As Thanksgiving approaches, I hope this Newsletter finds you content; in your lives, in your jobs or in retirement, in your music-making opportunities, and in your continued role as an adjudicator for our school musicians. The “tie that binds” us all together is our own dedication to music and in our passion for making sure that future generations of students will become fluent and will experience the many benefits of this “language” we all speak.

As you accept UIL judging invitations for the coming year, remember the importance of language and its inclusion on the Form 4 and 5 critique sheets. These forms are incredible learning tools for both student musicians and their directors. My book of critique sheets is my “badge of honor” and shows my journey and growth as a musician and director. The suggestions, truths, and gentle corrections taught me something each year. The collection of critique sheets becomes the “history book” for the young musicians that I am privileged to direct. You, as a TMAA adjudicator, are the authors of pages out of each ensemble’s “history book”. Your comments, your years of experience, your impeccable ear, your knowledge of repertoire and how it works, your “teacher tricks of the trade” and your mentorship serve to further the standards and musical growth of the amateur musicians you judge. As you listen to each repertoire choice, keep in mind how many hours of practice (or lack thereof) that performance represents. Remember, also, that the repertoire is a choice of the director, not the students performing. This must temper your comments. Judge based on what is performed. How can your critiques better them as future musicians? Is it alright to give suggestions in choosing repertoire? Absolutely, however, remember that repertoire and the personnel performing it often take a hit once eligibility becomes fact. We’ve all been there. As you write critiques, keep in mind that they will be read aloud on bus rides home, in post UIL meetings and posted publicly for the whole world to see. Use musical language. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Constructive criticism in the true spirit of support is never begrudged by musicians who want to improve.

An excellent way to keep your judging “ears” sharp is to avoid tunnel vision (tunnel hearing, in this case). Although your schedules at school are beyond packed, try to make time to sit in on a rehearsal or concert of your colleagues in other musical settings. Listening to a choir director work during a rehearsal will give band and orchestra directors a different perspective and language set to use on a critique sheet and vice versa. Immersing yourself in a new listening environment and observing different directors using different approaches and styles is helpful not only as a judge but with your own ensembles. It’s too easy to fall into the bad habit of concentrating only on the musicians who come into your rehearsal halls every day. Your ear and expectations become used to a certain “sound” that can actually limit the possibilities for your ensembles. On this same subject, going to professional performances in your neck of the woods is a wonderful way to “feed your spirit”. The last thing most of us want to do after a typical day is to attend another musical event and to try to stay awake! However, just sitting back, not being “in charge” and letting yourself escape as an audience member gives you respite and a resurge. I find that, if I attempt to give myself these opportunities, my ensembles and my judging benefits tremendously. As medical doctors must stay abreast of every new procedure and method, so to must we stay on top of our game and give our best to the young musicians of Texas.

Thank you for your dedication to TMAA and for your commitment to the “language” of music and its power in the lives of our student musicians. After listening to many of our TMAA members, we are excited to present a convention schedule that will accommodate your suggestions. Please observe our new and improved Wednesday schedule and make plans to attend the workshops and the TMAA General Business meeting. The Concert Band Judges Workshop will take place from 11:00 am-1:00 pm. The Marching Band, Orchestra and Vocal Judges Workshops will take place simultaneously from 1:00-3:00 pm followed by the TMAA General Business meeting from 3:30-4:30! A big day, but this gets TMAA opportunities done early so that you can concentrate on your “All-Staters”, the convention and your travel plans. The TMAA executive board sincerely hopes that this new schedule provides you with a member-suggested consolidated day of events.

Dinah Menger, TMAA President

Copyright 2017 Texas Music Adjudicators Association
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  Kerrville, TX  78028-3802
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