Music students and teachers attend TMEA convention


photo by Kate Haas

The All-State band, choir and orchestra students, along with their directors, attended the 100th Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio on Feb. 12-15. 

Twenty-six band students, four choir students and two orchestra students attended the convention, which is the largest of its kind in the nation. There were over 280 workshops for educators, an exhibit hall of over 1,400 booths and performances from the All-State ensembles as well as selected colleges and elementary, middle and high schools. 

“It’s definitely a refresher,” head choir director Alexander Carr said. “It’s usually right before or right after the 100th day of school, so when you look at that, you’re like, ‘Alright, I can do this.’ Sometimes teachers get into ruts or routines and habits, so it allows me to reflect on how I teach and what my priorities are in teaching.” 

To celebrate its centennial, TMEA sold merchandise with a “100” included in the design, recorded a multimedia performance that included both live ensembles and video and had one extra concert on Friday for a special composition. 

“TMEA commissioned and premiered a piece that was all about Texas,” Carr said. “The All-State band, orchestra and choir all performed it. It was a really neat piece because it talked about Amarillo, Galveston and the Comal River — it had a lot of Texas themes and roots.”

While the educators in attendance spend most of their days in workshops, sessions and professional development, the All-State students have a different schedule. They have rehearsals two to three times a day, but have free time during lunch and dinner breaks and a curfew of 11:30. 

“We would go out to dinner, we had hotel room queso [junior Drew Pesina] made, we went to Dick’s Last Resort, got ice cream and watched movies; it was really fun,” senior piccolo player Brindley Wade said. “You don’t really see the directors the whole trip, so you’re going wherever you want on your own. It’s very independent.” 

Wade performed with the Symphonic Band, which was conducted this year by Frank Ticheli, a well-known composer. During the performance on Saturday, Ticheli did something uncommon in the music world: he stopped the piece to ask its composer, who was in attendance, if it sounded right. 

“I was thinking, ‘oh my goodness, he did not just do that,’” Wade said. “He just stopped it, and he was like, ‘Hey John, is the volume good?’ and from the audience, John Mackey said, ‘Yeah, it sounds good.’ Everyone could not believe he did that.”

Senior violinist and fourth time All-Stater Grace Kang said she enjoyed the rehearsals because she learned a lot from the director of the Symphony Orchestra, Carl St. Clair. The Symphony Orchestra performed Shostakovich 10, and St. Clair explained to the students the piece was about the death of Joseph Stalin and how each movement illustrated that. 

“I learned so much from him talking about the different movements,” Kang said. “He used really great imagery, so I was able to imagine what different parts of the song were supposed to represent and which melodies were supposed to represent different voices.”

Kang said the most fun part of the convention is spending time with friends, and that this year felt special as the centennial and her last trip to TMEA. 

“Me and my friends were talking about [the centennial] like, ‘Wow, this started in 1920,’” Kang said. “And then we thought, ‘What about the Great Depression and World War II, what did they do then?’ [TMEA] has been around through it all — a hundred years. We’ve only been around for the new century, but it’s been around for like ten decades.”