The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog
Caroline Voelz

StudentStory SummerCamargo 1

Summer Camargo was on of the many students who traveled to Indianapolis, IN for the 2018 Music for All National Festival.  She wrote about her experience both years she attended and we are happy to share it! 


Being in the 2018 Jazz Band of America was so amazing! I really enjoyed last year’s experience and this year. At the 2017 Music for All National Festival I had the incredible opportunity to work with a prolific arranger and composer, Mike Tomaro. This year, Jeff Rupert was such a pleasure to work with. He is so encouraging and positive. Both directors chose memorable, amazing charts for the band to perform.

Playing with Andy Martin last year was a privilege, and this year Yamaha performing artist, Sean Jones, was awesome! I was especially looking forward to working with him because he is one of my favorite trumpet players. Not only was he the guest artist, but he also was a master teacher and gave us lots of feedback during rehearsals.

Performing in Clowes Memorial Hall was just as spectacular as last year. It is such a unique opportunity to play in front of such a large, supportive crowd and the acoustics in the hall are incredible! Some other fun things we did this year included having our own jam session the day after the performance. We also attended the Honor Band of America performance, which was new for us this year.

Another special part of this year’s experience was that my school’s concert band, Dillard Center for the Arts Wind Orchestra, was invited to perform as a featured band! I really enjoyed having my friends from school in Indianapolis with me, performing with them, and hearing them cheer for me at the Jazz Band of America concert. I was also one of the three kids selected to represent my school at the Gala Awards banquet on Saturday evening.

I grew very close to the band members this year, just like last year. After spending so much time together during rehearsals and meal times, it would be almost impossible not to form lasting friendships! I still keep in touch with the members I met last year, and I am sure I will keep I touch with this year’s members. All in all, the memories I have made at Music for All will be ones I will treasure and never forget.

StaffStory CamandJames

Our Staff Story this week focuses on the incredible connection between James Stephens, Director of Advocacy and Education Resources, and Cam Stasa, Director of Participant Relations and Special Projects, at Music for All.

Cam Stasa has a long history with Music for All. She performed in the first “Marching Bands of America” event in 1976, and was Drum Major when she marched again in Summer Nationals in 1979.

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Stasa continued her involvement when she joined the Bands of America staff in 1989 as the Director of Operations. She was serving as the Director of Band Relations when she first encountered James Stephens.

“Everyone knows Cam Stasa and everyone has a story of how they are connected to her. My story begins when I was in high school and she told me ‘Oh my gosh we are so glad you are here!’ at the 1994 Bands of America Grand Nationals.’” Stephens, a senior Drum Major at Bellbrook High School at the time, remembers Stasa as the nice woman who spoke to him as she lined him and fellow drum majors up to take the field. It was this year that Bellbrook H.S. was named the Class A Grand National Champions.

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On the bus ride home Stephens remembers how grateful he felt for his Bellbrook H.S. directors and their willingness to take a group of students to compete at BOA. He also remembers reflecting on the day at Grand Nationals and thinking, “Who are these Bands of America people who have given so much of their time, energy, and talent to create a space, a national stage, where we get to do what we just did?” He never expected that he would later come to know several of those people on a much deeper level, specifically the woman who excitedly welcomed him, and many others, on the field at Grand Nationals in 1994. He also never imagined he would work alongside them one day.

“I have known Cam for 27 years,” Stephens said, “Actually my whole family has known her for a long time.” Due to Stephens’s siblings’ involvement in the Bands of America program, Stasa has become an important figure in all of their lives.

While in college Stephens volunteered at BOA events and eventually started bringing his own students once he became a director. This was when he started to see Cam more frequently and began cultivating his relationship with her. He then continued his involvement when he agreed to become a faculty member at the Music for All Summer Symposium. In 2014, Stephens filled the position of Director of Advocacy and Education Resources at Music for All. He now works closely with Stasa everyday and has an office just down the hall from hers. Stephens said, “Music for All is a family and Cam is part of my personal family as well”. Stephens even named Stasa the godmother of his one-year-old son.

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When asked about how she feels about her impact on a young boy from Bellbrook High School, Stasa said, “It is very overwhelming to realize the impact we have had on individuals, and music education in the entire world. For every life we have touched through our events, that experience remains with each individual. It is immensely gratifying to hear stories from people who participated years ago. The connecting point never ends.” She also stated, “It’s family, it’s generational, and it keeps going. There is a large number of young people who we impacted in their career who have gone on to become directors and now they want to participate with us.”

