The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog
Erin Fortune
Erin Fortune is the Marketing Manager focusing on digital marketing at Music for All and has been working with Music for All since 2010, first in the Participant Relations department and now in marketing. She is a graduate of 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.
Monday, February 29, 2016

Camp Faculty Profile: Taylor Watts

This is the first edition of a new series on our blog that we hope you'll find both fun and interesting! Each week we will highlight a new MFA Summer Symposium faculty member. 

Welcome to the very first edition of the Camp Faculty Profile series! Today I'd like to introduce you to Taylor Watts. This year will be Taylor's first year as an official faculty member on the BOA Drum Major Institute staff, but he is certainily no stranger to the MFA Summer Symposium! Taylor has experienced camp as a student, a SWAG team member, a Directors' Track Assistant, and now this year he is joining the ranks of our amazing faculty. We know Taylor will be a wealth of knowledge for all of those who are planning on participating in the BOA Drum Major Institute this year. Let's dive into getting to know Taylor, I hope you enjoy reading his responses as much as I did! 


Name: Taylor Watts

Camp Division: Drum Major Institute

Home Town: Kennesaw, GA

Current Location: Marietta, GA

Favorite Things About Being A Teacher:
I love watching students grow as human beings – learning to treat others with love and respect, to develop and pursue their passions, and to grapple with the inner workings of their own person. I definitely consider myself blessed to witness (and sometimes impact) the transformation of so many people during some of the most formative years of their lives.

Why do you like to come to the MFA Summer Symposium each year:
Having experienced the camp as a student, SWAG team member, Director Track Assistant, and now staff member, one thing always holds true of my time spent at Summer Symposium – no other place in my life challenges and supports me in being the best version of myself that I can possibly be like MFA. As Jamie Weaver, one of the SWAG team coordinators, always poses to our group: “We come here every summer to be who we are truly meant to be.”

What would you say to a student who was thinking about possibly coming to camp?
Take the leap, and bring any friend you care about! Camp will challenge you and provide opportunities that most people never have the chance to experience. The lessons and relationships that you’ll find here have the potential to change you in ways that you’d never imagine – they can truly change the entire course of your life!

Most memorable moment/interaction at camp?
Despite now serving as a staff member, I think my most cherished memory at camp still stems from my time as a student. I’ll certainly never forget my last evening together standing in the auditorium with my drum major squad embracing and shedding a few tears as we reminisced on several outstandingly life-changing years spent at this camp.

Funniest thing that has happened at camp?
It may be a bit silly, but I always enjoyed participating in the “everyday camp preparation” skit that the SWAG team puts on with Norm Ruebling. The crowd always got a kick out of our ridiculous outfits and choreography that we put together to over-accentuate our points – not to mention how difficult it was to hold a static pose in our crazy get-ups without laughing myself!

Favorite spot on Ball State's campus?
I love spending time under the bell tower, particularly in the evening. It’s such a beautiful structure.

What book are you reading right now?
Most of the books on my shelf right now have titles like The Five Love Languages and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work as I prepare for my quickly approaching wedding. Normally, however, I enjoy reading philosophy, psychology, and science articles, with the occasional high fantasy novel to spice things up.

What are you listening to right now?
Over the last few years I’ve gotten into primarily acoustic music to the tune of Nickel Creek, Fiction Family, and Mumford and Sons. I love the stories and sounds and am always impressed by the technical virtuosity of their more bluegrass-style songs.

What is ONE thing you recommend a student do at camp?
Normally I would suggest that students get outside their comfort zones and reach out to develop relationships with other campers (which they should ABSOLUTELY still do), but I have to say, as teacher as it sounds, I recommend HUGELY that all students write down every bit of wisdom that they hear during their conversations at camp (both with the staff and other students). Going back through my old binders of notes always inspires and reenergizes me, even years later – sometimes some of the truths sink in even deeper later in time.

What made you decide to be a teacher?
Truth be told, I had originally planned to go into psychology – my driving passion has always been helping people become better versions of themselves. Fortunately, a wise mentor of mine (coincidentally, a band director – go figure!) enlightened me to the opportunity for a wider spread audience over a longer period of time, and so I became a teacher!

