Texas Orchestra Directors Association December 2012

Talented Students Travel to Midwest Clinic

Sandra Vandertulip
by Sandra Vandertulip



Following are two interviews with conductors sending selected students to the Midwest Clinic in December:


First Interview with Colin Catoe and Elyse Catoe, conductors of the Atascocita High School Chamber Strings


What made you want to submit your orchestra for application for Midwest?

Our orchestra program has developed into a group of wonderfully talented, dedicated

young people and over time, we have achieved our goals of  earning great marks at the UIL Concert & Sight Reading Contest, with successful placements in the TMEA Region XIX Orchestra, and with individual students competing at the Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest. We achieved these goals, and felt we should push the students to achieve more. The performance nature of the Midwest Clinic, performing in a program featuring great works for educational ensembles, the opportunity to invite guest conductors and performers to join us on the program, and for students to recognize musicians and other educational institutions from across the globe, also drove us to apply. 


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Second Interview with Ann Victor and Sophie Hsieh from the Sartartia Middle School Symphony:


What made you want to submit your orchestra for application to the Midwest Clinic:

We enjoy the challenge of assembling and preparing for a program such as this. From the musical aspect, an orchestra makes huge technical advances and progress during the preparation for a mega concert. The process to achieving mastery is fun as well as aggravating. As directors, we believe we should push ourselves to set definite goals for our students, and then model in a correct manner the merits of winning and losing. Then, even if we lose, we often win because of teamwork, new skills, etc. Lastly, Chicago is a beautiful city during December, and the students will have a lot of fun being there.


How did you handle your recordings?

We submitted part of a concert recording. Typically, I try to submit a very exciting piece and also one that is slow and beautiful. Applicants are required to submit a DVD of your conducting, and I used video footage from a concert. Some orchestras utilize the same company for both the recording and the video.


Where were you and how did you find out you had been selected?

I received an email from The Midwest Clinic at school. I let out a whoop and a holler and then went to tell Sophia Hsieh, my fabulous assistant.


How is the orchestra financing the trip to Chicago?

Students have been making payments since May. And we have done minor fundraising to make up the difference, mainly because of district requirements.


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Barbara Eads Memorial Scholarship Award

Directors, please keep in mind that the Barbara Eads Scholarship is a great way to encourage students to become music teachers and provide much needed financial aid. This $1,500.00 one-year only scholarship is available to your seniors starting a music education degree next year.  While not due until MAY 1, let's encourage our seniors to begin this application before the year end rush and senioritis kicks in. Students applying must complete the TODA Scholarship Application, write a short essay, complete with resume, current transcript, and 3-5 evaluations.  More details can be found on the TODA website at www.todaweb.org under Scholarship.


It is also not too late to make a contribution to the Barbara Eads Scholarship.  All donations postmarked by December 31, 2012 qualify as a 2012 tax deduction. Please mail checks to the TODA Office at 7900 Centre Park Drive, Austin, TX 78754. Your donation will allow more young people the opportunity to become an orchestra teacher.



Margaret BrownIssues and Answers


The 80/20 Rule - Are You Familiar With It?

by Margaret Brown, Past President


For those bookworm types, you know the 80/20 Rule is an economic observation made in 1906, by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. 80% of his country's land was owned by 20% of the population. In the 1940s, Dr. Juran applied the observation to a broader spectrum of business management principles. To us "regular folk" the rule can be reduced to "20% of the people do 80% of the work" and this ratio actually fits into just about any category in any walk of life.


As an orchestra director, I've found:

  • 20% of my students do 80% of the practicing
  • 10% of my students cause 90% of the problems (it's not an exact science!)
  • 20% of my day is actually spent teaching, 80% of my day is paperwork, planning and management of my program
  • 20% of my school year is spent in performances, 80% is in a non-performing venue (for a performance based course!)
  • 20% of my orchestra parents provide 80% of the support for the program (boosters, organization, volunteering, etc.)

While preparing for our Winter Concert, I noticed in my third group that "a few" were executing really awesome dynamics and tone, while the others were basically allowing themselves to be carried. Out of frustration, I asked if any of them had heard of the "80/20 Rule", and quite surprised that one kid actually knew what it was. This led to a brief discussion about the principle and how it applied to us. I asked if they wanted 20% of our concert to be awesome, and 80% of it to be mediocre.  That got a good laugh, but the point was made. Dynamics improved drastically after that!


I've been asking them, "which of you are my 20%?" It's amazing that 100% of them raise their hand to that!! The point is this: Focus on the 20% that matters. 

Spend 80% of your time and energy doing the most important things, creating the most benefit. While you work "smarter, not harder," work smarter on the right things.


So, the next question is.....Which part are you? The 80% or the 20%?


Orchestra Director of the Year Award

Nominations Due May 1, 2013

Do you have a mentor or colleague you would like to recognize for their dedication to orchestra education? Please consider nominating them for TODA ODY!  Many of us are orchestra directors because of another director. Or maybe we had an outstanding director in our youth or someone has helped us during our career.  Behind every great orchestra director is a great mentor.  Please take a little time to nominate your mentor for the TODA Orchestra Director of the Year. Deadline for nominations is May 1, 2013.  You can find the application and more information at www.todaweb.org under "Awards" tab.


TODA Board of Directors
President, David DeVoto, Allen ISD
Past President, Margaret Brown, McKinney ISD
VP/Treasurer, Pat Leaverton, Arlington ISD
Secretary, Jason Thibodeaux, Northeast ISD
Member-At-Large, Sandra Vandertulip, Round Rock ISD

Executive Director, Sharon Lutz