The connections and impact on others is what keeps the organization of Music for All growing and evolving. “Our mission at Music for All is to create positively life-changing experiences and we are, that is just fact, “ Stasa said. She then explained how the organization is only in its 40’s and has many more years to go. “There will be a whole new generation of people sitting in this office who I assume are going to be as dedicated and as driven, and who have had their own experience with us,” said Stasa. It is Stasa’s and Stephens’ hope that all students who attend Music for All and Bands of America events receive a similar positive experience that they both received as students.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Educator Spotlight: Arris Golden

Copy of Copy of Educator Spotlight AndreaBrown

Arris Golden understands the importance of connections amongst the music education community and has ideas of how to strengthen it even more.

Golden is the current Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.. Although she has been successful in music education for many years, she first received a poli-sci degree from UNC Chapel Hill.

Golden attributes her decision to go into music education to her band director at UNC Chapel Hill.

“There was that linchpin moment that we all have when a new director showed up and a lot of us went... ‘Guess we're going to be doing more school.’” Golden stated. “He was that inspiring; he was that much of a difference maker.”

After another four years of school, she decided to use her music education degree and become a middle school band director in Cary, NC. “No one goes into it expecting to be super rich,” Golden said. “And you know, you discover after you get involved in music and the right people come into your life that it is just another version of being super rich.”

During her 18 years as a middle school band director, Golden decided she was interested in studying conducting. She attended multiple workshops and symposiums in hopes of bettering her conducting skills. One of the best events she has ever attended for conducting included Dr. Kevin Sedatole, who she connected with and, as a result, ended up attending Michigan State University in 2014 for her Doctor of Music Arts in Wind Conducting. After finishing her coursework in 2016, Golden accepted a position at UNC as Interim Assistant Director of University Bands and then was appointed the job for the following academic school year, full-time.


Golden attributes a lot of her opportunities and success to the connections she has developed. “You just have to put yourself in a place and be at a level where you can take advantage of the things that happen around you and for you, and be able to recognize those,” Golden said. She is a firm believer in working collaboratively with those in the music education field, and learning from their successes and failures.

“I have a really close knit group of friends in North Carolina, especially where I taught for all those years and we all just like to help each other.” She stated. “We like to go to each other's band rooms, we like to go to each other's rehearsals and just talk about music, and talk about how to make the students more involved.”

Golden continues to help others and take advice from music educators as well. “I hope that because I've been able to do so many things throughout my career - I'm African American and female, at the collegiate level, and conducting bands now, that I serve as an example you can do this. If you do the things that are required to go into the profession you, female or African American, can be successful,” Golden said. Even though she believes that music education is a well-connected profession overall, Golden wishes to
find ways to share more information, because everyone has something to share.


After becoming a moderator of the band director group on Facebook, Golden saw just how impactful words from fellow music educator colleagues could be. She still thinks there could be more helpfulness and positivity on the page, along with more willingness to take constructive criticism and suggestions. “One of the biggest things is to take more advantage of the people around you that are willing to help you and know more than you do,” Golden said.

Her hope is to see more members participating in the Facebook group in the future.

StaffStory Jeremy
Photo by Darrell Fife

As Music in Our Schools Month continues, we are excited to share an example of the special camaraderie cultivated through music, between Music for All’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Jeremy Earnhart, and Courtney Melton, former student and current Assistant Director of Waxahachie High School, TX.

Dr. Earnhart is off to DFW today with his daughter Kierstyn, to attend Melton’s wedding. Earnhart first met Melton when she was attending Bedford Junior High in Bedford, TX. Melton’s older sister, Caitlyn was in high school at the time and a member of Earnhart’s band. Courtney was also a member of the L.D. Bell Band from 2005-2008. She was the flute soloist for the marching band in the 2006 show titled "The Remaining" and the 2007 show title "Transcendents," which won them the Grand National champion title.

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A terrific musician, Melton continued at the University of North Texas, which happened to be the same university Earnhart attended for his Bachelors and Masters degree. Earnhart presented to the North Texas Future Education Group with Morton – along with many other promising directors – was in attendance. Melton is now the assistant director at Waxahachie High School outside of Dallas, TX. “I am so proud of her accomplishments at Waxahachie High School and the ensembles overall achievement of being named the 2018 State Honor Band,” Earnhart stated.

