AMEA: On Your Mark, Get Set…

When I was a young boy, I loved racing. I was either racing on my bicycle, go-cart, three-wheeler or racing on foot. The most common way for us to begin the race, “back in the day,” was with the traditional, “On your mark, get set, GO!” Of course the ever popular long pause just before “Go,” would really raise the excitement and anticipation for the race. This summer has been very reminiscent to the long pause before the race begins. I could not wait to see the faces of my students and their smiles. The sounds of their instruments without bell covers or their voices unobstructed were sounds I looked forward to.

At the time I am writing this article, I have currently finished three days of band camp and I can say, without a doubt, the anticipation did not disappoint. This week has reminded me how powerfully rewarding normal interaction with my students can be in this profession. My desire is to never take for granted these moments and always recognize how important they are for the development of our students.

I hope you find yourself recharged, from a well deserved break, and as excited to get back to work as I am. I have heard some people refer to this past year as a “hard reset” for schools and in many ways I must agree. A hard reset will clear your memory and close any unwanted applications running in the background that keep slowing down your computer. It is time for a new beginning.


The AMEA Governing Board met in person for the first time in over a year this past June. Seeing everyone in person after so long was incredibly enjoyable. For me it was the first step for us to begin the process of starting that new beginning.

During the summer, I organized a committee of leaders from the band, orchestra and vocal divisions to discuss updating the document, found on the state department’s website, for guidance for continuing music education. Our goal was to advocate for every child in Alabama to have unencumbered access to a full music education experience this year. I believe the new wording that was produced is consistent with this objective. Our hope is that your school system will see how valuable a well-rounded education, including music education, is for our students now more than ever. I would like to thank Joel Henson, Randall Fields, Daniel Stevens and Rob Lyda for the work they provided in this undertaking.

We all know how important music education is for our students’ social and emotional well-being under normal circumstances. I am convinced that since the pandemic has forced such a socially deprived atmosphere for our students that music education can be the driving force to bring everyone back to a thriving emotional state.

During this past June, the AMEA leadership was able to attend the NAfME National Assembly virtually. I was proud to report to the other states the great successes Alabama had throughout the year with in- person All-State events and virtual performance assessments, as well as our successful virtual

conference. I am extremely proud of the educators in our state and the work done to keep music alive in Alabama.

I would like to congratulate AMEA’s past president, Susan Smith, for her appointment earlier this year as the Chair of the NAfME Collegiate Advisory Council. Susan has brought a fresh approach to this position that resulted in an outstanding Collegiate Summit this summer as part of the National Assembly.


As we move forward, we are thrilled to host our 2022 Professional Development Conference face to face next January in Birmingham. The Governing Board is hard at work planning a great conference, and we believe it will be exciting, rejuvenating, and beneficial for you to attend.

The special impact music has in the lives of all of us will be renewed with each event our students and community experience this upcoming year. I am optimistic this year will provide you with a chance, like no other time in our lives, to share the wonders of music with a group of people that may have forgotten how powerful the experience of music education can be.

What an incredible privilege we have to participate in this important adventure following the “hard reset.”

Now let’s get ready. On your mark, get set, GO!

David Raney