December 2013



Wishing you all a joyous Holiday season!

What's New...

Mark your calendar for 2014 Convention dates: 

July 27 - 30, 2014

Highlights of the 2013 convention are on our website including session handouts.

Join us for the TODA reception held during TMEA

Thursday, February 13, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Hilton, Mirador Ballroom

We are grateful to acknowledge our sponsors:
Brook Mays & H&H Music Co. & William Harris Lee

From the President...
by Pat Leaverton

The Future of TODA Belongs to You

Greetings, Fellow TODA Members.  As I write this article I am, like all of you, in the midst of our annual marathon of Winter Concerts.  Although I am busy preparing students for upcoming performances, much of my work outside of class consists of preparing for our next round of concerts, in this case UIL. I caught myself the other day humming Christmas tunes I had just conducted while trying to complete bowings for Beethoven! The nature of our profession is that we are always planning for the “next thing.”  Just like our classroom, when it comes to our professional development we are looking forward and planning ahead.  I hope that you are already making plans to attend this summer’s TODA Convention July 27-30 in San Antonio.  The board and staff are putting together a great line-up of events for our membership.  However, our convention will not be complete without YOUR HELP.  I am asking for your assistance in making this summer’s convention the absolute best experience for everyone in two ways:

  1. Please extend a special invitation to our young teachers to encourage them to attend this summer’s convention. First year teachers joining TODA receive a 50% discount on the convention fee, and new teachers are also eligible to enroll in a New Teacher Academy. The orchestra programs in Texas continue to grow at a faster rate than the other fine arts programs around us.  If you look around your school district, region and across the state you will see there are many young teachers new to the profession.  If you are reading this newsletter it is because you are already a member of TODA and know about the benefits of attending our great convention and how it can help each of us become better a music educator. Whether it is attending new music reading sessions, participating in pedagogical sessions, visiting the vendors in the exhibit hall, or meeting other directors from across the state, everyone can come away from the convention a stronger teacher, and this makes the orchestral programs in Texas even stronger. Share Your Knowledge About TODA and recruit a new member!
  2. If you are great at recruiting, teaching a specific instrument, motivating adolescents, evaluating student progress, finding the best instruments, working with administration, etc. please take the time to present at this summer’s convention. Please consider sharing your wealth of knowledge with our membership by submitting a clinic proposal. We have some of the best orchestra teachers in the nation as members of TODA. TODA is a strong organization because of our membership.  It is your knowledge, skills and willingness to share that have helped me become a better music educator, and I hope you will share that knowledge with all of Texas.  Please click on the link below and fill out a clinic proposal.  {Sharon and Beverly, please include the link to the clinic proposal here}

I look forward to seeing everyone at the TODA reception in San Antonio on Thursday, February 13th.  Happy Holidays!

First High School Student Day!

TODA is pleased to announce the first High School Student Day, in partnership with the Texas Choral Directors Association on Monday, July 28.  This is a tremendous opportunity for your student leaders to experience an energizing day with valuable leadership training lead by experienced and engaging clinicians.

  • High School Student day registration is done through convention registration
  • Each student and chaperone will receive a TODA Student Day Badge for Monday, July 28
  • Activities for students from 9:30 am until  3:15 pm include Leadership Training with highly acclaimed clinicians and students will be able to go through the exhibit hall.
  • Lunch break will be at noon; students on their own for lunch.
  • Cost for the entire day is only $15 per student
  • More information to come!

TODA Board of Directors

President - Pat Leaverton, Arlington ISD
Past President - David DeVoto, Allen ISD
VP/Treasurer - Jason Thibodeaux, Northeast ISD
Secretary - Sandra Vandertulip, Round Rock ISD
Member At Large - Lamar Smith, Carrollton ISD
Executive Director - Sharon Lutz

Director, Member Services - Beverly Schlegel

7900 Centre Park Drive, Suite A
Austin, TX  78754

Money Matters
by Jason Thibodeaux, Treasurer

Barbara Eads Scholarship

   There's still time for a last minute tax deduction for you while also helping students pursue their education!  Donations can be made to this fund any time through our website.

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-time only scholarship is available to your graduating seniors starting a music education degree next year. The deadline is May 1 but please encourage your seniors to begin this application.  Students applying must complete the TODA Scholarship Application, write a short essay, complete with resume, current transcript, and 3 to 5 evaluations.  More details may be found on the TODA website.

It is also not too late to make a contribution to the Barbara Eads Scholarship.  All donations postmarked by December 31, 2013 qualify as a 2013 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.   Thank you to last year’s Donors.  Because of your generosity we were able to award scholarships to three very deserving young men for 2013. We look forward to your continued support.


Sharing What Works: An Interview With Ann Smith of Flower Mound High School
by Lamar Smith, Member At Large

At this year’s Midwest Clinic, the Chamber Orchestra from Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD will perform. In the midst of preparing for this performance and fulfilling her duties as TMEA Region Orchestra Chair for Region 24, FMHS Orchestra Director Ann Smith was kind enough to sit down with me for a few minutes to tell me about the group and its selection to perform in Chicago.

What made you decide to submit an entry for The Midwest Clinic?

A number of factors inspired me to give it a try. Our school district is very supportive and encourages those of us in the performing arts to achieve at a very high level. After seeing the positive experience that some of my colleagues had with Midwest, the decision to enter was an easy one. The idea of taking my students on a trip to Chicago to perform at such a prestigious event was also attractive.

What performance did you use for your audio and video recordings?

I decided to use our UIL performance CD, and the same performance was used for the video recording.

How did you feel when you learned your group had been selected?

I was very excited for the students for the recognition of their hard work and success. After telling my assistant director, Allison Rose, I notified LISD Fine Arts Director Bill Watson. It was difficult at first because we were in the midst of EOC testing and couldn’t get all of the kids together at once. Once we were able to tell the kids the good news, they were ecstatic!

From your perspective, what are some reasons your program is so successful?

The success starts in a strong middle school feeder program. In LISD, students start orchestra instruction in the 6th grade, and we are blessed with excellent instruction at Shadow Ridge, McKamy, and Forestwood Middle Schools. Furthermore, over 80% of the students in Chamber study privately with top DFW-area teachers. The extraordinary support of our campus and district administration must be recognized too. At the end of the day, it the commitment to excellence and artistry displayed by the students that is the ultimate measure of success.

You have an assistant director, Allison Rose. What is her contribution to the success of the program?

It wouldn’t have happened without her. She led sectionals, she was a wonderful sounding board for my ideas and always willing to take on administrative tasks. She is constantly listening and offering suggestions during rehearsals. Besides being a great colleague, Allison is also a great friend who is there for the good and the bad, the funny and the frustrating, the beautiful and the…not beautiful!

What have you learned as a teacher since being selected for Midwest?

The value of all levels of literature: it is important for a top high school group to play grade one and two literature and still make it meaningful and musical. It is a common misconception for people to think that I’m under a lot of pressure to get this performance prepared, but the real pressure comes from making sure that our ENTIRE orchestra program is still running smoothly and that all of the students are getting what they need, not just the ones in the Chamber Orchestra.

A final word from Ann:

If you have the opportunity to submit an entry for Midwest, do it! It is highly prestigious, and, after having been part of the planning this year, it is truly humbling to be a part of such an extraordinary event.

On behalf of TODA, many congratulations to Ann Smith, Allison Rose, and the Flower Mound High School Chamber Orchestra!