Earnhart has been in contact with Melton over the years and is now excited to be attending her wedding stating, "I am humbled and excited to witness this incredibly important day in the life of Courtney and her new husband."

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Educator Spotlight: Nick Gonzales

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Nick Gonzales doesn’t just believe in the power of music, he believes in the power of connections, and the impact one can make on another’s life through music.

Gonzales is the current Director of Bands and Orchestra at West Lake Junior High in Salt Lake City, UT and has taught band for 14 years. Before West Lake, Gonzales taught in Klein and Spring, TX. His first job in the Klein district was in an affluent area with many motivated students, parent volunteers, and an overall heavily involved community. It wasn’t until after Gonzales began teaching in the Spring district that he realized the great motivation and ability the students had at his previous school. After teaching at a school with less community involvement Gonzales stated, “I realized these kids are coming from broken homes. These kids have a lot to worry about that's not even school, so they come to our schools, and they come to our classroom, and the last thing they're thinking of is their education.”


When he began teaching students who were positively affected by music and the connections made through music, Gonzales realized his job was about so much more than teaching students how to play instruments. “In my teaching, I had to really be aware of number one before music, the kid, and we have to start building relationships with the kids, and show them that we care,” Gonzales said. His focus was not on how much musical knowledge a student could gain from his classroom, but how much kindness he or she could receive and give. “What we say is that when you walk into this band hall, it's sacred. There's kindness. We teach kindness. We have standards,” Gonzales said, “we have to be structured, and even after school, yes, you're here, but you still have to follow what we do, and follow those steps that we do, but enjoy yourself responsibly, and be kind to people.”

After acquiring his passion for assisting underprivileged students, Gonzales started a non-profit called Stone of Hope Youth, an organization that helps provide disadvantaged youth an opportunity to help improve self esteem, learn discipline, respect, and encourage them to strive for excellence as students so they will attend college. During the school year, Stone of Hope Youth provides a Mentor Program for disadvantaged boys who lack positive male role models in their life.


After founding the Stone of Hope Youth program, Gonzales was approached about assisting with the Foster Project, an organization created by the National Music Education Alliance, with the purpose of assisting, mentoring, and providing resources to underserved communities. The Music Education Alliance started the program in hopes that it would inspire and create an incentive for educators, and their band programs, to create a positive environment for students within their programs. Gonzales was approached to become a mentor for other directors through the Foster Project, and now he is the Western Division Chair for the program.


Throughout his life, Gonzales has dedicated his time and energy into teaching and mentoring young minds through music. His next mission is to mentor more directors like himself into being positive forces for their students as well. Gonzales understands the importance of the connections that music can create and has dedicated his life to purposefully connecting with those around him. His biggest tip is, “find as many mentors as possible, and talk about the profession, and number one, talk about how you can influence kids, and be willing to change your mindset. Be better. Use people to help you with that, and to be honest with you.” 

Monday, March 05, 2018

Advocacy in Action Awards


Music for All is proud to announce the launch of the Advocacy in Action Awards, a radically different call to action. This program will collect, share, and inspire “great ideas” for advancing music making in communities across the Nation.

Are you proud of what you are doing in your community to help advance your school music program? We encourage you to submit your ideas! Winning entries will be promoted at all Music for All programs.

Categories include:
• Fundraising & Sponsorship
• Recruitment & Retention
• Marketing & Promotion
• Parent & Booster Involvement
• Community Engagement
• Decision-Maker Interaction

Applications open May 1, 2018.

Please visit for more information.

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If you’ll be in Texas this weekend, please come see us at the Music for All Booth #1148! Several of our staff will be available to speak with you, and we will also have materials available including the 2018 Bands of America Championship Schedule and Application, the 2018 Music for All Summer Symposium promotional materials, and application packets for the 2019 Music for All National Festival!

After you’ve stopped by, don’t forget to catch some of the clinics and presentations that are happening throughout the weekend. Below is a list of sessions and performances that are being presented by friends of Music for All!

