Today's guest post is from Caleb Chapman, award-winning performer, author, music educator and producer and the 2014 Conductor of the Jazz Band of America, part of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha.
I have been blessed to have many fantastic mentors in my path to become the musician and educator I am today. Two of my absolute favorites are the legendary John Clayton and Dr. Lou Fischer. So, you can imagine how much of an honor it was when I was invited to follow both of them as director of MFA’s Jazz Band of America!
MFA has asked for me to describe a bit about my approach to directing a big band. While there are dozens of philosophies I espouse, there are two that immediately jump to mind.
Improvisation Defines Even Big Band Jazz
It is becoming harder and harder to identify what styles of music fall under the umbrella of jazz. But to me, the one constant is the element of improvisation. While many people associate this strictly with soloists, I love to carry it over into the actual performance by the big band as a whole.
As a matter of fact, as a director, I love to “play” the band like an instrument. I actually practice directing in the same way I do my sax, and take it just as seriously. Changing the dynamics of a section or the form of a chart on the spot creates a spontaneous excitement that the audience can feel. Altering the feel or texture behind a soloist creates new sonic environments to explore. The musicians become engaged at a much higher level than simply playing notes on a page.
While not squarely in the jazz wheelhouse, I had the opportunity to see this in action with a different type of band last week when I got to hang with Dave Matthews and my very good friend, GRAMMY-winning saxophonist, Jeff Coffin, at the Dave Matthews Band’s Utah concert. As I was watching the show from backstage, I was given in-ear monitors that allowed for a unique concert experience as I could hear everything the band said to one another during the show.
It was exciting to watch as Dave would change the form of the tunes on the spot, stretching solos or vamping. Drummer Carter Beauford would frequently give audible cues on how many hits the band would play. And the horn section of Jeff and Rashawn Ross would improvise backing figures for the soloists.
All of these elements kept the musicians on stage focused and playing at their highest level, creating a performance for the audience that night that will never be replicated in exactly the same way – a gift to the 17,000+ plus in attendance. That is the beauty of improvised music!
Chasing the Perfect Performance
One of my musical heroes, saxophonist Branford Marsalis said, “Humans are imperfect… We’re on the quest for the perfect performance and every note has to be right. Man, every note is not right in life.” While I agree that there will never be a perfect performance, I don’t think that should keep us from trying! I think because of its perceived loose nature, too often big band music doesn’t receive the diligent attention its classical big brother does. In actuality, there is absolutely nothing casual about a big band performance!
We all want to have the treasured “tight” band. One challenge has been that there is currently no universally accepted method to approaching the notated jazz language. I'm sure other big band directors can agree: it is critical that every musician on the bandstand interpret the charts the exact same way. Over the years, I collected some standard practices to approaching articulation, which has helped my students become unified while playing. This has made a huge difference because it allowed my students follow some key rules so that we can afford the space to improvise and play "within the lines" (Jeff Coffin and I recently published these methods in our book, "The Articulate Jazz Musician").
Once the language is defined, the other aspects of the music can be tackled. As they say, the devil IS in the details. Polishing dynamics, intonation, and groove allow the music to be played as the composers were envisioning. THAT is the difference between a pro band and a student ensemble, not the age level of the musicians. Is it possible to have high school aged musicians play like pros? Absolutely! Our Crescent Super Band here in Utah made up entirely of musicians ages 15-18 has been named Utah’s “Best Professional Band” in any style for 8 years running.
Directing a big band is one of the most fulfilling challenges in music education and getting the students motivated, challenged, and consistent is truly the best part. One of my favorite moments during a show is when the set is coming to a close and the band is at its peak energy. There really is no other experience in my life that quite compares with it! I am excited to be part MFA’s Jazz Band of America and can't wait to work with the talented musicians in this amazing ensemble. See you in Indianapolis!
Caleb Chapman is an award-winning performer, author, music educator and producer. For more information on Caleb's projects and educational innovations visit CalebChapmanMusic.com.
I know everyone was eagerly anticipating this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday. Well I’m happy to report that this week we are once again taking you back into BOA history.
Finding today’s throwback was no simple task. I searched through boxes of photos for something that represented 1985. I found thousands of other gems from before 1985 and after 1985 (you’ll see some of those in the coming weeks), but today 1985 was evading me. I pressed on because 1985 was a significant year and I wanted to showcase it.
1985 holds significance for a couple of reasons. 1985 was the year that BOA was “Soaring Into a New Decade” for their 10-year anniversary celebration!
But, today I chose 1985 for another reason.
