I’m Changin’ All Those Changes

Mike Lawson • November 2021Perspective • November 12, 2021

The old saying, “The only constant in life is change” is swinging into action with SBO under my new ownership, mostly a shuffling of a few things.

First, we adjusted the timing of the SBO Scholarship Essay Contest, and will announce it and mail a poster with the December 2021 issue. The essay contest will conclude the end of March, and our May issue will announce the recipients. Thanks to everyone writing in to ask when it was happening. I took over ownership of the magazine group in June, and our primary long-term partner sponsor, the NAMM Foundation, had focused on their own pending changes to 2022 and committed to the new underwriting of the scholarships a couple of months after they normally did. That said, the timing always bothered me a bit. I felt like the first half of the year should be focused on back-to-school band, and let the students have that time for more important things than essays, which we could do the end of the year and conclude before the end of the school year. So, that’s one change.

The essay contest will be open only to students enrolled in a public or private K-12 school instrumental music program, and not to privately-taught music students, or outside programs not directly involved with K-12 instrumental music instruction.

Another change I have wanted to do since I came aboard in 2014 was to move the “50 Directors Who Make a Difference” issue to a different month than December. I am moving the 50 Directors Who Make a Difference issue to February.

The timing was a tradition I inherited, but having helped publish that issue since then, it was very clear that contacting band directors in October with a November deadline for them to deliver a photo and answers to three questions was a major distraction for them (even if it is an awesome honor to be included), and exhausting for the magazine staff. Rounding up photos and info and answers to three questions from one band director in every state is akin to herding kittens, so if we can help make it easier for everyone by changing the time of year, all the better. It won’t really be better for me personally, because no matter what, the fall and on into spring, in “normal” times, I am traveling exhaustively for tradeshows and MEA conferences. However, I can work wherever I am with my MacBook Pro. Band directors cannot.

I once asked why it was slated for December when it was created over 20 years ago, and was told it was to provide a good issue for the Midwest Band Clinic. That just didn’t seem to be the right answer for me going forward. It will still coincide with a massive music education trade show and conference, the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) event. That show is actually considerably larger than Midwest Band Clinic, though we will still exhibit and attend Midwest.

This will allow band directors to get through with annual holiday concert preparation, and will be after marching season for football games have concluded. We will start contacting band directors in December and January, along with their administration, to make the announcement of selection for the issue. Our December issue will instead focus on an annual director survey, and give 50 directors a break in the fall from having to work on their being honored in time for the December issue, which meant having answers and photos in by the middle of November, with all kinds of fall breaks, rehearsals, and other important work the was placing a burden on them. Well, some of them. The issue was impossible to produce during COVID last year when many of the programs were in limbo, or virtual, or any other number of scenarios across the country.

Our annual Best Tools for Schools designation will shift to the July issue, since the annual Winter NAMM show is being moved to June in Anaheim in 2022, to allow for better planning of their sure-to-be triumphant comeback after a very arduous year for the tradeshow business in general.

Often, a change will do you good. And I think a change will do us some good at SBO. If you have other ideas for changes, I’m all ears. Send them over.

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