What do you wish other people knew about the Summer Symposium?
Most camps provide students with entertaining and exciting experiences, but few other places challenge students to grow in their very being like Summer Symposium. I can certainly attest that you’ll leave camp a much stronger, bolder, and more compassionate person than you came.

What do you do when you aren't teaching at the Summer Symposium?
During the few moments that I’m not teaching or planning to teach (few and far between!), I love spending my time pushing myself physically. Most recently, this has taken the form of obstacle course races (Spartan Races, the Tough Mudder, the Warrior Dash, etc.), skydiving, and snowboarding trips!


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Friday, February 26, 2016

Brackets for Good: Round 1


All of us at Music for All are extremely excited that we are one of 64 nonprofits selected to participate in the Brackets for Good competition in Indianapolis!

Every March, Brackets for Good hosts an online, bracket-style fundraising tournaments in philanthropic communities around the United States. Participating nonprofit organizations compete to out fundraise their opponents, earn increased exposure, and have a chance to win $10,000 from a generous corporate sponsor.

Brackets for Good Overview

Not only is Brackets for Good a really fun way to fundraise, we are excited about learning more about other nonprofit organizations in our community. And of course, we hope people learn a little bit more about us as well!

The tournament is broken down into the following rounds:

First Round: February 26th – March 4th
Second Round: March 4th – March 11th
Supported Sixteen: March 11th – March 18th
Engaged Eight: March 18th – March 25th
Philanthropic Four: March 25th – March 29th
Championship: March 29th - April 1st

Basically every $1 raised equals a point. Two nonprofits go up against each other, and the nonprofit who raises the most money will advance to the next round! You can see the official bracket here:

Please consider supporting Music for All 

Since this is our first year, we aren't completely sure what to expect. But we are excited to have the opportunity to participate and raise some funds to help give scholarships to students to attend our summer camp, the Music for All Summer Symposium this June at Ball State University. 

Music for All has been providing positively life-changing experiences at its summer camp for 40 years. It’s “America’s Camp:” the national summer learning experience for band and orchestra students, and teachers. We bring together the best faculty, exciting concerts and events, and students from band and orchestra programs from coast-to-coast who share a love of music-making, performance, and student leadership.

Last year 86 full scholarships and 50 partial scholarships were given out for the Summer Symposium. Only 11% of students in 2015 received any type of financial assistance. With your help, we can make camp possible for even more students in 2016! No donation amount is too small. Just think how many dollars could be raised if everyone who has been touched by music, gave up one Starbucks latte this week. The impact would truly be incredible.

Some of our 2015 Music for All Summer Symposium Scholarship Recipients

The competition begins at 8:00 PM (EST) on Friday, February 26th. Round One will begin at this time, and end at 8:00 PM (EST) on Friday, March 4th.

Click here to donate to Music for All in the Brackets for Good competition!


facility main bbt

Music for All has rescheduled the Bands of America Regional Championship that was scheduled for October 8 in North Carolina for October 15, at Wake Forest University.

We'll return with a BOA Championship at Wake Forest for the third consecutive year. The date was originally published as October 8, but after the recent release of Wake Forest's football schedule and home game on that date, the NC Championship was moved to October 15, still at Wake Forest, a date which BOA had on hold.

The Bands of America Championship at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, NC is now confirmed, for October 15. 2016.

We hope to see you at the 2016 Bands of America Regional Championship at Winston-Salem, NC on October 15th.

View Full Fall Schedule here.

Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 Honor Band of America

2016 Honor Band of America, part of the Music for All National Festival

2016 Music for All National Festival
March 9-12, Indianapolis, IN

11 Floyd RichardRichard Floyd
Conductor, 2016 Honor Band of America
State Director of Music (ret.), University of Texas at Austin Music Director, Austin Symphonic Band

2015 concert will include:

Frank Ticheli – Dancing on Water
Joel Puckett – Avelynn’s Lullaby
Ron Nelson – Aspen Jubilee
Aaron Copland/arr. Walter Beeler – Lincoln Portrait
John Mackey – Ringmaster March

2016 Honor Band Members:


Christine Barham - Franklin H.S., TN
Evan Curatolo - Lincoln Way North H.S., IL
Emily Elmore - Manatee H.S., FL
Madison Fanning - J.M. Hanks H.S., TX
Brandon Lee - Mount Eden H.S., CA
Michelle Liu - Northview H.S., GA
Katie Riley - Avon H.S., IN
Bailey Southard - Charleston County School of the Arts, SC
Lauren Wood - Hillgrove H.S., GA


Madison McGregor - Upland H.S., CA
Burke Mounts - Wando H.S., SC
Lian Remley - Shades Valley H.S., AL
Ana Sofia Uzsoy - North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, NC


Samuel Bray - Leander H.S., TX
Adella Carlson - Nonnewaug H.S., CT
Maya Davis - Highland H.S., IN
Ryan Fisher - Franklin H.S., TN
Sachina Hobo - John Hersey H.S., IL
Mieri Kim - Centerville H.S., OH
Faith Kirkpatrick - Hillgrove H.S., GA
Dory Li - North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, NC
Stephen Li - North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, NC
Michael Puetz - Oconomowoc H.S., WI
Joshua Scarborough - Athens Drive H.S., NC
Lauren Slay - Ridgeland H.S., MS
Isaac Torres - Bullard H.S., CA
Matthew Wang - Hamilton H.S., AZ
Maggie Watts - North Lincoln H.S., NC
Stacey Xiang - Ravenwood H.S., TN
Rhianna Zaidan - Vestavia Hills H.S., AL

Bass Clarinet

Scott Allen - Mountain View H.S., AZ
Adam Cordero - Herricks H.S., NY
Daniel McClure - Liberty H.S., CO
Nicholas Moyer - Clovis North H.S., CA


Sarah Gibes - Warren Township H.S., IL
Brock Nutter - Norris H.S., NE
Kirk Peterson - Apex H.S., NC
Alexander Zhang - Canyon Crest Academy, CA

French Horn

Emma Fell - Thompson H.S., AL
Michael Johnson - Vestavia Hills H.S. , AL
Steven Locastro - Thompson H.S., AL
Paul Merkamp - Northeastern H.S., IN
Adam Ruble - Columbus North H.S., IN
Brandon Tibbitts - Hamilton Southeastern H.S., IN
Hannah Shea - Long Reach H.S., MD
Kelsey Moore - Sullivan H.S., MO
Adam Julian - Centerville H.S., OH
Jenna Montes - William Mason H.S., OH
Sarah Yarbrough - Klein Oak H.S., TX


Kimberly Blaha - Tomball Memorial H.S., TX
Kane Feltner - Troy H.S., OH
Peter Koury - Madison Central H.S., KY
Minsoo Shin - Rancho Bernardo H.S., CA
Elizabeth Truckey - Roncalli Catholic H.S., WI
Noah Zoller - Olathe North H.S., KS


Joe Ardovino - Thompson H.S., AL
Will Basco - Wando H.S., SC
Eva Bayliss - Grove City Christian School, OH
Austin Broadway - Hebron H.S., TX
Abby Duncan - Hilliard Bradley H.S., OH
Steven Garcia - Cypress Creek H.S., TX
Nicholas Gustafson - Dutch Fork H.S., SC
Brianna Imgruet - Downers Grove South H.S., IL
Clifton Little - Wylie East H.S., TX
Timothy Tucker - Wake Forest H.S., NC
Kyle Tellez - Alexander W. Dreyfoos Schools of the Arts, FL
Thomas Vines - Ravenwood H.S., TN


