As you know, the Executive Committee works throughout the year to plan the annual All-State Music Festival and In-Service Conference. While we have continued to remain optimistic and plan for a normal All-State event, we are still facing many challenges and state mandates that hinder us from hosting a large three day conference like we had pre-covid.
Some of these issues include: numerous districts in the state not permitting overnight travel, many districts not granting leave for teachers due to a shortage of substitute teachers, unvaccinated students not able to share sleeping quarters (additional cost of providing individual hotel rooms for unvaccinated students would be prohibitive to many programs), unvaccinated students spaced at six feet when indoors, and the logistics of quarantining/contract tracing any students who become ill or exposed. These primary reasons along with numerous others including hesitancy expressed by teachers, parents, and conductors have made it obvious that we need to think outside the box for the 2022 event.
The Board of Directors and the Executive Committee are committed to providing a meaningful event for students and educators. They met last night and after much deliberation, voted to host a one day All-State Honor Clinic on January 8th at regional sites (UNM, NMSU and ENMU). While this won’t be “All-State” as we have had in the past, we are very excited to create a memorable and meaningful experience for all while also keeping everyone safe and following the PED and DOH mandates. Students will get the opportunity to play in a full ensemble where they will work with a guest conductor sight-reading new music, participate in workshops, and make music in smaller chamber ensembles.
Jazz All-State students will also have a one day event on January 22 at UNM and students will have opportunities to play in a big band as well as smaller combos. Look for more specific details on both events coming soon!
While we may find this news disappointing, NMMEA leadership must look at the whole picture and make a decision that best serves all NM music students and teachers, and specifically the long term ability to make music in person. Although music making may appear more normal in our classrooms, a large three day event poses greater health risk and we feel certain that if there were students that contracted COVID, we would put in-person music making in jeopardy. If an outbreak occurred, DOH and PED might decide to severely restrict or prohibit in-person singing and playing in the spring which would impact not only district events but the ability to sing and play in person in the classroom.
As this plan also affects our educator event, we are planning to host a one day hybrid educator conference on January 15th. Teachers are encouraged to travel to Albuquerque (site pending) to attend workshops in person and those who are unable, can choose to participate via Zoom from home or possibly from regional centers in Las Cruces and Portales. Registration links for the educator event will go live on our website this week. We would also encourage teachers traveling to the student All-State Honor Clinic to bring an instrument and make music alongside students.
We are excited to offer what we envision as a fun and meaningful day of music making across the state and we hope you will encourage your students to audition. Auditions will proceed as planned using OpusEvent. Students will be placed and selected students will receive recognition and their All-State patch. Once students are selected additional participation forms will be required and sent via Opus Event.