Whether you were a student or extracurricular musician, you are invited to join the Texas Musicians and Educators Forum on Discord. Social distancing, school closures, and quarantine protocols may have put an end to group rehearsals and concerts, but there’s no reason to feel alone in this unprecedented time.
First linked from the website of Camp Oak Hallows, the “TMaEF” server welcomes everyone from the very moment you join. Discord is a safe, user-friendly, and free program with optional Light or Dark view mode, and utilizes a tool called Roles to help users find the conversations that matter most to them in a server they have joined. Mostly geared toward the gaming community, Discord comes with built-in calling functionalities, so there’s no need to exchange phone numbers or private information, or download secondary apps and services, to talk with other members of the server. The TMaEF server is also built to strictly moderate behavior, language, and membership. In the #Library channel, you will find How-To information to help set up your preferences and experience in the server.
Plenty of text discussion channels have already been added to categories like Bands of America, Drum Corps International/Winter Guard International, UIL contests and the TMEA Convention, an annual event hosted by Texas Music Educators Association. The categories are broken down into brass, winds, percussion, strings, higher and lower level students, soloists, ensembles, and is sure to include private and homeschooled students and teachers of music. But don’t feel left out if these don’t seem like the place for you.
In addition to bands and orchestras, musical theater students and choirs as well as off-campus musicians are recognized. Even parents and former student musicians who pursued careers outside of music education have a “corner.”
Upon joining, you are asked to send your information to a Staff member, telling them what Roles fit you. This will help others in the server identify you in the community as you become a part of the digital conversations and online community.
Though there is little room for conversations to stray from the channel topics, those younger than 12 are asked to have a parent’s guidance in their usage of the server for safety and simplicity.
Educators may find it useful to be able to talk with peers about upcoming events and schedules, students may discover a sense of camaraderie in an unexpected place, news can be more easily shared from in and around the world of competitive music and education, All State students and Alumni are highlighted. There’s something for everyone in the Texas Musicians and Educators Forum, even if you’re not from Texas, or have left the state (for whatever reason someone would do something like that.)
You can join here, or by logging on to Discord, requesting to Join a Server, and entering the code 9hhBevb. Outside of the music, there is a separate server for educators, students, and anyone to share learning materials and network.
As a tool for communication, learning, news sharing, and making friends, the server is open to the public but closely monitored for users and behavior that don’t belong. Basic technology literacy is all you need to enjoy the networking platform which, by design, is safer and more “school-appropriate” than Snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram. Parents may recognize the similarities to Slack, students to Google Classroom.
*Discord’s private messaging features a video calling capability. Parents and teachers should advise their kids and students not to add strangers as friends, or use this video call service with anyone they don’t know. It is easy to block individuals who go out of their way to take the conversation into Private Messages, and anyone who feels the need should report suspicious behavior to the server Staff.