September 5th, marks another anniversary in BOA history. Today is Debbie Laferty Asbill’s (our VP of Marketing and Communications) work anniversary. Debbie started working for Music for All (when Music for All was MBA) in 1985 as the Promotions Coordinator.
This is a MBA staff photo- I don't believe it was 1985, but pretty sure it was close! Debbie is in the front in the white.
For 28 years Debbie has been the creative mind behind Music for All’s brand and marketing initiatives. I know that I can confidently speak for everyone here at Music for All- we are so glad she made the decision to join the team back in 1985, and we are thrilled that she is here today, continuing on the tradition of excellence.
Happy Work Anniversary Debbie!
Do you have a BOA memory from 1985? Share it with us in the comments!
In today's throwback I want to take us all the way back to 1984, before Music for All was Music for All. 1984 marked a major turning point in history for this organization. Formerly part of a parent company, BOA separated to become a new self-supporting organization renamed Bands of America. This was also the year when Scott McCormick became executive director and when BOA filed for not-for-profit status.
But this photo we have chosen for today's throwback represents yet another big event in Bands of America history.
1984 was also the year when Grand Nationals moved to the newly completed Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, IN. This photo features Norwin High School (PA) who were the 1984 Open Class Champions. They placed 2nd overall with a score of 90.85.
Do you have memories of marching in the Hoosier Dome!? Share them with us in the comments!
Erin Fortune is the Marketing Coordinator focusing on digital marketing at Music for All, and has been working with Music for All for three years, first in the Participant Relations department and now in marketing. She is a graduate from the Music Industry Management program at Ferris State University in Michigan and is a former Percussive Arts Society Intern and a Yamaha Corporation of America, Band and Orchestral Division Intern.
Music for All is proud to announce that we have joined the “Be Part of the Band” project as a title sponsor.
“Music for All is excited and grateful to have this opportunity to extend our commitment to music education into the elementary school realm,” said Eric L. Martin, President and CEO of Music for All. "‘Be In The Band’ provides a substantial resource in building active music makers and will connect with a natural tool for music education advocacy: parents. We are grateful Scott had the idea and that we can be a part of it.”
Learn more about the project here:
At Music for All, we know that involvement in music education creates better students and better people. We are excited to be a part of this project to introduce 250,000 new students to “positively life-changing experiences.”
Want to learn more about movement and help kids “Be Part of the Band?”
Learn more here.
At the 2012 Grand National Championships we shared a story about our friend, Lucas Santos, from Cary Senior H.S. in North Carolina. Lucas was in the hospital recovering from a heart transplant while his band was marching at Grand Nationals.
Watch that story here:
We are happy to report that Lucas is doing great and is back with his band for the upcoming fall season! Thanks to Tabitha, a Cary Senior band parent, who sent us this photo of Lucas marching during band camp (and to Lucas’ mom for giving us permission to share it with the rest of the BOA family!)
On behalf of all of us at Music for All, welcome back, Lucas! We can’t wait to see you and the rest of the Cary Senior band this fall!
As many in the Indianapolis community have heard, a great man and music advocate, Tom Barnett, passed away earlier this month.
In his years of service as a volunteer with the Ben Davis High School Marching Giants, Tom Barnett saw state and national titles, performances in the most prestigious parades in the United States, a performance at the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan and of course, a countless number of BOA appearances.
As Gary Wishmeyer, Supervisor of Music Education Students at Indiana University, said “He loved our days of competing at BOA in Johnson City, as this would give him a few days to visit with other competing band parents and equipment crews from around the nation to share ideas and to build friendships. He was a great good will ambassador for Ben Davis and the bands from the state on Indiana”
In 2011 Tom was the much deserving recipient of the Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster award. (Read Tom’s Parent/Booster story here.)
In a recent email, Ben Davis director David Cole told us:
“We would like to thank Music for All for helping us honor Tom as the Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster Award recipient in 2011. Tom always felt so special for being recognized nationally. Tom asked me once, "How the heck did BOA hear about me?" We would just tell him that sometimes a person's actions are just too big to go unnoticed. You really made a hard working, selfless volunteer feel like a million dollars. Thanks!"
When someone like Tom Barnett is nominated for the Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster Award- it is the LEAST we can do, to help showcase all of what they have been doing to support music education. In 2011 we had many deserving nominations for the Parent/Booster award, but in our opinion, Tom's nomination video was particularly special. One of the elements that stuck out to us were the STUDENTS who we heard on the video, expressing what a huge role Tom played in the success of the Ben Davis Marching Giants. The video ends with several students saying "We love him, we love him, we love you Tom." It truly was a beautiful video and just spoke volumes to what Tom meant to the Ben Davis Marching Giants community.
We want to share that video with you:
Tom’s hard work, selflessness and true love of his time spent with the Ben Davis Marching Giants did NOT go unnoticed. Tom was not only a beloved member of the Ben Davis Band and the Indianapolis community- he was a member of the Music for All/ Bands of America family.
Laura Blake, Events Manager at Music for All has many fond memories of Tom, even before she became an MFA staff member.
"I had the privilege of knowing Tom since I was a little girl. I was a follower of the Ben Davis Band program well before I ever started playing an instrument. I'm convinced that Tom, even at my young age at the time, taught me the best ways to load and pack a truck. I was that little kid who always wanted to help, and the skills I learned from Tom come in handy time and time again with my work for Music for All. But even through high school (and I wasn't a BD Kid by the way), college, and later my work at Music for All; I always looked for Tom at shows and events. I'd find him scoping out the lay of the land, always with a big smile and a hug, wishing everyone participating to have a great show!"
This post is in memory of a great booster, advocate and most importantly, a great human being. Everyone at Music for All feels fortunate to have crossed paths with Tom, and to call him a member of the Music for All family over the years. The Music for All staff, event staff, competing bands, EVERYONE who came across the Ben Davis Band, will all be missing Tom this fall. Our thoughts are with Tom's family and the whole Ben Davis Community, and as the Ben Davis students so eloquently put it in their nomination video two years ago, "We Love You, Tom."
When I was in high school, I always looked forward to the beginning of a new school year. There were pristine pads of paper, a Technicolor rainbow of brand new pens and fresh folders just begging for a doodle or two. There were new things to learn and a locker to decorate and fill with books. All of my color guard friends and I were still excited about what we had learned at band camp, knowing we would get the opportunity to show off soon. The year was filled with possibility and it was mine to shape.
With all the hustle and bustle that accompanies the start of school, it can be easy to get caught up in what needs to be done NOW. The marching season looms large for many of us and concert band season can seem like a distant dream. But it’s not too early to plan. Planning starts today for tomorrow's experiences.
You’re on stage, squinting past the lights to see if you recognize anyone in the audience. Your instrument is tuned, your music is open and you are ready. People who’ve become lifelong friends in the span of 5 days surround you and the nervous energy sounds like an electric buzz. The hours you have spent in sectionals, master classes and full rehearsals have all led to this moment. The conductor enters to applause, you sit up a little bit straighter, the baton raises and it begins.
That is the experience of participating in a Music for All Honor Ensemble, and that kind of life-changing experience really begins long before you set foot in the J.W. Marriott hotel in Indianapolis in March 2014. It begins long before the acceptance letters are put in the mail in November. It even begins before the September 15 application deadline. That experience starts TODAY. It starts when you fill out an application to be part of one of the Music for All National Honor Ensembles.
So as you crack open that new bottle of valve oil, restring your bow, pick up some fresh reeds; enjoy it. Savor this time when possibilities abound. But also take the time to learn more about the Music for All Honor Ensemble experience. Once you know more, the next step will be clear. Don't put off till tomorrow what can be done today. Apply for the Honor Band, Honor Orchestra or Jazz Band of America. Start making memories.
Music for All is proud to share the news that one of our dedicated volunteers, Christopher Protho, has been named the 2013 International Festivals & Events Association Volunteer of the Year!
As the winner of this award, Chris will be the guest of the IFEA and Zambelli Fireworks at the IFEA’s 58th Annual Convention & Expo, September 16-18, 2013 in Pittsburgh, PA where he will be recognized and presented with his award during the IFEA Awards Luncheon on Monday, September 16, 2013.
Chris' name might sound familiar to you because Chris has been in the Music for All family for 23 years, you've probably seen him at a Music for All event! Chris was nominated for this award because of his incredible dedication to Music for All's mission. His Music for All story is truly incredible, and we would like to share that with you:
Chris’s journey with Music for All began in 1990 when he was a freshman at West Virginia University. A member of their acclaimed Marching Band, Chris was required to volunteer at Music for All’s Bands of America Eastern Regional Marching Band Competition for high school students. He was a parking lot attendant. Despite the lackluster volunteer assignment, this first exposure to Music for All made a lasting impression on the young man who grew up outside of Pittsburgh, PA. So impressionable, that he continued to volunteer for Music for All for the next 23 years. Following his debut as a parking lot attendant, Chris traveled the following summer to Wisconsin to be a camp counselor for Bands of America’s Summer Camp for high school marching band students. By then, he was hooked.
