the approval of the TMAA Executive Committee, the UIL Music Advisory Committee and the various regions throughout the state, before any changes can be implemented.

The TMAA Executive Committee met this past May to discuss the matters mentioned above, along with other association business. Although TMAA's primary mission is to train and certify judges for UIL contests, the Executive Committee was unanimous in wanting to make sure our mission also includes helping to educate all music educators concerning judging standards and the specifics of what judges are observing and listening for at a contest. We feel this will help establish a consistent statewide ratings standard.

As our UIL Concert and Sight Reading Contests approach, I encourage you to write comment sheets that are diagnostic, but also instructional in nature. As adjudicators, I feel we are typically skilled at highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of performances, However sometimes we forget to include specifics on how improvements can be made. These suggestions can include advice on developing individual playing skills, ensemble concepts or other instructional methods and techniques that can be implemented. While presenting workshops and clinics throughout the state over the past couple of decades, I have always found directors appreciative and most have a sincere desire to learn. Unfortunately, many directors do not have access to clinicians or other resources to help them develop and improve their teaching skills. Sometimes the comment sheets we write can be the introduction to a new idea or concept that will spur an interest to learn more or maybe just remind a director about some aspect they may have forgotten to address.

I encourage you to look at your adjudicating experiences as opportunities to educate the directors in our profession and to continue to build upon the tradition of excellence that has been set by the music programs in the state of Texas for many years. I wish everyone a successful second semester and please feel free to contact TMAA if you have any questions or there is any way we can assist you.


Greg Countryman
TMAA President