Click to visit the Palen Music Center website

Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, October 29, 2012


Palen Music Center is dedicated to helping children experience excellence, personal growth, and joy through involvement in music. We carry out this mission by supporting area band directors through weekly service, support, educational programs, and quality products. This weekly Quick Note newsletter strives to highlight topics that are immediately helpful in the classroom. Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues!

Why the Texas Music Association's (TMEA) Annual Convention Should Be On Your "To Do" List
by Aaron Thomas
Director of Bands at Hickory Hills Middle School, Springfield, MO
(417) 523-7100 (school)
See us at

Every second week of February, over 25,000 music educators descend on the massive, but beautiful Gonzales Convention center that arches over the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio, for the annual Texas Music Educators Association convention. I have had the opportunity to attend this convention several times since 1996, and without exception have found it to be an amazing and extremely educational and helpful experience. Texas is one of the nation’s leaders in music education, and such is made evident by all that this convention has to offer in its immense scale and opportunities for professional refreshment and development.

We have attended the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, and enjoyed it immensely. TMEA is no substitute for the national/international flavor of Midwest and the world-class performances you will hear, but it does provide a different and equally beneficial experience as well as offering an exciting view of how the Texas music education system operates.

Here is a summary of what will make this convention worth your time:

  1. Clinics, clinics and more clinics. TMEA offers an overwhelming and outstanding selection of real-world application instruction. I am extremely impressed with the yearly emphasis on teaching fundamentals and individual instrument pedagogy. Every year you will find practical, step by step clinics that deal with the most basic issues of tone production, embouchure and technique; to the development of more advanced skills. A great deal of emphasis is placed upon the critical importance of developing individual playing skills. Every instrument – from marimba technique to oboe reed selection – finds representation in the clinic selection, with several different choices per instrument. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about instrument pedagogy, hearing top musicians/teachers reinforce the importance of continual fundamental teaching is extremely refreshing and a great reminder to take back to your own band room. And if you are not able to get to every individual instrument clinic that you would like, don’t worry; they will have it available the following year.

    But, that is not all. No matter if your specialty is Middle School or High School, there are more than enough clinics offered by world-class clinicians from Texas and across the country applicable to you. If you want to develop better conducting or ensemble building techniques – there will be clinics for that. If you want to see the latest trends in technology in the band room – there will be clinics for that. If you want something on teaching march style, the best way to approach Granger or picking the best literature for your group – there will be a clinic for that. If recruiting and retention is a concern, there will be a clinic for that. If you are looking for strategies to help out with music advocacy or how to employ effective strategies for budgetary issues and district cuts – yes, you can find clinics for those issues as well.

  2. You will not be able to even come close to attending everything that you would like, as there are multiple, applicable clinics going on at the same time throughout the day and evenings. For those who are a member of TMEA or who are registered for the convention (TMEA membership is not required in order to attend), an on-line scheduling application/organizer is offered where you can choose the clinics you want to attend, and it provides you a schedule that clears out all the things you are not interested in or cannot be present for – making it easier to prepare a pre-planned schedule for better efficiency of your time and to save you the trouble of hunting for what you want from the printed convention guide. And for those clinics that you wanted to attend, but did not have the time for – with your TMEA website password, you can access pdf copies of all clinic outlines and handouts; with even some clinic recordings available.

  3. You get to see bands from the top band programs in the state of Texas, from both the Middle School and High School levels. These are bands that often eventually appear at the Midwest clinic. TMEA rotates the years in which bands from various classes may qualify as the top “Honor Band” in their class, through the extremely tedious and numerous qualifying levels. Not only are you able to hear some of the best bands in Texas, but some of the best in the country before they premier at Midwest.

  4. TMEA features the largest exhibit hall in the nation, with approximately 440,000 sq. feet of exhibits. You will see music publishers, instrument manufacturers, technology vendors (e.g. Smart Music) composers, marching show designers, etc., all directly represented. Because of the amount of vendors present, TMEA actually offers two convention halls.

  5. The Riverwalk itself offers a great opportunity to relax. It provides a wonderful atmosphere to take your band staff, or even a perfect place to take the family for a few days.

I understand that early February can be a busy time of the year (of course there never really is any down-time in band directing), but I would encourage you to take the time to visit the TMEA convention at least once.

For more information, visit

Do YOU have an idea for a Quick Note article? We love it when we receive article submissions from the directors we serve. Please send articles or ideas to

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center Representative


Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


Springfield Bob Hopkins, Wayne Blades, Jason Moore, Mike Steffen, AAron Bryan (417) 882-7000
Columbia Chuck Appleton and Rob Goade (573) 256-5555
Liberty Ken Crisp, John Bell, and Victoria Clymore (816) 792-8301
Joplin AAron Bryan (417) 781-3100
Broken Arrow Jeff Lawless and Mary Ann French (918) 286-1555


If you would like to submit material, make corrections, give comments, or wish to be removed from this mailing list, please contact Eric Matzat.  

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook