The Music for All Blog - Music for All
The Music for All Blog - Music for All

"The Week in Music Education" is a weekly collection of news and stories about the latest in music education and music advocacy. This series highlights local, regional and national news in music education, as well as provide timely music advocacy resources so that you may promote music education in your community. If you would like to share a story or announcement in "The Week in Music Education," feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and it could be featured in an upcoming post.

Note: This week will be my final "Fanfare" blog post as a MFA staff member. I begin a new journey next month in Los Angeles, where I'll be attending graduate school. It's been a pleasure bringing you music education and advocacy news for the past few months. Please be sure to stay tuned to the MFA Blog for advocacy news and more!

Pop culture: music education's greatest ally?

Last week, you may have heard about results from the latest Harris Poll that were promising for music education. According to those surveyed in the Poll, over three-quarters of Americans were involved in school music, an increase from a 2007 Harris Poll. More people surveyed also said that music education prepares students better for their careers and for problem solving. Some have speculated that the increased presence of music education in pop culture, including shows like "Glee," "The Voice," etc., have helped expand participation in school music. While many of these shows display a distorted view of what school music classes are really like, are they valuable advocacy tools?

Arts integration isn't just for primary and middle school classrooms anymore

When you think arts integration, or utilizing music, dance, theatre or visual art into core lesson plans, you may envision it only for elementary students, for making learning fun or interesting. Bucking that trend, Alexandra Pannoni from the U.S. News & World Report showed us three ways to incorporate music into high school classes in a recent article. From rap in an English class to music production in science and engineering classes, music is a universal, relatable vehicle for student learning. "We found that once we began to balance both the creativity and the academics, that their academics became more important to them," said a San Diego high school English teacher who utilized songwriting to assist in character analysis.

Professional Development tips from the Music Achievement Council

As schools across the nation begin to ring in a new year, its a perfect time for teachers to think about professional development, re-charging the batteries for a new school year. In this month's School Band & Orchestra Magazine, professional development was a big focus, including an article from Marcia Neel and the Music Achievement Council. One of the biggest takeaways in this article for me was the importance of engaging and inspiring students through setting goals, creating mottos and encouraging community service. SBO also featured an interview with MFA Summer Symposium faculty member and former Wando H.S. director Scott Rush. This year, Mr. Rush will serve as Director of Fine Arts for the Dorchester School District 2 in Summerville, SC. Scott Rush penned the valuable "Habits of a Successful Band Director."

Ingrid Michaelson promotes music education in her hometown

I've been an Ingrid Michaelson fan for years, and her latest album, including the single "Girls Chase Boys Chase Girls," has finally brought her mainstream. Long a supporter of music education, Michaelson is giving back to her hometown in the form of quality music education through the VH1 Save the Music Foundation: "In 2012, I accompanied the VH1 Save the Music Foundation on a visit to a school in my Staten Island hometown. My heart melted not just because of the adorable kids, but also because I was so inspired by their talent and love for music. Seeing their faces light up as they walked into the music room, ready to place their tiny hands on newly donated musical instruments and start their music exploration, I decided to take a stronger stand on saving music education."

TED-Ed: "How playing an instrument benefits your brain"

From Daniel Levitan's This Is Your Brain on Music to recent brain studies in the news, we know that listening and performing music is a great exercise for our brains. The folks famous for short, impactful speeches have created a new video, which displays the benefits of playing an instrument in an animated and entertaining way. The video emphasizes that while listening to music involved much brain activity, playing an instrument is akin to a full-body workout for your brain. The video also speaks to the number of qualities and personality traits in musicians, such as high executive function, which may explain why so many of our nation's business and community leaders played music. You can watch the video for yourself below:


"The Week in Music Education" is a weekly collection of news and stories about the latest in music education and music advocacy. This series highlights local, regional and national news in music education, as well as provide timely music advocacy resources so that you may promote music education in your community. If you would like to share a story or announcement in "The Week in Music Education," feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and it could be featured in an upcoming post.

Idaho director revives music program in rural school

We brought you this story in April, but since then, Robbie Hanchey's inspiring story of promoting music education in a struggling rural school has made its way across the country. This month, the School Band & Orchestra magazine profiled him in their cover story. With about 600 students in the small Idaho school, Hanchey had very few resources to support a music program. After three years, Hanchey's relentless work to recruit studetns and build support paid off. He now has nearly 100 students participating in his junior/high school band program, out of 250 students in the junior/high school. "I like to think that we’re now a bright example of how you can find a way to provide music for these kids," said Hanchey. "I can’t even imagine these kids not having music because they love it so much. I see all my sixth through 12th graders and I wonder what these kids would do if they didn’t have this, because right now it’s all they do."

"20 Important Benefits of Music In Our Schools"

While you may get tired of the endless "listicles" on social media – from "10 Best Recipes" to "15 Books to Read This Summer" – I think we found a list you will enjoy, and use! The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has a new list of "20 Important Benefits of Music In Our Schools." From increased test scores, better work ethic and success beyond school, this list covers it all. When making the case for music education in your school, try focusing on just a few of the important benefits. If you feel you aren't making progress, you still have plenty of proven benefits to share. Be sure to find specific, personal examples of the benefits in action. Whether talking to a parent in your PTA or to an elected official, this is a great list to have in your back pocket.

Michelle Obama advocates for music and arts in Grammy Museum luncheon

First Lady Michelle Obama voiced her support for music and arts education last week at a Grammy Museum luncheon in Los Angeles. “For so many young people, arts education is the only reason they get up out of bed in the morning," said the First Lady. The luncheon honored musician Janelle Monae and Placentia school teacher Sunshine Cavalluzzi. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was also in attendance and spoke of how music has helped him, even while in office. A piano player as a kid, Garcetti recently moved his piano into his City Hall office so he can rejuvenate himself. “We all know what music does for our souls, and to our hearts, and to our minds," said Garcetti. You can view the full text of Michelle Obama's keynote speech here.

Unlikely Combo: Yo-Yo Ma and Memphis "jookin" dancer

Cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma has been known recently for some unlikely collaborations, including the Silk Road Ensemble and his foray into hip-hop. Lately, he's connected with Lil Buck, a dancer who struggled to keep up in Memphis Public Schools until he found his passion. The "jookin" style is unique to Memphis, but Lil Buck has applied it to much of his work, including a 9-month run with Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson ONE." In this inspirational video, Lil Buck evokes the intense emotion in Saint-Saen's "The Swan" with unique, intense and seemingly effortless dancing.


"The Week in Music Education" is a weekly collection of news and stories about the latest in music education and music advocacy. This series highlights local, regional and national news in music education, as well as provide timely music advocacy resources so that you may promote music education in your community. If you would like to share a story or announcement in "The Week in Music Education," feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and it could be featured in an upcoming post.

NAMM Foundation and debut new website

MFA Strategic Adovcacy Partner, the NAMM Foundation, debuted a new website last week, making valuable advocacy resources easier to access than ever. The redesign gives the website a fresh new look that will look great whether giving presentations, sending information to elected officials or encouraging your friends to join the cause for music education. Visit now to check out the new website. While you're there, go ahead and sign up for the next SupportMusic Coalition Webinar, held this Thursday, July 18, live from Summer NAMM! Tons of incredible educators, advocates and music industry professionals are lined up for the Webinar, including BOA adjudicator and Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools Dr. Nola Jones; Mark Goff, President of Paige's Music, Official Music Store for the BOA Grand National Championships and other events, and Mark Despotakis from Progressive Music, a music store partner each year for the BOA Regional at Monroeville, PA.

National Education Association recognizes music teachers advocating for music education

The National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union and professional organization for public school teachers, honored two music teachers at their Annual Meeting in Denver earlier this month. According to the National Association for Music Education, Jessica Fitzwater, an elementary music educator in Frederick, Maryland, was named 2014 Political Activist of the Year for her work puhsing for education funding in Frederick County. Princess Moss, a Virginia elementary music teacher was elected Secretary-Treasurer for the NEA's Executive Committee. According to the NEA, Princess has “has long championed bringing back music and fine arts education to America’s public schools.” Congratulations to Jessica and Princess!

Infographic: Piano Lessons Are Good For You and Your Brain

Encore Music Lessons created one of my favorite new infographics: "Piano Lessons Are Good For You and Your Brain!" As a piano player myself, I didn't even recognize all of the benefits listed in this infographic. While "Piano lessons are good for your brain" may not be the most successful tactic when getting young children to practice daily, this infographic is a great resource when encouraging other parents to enroll their kids, or even advocating for piano lessons/classes in your school. You can download the full-size version of the infographic here.

Music education struggles in Portland Schools

Vortex Magazine featured "The State of Music Education" in Portland, Ore. this month and the results were a bit surprising. When I think of Portland, aside from the clever IFC series "Portlandia," I think of vibrant arts and music. In fact, Portland even boasts a $35-per-person "Arts Tax" to support the arts in Portland. Unfortunately, access to quality arts and music in Portland doesn't reach the elementary schools, where only 58% receive music instruction. This article does feature great arguments for music education in our schools, but we must also reach out to school administrators, elected officials and community leaders to ensure that Portland students have the opportunity to experience the power of music.

Music education program in Virgin Islands provides once-in-a-lifetime performance in NYC

Many of us here in the "Lower 48" often forget about the United States' various territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, except maybe for vacations. United Jazz in the Virgin Islands sent several young jazz students to New York City to perform at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center last month with teacher and accomplished drummer Dion Parson. Students experienced the long tradition of jazz excellence and educational outreach at Jazz at Lincoln Center and performed for a captive audience on a stage that overlooks Central Park. Experiences like this not only are life-changing for the students, but provide visibility for underserved areas that have created innovated music education program such as United Jazz. You can check out local news coverage from the once-in-a-lifetime trip below.



"Fanfare: The Week in Music Education" is a weekly collection of news and stories about the latest in music education and music advocacy. Get your week started right with the latest news in music education, as well as timely music advocacy resources so that you may promote music education in your community. If you would like to share a story or announcement in "Fanfare," feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and it could be featured in an upcoming post.

NAfME members and leadership visit Capitol Hill to advocate for music education in our schools

More than 150 music education leaders visited Washington D.C. last month as part of the National Association for Music Education's (NAfME) Hill Day 2014. Leaders and educators met with elected representatives to advocate for support of school music. Additionally, NAfME presented their "Stand 4 Music" Award to the Grammy-winning band Fun.'s Andrew Dost and hosted a panel discussion on art's role in STEM Education with the Congressional STEAM Caucus. The panel discussion featured NAfME President Glenn Nirman, Young Audiences Executive Director David Dik and Memphis City Schools Chair of Arts Education Dru Davidson. You can view the full panel discussion on the importance of the arts below.


The benefits of being a music parent

My parents would be the first to tell you that they are not musical people. After all, it was me who had to beg my parents to start me on piano lessons in third grade. They were great sports in listening to my early piano practicing, then saxophone and French horn. But they also have taken a keen interest in music. For example, my dad, who grew up in rural Ohio without much access to classical music, now really enjoys the big, symphonic orchestral works like the Mahler Symphonies. Author of The Music Parents' Survival Guide Amy Nathan recently described the many benefits of being a music parent. While we mainly think of the benefits to the child learning music, the parents also expand their horizons, try something new and connect to their children. So if you're a music student, go ahead and say "You're Welcome!" to your parents – but be sure to thank them as well for supporting your passion.

New York Times features prominent El Sistema-related program in New York City

We've featured several El Sistema-related programs in "Fanfare," which displays the extracurricular and community support music instruction is receiving across the country. When schools are unable to provide quality music education, organizations like Upbeat NYC provide musical opportunities for students. This in-depth article from the New York Times describes the impact Upbeat NYC has had on many families: “They also develop teamwork, discipline, perseverance, empathy and problem solving — critical life skills for finding success in any career they choose to follow,” said Mike Fitelson, executive director of the United Palace of Cultural Arts. “But who knows — perhaps there is a Mozart-like virtuoso, or a Bernstein-like maestro, hiding in their midst.”

Advocates struggle for build widespread support for music education in the United Kingdom

While this blog primarily focuses on the state of music education in the United States, I can't help buy feel for our friends across the pond in the U.K. In wake of austerity measures and budget cuts, the arts have taken a serious hit throughout the country. Programs like the BBC's Ten Pieces are attempting to keep the U.K.'s long tradition of musical excellence alive, but many advocates want more to ensure students have access to music education. This Guardian article explains the struggles in the U.K. and points to some possibility for progress.

Pop music artists share their stories of music's impact

Earlier this year, the Grammy Foundation posted several videos featuring prominent music artists describing how music impacted them. From Ariana Grande to Tierny Sutton, many artists participated in school music as a child and today are advocating for its importance. The Grammy Foundation produced the videos to promote their Grammy Music Educator Award, currently in the Quarterfinal stages. These short video snippets can also be used as resources for your own community. Whether recruiting young students to participate in music making or to display to the public music's importance. These videos can be a great resource for any music advocate. Below is a video from "The X-Factor" Third Season Champions, Alex and Sierra.


MFA Summer Symposium Photo Stream: Day 6

Tuesday, 01 July 2014 12:03 Written by Erin Fortune
Check out the photos from the sixth and final day of the full-week Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha! 
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MFA Summer Symposium Photo Stream: Day 5

Saturday, 28 June 2014 10:35 Written by Erin Fortune
Check out the photos from the fifth day of the full-week Summer Symposium! 
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Inside the Circle with Carolina Crown

Friday, 27 June 2014 18:46 Written by Erin Fortune
The Music for All Summer Symposium provides many amazing opportunities for students. One of these experiences is definitely found in the Marching Band Division. The Marching Band students had the unique opportunity to rehearse and perform with Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps at the DCI Central Indiana show. They also will be playing the national anthem at the start of the show tonight.
Yesterday, the Marching Division had the chance to have a clinic with Crown where they experienced what most marching band division students would say was "one of the coolest things ever." The students actually got to sit inside the Carolina Crown horn line circle.
We have heard from so many different students, that hearing the horn line like that is simply incredible (and dare we say, possibly life-changing!) 
The students also had the chance to interact with Carolina Crown members and were even instructed by Matt Harloff, Brass Caption Head of Carolina Crown, to take 30 seconds to "take a selfie" with Crown members!
Even better than all of that, the script was flipped, and the students played for members of Carolina Crown who were then sitting inside the circle of Marching Band Division members!
Yesterday was definitely an incredible experience for these students and we know tonight's performance in front of a full crowd at the DCI Central Indiana show will also be a moment these students will never forget.
On Thursday night Christian Howes and Southern Exposure joined us at Emens Auditorium for the fourth night in the Summer Symposium evening concert series. Christian Howes is a jazz violinist, educator, and producer from Columbus, OH. Christian Howes began working with Southern Exposure to create a style that combines modern jazz with Latin musical influences. This concert included a good mix of different types of music that surely did not disappoint.
The concert began with a more classical style mixed with jazz. Each instrumentalist had the opportunity to take a solo as Christian Howes played the melodies. One unique aspect to this group was the accordion player. This was definitely something that students had not been exposed to before and a great experience for them to have!

As the concert progressed, the group did something really unexpected. They went from a classical jazz ensemble to a rock band. Christian Howes whipped out his electric violin, changed some settings on his soundboard, and made the violin sound like an electric guitar! The students in the audience were in awe of this and immediately began cheering and clapping along. This sure was a unique aspect to the concert and something that many had never heard before.

About halfway through the concert, Christian Howes asked all the students to get out their phones and tweet about something in music that has inspired them. It was so amazing to see the different responses that the students came up with!
The final number of the concert featured some very special guest artists, the orchestra division students participating the Summer Symposium! Christian Howes wrote the piece for an orchestra accompaniment to play with the group. This sure was a once in a lifetime opportunity for these students.

MFA Summer Symposium Photo Stream: Day 4

Friday, 27 June 2014 12:29 Written by Erin Fortune
Check out the photos from the the fourth day of the full-week Summer Symposium!
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Returning students to the Bands of America Drum Major Institute put their leadership skills to the test today with a new challenge: The Marble Exercise. In addition to conducting and score study classes at the Symposium, drum major participants build and improve leadership qualities important to marching band leaders. Teambuilding exercises that expose leaders and move them outside their comfort zone are important in ensuring that drum majors can lead and empower in almost any situation.

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IMG 2156In a group of 20, students received a piece of paper folded in half and one marble, which they were required to roll from one point, 25 feet out and around back to the original point using only the folded sheets of paper. Group members lined up their folded paper and attempted to move the marble down the line. After the marble passed through their paper, the participant would then have to move to the end of the line, helping the marble advance further. At first, the marble moved very quickly, students were unable to react in time and the marble fell soon after. Participants then realized that they would need to carefully control the pace of the marble, especially when it reached a curve in the track.

Throughout the exercise, some students because visibly frustrated, while others keep encouraging and supporting others. Many had simple phrases to help their fellow participants remember tactics they had agreed on, such as “Stay with your partner,” or “Keep your shoulders out.” After several tries and some discussion, the group was able to successfully roll the marble through the entire track. While many cheered at the distance they achieved, several even wanted to go further and keep improving.

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IMG 2150Like the brick exercise and other leadership activities that the drum majors participate in, the Marble Exercise is applicable to their own program. The marble, like their band, does not stop rolling. Leadership must utilize control, make adjustments along the way and communicate constantly to ensure that the ensemble does not falter and fall. When the marble fell and the participants failed, they had to get up and try again, and keep encouraging the others in their group. While applicable to a lot in life, the nonstop rolling reflects the fast-paced nature of marching band. From band camp to daily rehearsals to competitions, you cannot allow yourself or fellow members fall off the wagon. If so, they’ll not only be behind, but also be discouraged.

“When you go back to your own program, I charge you to find a way to make a flame,” said DMI faculty member Kim Shuttlesworth. Drum majors must empower their band members to be passionate about the ensemble. They must create a supporting family environment, where students can be honest, caring and respectful of each other. Just one of many exercises throughout the week, the Marble Exercise helped students realize the importance of group encouragement and teamwork in a larger group. At the end of the day, the marble keeps rolling, and you must adjust.

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