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Micheal Holmes ABA President     

Mike Holmes                       

We began this “process” in the summer of 2015. Setting goals, making plans to ensure that the goals are met, and we hit the ground running. We have now reached a point that we can evaluate our level of success. It has been a great year, and as they all do, it has passed quickly. There are points along the way that seem to never end, but they do. It puts a smile on my face when I look back to where we started and see how far we have come. The sound of beginners are now the sounds of young musicians; the middle school band members are maturing as young musicians; and we aren’t looking forward to having to say goodbye to our seniors. It is a great feeling to know that goals have been met and our students have had a successful, positive, and rewarding experience. And now it is time to get ready for another great year of band!

All-State Solo Festival was once again hosted by The University of South Alabama Department of Music and what gracious hosts they were. Department Head Dr. Greg Grunner and Director of Bands Dr. Will Petersen could not have provided us with a more welcoming environment for our students, directors, and parents for this Festival. We had 80+ of Alabama’s finest young musicians participate. The judges somehow managed to choose seven to participate in the Finals (finalists are pictured in this issue). The Friday night Wind Ensemble performance somehow managed to top their outstanding performance of 2015. It was fantastic! This is a band program that I would be proud to have any of my students join.

All-State Band Festival 2016 was once again a successful musical experience. It is very interesting to get the opportunity to experience this event from different perspectives. I have attended All-State Festival as a participant, a young band director, as a more seasoned band director with several students participating, as an ABA District officer and now as an ABA Vice-President and President. I can truly say that attending All-State in any capacity is extremely rewarding. I would encourage all directors to attend when possible whether you have students participating or not. All four band’s performances were impressive. Professor Cramer stated in an email I receive a few days after All-State, “All-State was great fun; the students displayed a wonderful attitude and were very polite and eager to do better with each rehearsal,” and “I was impressed with each ensemble’s performance.” Professor Ray Cramer, Dr. David Willson, Mr. Carlton Wright, and Dr. Deborah Confredo were a pleasure to have as guest clinicians.

Thank you!! All-State Festival is a huge event for our organization. The District VII directors led by All-State site coordinator David Pryor went above and beyond what was required, and District chair William Mixon provided us with two consecutive years of a well-organized event. If you enjoy hard work, you should volunteer to serve as “Band Host.” James Ed Champion, Damon McAllister, Heather Henson, and Connie Hammond (and Tim) did a masterful job of taking care of the needs of our students and clinicians. ABA Executive Officers Doug Farris, Terry Ownby, Rusty Courson, Mark Foster, and Harry McAfee worked together, along with our District Chairs and Vice-Chairs, to see to it that our students could count on a positive All-State experience. I would also like to thank all of our directors that were present to judge chair auditions, work the tabulation room, and be on call if needed. All of the directors throughout our state are commended for the assistance provided to all of the students that auditioned. The 647 students participating was only the tip of the iceberg compared to the hundreds more who auditioned and participated in their District Honor bands. You make me proud! A special debt of gratitude is owed to our graduating District Chairs -- Taylor Cash (II), Joel Henson (IV), Dale Bloodworth (VI), and Trent Burkett (VIII). You are to be commended for the work you have done. It has been an honor to serve alongside you.

Summer Conference 2016 will be here before you know it (June 22-23, 2016). Register now  Information regarding lodging at the host hotel is also available at abafest.com. Join us at the Hampton Inn Orange Beach to celebrate the end of a successful year and the kick-off to another year. We have a great schedule of events, including the Wednesday evening Social Hour (low country boil and chicken fingers) that will feature “Old Fogey” Steve McLendon of Dothan HS (retired) as guest speaker. Visit abafest for a complete line-up of clinics and sessions. It will be hot; there will be plenty of Orange Beach sunshine, so DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!!

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