Within those 23 years, Chris experienced nearly every volunteer opportunity available at Music for All, from a parking lot attendant in 1990 to the Contest Director for the Grand National Marching Band Championships in 2009, Chris’s progression is a result of his commitment to the organization at all levels. This is no small feat as Music for All is a multifaceted organization that: provides music education for middle and high school students in marching bands, concert bands, orchestras, music ensembles or as individuals; offers professional development for instrumental music teachers; organizes a series of regional and national performance events that are culminating experiences for schools and student musicians; and serves as an advocate for scholastic music programs across the country.
During his tenure with Music for All, Chris provided logistics support and event management at: 81 Bands of America Regional Marching Band Championships; 20 Grand National Championships; four Summer Symposiums; three Music for All National Festivals; and one Regional Concert Band Festival, which occurred during his honeymoon. His volunteer assignments at these events have included (but not limited to): event management, field manager, field operations, announcer, parking manager, ticketing, concessions, tabulator, timing and penalties judge, loading dock monitor and shuttle driver. Chris has logged 39,000 miles in personal vehicles to these events, and dedicated more than 7,000 services hours to Music for All. After 23 years of volunteering, working a full-time job, earning a Master's Degree, getting married, having children and pursuing a doctorate degree, Chris’s dedication to Music for All has not waned.
Chris’s expertise in events management has evolved with the organization, and he has more institutional knowledge than many of the paid staff. Chris’s hands-on experience is greatly enhanced by his academic and career pursuits. Chris holds a Bachelor of Music from West Virginia University, a Master of Education from California University of Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Instructional Management and Leadership from Robert Morris University. Since 1999 he has been a Music Teacher and the Band Director at Mars Area Middle School. In addition, Chris is deeply involved with scholastic music programs in his home state, most recently serving on Pennsylvania’s Department of Education’s Standards and Practices Commission, a position appointed by the governor.
Chris’s extraordinary dedication to working on the front-lines at the many Music for All events earned him the distinguished role of Contest Director for Grand National Championships three years in a row from 2009 to 2011. This is the highest volunteer position available at Music for All, responsible for delivering an event that is consistent with Music for All’s mission, vision and core values. A demanding, complex and highly specialized volunteer position, the Contest Director makes the event—held in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium—an unforgettable experience for 75,000 people, including the students, teachers, band directors and spectators.
Chris considers Music for All a part of his family. This deep commitment, coupled with Chris’s positive attitude, is a rare asset to any organization. To Chris, scouting locations for Music for All events while on his honeymoon in Florida was part of life. Driving to various cities for events after Friday night football games was commonplace for Chris. To Chris, this is an adventure, a dream come true, a chance to travel the country doing what he loves—supporting and recognizing students for their outstanding accomplishments in music. Chris is inspired by Music for All’s mission to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experience through music for all.
Chris’s impact extends far beyond a single event or series of events. Chris has been the bridge to Music for All’s future. He began volunteering when Music for All had a staff of nine, and now that staff has doubled. In many cases, he has helped train and orient new staff for Music for All events. His institutional knowledge is unmatched. Chris believed in the organization from the beginning. When it was a fledging organization striving to evolve and professionalize scholastic marching band events—Chris believed in the mission. When Bands of America and Music for All Foundation merged in 2006 resulting in many organizational pains—Chris believed in the mission. When Music for All faced devastating budget cuts in 2009 exacerbated by the recession, staff morale was low and Music for All considered closing its doors forever—Chris believed in the mission. Simply put, Chris was at his best, when the organization was not at its best. He has been an energizing force throughout Music for All’s evolution.
Today, Music for All is stronger and more stable than it has ever been, thanks to the dedication and commitment from Christopher Protho.
Please join us in congratulating Chris on this well deserved award. We are all truly lucky to have Chris as a part of the Music for All family. We thank you Chris, for your friendship, your guidance throughout the years and for your dedication to music education.
Music for All is proud to announce that Caleb Chapman will be the 2014 Jazz Band of America conductor! Caleb's incredibly unique combination of skills as a producer, educator, author, and performer have marked him as a rising star in the music industry. We are very excited that Caleb will be sharing his talents with the 2014 Jazz Band of America this March in Indianapolis.
Already know about Caleb Chapman and can't wait for the opportunity to work with him this March? Don't wait! Send your application in today to be a part of the 2014 Jazz Band of America. You can find the application and audition requirements here on the Music for All website.
Want to know more about Caleb? Read on!
As the President of Caleb Chapman Music, Caleb oversees nearly 200 of Utah’s most talented musicians in thirteen elite ensembles, including the Crescent Super Band, which has frequently been hailed as one of the best professional bands in the world to be comprised entirely of young talent.
