November 2014


What's New...

Save the date for the TODA reception held during 2015 TMEA Convention

Thursday, February 12, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Hilton, El Mirador Ballroom

From the President...
by Jason Thibodeaux

TODA offers the most specific professional development opportunities for string educators.  If you have attended the TODA Convention you know the value of the experience. Our most recent summer’s convention hosted over 10,000 music educators.  This includes world class musicians participating in the conventions of not only TODA, but also TBA and TCDA.  The great thing is, that if you so choose, you can experience musicianship and pedagogy from a wide array of genres, abilities and techniques all in one place.  Please encourage your colleagues, new to Texas or new to the profession to attend. The convention dates for 2015 are July 23 – 26.

Being a part of the board has shown me details of the TODA convention and the association I never knew existed.  I used to show up and have a great time at convention then enjoy the socials at TMEA, but I never really thought about the role TODA plays in the future of orchestra education.  Now I constantly think about the responsibility of TODA and the future of our profession.  With that in mind the board has had to make difficult decisions in the past years to ensure the financial stability of our association in the future.  The biggest decision was to share the exhibit hall, income and expenses of exhibits, with TBA and TCDA.  That was a daring decision however a necessary one to improve and ensure the future wellbeing of our association.  After attending a convention with all three organizations I believe that was a great step forward.  The next discussion was convention clinicians/volunteers and their compensation.  The board appreciates the hundreds of volunteers and countless hours dedicated to making the convention successful.  Volunteers are absolutely essential to even having a convention!  The decision to not offer compensation for volunteers and clinicians was difficult but necessary.  This is consistent with other organizations and we are counting on you to continue to volunteer and serve as you have faithfully done in the past knowing we will all benefit tremendously from your contributions.  Going forward we will all be required to pay membership and convention fees, with exception of board members.  That’s incentive to run for Member-At-Large!

In preparing the 2015 convention schedule we look forward to hosting a university faculty and a headliner composer. These clinicians always bring new ideas and views for our rehearsals and are greatly appreciated. Texas is known across the nation as the leader in school orchestra performance.  The readers of this newsletter are the best string educators in the nation. If you have an idea to present or have questions you would like answered, please share your experience and knowledge with the membership by volunteering to be a clinician.  Whether your expertise is teaching a specific instrument or technique, recruitment/retention, conducting, organizational skills, motivating young students, technology or anything you feel is important, please submit a clinic proposal for the summer 2015 convention. 


Follow the link above, complete the form and mail to [email protected] and [email protected].  The deadline for submissions is February 27, 2015.

Thank you for your time and dedication.


Money Matters
by Sandra Vandertulip, VP/Treasurer

Every day I am constantly reminded of how much things cost these days!  Things that used to be under a dollar are now, four, five dollars, easily!  When it comes to putting on a fabulous convention, it has been eye opening to see how much money each one of our events is costing our wonderful organization.  With that said, it is important for us to come to convention, share ideas, learn new ways to do things, hear great new music and network with some of the nation’s best(if not the world’s best) string teachers! 

We really have it great here in Texas with a convention that is tailored just to our needs.  This includes having great exhibitors in our exhibit hall.  These are our faithful supporters who are helping cover the cost of our convention.  Without our exhibitors, we would not have a convention!  It is important now that you support your local music stores with music needs, repairs, rentals, supplies, etc. so their company is healthy and will return to our convention as an exhibitor. 

Our great organization is also in need of NEW members!  I remember very vividly moving to Texas from Arizona and my sponsor teacher had given me Sallie Juvenal’s name and phone number.  Sallie was so helpful and welcoming and told me, “You HAVE to come to TODA.  It is the best thing for orchestra directors”.  She was right!  And all it took was an invitation from a veteran teacher to invite a new teacher to become a member!  So TODA members help your young colleagues to come into the fold and encourage them to attend TODA this summer.

From the Past President
by Pat Leaverton

I truly believe we have the best job in the world.  No matter how tired or unmotivated I begin my day, once I am in front of a class and helping them perform or learn new techniques I am energized, motivated and charged for the rest of the day.  What a great way to spend the day, and they even pay us for it!  We all came into this profession because at least one teacher in our past inspired us to be excited about learning and performing music.  We are now stewards of that tradition.  As stewards of our profession it is our responsibility to preserve and pass on our traditions of excellence.  The question then becomes how do we do this?

The first is to continue your quality teaching and let the kids see that this is a rewarding experience.  Next we need to volunteer to help our profession.  This can be done in many forms.  You can mentor a young teacher in your area.  You can volunteer for TMEA or TODA conventions.  You can share your talents and run for office of TODA, or you can contribute to our scholarship fund.  We have ownership of our profession and it is our responsibility to make it what we want it to be.  The orchestra programs in Texas have grown and excelled because of the teachers in all the programs.  They will continue to thrive because of your leadership.  Collectively we are the stewards of this great tradition and will pass it on to the next generation better than we received it.


The Meaning of $728
by Lamar Smith, Secretary

It is no secret that the cost of higher education is skyrocketing at a shocking rate. Most TODA members cannot relate to the prohibitive expense of tuition and room and board at even the most “affordable” public universities. Do not misunderstand: a college education has never been cheap. However, today’s students face financial struggles more regularly than anything encountered even ten years ago. Need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships are a life-line for an increasing number of college hopefuls.

Some recent studies show that the average cost of college textbooks for ONE semester of study is $728; many students pay twice this amount, even when purchasing used textbooks or when renting books. This astronomical amount does not show signs of abating any time soon, and students need the right materials to succeed in their coursework. It seems so unfair in so many ways. I feel especially sympathetic to my own former students who are studying music who must buy all of these textbooks AND also maintain their instruments with good strings, bow hair, and other maintenance.

As TODA members, we can do something to help. The Barbara Eads Memorial Scholarship is awarded each year to deserving students who are going to follow in our footsteps as music educators. The bigger the fund, the more students we can help. When you make a gift of ANY size to the scholarship fund, you are helping to ensure the future of our profession is in the hands of people who have had the best in educational opportunities.

Consider making your gift before the end of the calendar year. You will help future orchestra directors fulfill their dreams (and be able to claim it on this year’s tax return!). Even a little bit helps whittle away at that $728 price tag.

Donations can be made year-round online through our website Giving Opportunities form.  Or mail donations to:

Texas Orchestra Directors Association
7900 Centre Park Drive, Suite A
Austin, TX 78754

Be sure to note “Eads Scholarship” in the memo line

 Tuning Instruments
by Christina Bires

I often turn to the internet to find inspiring and helpful tips to bring into the classroom.  In so doing, I came across a particular website I've  used on several occasions, so thought I would share it with you.  Due to copyright laws, we cannot reprint the article here, however, please check it out when you have a chance on Tuning Instruments. Teaching our students to tune their instruments could be one of the most important lessons we teach.  You'll see there are many other great resources on that website as well.  Enjoy!

National Youth Orchestra of the United States - deadline for auditions is November 5.

TODA Board of Directors

President - Jason Thibodeaux, Northeast ISD
Past President - Pat Leaverton, Fort Worth ISD
VP/Treasurer - Sandra Vandertulip, Round Rock ISD
Secretary - Lamar Smith, Carrollton ISD
Member At Large - Christina Bires, Friendswood ISD
Executive Director - Sharon Lutz

Director, Member Services - Beverly Schlegel

7900 Centre Park Drive, Suite A
Austin, TX  78754