Author Archives: Thomas S. Clark

One More Time . . . Revisited

On April 23 I wrote that I had been asked to postpone my retirement and stay on one more year as Director of the School of Music.  I was OK with that. Now we are deep into necessary budget cuts, and the University is encouraging longtime faculty to retire so their position can be de-funded and not refilled. So now I have agreed, for the good of the cause, to go ahead after all and retire August 31.

This is not a case of the captain going down with the ship, but instead calculated sacrifices to keep as many crew still on board as possible. It looks as though three full-time music faculty will be joining me in a graceful exit. Gratitude to them and many thanks for everyone’s patience and dedication.

Wait — not refill the director position?! Dr. Joey Martin has agreed to serve two years as Interim Director of the School of Music. I will do whatever I can to help him and the School of Music continue to thrive as best they can in the face of the challenges still ahead.                      TC

            Music is Essential.

More Clark’s Rules

The original Clark’s Rules for Musician Success are seven basic principles to live by. They have worn well, largely drawn from my observation of the common traits of great musicians I’ve had the good fortune to meet or work with.

As I head toward the end of my administrative career, I reflect now on the many wonderful leadership mentors I’ve had the honor to work with. My reflections incorporate a few of the first 7 rules.                        TC

Clark’s Rules for Good Leadership

RULE 6:    BECOME A LEADER            It’s a lifelong process of self-development, not a hat you can simply put on.

RULE 5:    PLAN AHEAD            Fundamentally, that’s the main thing a leader does.

RULE 7:    ENCOURAGE OTHERS            Enable their good ideas. Trust their skill and commitment. Seek the best in others.

RULE 8:    IDENTIFY GOALS            Embrace a true mission. Let the practical goals flow from the mission.

RULE 9:    TAKE RISKS            Calculated, reasonable risks worth the payoff. Don’t be afraid of failure. Redefine it as simply not succeeding on the first try.

RULE 3:    DO THE WORK            Not everything can or should be delegated. Be well informed. Know how the systems and teams you lead operate.

RULE 10:  SOLVE PROBLEMS            Not necessarily quickly. Sometimes with time they solve themselves. Wait while seeking all the information, possibilities you need to consider. For the toughest, brainstorm, think the unthinkable. Engage others in the solution.

RULE 11:  ACT ETHICALLY            Be considerate but honest. Avoid being unnecessarily judgmental. Transcend stereotypes. Don’t assume you know what’s best for others. Choose the greatest benefit for the greatest number of stakeholders, while being fair to all.

RULE 12:  SHARE CREDIT            Or just simply give it away. It will come back to you if it’s deserved. Everyone knows anyway, the best accomplishments are team collaborations.

One More Time

The end of my 12th year as Director of the School of Music was to be my last before retirement, after 49 years of college teaching and administration. It’s not at all the kind of celebratory last year of my career that I was expecting!

And as it turns out, also not my last year. Under these extraordinarily challenging circumstances and with a TXST hiring freeze in place, I have been asked to serve one more year as Director, through May 31, 2021. Why not make it 50, having embraced this amazing School of Music through the best of times and worst of times? I will serve joyously through 13 more months of pride in all the wonderful things our students, faculty, alumni, and staff will accomplish.            TC

Keep singing

National Museum of Art, Prague 2019

As we each realize how important our health, family, and community are to us, we realize things about ourselves as musicians and members of our Somos Músicos School of Music community . . .

We miss being together and making music together so much that even the remote togetherness of a group Zoom session is joyful.

We realize the value of time alone, to practice and to prioritize our work, refreshing our minds.

We will not / cannot stop singing, playing, making and listening to music, uplifting and maintaining our spirits.


Music is Essential

TC writes:

Plans are now in place for the students and faculty of the School of Music to safely continue their studies by remote communication for the remainder of the semester. The isolation is difficult, with music-making being such a team sport, but the music faculty are rising creatively to the challenge. I trust the students will too!

The hardest part is losing even temporarily the opportunity for public performance of our shared art. But this is a moment in which we all must reaffirm together that music and the other Arts are essential not only to us as practitioners but to our communities and to society. We pledge to do our part to keep the flame bright and ready to rekindle the human spirit!


Rock Ensemble debuts

The School of Music’s new Rock Ensemble, directed by Dr. Jose M. Garza, Jr., performed Friday, December 6 at Tantra Coffee House in San Marcos. Members include: Evan Barnes (guitar), Jacob Bellemans (drums), Ethan Bruner (vocals), Roy Carpenter (bass), Alyx Cousins (vocals), Stephen Douglas (guitar), Aaron Dworaczyk (drums and guitar), Owen Morgan (bass), Lucas Munson (guitar and bass), Francis Nieves (vocals and guitar), Marco Orellana (drums and guitar), Aiden Potter (guitar), Jake Rabena (vocals), Benjamin Reynolds (drums), Armando Tomlinson (vocals), J. Refugio (“Cuco”) Valenzuela (electric and acoustic guitar), and Andrew Vineski (keyboard). 

Student saxophonists excel

Abel Jaimes won a saxophone position in the Young Adult Honors Wind Ensemble to perform at the Musikverein in Summer 2020. Vienna, Austria.

Lauren Gordon has been selected as the guest soloist with Sycamore Springs Middle School Band in Spring 2020.

Edgar Blandon was hired as a Music Mentor for Kids in A New Groove, providing Texas youth in foster care with a committed one-on-one    mentoring relationship through weekly private music instruction, giving students the ability to build concrete strategies for life-long success.

Chris Martinez is President of the Texas State Chapter of Collegiate Texas Music Educators Association.

Julio Gonzalez was a participant in Dr. Crystal Alexander-Duckett’s TXST guest presentation of The Benefits of Studying Martial Arts: A Musician’s Discovery of Tai Chi Chuan.

Professional soloist competition winner

Saxophone professor Todd Oxford won First Place in the Professional Soloist Category of the American Protégé International Woodwinds & Brass Competition, New York.

Oxford’s other recent activities of note include:            ▪ Nominee: International Acoustic Music Awards – Instrumental Division, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.        ▪ Hired by University Interscholastic League Music Division to perform the National Anthem at the Texas State Marching Competition. Alamodome, San Antonio.          ▪ Todd Oxford Discography acquired by National Library of Australia.            ▪ Featured Soloist at the National Association of College Wind and       Percussion Instructors National Conference. University of Northern Iowa.      Cedar Falls, Iowa. World Premiere of Richard D Hall’s Beneath the Dark Blue Waves”.      ▪ Guest Soloist at Hill College Performing Artists Series. Hillsboro, Texas.            ▪ Soloist at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Visiting Artists Series.            ▪ Soloist with the Texas State Chamber Orchestra. Jacques Ibert’s Concertino da Camera.            ▪ Featured soloist November 19 on the School of Music’s Stars At Night Faculty Composers Showcase.