I've been in San Antonio the past few days at the TMEA Conference. It was a terrific trip and had an opportunity to meet many of the forum members. My wife Marianne joined me on this trip (I simply could not leave her alone on Valentine's Day - and please don't tell her about Jamiha's Valentine post).
They say everything in Texas is big and TMEA was no exception. More than 23,000 music teachers, students, music industry people and forum members converged in San Antonio this past week for the Texas Music Educators Conference. The Conference featured more than 60 musical performances and over 200 workshops for band, orchestra, choir and music technology. TMEA is the largest such gathering of music educators in the nation.
Unlike NAMM which is filled with synths, amplifiers and guitars - TMEA was chock full of woodwinds, brass, strings and all kinds of percussion.
The show started out with a bang on Thursday - Valentines Day. Many people came by our booth and we demonstrated the Steinway, GPO, JABB, and CoMB. Quite a few people from this forum came by to visit including: DDW, Captain Hook & Alicia, Jim Casella, Gary Mosse, Paul Baker, Steve Martin, John Kuzmich, composer24, and a number of others. Thanks Gary M, Danny and John for helping at our booth.
There was a great deal of interest in the Concert and Marching Band library as there are many band teachers and students attending. The Steinway was also popular. Although I had some trepidation about running the Steinway on my 3 year old Dell ultrpaortable, it worked well without any problems.
Much was accomplished while there and we had many business meetings with distributors and retailers as well as with partners such as Hal Leonard, Yamaha and MakeMusic. Thursday afternoon I had a meeting with management at MakeMusic discussing the year ahead. There will be some nice surprises coming which I will share in due course.
After the show on Thursday, Marianne and I joined Danny Williams and his wife, Julia, for a romantic Valentines Day dinner at the Paloma Riverwalk followed by a boat ride along the San Antonio River(walk). The San Antonio Riverwalk is a Texas Treasure and its most popular tourism attraction.
Then we were in for a real treat. MakeMusic sponsored the TMEA 2008 President's Concert featuring Sir James Galway and the San Antonio Symphony under the baton of acclaimed conductor Craig Kirchhoff. The first half of the show featured Tichell's "Pacific Fanfare", "Concerto in G Major for Two Flutes and Orchestra" by Cimarosa (Galway was accompanied by his wife Lady Jeanne) and Copeland's "Suite from the Tenderland". There were a number of short impromptu pieces also performed.
The highlight of the concert was the second half of the show, Corgliano's "The Pied Piper Fantasy". John Corgliano wrote The Pied Piper Fantasy in 1982 specifically for Galway. The piece opened with atmospheric tone colors - I rarely heard an orchestra produce such sounds which was contrasted by the spry flute lines of Galway. For the finale, Galway led 90 middle school flautists - pied piper style - around the theatre and on stage! Imagine all those young flautists who had a chance to play along with Galway.
The theatre itself was beautiful. If you're in San Antonio I would urge you to see a concert at the Majestic. It is recognized as one of the most ornate venues in the country with its vaulted "sky", colorful glass, white peacock perches, statues and flourishing foliage.
Many thanks to John Paulson and MakeMusic for the tickets. This was a Valentines Day we'll always remember
On Friday we had a full day in the exhibit hall. Many music educators from various schools and universities came by the booth. I heard some concerts throughout the day - most notable a harp ensemble with six harpists - very heavenly. Also I had some meetings with our distributor, Hal Leonard, and some of our retail partners.
In the afternoon I was asked to speak to the Music in Education workshop with Athan Billias, Director of Marketing, Technology Products of Yamaha and we talked about music technology in education and the use of software instruments.
After the show there was a dinner meeting with members of the MESH Alliance. The MESH alliance is a strategic alliance of Yamaha, MakeMusic and Garritan to promote music in education and open standards. After dinner we took a leisurely stroll down the Riverwalk.
On Saturday the show we did more demonstrations at our booth. In the late morning I had an opportunity to attend a workshop by Sir James Galway. He gave lots of tips and spoke mainly about the flute technique but what he taught applied to all instruments - even software instruments
Galway talked about "focusing" notes. Each note should have its own approach and be focused. Approach each note different to get the best tone. He spoke about varying the tone so you don't play notes the same way each time. The way to focus a note on the flute is to change embouchure. This will vary the tone color of each note.
He talked about developing good technique and gave advice on practicing scales. Galway played a number of scales and I have never heard scales sound so beautiful. He said just don't blow but make each note sound beautiful and get into it.
This advice would apply to all of use using software instruments. Focus the notes, approach each note different and impart variability to each note.
Galway was very comfortable around young people and very encouraging. Here we have one of the very best flute players in the world who was so encouraging and willing to share his knowledge so freely. It did not matter if someone was a beginner or pro flautist - he had something to give everyone. What a good example he is.
The exhibit hall closed at 3 and it was off to the airport. When we arrive all flights to Dallas (where we were to connect) were cancelled due to storms. Luckily another airline honored our tickets but there were further delays. I was fortunate to speak with John Kuzmich who was on the same flight. John is a master clinician in music technology.
Music education is very important in Texas and people were at the show because they love music. One resident said music is as big, as important and as competitive as sports in the schools in Texas.
It was great to see so many of the forum people at TMEA and also see so many young people enthusiastic about music.
All the best,
PS: Photos will follow...