WEDNESDAY, February 14, 2018

From the Top
8:00 p.m. Lila Cockrell Theater
Black Violin


THURSDAY, February 15, 2018

Conducting: A Hands-on Approach
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CC221
Anthony Maiello, George Mason University

Is UIL Enough? Documenting Student Musical Growth
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. CC 302 AB
Keith Dye, Texas Tech University

The Method & the Maestro = Musical Success for Life
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CC Stars At Night Balroom 2-4
Tim Lautzenheiser, Ball State University, Vice-President of Education for
Conn-Selmer Inc.

Conducting Nuances: Little Things Mean a Lot
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. CC Stars At Night Ballroom 2-4
Anthony Maiello, George Mason University

College Student to Music Educator: The Transition Begins Now!
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. CC 302 AB
Keith Dye, Texas Tech University; Rodney Klett, Retired; Gerald Babbitt, Retired

Manage, Organize, Communicate
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. CC 302 AB
Scott McCormick, National Association of Music Parents; Richard Saucedo, Conn-Selmer

Beginning Brass Instruction: New Ideas & Fresh Approaches
6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. CC 225
Keith Dye, Texas Tech University

University of Texas – Austin Wind Ensemble
8:00 p.m. -8:50 p.m. Lila Cockrell Theater
Jerry Junkin, Director


FRIDAY, February 16, 2018

Special Education Students in the High School Ensemble? Yes!
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. CC 214 CD
Julie Duty, United Sound, Inc.

Recruitment and Retention, the Panacea to All Problems
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. CC 303
Scott Lang, Scott Lang Leadership

How’s Your Conducting I.Q.? (Inspirational Quotient)
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CC Stars At Night Ballroom
Anthony Maiello, George Mason University

The Bocalphone: Fundamentals for Bassoon and Other Winds
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CC Stars At Night Ballroom 1
Doug Spaniol, Butler University

Make Beats in Your Browser: Free Teaching Tools by Ableton
11:30 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Exhibit Hall Clinic Room
Serafin Sanchez, Ableton

What’s Right with Education? Music!
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. CC 302 AB
Scott Lang, Scott Lang Leadership

Serious Score Study
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. CC Stars At Night Ballroom 204
Anthony Maiello, George Mason University

Film Scoring & Sound Design with Your Students
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. CC 210
Robert W. Smith, Troy Univ



All-State Mixed Choir
12:00 p.m. CC Stars at Night Ballroom
André Thomas


We hope to see you there!

Music for All News Conlon

Please join us in welcoming Conlon Griesmer to Music for All!  

As Event Coordinator, Griesmer is responsible for assisting with the planning of all events, coordinating the volunteer program, managing vendor relations, event supplies and materials, and serves as the liaison for the “SWAG Team” of volunteers at the Music for All Summer Symposium.

Griesmer’s involvements with Music for All begin in 2014 as a volunteer for Bands of America Championships and the Music for All National Festival. He went on to serve as an Events Department Intern and remained with the organization as a seasonal event staff member before being hired full-time.  

“We are beyond excited to have Conlon join the Event Team,” says Laura Blake, Director of Events. “He was a highly successful intern with Music for All while in college and we know that his skills, positive attitude, and enthusiasm will bring strength to the department. We are so glad he chose Music for All to start his professional career.””

Griesmer graduated from The University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. While attending UT, he marched Sousaphone in the “Pride of the Southland” Marching Band. Griesmer is originally from Nashville, TN and attended Father Ryan High School. He was first introduced to Music for All when the Father Ryan H.S. Band, of which he was a member, performed in Bands of America Regional and the Grand National Championships.

Emily Ambriz

Please join us in celebrating Emily Ambriz on her recent promotion to Marketing Coordinator!   

As Marketing Coordinator, Ambriz’s responsibilities include email and social media campaigns; web, digital, and print, design; and marketing projects.

"Emily has been a valuable member of the Music for All staff this past year in a different capacity,” says Debbie Laferty Asbill, Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “It is a pleasure to bring her on board the Marketing team where her skills and passion for promoting Music for All’s message, programs, and events will continue to be an asset to the organization and our staff."

Ambriz joined Music for All in May 2017 as the Administrative Assistant/Receptionist. She graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations with minors in flute performance, creative writing, and Spanish. Ambriz is originally from the Indianapolis area and is a proud alumna of Pike High School. While attending Pike, she was highly active in the performing arts department.      

Congratulations to Emily on this much deserved promotion! We are thrilled that she will continue to help support Music for All's mission to create, provide, and expand postively life-changing experiences through music for all!