Christopher Bradley - Parkview Baptist School, LA
Joseph Diaz - Oak Ridge H.S., CA
Alan Fletcher, Jr. - duPont Manual H.S./Youth Performing Arts School, KY
Brett Galey - Troy H.S., OH
Spencer Hawkins - Youth Performing Arts School, KY
Connor Hoverman - McComb H.S., OH
Christopher Johnson - Riverdale H.S., TN
Jaewoo Lee - Saratoga H.S., CA
Michael Neufeld - Clovis North H.S., CA
Chanson Peck - Dobson H.S., AZ
David Seder - Paul Laurence Dunbar H.S., KY


Daniel Agramonte - George Walton Comprehensive H.S., GA
Jason Donnelly - Paul J. Hagerty H.S., FL
Troy Moeller - Sunlake H.S., FL
Nestor Pelayo - Lincoln Southwest H.S., NE


Bridget Conley - Charleston County School of the Arts, SC
Justin Cooper - Madison Central Highschool, KY
Ethan Millington - Norris H.S., NE
Travis Sanders - Paul Laurence Dunbar H.S., KY
David Stein - Morristown H.S., NJ
Christopher Wyllie - Maple Mountain H.S., UT


Phil Barrett - Ravenwood H.S., TN
Branden Bienz - Blue Valley H.S., KS
Maddy Dethloff - Lawrence Free State H.S., KS
Nathan Juarez - Permian H.S., TX
Reilly McLean - Kell H.S., GA
Griffin Miller - Andrew W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, FL
Tyler Primeaux - The Colony H.S., TX
Travis Rowland - Dobson H.S., AZ
Jakob Schoenfeld - Paul J. Hagerty H.S., FL
Christopher Wu - Northwood H.S., CA

Apply for 2016

Past Honor Band of America Members

Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 Honor Orchestra of America

2016 Honor Orchestra of America, part of the Music for All National Festival

2016 Music for All National Festival
March 9-12, Indianapolis, IN

larrylivingstonLarry Livingston
2016 Conductor
Chair, Conducting Department Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California
sey ahnSey Ahn
Assistant Conductor  






2016 Program includes:

Giuseppe Verdi – Nabucco Overture
Carl Maria von Weber – Oberon Overture
Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 1 in D major, Movement 4

2016 Honor Orchestra Members


Mikayla Chan - Herricks H.S., NY
Annette Chang - Woodbridge H.S., CA
Maia Chua - The Masters School, NY
Rachel Hollis - Youth Performing Arts School, KY
Kevin Kim - North Gwinnett H.S. , GA
Andrew Lewis - Avon H.S., IN
Spencer Metcalf - James B. Conant H.S., IL
Orliana Morag - LaGuardia H.S., NY
Andrew Nguyen - Avon H.S., IN
Ashley Park - Arnold O. Beckman H.S., CA
Jennifer Park - Arnold O. Beckman H.S., CA
Kyle Qian - Centennial H.S., GA
Holly Radford - Dos Pueblos H.S., CA
Patrick Roberts - North Cobb H.S., GA
Zoe Screwvala - Hunter College H.S., NY
Mary Pauline Sheridan-Rabideau - Youth Performing Arts School, KY
Bryant So - Rampart H.S., CO
Cayleigh Stewart - duPont Manual/Youth Performing Arts School, KY
Gene Tanaka - Palisades Charter H.S., CA
Thompson Wang - Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, CA
Jessica Ling Yan - Dulaney H.S., MD
Isaac Yoo - Arnold O. Beckman H.S., CA
Alice Zheng - Brookfield Central H.S., WI
Julia Zhong - Hunter College H.S., NY


Atlee Daniel - Homeschooled, TX
Whitney Larson - Avon H.S., IN
Ethan Nell - Homeschooled, FL
Francis Ramas - Smith - CyWoods H.S., TX
Sergio Robert-Kim - Clements H.S., TX
Adam Savage - Homeschooled, FL
Priscilla Tsai - Northwood H.S., CA
Nicole Walters - Colburn Music School, CA
Alice Yoon - Fishers H.S., IN


