From the President

AOA: Strength in Numbers

Strength in Numbers

When I research the greatest K-12 institutions in our nation, they are firmly grounded in arts education. Complementary disciplines ensures that every child, each with unique character-traits, is able to explore and strengthen core academic proficiency, transferring arts experiences in human behavior, critical- thinking, creative problem-solving, and human empathy and compassion. In addition, the arts provides an emotional outlet for a discerning number of mental health issues in education, partially driven by a pandemic that is isolating for many students.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has shown that music educators in Alabama may also feel isolated, serving as the only voice for arts education in their school district. The music education field often faces tight annual budgets and course scheduling that effects personnel in otherwise incredible school districts.
It only takes a quick look to our neighbors near Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, or Pensacola, to see that the bright spots in these communities are seen through complementary music disciplines, with thriving choral, band, orchestra, and general music classes in many of their K-12 schools.

I agree that it is difficult to imagine a budget that is stretched thin, allows for the employment of multiple educators, class periods, and instruments. However, the momentum and result of rising student grades, engaged parent boosters, pride of school superintendents, and a K-12 arts program that places your community on the map, causes a cyclical effect that promotes growth and a ROI (return-on- investment) for families moving to your area.
Although the pandemic has caused us all to step back, maybe now is the time to look at our strength in numbers, to promote growth in our music programs, and to explore complementary disciplines that will make everyone advocate for growth for your program.

I am by no means an expert, and every school district has its unique challenges, but I am humbled that in my prior state we kicked off multiple new string programs that led to full-time jobs for graduating music educators (as a beginning string instructor and assistant band director). Don’t let money alone discourage you – grant programs, string educators shared amongst school districts, and self-funded programs are all possible. With hundreds of string students participating in seven youth orchestras in Alabama, there is the desire of parents and students to see their disciplines represented and valued in our schools.

Please know that my door is always open, if you would like to dive into an exploration of a string program in your district. Please feel free to contact me at

Thank you for your tireless and relentless work on behalf of our students. We all entered the profession to make a difference in the lives of these beautiful souls, and I am inspired by your commitment to engaging communities with the value of music.

Blessings, Daniel Stevens

Important AOA Updates for 2020-2021

NOTE: The AOA Orchestra Music Performance Assessment will be a virtual-only event, accepting video recordings of all full-orchestra, string-orchestra, guitar, and harp ensembles. Details can be found at after March 1, 2021.

Orchestra Music Performance Assessment Video Deadline…………………………May 1, 2021