Changing of the Guard

Mike Lawson • ChoralFebruary 2022Perspective • February 23, 2022

Publisher Mike Lawson

It has been an immense honor to have served as editor of SBO Magazine since 2014. I got to do something that got me in a lot of trouble as a student – give teachers my “strong opinions.” I even got paid for it this time. I sat in this seat from the other side of your podium, as a former jazz band kid, choral kid, and all things music I was able to take on growing up. All of it led directly to my lifelong love of making music, and a rather colorful professional music career. 

Over the past seven years, I have met hundreds of our readers in person at “MEA” conferences and the like. I’ve been able to help select 300 different directors for our annual 50 Directors Who Make a Difference features. I’ve tried to reshape the editorial focus of SBO to a well-rounded look at today’s instrumental music education programs, from very traditional programs, to not-so-traditional programs. 

I’ve loved every minute of it. I live to make music and I strongly support teachers who inspire kids to make their passion for making music a lifelong endeavor. I genuinely love what I do so much that when presented the opportunity last summer, I bought the company. I now own Musical Merchandise Review (MMR) magazine, which has been continuously in print since 1879. That magazine serves the other critical component for both music educators and musicians alike, the musical instrument retail trade. Between inspiring teachers and great music stores, I escaped a life of poverty as a kid and made a way for myself. 

I also now own SBO Magazine, JAZZed, Choral Director, and the new Modern Band Journal. That’s five publications. Look for a new general music publication in the fall. I’ve got a lot of work to do. 

I am beyond delighted to announce that, beginning with the next issue, I am naming Colonel (Ret.) Thomas Palmatier to become editor of SBO Magazine. We first met at a banquet for the American Bandmaster’s Association in 2015, and again at a Festivals of Music event in Virginia Beach, VA, where he was adjudicating a student festival. After interviewing him for a story, I later “enlisted him” (he may say he was drafted) to start a column called InService, because of his experience “in the service” with his remarkable career leading the U.S. Army Band, including Pershing’s Own. It was also because he continues to serve teachers and music students post military retirement. That a man with his credentials would want to continue in the role I have shepherded is such an honor to me. Palmatier isn’t just a retired colonel, he is a gown-up “band kid,” guest conductor, adjudicator, and conductor of a community band where he lives. He is clinician for Conn-Selmer, composer, arranger, and in his spare time, he still substitute-teaches middle school band! Because he worked his way through college playing bass in clubs, he also “gets me,” the kid from the jazz band who wanted to rock.

I can think of only a handful of people I have met to whom I would feel completely “at ease” handing over control of SBO to, and on top of that very short list is Tom Palmatier. You can expect some great things in SBO from “your side” of the podium now. You can reach him at; I know he looks forward to hearing from you. Thanks for your continued readership during my term. I appreciate you. 

All the best!

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