Michael Berg - City H.S., IA
Danielle Davis - Baldwin Senior H.S., NY
Allie Kreitman - University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, IL
Jaebok Lee - Harvard-Westlake School, CA
Seri Lee - Vernon Hills H.S., IL
Gregory Llewellyn - Dwight Englewood School and Manhattan School of Music, NJ
Daniel Paik - Northwood H.S., CA
Megan Savage - Homeschooled, FL
Max Walters - Gabrielino H.S., CA
Alexander Wemmie - West Senior H.S., IA


Zoe Hood - Alan C. Pope H.S., GA
Joseph Lee - The Loomis Chaffee School, CA
Eric Nakamoto - Hamilton H.S., AZ
Pablo Ocampo - Gulliver Preparatory, FL
Shane Savage - Homeschooled, FL
Isaiah Ward - Lawrence Central H.S., IN
Daniel Woo - Irvine H.S., CA


Alison Addie - duPont Manual H.S./Youth Performing Arts School, KY
Daniel Chen - Montgomery Blair H.S., MD
Michael Huerta - James Bowie H.S., TX
Jessica Shand - Discovery Canyon Campus H.S., CO


Andres Ayola - LaGuardia H.S./Manhattan School of Music, NY
Nathania Hartojo - Temple City H.S., CA
Anatole Storck - Wando H.S., SC
Amelia Wingard - Wando H.S., SC


Andres Bryan - Cypress Creek H.S., TX
Marissa Johnson - Avon H.S., IN
Cynthia Liu - Montgomery Blair H.S., MD


Harrison Cody - Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, FL
Kody Harrington - Hebron H.S., TX
Kenny Wang - Whippany Park H.S., NJ


Brian Boydston - Keller H.S., TX
Shuzo Kayatama - Fort Lee H.S./Manhattan School of Music
Mauricio Mondragon - Stephen F. Austin H.S, TX
Jacey Rosengren - Marcus H.S., TX
Luke Schwerer - Oconomowoc H.S., WI


Justin Ellena - Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, FL
Matt Gorman - Cypress Creek H.S., TX
Aimy McCrosky - West Stokes H.S., NC
William Melancon - New Iberia Senior H.S., LA
Ashlyn Pugh - Stephen F. Austin H.S., TX
Madison Ray - D. W. Daniel H.S., SC
Brady Zeller - Avon H.S., IN


Christian Boletchek - Green Hope H.S., NC
Katie Franke - JEB Stuart H.S., VA
Noah Roper - Aledo H.S., TX


Matthew Baker - Athens Drive H.S., NC


Daniel Gratz - duPont Manual/Youth Performing Arts School, KY
Brandon Lim - Cypress Ridge H.S., TX
Caleb Paust - Homeschooled, FL
Maxwell Thompson - Youth Performing Arts School, KY
Jake Wohleb - James Bowie H.S., TX

Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 Jazz Band of America

2016 Jazz Band of America part of the Music for All National Festival

2016 Music for All National Festival
March 9-12, Indianapolis, IN

michael mossman photo
Michael Philip Mossman
2016 Conductor
Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Yamaha Performing Artist
Steve Wilson
Guest Artist
Yamaha Performing Artist

Jazz Band of America 2016 Concert

Friday, March 11, 2016
8:30 p.m.
Clowes Memorial Hall, Butler University



2016 Jazz Band of America Members:

Alto Saxophone
Kyle Schroeder - J.W. Mitchell H.S., FL
Austin Zhang - Plano West H.S., TX

Tenor Saxophone
Andrew Golub - Smithtown H.S. West, NY
Rico Jones - Denver School of the Arts, CO

Baritone Saxophone
Zach Gross - Liberty H.S., TX

Ethan Chilton - Golden Valley H.S., CA
Zachary Davis - Saint Ann's School, NY
Eric Gonzalez - Osceola County School for the Arts, FL
Erik Ondrejko - Denver School of the Arts, CO
Aiden Thieme - Northgate H.S., CA

Tyler Bonilla - Osceola County School for the Arts, FL
Wyatt Forhan - Saint Dominic H.S., MO
Jonah Paquette - Charleston County School of the Arts, SC
Stephan Tenney - Charleston County School of the Arts, SC

Jan Knutson - Eleanor Roosevelt H.S., MD

Sam Towse - Friends Academy, NY

Philip Norris - Wake Forest H.S., NC

Christian McGhee - Westminster Christian Academy, MO

Jacob Britton - Osceola County School for the Arts, FL

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Always Remember

We're giving our enewsletter readers an advance chance to read this article from our upcoming Music for All Newsletter, "Always Remember," by Richard Floyd.


