President's Notes
TCDA Pod Mentoring Program
Emily Crocker Competition
HC/AS Updates
2021 Winter Conference

 President's Notes
Thomas Rinn, President

Over the past nine months, the daily work of Texas choral directors has been dramatically altered. Each of us has been forced to the limits of our ingenuity as we strive to maintain the community of musicians we oversee. As we struggle to simply “stay above the water,” I encourage you to lean into the reason why each of us is in this profession - to care for our community of singers. The current educational buzzword of “social-emotional learning” reaches well beyond our classroom teachers to each of us involved in the business of leading a community of singers in school, houses of worship, and community programs. Our singers come to our ensembles for a multitude of reasons beyond the music we produce and at this critical time, we must continue to focus on the emotional needs that choral participation fulfills. At the same time, we must also work to cultivate rich choral music experiences in our communities, despite the current challenges, to ensure the long legacy of Texas choral excellence continues well into the future. While the music we make may only look like a skeleton of what we are accustomed to, the needs of our singers have not changed. Continue to look to each other within our choral community and to TCDA as we strive to inspire our singers and enrich each other as their leaders. members can be found on the TCDA Website.

Following the overwhelming success of our summer virtual convention, the TCDA Board of Directors has continued to meet regularly and plan for the future of our organization. With this in mind, there are several developments and initiatives I would like to share with the membership.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Initiatives

After hearing from our membership at the August forum, the Board of Directors developed an action plan that includes the formation of four committees to review various aspects of the organization and make recommendations to the Board. After making a call to our membership for volunteers we have been able to establish the committees with representatives from all around our state that represent the diversity of our membership. The committees will be meeting regularly over the coming months in an effort to develop initial recommendations to the board of directors by the June 2021 Board Meeting. A complete list of the committees, chairs, and members can be found on the TCDA website.

Financial Outlook

As we have noted in our previous communications, TCDA has been examining ways to strengthen our financial situation for the coming years. We were well into this process before the coronavirus pandemic greatly altered our plans for the future. Years of decreasing income (primarily a steady loss of vendor revenue at the convention) combined with increasing costs have been a long-term challenge of the organization. With the cancellation of the physical convention this summer the board approved a financial plan for the year that included substantial losses and use of money from savings to sustain the organization. Thankfully, the combination of the federal relief package and great success of our virtual convention will allow us to end the fiscal year with no need to dip into savings accounts. In fact, we will complete the fiscal year with a balanced budget. Unfortunately, for the long-term outlook of the organization, we must do better than “balanced.” We must find a way to increase income in order to meet the declining vendor revenue and rising costs of the San Antonio convention. We expect that exhibitors and vendor income will be significantly down in the coming year as many of our business partners are greatly suffering from the financial crisis ignited by the pandemic. With that in mind, the board continues to take action to secure TCDA financially.

After much consideration, the Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to close the physical office of TCDA in Austin in favor of a home office for our Executive Director and Membership Services Coordinator. This difficult decision was made in an effort to continue to trim the expenses of our organization and establish financial stability that will support Texas choral directors well into the future. The decision will save the organization approximately $20,000 annually. We expect the transition to home offices to be complete by the end of the calendar year.

TCDA continues to be an evolving organization. The Board is committed to building on the strong traditions of the organization while also transforming it into one that serves the complete diversity of our membership for years to come. We have faced a year of unprecedented challenges and we continue to be faced with difficult decisions and work ahead, but we do this, knowing the value of choral music and the community of professionals that we serve.

TCDA Pod Mentoring Program
Jessica Nápoles, VP College & Community

One of the most important lessons we have learned from the pandemic is that we need one another. Connecting with others is important, and that is true both for our singers and for ourselves. A large number of people are entering the profession during these stressful times, seeking guidance, wishing to connect and have a listening ear to grant compassion when they struggle. As an organization, we are hoping to fill that need through a pod mentoring program.


For this pod mentoring program, we’re looking to match our experienced and retired directors with those new to the field. TCDA has a rich legacy with outstanding directors across the state, at every level and in every context, all dedicated to directing choirs and helping to serve singers everywhere. We also understand that sometimes a one on one pairing can be challenging and new directors can greatly benefit from others like them who are also entering the profession. To that end, we’re looking to establish pods (a small group of 4-5 teachers), with a combination of beginning directors and experienced/retired directors. The goals are to establish camaraderie between beginning directors (who are having a similar experience), to create opportunities for them to engage with experienced/retired directors, and to build support systems that lead to retention in the profession. This format would also allow for less pressure on an individual pairing and benefits in multiple directions (peer to peer, beginning director/experienced director). We envision a flexible arrangement for interaction, with a variable time commitment depending on the times of the year and the needs of those in the pod.

