AOA: Engaging Students, Collaborative Community

As a collegiate educator to 80+ instrumentalists (and parent of two teenagers), I quickly recognized the pandemic’s harmful effects on everyone’s loss of community. Zoom graduation ceremonies delayed concerts, canceled school trips, hybrid instruction, and masked school hallways led to most finding a social circle behind the veil of a gaming avatar, TikTok video, or funny meme. As we re-emerge from our personal refuge, it is time to engage students through the power of music in new, enlightening ways.

I am thankful for an incredible, forward-thinking Alabama Orchestra Association Leadership Team (21 in all) that tirelessly works to provide all student instrumentalists with appealing, educationally-rich experiences that propel them to compete on a national level. Here are a few new opportunities to engage and inspire with us, and we enter the 2021-2022 year:

● All-Region Orchestras – Woodwind, brass, and percussion colleagues around the state have asked for AOA to open more seats for their students to participate in a full orchestra. In response, Fall 2021 virtual auditions will qualify woodwind, brass, and percussion students to perform in the Alabama All-State Orchestra OR one of the North/South Alabama All-Region Orchestras. With six full orchestras (instead of two), we hope students will be encouraged to compete through audition. (Note – string students will be required to participate at the region AND state levels)

● Engaging AOA Leadership Team – With the addition of new regional events, AOA asks you to consider leadership with us. Whether serving as an event volunteer or host school, co-district chair, or rising to the state leadership team, we openly welcome new ideas to the organization. We want to be collaborative, inclusive, and a strong advocate for you and your students.

● New School Orchestra Programs – If you are a school administrator, our AOA Executive Team wants to work with you on developing a new string program in your local school. As a complement to excellent band and choral programs around the state, a string program appeals to the diverse student willing to find their unique voice and will place your school district on the map for prospective families (will help propel district population and revenue growth)

● Master Calendar – Thanks to a masterful AMEA, ABA, and AVA leadership, we have worked tirelessly over the past year to open communication across divisions, craft coordinated schedules, and support the great work of all AMEA divisions around the state. Updated details can be found at alabamaorchestraassociation.org on August 1, 2021

I continue to be impressed by the resilience of our orchestra programs, and their never-ending commitment to their musicians. I am inspired by your commitment to engaging communities with the value of music. Please know that my door is always open at dstevens1@una.edu.