ALWAYS REMEMBER why you chose this wonderful profession in the first place. It is very likely that you were seduced into this magic world of music and music making because of the way it made you feel.

You are not in this profession because you finally learned to play the chromatic scale at MM=144. You didn’t choose music as your career path because you finally played a “high C” on your trumpet or mastered a challenging passage. You chose music because of an emotional connection. It was that defining moment or series of moments when music touched your soul and you came to the realization that you couldn’t live without it and you were consumed with the dream of sharing it with others.

Never loose sight of that reality. It will be easy to become obsessed with personal achievement, extrinsic goals, a boundless litany of suggested strategies, endless competitions and seductive peripheral activities that disguise themselves as been central to the true purpose of music education. Do not be seduced by these illusions and false values. If you remain ever mindful of those magic moments that ignited the fire for making and teaching music and you strive to create those kinds of experiences in your students then your professional life will be happy, fruitful and long.

ALWAYS REMEMBER to seek opportunities to play your instrument and personally make music. That is a major component of what brought you to this juncture in your life. It is essential that you remember what it is like to be on “both sides of the stick.”

ALWAYS REMEMBER that it is the art of making music that gives it true value. In truth, recreating the notes on a printed page of music is no more or less rewarding than solving an algebra equation. No music has been created. But when those notes and rhythms are infused with your human spirit and your passion for creating and sharing beauty the outcome has the potential to be priceless.

ALWAYS REMEMBER to maintain a musical fortress of great music that offers you inspiration, comfort and revival. There will be countless times when you will need to be reminded of the intrinsic place of music in your life and the lives of others. Your musical fortress must reflect the greatest music that mankind has to offer. Be it Mozart or Mahler or composers on the cutting edge of compositional thought make it the best of what is out there. And, it must be a compendium of great music that constantly grows and evolves.

ALWAYS REMEMBER that you will always be a student. Explore new frontiers, embrace fresh ideas and seek opportunities to collaborate with master teachers. Be on the look out for occasions to observe and be engaged with the finest teachers and conductors within you sphere. The great golf teacher Harvey Penick said it best, “If you want to be a better golfer don’t have lunch with lousy players.”

ALWAYS REMEMBER that it is perfectly OK to be pleased with your successes. To be pleased is perfectly normal and healthy. But, never, ever be satisfied. If you are satisfied you become comfortable and if you are comfortable you become complacent and if you are complacent you will cease to challenge yourself and cease to grow.

ALWAYS REMEMBER as the Chinese proverb reminds us, “It is good to have a goal to journey towards but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

And above all, ALWAYS REMEMBER …life is a “do it yourself” project.


Richard Floyd
State Director of Music Emeritus
University of Texas at Austin
Music Director – Austin Symphonic Band

Choir Header

Music for All will add programs for choir in 2018 with the premiere of the Music for All National Choir Festival, at the 2018 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, in Indianapolis. The Music for All National Choir Festival will be an integral part of Music for All’s ongoing mission to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. Henry Leck, Founder and Artistic Director of the famed Indianapolis Children’s Choir, has joined as Artistic Director of the Music for All National Choir Festival. Lori Lobsiger and Kim Mann, leaders in choral event programming and past producers of the World Choir Games, have joined Music for All as program consultants for the new MFA National Choir Festival.

“It’s extremely exhilarating to be involved in this new choral initiative and with an organization of such high caliber,” said Henry Leck, Artistic Director. “I look forward to bringing many talented choirs from all over the nation to the festival to further music education and help students experience the magic that Music for All offers with all of its programs.”

