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From the Executive Director

Jay Wardeska Executive Director
As you read this latest release of TRIAD, we are celebrating national Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM). In recent years, the need to strengthen support for music education has once again become vital due to economic challenges, an emphasis on STEM rather than STEAM, and a push towards career readiness at the expense of a well-rounded education. Advocating for music education is inherent in what each teacher does daily in classrooms and rehearsal halls statewide. I encourage you to use available tools such as email, newsletters, and social media to share stories of music education's impact on your students and communities. Share with students and parents the reasons that music matters to you and how music has impacted your life. We must be willing to show pride in our profession and not be too modest to share the stories of our success. Each of us plays a vital role in insuring a bright future for music education in Ohio.
By all metrics, the 2024 Professional Development Conference was a tremendous success. Attendance was up by almost 12% from 2023. There was a substantial increase in trade show exhibitors and a stunning array of clinics, performances, and exhibits. It was the first year of paperless registration and on-site badge distribution. The All-State Ensembles were back to pre-pandemic levels in both participation and performance. The passion and positivity of music education was on full display. We are looking forward to continued expansion of the experiences and opportunities for our attendees as we look forward to our return to the newly renovated Cleveland Huntington Convention Center in 2025.

In 2024, the Adjudicated Events Committee is piloting an expanded large group format that provides more options and allows teachers to design how AE can be used as a teaching tool for their programs. The addition of several options for State Orchestra Adjudicated Event has been well-received, and orchestra participation increased by nearly 20%. Participation in District Large Group and Solo and Ensemble is up as well. Solo and Ensemble participation has increased 25% in the past two years while Band and Choir Large Group has increased by 10%. The Adjudicated Events Committee is planning further refinements and additions over the coming years to better serve the needs of 21st century school ensembles and their teachers.
To better address OMEA’s mission of providing a quality music education for all Ohio students, a newly revitalized Advocacy Committee has been formed. Under the skilled leadership of Danielle Shaub, the committee members are representative of all levels and disciplines of music education as well as the varied demographics of Ohio’s schools. Jazzmone Sutton, the NAfME State Advocacy Engagement Manager, was on hand at the 2024 Professional Development Conference to provide training for the OMEA State Board and to begin intensive training of the Advocacy Committee. Further training will be happening this summer. We believe these steps will provide the committee with as many tools as possible to strengthen OMEA’s ability to promote and support the cause of music education in Ohio.

There are several new initiatives and program revisions that will be unveiled in the coming months. These programs are designed help OMEA better respond to the ever-changing needs of music education in the state of Ohio. We are hopeful that our membership will continue to grow both in size and strength with members engaged in the process of building the best possible future of music education for our students.

Celebrating Success

Technology Trek

With the launch of the new OMEA website and association management system, our first goal was to provide the basic tools needed to successfully participate in and manage the many events and members services that are required by OMEA membership throughout the year. To achieve this goal, we had to sacrifice many conveniences and aesthetic properties to which we had become accustomed. Committee chairs, site chairs, event hosts, elected officials, and OMEA staff members all continue to shoulder extra burdens as part of this process to maintain basic functionality. However, as of this writing, our programmers are in the final stages of completing the last modules for our system that will make the circle complete. With the completion of these moedules, we will be eagerly entering the refinement stage. Our next goal is to take the basic functionality of our new systems to a level of convenience, efficiency, and excellence that we have never experienced. I am personally grateful to Nicholas Turon who as Director of Technology has guided this process. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Hensler, Dane Newlove, Bill Thomas, and Bill Wittman who as staff members have met innumerable challenges with patience and grace.

Looking ahead to the future, we have outlined a hierarchy for our programming team beginning with overhauling the management processes for site chairs. This includes items such as consolidating all event data into one location, allowing ease of scheduling, and improving the overall navigation experience. For members, we will be focused on refining the registration processes and providing additional services such as searchable adjudicated event required music lists, embedded services like adjudicator evaluation, and creating additional avenues for member communication.