At this time, TCDA is asking for assistance with identifying these beginning and experienced/retired directors, in all settings in which our choir directors work, so we may begin the process of matching. TCDA is a caring community and we all understand there is much to be gained from connecting with one another and serving our singers.

We have had limited response so if you have already completed this form, there is no need to do so again.  

We need more participants to make this a robust and valued program for anyone interested.  Please indicate your interest in participating in this pod mentoring program by completing information HERE.

Thank you for your consideration and willingness to support our organization’s membership!


The TCDA Emily Crocker Emerging Composer Competition is designed to encourage young composers of choral music for the middle school ensemble.

Composers must meet the following age requirements:
●    Must have been born on or after August 1, 1985 (change this to age)
●    Must be a current TCDA member (including out of state residents)
●    Must agree to relinquish publishing rights to Hal Leonard (with appropriate royalty contracts, etc).
●    Must submit a $25 application fee per submission.

Compositions should adhere to the following requirements:
●    Compositions should be suitable for performance by middle school (grades 7 & 8) Mixed, Treble, or Tenor-Bass ensembles with appropriate consideration given to vocal range, tessitura, and compositional complexity for this age group.
●    Voicing should be SATB, SSA, or TTB with limited or no divisi.
●    Compositions must be original. Source material for arrangements should be limited to music within the public domain.
●    Submissions should not have been previously published
●    Text must be in the public domain, unless the composer possesses written consent from the copyright holder to make use of the source material.
●    Compositions may be accompanied or unaccompanied. Unaccompanied works should include a piano reduction in the score.
●    Compositions between two and four minutes in length will receive priority consideration.

All submissions should be entered online at by December 31, 2020. Scores should be submitted in pdf format with the composer’s name removed. Text with translation (if applicable) and proper permissions (if applicable) must be submitted with the score. A recording may be submitted but is not required.

Compositions will be evaluated by a committee and approved by the TCDA Board of Directors. The TCDA Board reserves the right not to name a winner if the adjudication panel does not recommend an entry for award.
2021 Adjudicators
Emily Crocker, chair
Victor Johnson
Laura Farnell

The winning composer will receive
●    $750 cash prize
●    Feature at the 2021 TCDA Convention
●    One nights hotel to attend the premier at the Summer Convention
●    Opportunity for publication through Hal Leonard pending editorial and publisher approval.


2021 Winter Conference

Monday, January 4
 (lunch break 12-1:30)

Join us for a one-day virtual conference with sessions on topics including: 

  • Rehearsal Strategies--both face-to-face and virtual
  • Building Community
  • Recruitment and Retention
  • Repertoire Selection and Reading Sessions

Pre-Registration - $40
Day of Registration - $50
Students - $20

Registration for this event is open and 2021 TCDA membership is required.  CLICK HERE to proceed

Honor Choir and All-State Choir Update

TCDA is moving forward, planning for the annual summer convention to take place, in person, in San Antonio July 22 - 24, 2021.  For the first time, we will have TWO auditioned choirs, an Elementary Honor Choir and an All-State MS/JH Choir.  More details will be coming prior to when we all break for the holidays.  In the meantime, note these highlights:

  • Elementary students in 4th, 5th, and 6th* grade may audition for this choir.
  •          *6th grade boys may choose to audition for the MS/JH choir ONLY if their voices  have changed and they can audition for a tenor or bass part. They may only audition for ONE choir, not both.
  • MSJH students in 7th and 8th grade may audition for this choir.
  • Both choirs will use "My Country 'Tis of Thee" as the audition piece
  • All auditions will be submitted online as in the past
  • There are no limits to how many auditions a teacher may submit.  All teachers submitting auditions must be 2021 TCDA members.
  • Auditions will open on February 1, 2021
  • Auditions will be $15 each and there will be no refunds, no exceptions.**

Stay tuned for more details within the coming weeks.

**IF TCDA should have to cancel next summer's in person convention, we will still recognize these hard working students with Honor Choir and All-State Choir placement and recognition on the TCDA website and with certificates sent to each student that was placed into these prestigious choirs.  In addition, there will be more collateral available as well.