Better Together

Thomas Palmatier • April 2024Perspective • April 8, 2024

I recently returned from the American Bandmasters Association (ABA) annual convention, this time held in Washington, D.C. If you’re not familiar with ABA, it was founded in 1929 and its first president was Edwin Franko Goldman. Members must be nominated, their qualifications and recordings reviewed, and be recommended for membership. While its members have included (and still do) the prominent conductors of leading bands in the United States and Canada, membership also includes the very finest middle and high school band directors who have a sustained record of excellence and contributions to the profession.

Like many professional organizations founded decades ago, ABA is making great efforts to ensure its membership, its energy, and its resources reflect our diverse society and profession. I have had the privilege of serving on ABA’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, and Access (IDEA) committee for several years and the progress ABA has made has been impressive. At a gala concert in Constitution Hall, the committee’s first commissioned work was performed, conducted by Dr. Paula Crider. Stride! by composer Kevin Day is an exciting new work for Grade 4 bands that will be featured in an upcoming SBO+ issue.

This issue features Best Tools for Schools that were selected by three superb music educators at the 2024 NAMM Show. There is an incredible volume of new instruments, new method books, new compositions, and innovative technological tools coming out practically every day. SBO+ tries to help you stay abreast of what’s new. Another great way of keeping up with the industry is by subscribing to our sister publication, Musical Merchandise Review ( It’s the same great price as SBO+ (FREE!).

I was going to write about the arrival of spring and the start of the busy student travel season, but as I look out my window in Colorado, there’s nearly four feet of snow. Maybe next month!

In the next few months, look for an exciting monthly feature addressing how to build a culture of musical excellence. I’ll keep secret the identity of our chief collaborator for now, but his last name starts with “L” and ends with “autzenheiser.”

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