One of our team’s overarching goals is to create an intuitive site map--building on the basic infrastructure of the website but creating a more intuitive and convenient navigation. This will include improving the overall aesthetic design of the site with it becoming as attractive and user friendly as possible.

Our goal is to realize all these goals by the 2025-2026 academic year and have a system that can be easily maintained and can continue to evolve as new initiatives and new tools become available. We are all grateful for the patience and understanding of the membership during this complicated but necessary technology transformation.

Digital Dialogue Dynamics

As teachers, we often struggle with the student and/or parent who seems to never know when report time is or when the next homework assignment is due. This is particularly frustrating when we have sent home information on a handout, posted it on a website, emailed the parents and the students, and posted it on social media. In today’s ever-changing digital communication landscape, knowing how best to disseminate information is elusive.
To aid OMEA membership with access to information, we are using a multi-pronged approach which includes our website, email, and social media. Our first step has been to significantly increase the OMEA social media presence. OMEA currently has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and X (Twitter) which use the profile name “OMEA-Ohio.” These can be found by searching for “Ohio Music Education Association.” For those who choose not to access social media, the Facebook feed is also embedded into the homepage of the OMEA website and can be read by anyone who is an active OMEA member. Important information, reminders of deadlines, and other useful and enriching information is posted multiple times a week on OMEA accounts.
The new OMEA website ( provides a “one-stop shop” approach for members. The website provides access to all relevant member information by logging in using a self-created member profile. While not a habit for some, using a phone, tablet, or computer to log into the website will provide a high probability of finding required or desired information. If you have lost your username or password, you can resend the “Welcome Email” to yourself through the Help Menu located in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage.
During the winter months, many questions appear on non-OMEA social media accounts that are related to OMEA Adjudicated Events. In the “Adjudicated Events Section” or the OMEA website you will find all rulebooks and relevant AE information. Additionally, we have installed a button titled “Ask OMEA.” This button is at the top of the General Information Page under the Adjudicated Events Menu. If you click the button and submit a question, you will receive a response within 24 hours. There is also a Facebook group called “Ohio Music Education Association Adjudicated Events.” This group is monitored by members of the OMEA AE Committee and OMEA staff as well as adjudicators and fellow participants that are quick to answer questions or engage in discussion about any aspect of the adjudicated event experience. This group is open to any current member by requesting to join. Finally, you can email a member of the adjudicated events committee, a member of the staff, or myself with any questions you may have. Email contact information is available on the website.

We are currently developing additional tools and resources to provide additional opportunities for engagement and discussion. These will be launched in the coming months. Please take it upon yourself to engage and be part of the discussion. We are here to serve you.

The Coda

It is an exciting time for OMEA. I am so proud of our entire team and all OMEA members who have stepped forward and embraced these many changes with patience and passion. We have seen significant growth in membership and participation, but there is so much more ahead. There are many new initiatives underway that will position OMEA to best serve the needs of music educators in 21st century classrooms and help all of us meet the expectation of providing high quality music education in Ohio. We have much about which to be excited. Thank YOU for your service and dedication to the greatest profession! We are OMEA.
Jay Wardeska serves as the Executive Director of OMEA. He has served OMEA in a variety of leadership roles including District President, All-State Ensembles Chair, All-State Task Force Chair, and Adjudicated Events Chair. He also served as an adjudicator for solo and ensemble, large group, and marching band. Currently a PhD Candidate at The Ohio State University, he holds degrees from Kent State University (M.M.) and the University of Mount Union (B.M.E.). Jay taught music in the State of Ohio for over 30 years and was named the 2013 National Band Director of the Year by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and the U.S. Army Band. Additional acknowledgements include membership in the NAfME U.S. Army All-American Band Directors Academy, Grammy Quarterfinalist for Music Educator of the Year, Medina County Arts Council Service to the Arts Award, the National Band Association Citation of Excellence, and the National Excellence in Teaching Award. He is also a Martha Holden Jennings Foundation Scholar.