Caleb’s groups have been featured at many of the world’s most prestigious music festivals including appearances in The Netherlands, Mexico, Switzerland, France, Sweden, and Italy. Caleb’s bands are so well recognized, the Crescent Super Band easily filled the world's most famous concert venue - Carnegie Hall - in their debut performance there in May of 2013. The bands have also performed with nearly 200 guest artists, including Grammy-winners David Sanborn, Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Peter Erskine, Kurt Elling, Gordon Goodwin, Wayne Bergeron, Dave Weckl, Nicholas Payton, Jeff Coffin, Eric Marienthal, Ernie Watts, and Bob Mintzer. They have been featured with musicians from such recognizable bands as Journey, Dave Matthews Band, the Neon Trees, Steve Miller Band, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Tower of Power, Genesis, the Saturday Night Live Band, and many others. Additionally, his bands have received national airplay on Sirius XM.
In the last 8 years Caleb’s bands have been honored with 22 DownBeat Awards. The Crescent Super Band has also won eight consecutive “Best of State” awards for Utah and twice won the prestigious Best of State Statue Award identifying Caleb’s program as the top organization in Arts and Entertainment in Utah, beating out every other professional music, arts, and film organization in the state for the honor.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert presented Caleb with the prestigious 2013 “Governor’s Performing Artist Award”, given to one artist annually for significant contributions to art in Utah.
In 2011, Caleb was named the “John LaPorta International Jazz Educator of the Year”, one of the highest honors in music education. Age 37 at the time, he was by far the youngest to ever receive this honor. Additionally, Caleb has been named Utah’s “Best Educator” (2011) and “Best Music Educator” (2012) by Utah Best of State.
Caleb is a finalist for the first ever "GRAMMY Music Educator Award" which will be presented in 2014. In 2007 he was honored as the inaugural inductee into the Horne School of Music Hall of Fame and received the “Superior Accomplishment in Music Award” from the Utah Music Educators Association. He is the 2006 recipient of the KUER FM90 “Voice of Jazz Award”. He currently serves as Vice President on the Board of the Jazz Education Network (JEN), the world's leading organization for jazz education and advocacy.
Caleb has been invited to direct several All State Jazz Bands and will be conducting the prestigious Jazz Band of America at the Music for All National Festival in March of 2014. He has performed and presented at the famed Midwest Clinic. He has presented clinics at music festivals accross the country and is in high demand as a guest speaker and presenter.
In addition to his position at Caleb Chapman Music, Caleb serves as Music Academy Director at the innovative Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts, one of the nation's leading charter schools dedicated to the arts.
Caleb's book, "The Articulate Jazz Musician", written with Dave Matthews Band saxophonist and multi-GRAMMY winner, Jeff Coffin, was released by Alfred Publishing in January of 2013. He has also written for Hal Leonard Publishing and JAZZed Magazine, and has a regular column, "Sound Thinking" which is published monthly by the Daily Herald newspaper.
Caleb is an active saxophonist. He is a fixture in the Utah scene and has appeared with artists as varied as GRAMMY-winning bassist, Christian McBride and Neon Trees frontman, Tyler Glenn. He has performed the National Anthem on solo saxophone at NBA games for the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, the Denver Nuggets, and the Utah Jazz. His playing is featured on recordings by dozens of artists, including the GRAMMY-winning DJ, Kaskade.
Caleb is a featured clinician and sponsored performer for Yamaha Saxophones.
Check out this video where Caleb describes his style as a music educator and why he believes music education is important!
Learn more about the Jazz Band of America here. The Jazz Band of America is one of three prestigious honor ensembles that are a part of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. The 2014 festival will take place March 6-8 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
All of us at Music for All love hearing from students, directors and parents about what is happening in THEIR band and in THEIR communities! Every once in awhile, someone sends us a great message on Facebook, gives us a call, sends a letter, or shares a photo with us, just because. Words cannot express how much we love hearing from all of you who BELIEVE in music education! The following note was shared with us via Facebook this week and we thought we would share it with our extended Music for All family by posting it here on the blog. (With permission as always!)
"So excited for the upcoming fall marching season. We attended the BOA Lucas Stadium event last year and I want to compliment the volunteers...they were helpful and courteous. I am hoping my personal work schedule will allow me to volunteer at some point in the future.
I know all schools involved have and continue to work on their programs for 2013...I attached a photo of my son Nik I just took during the summer camp program at Jeffersonville High School, under the direction of Scott Cooksey. I think it is a nice representation of the focus the kids put into their practices.
Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to music!
Regards, Elke W."
Yes!- this photo definitely showcases that focus reguired in marching rehearsals! Thank you for sharing this photo and your kind note Elke, it definitely brightened this staff member's day!