The new National Choir Festival is a non-competitive experience for outstanding high school and youth choirs, of both treble and mixed voices, to celebrate musical excellence and provide opportunities for growth and learning. The Festival offers an opportunity for each ensemble to receive recorded and written evaluation of its performance from a knowledgeable audience of music educators and fellow choir members. The festival also incorporates master classes led by world-renowned musicians and top applied faculty, as well as social events that give students the chance to network with colleagues, guest artists and icons of music education. At the end of the festival, students, directors, parents, staff and evaluators will attend a Gala Awards Banquet where all ensembles are recognized for their participation.

“Music for All is excited to take this next logical step in support of and advocacy for scholastic music education,” said Eric L. Martin, President and CEO of Music for All. “For 40 years we have created and provided programs supporting, elevating and advocating for the availability and excellence of instrumental music instruction in our schools and nation. Expanding our commitment to choral music fulfills requests of MFA alumni and music educators from across the nation, as well as Music for All’s vision to ensure that every child across America has access to the benefits of quality scholastic music education offerings.”

The 2018 MFA National Choir Festival will be held March 15-17. This year, 2016, marks the 25th anniversary of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, which currently includes concert bands, orchestras, percussion ensembles, chamber ensembles, and three national honor ensembles – the Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America, and Jazz Band of America. A full schedule of Festival ensemble concerts, times, and locations for the upcoming 2016 Festival to be held in Indianapolis, March 10-12, will be available at


Download the Music for All National Choir Festival Brochure.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

2015 Grand National Finals Review

By Michael Boo
(With assistance from bloggers Michael Reed, Megan Bonfield, and Christopher Drake.)

November 14, 2015
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

The Bands of America Grand National Championships Finals festivities, held inside the magnificent Lucas Oil Stadium, put a grand exclamation mark on 40 great years of spectacular events by the foremost organization of its type. Yamaha once again presented the four days of events in Indianapolis, reminding all that their mission is the same as that of Music for All.

With all the celebrating and looking back on the first 40 years, it’s important to remember there’s still much to come. The Music for All National Festival will be in Indianapolis March 9-12, 2016, followed by the Music for All Summer Symposium at Ball State University June 27-July 2, following up on the Leadership Weekend Experience June 25-27, also in Muncie. And after the 2016 Bands of America Grand National Championships November 9-12, the BOA Honor Band will march in the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2, 2017.

In the Indianapolis Marching Band Tournament, held on Wednesday night, November 11, Arsenal Technical HS captured 1st place in the Corps Style division, and also won the caption awards for General Effect, Visual, and Music. Emmerich Manual HS took 2nd place. Broad Ripple HS took 1st place in the Show Style division, taking General Effect and Music Honors. Crispus Attucks HS captured 2nd place, Visual Honors, and a $1,000 check for being named winner of the Spirit Award.

Of special interest from Prelims is the Grand National Championships witnessed the first bands ever to compete from the distant states of Hawaii and Alaska.

After 95 bands competed in Prelims on Thursday and Friday, the following 34 bands (listed in performance order) advanced into Semi-Finals: Beechwood HS (KY), Bellbrook HS, (OH), Father Ryan HS (TN), Saint James School, (AL), Kiski Area HS (PA), Larry A. Ryle HS (KY), Jenison HS (MI), Miamisburg HS (OH), Franklin HS (TN), Ben Davis HS (IN), Lawrence Township (IN), Harrison HS (GA), Homestead HS (CA), Dobyns-Bennett HS (TN), Homestead HS (IN), Blue Springs HS (MO), Keller HS (TX), The Woodlands HS (TX), Center Grove HS (IN), Keller Central HS (TX), Broken Arrow HS (OK), Centerville HS (OH), William Mason HS (OH), Lake Central HS (IN), Avon HS (IN), Carmel HS (IN), Round Rock HS (TX), Marian Catholic HS (IL), Hebron HS (TX), Bentonville HS (AR), Adair County HS (KY), Milford HS (OH), Goshen HS (IN), and Green Hope HS (NC).

After the performances of all Semi-Finals bands and the exhibition of the Western Carolina University Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, caption highest achievement awards and caption placement awards were presented to the top bands in each of the four competitive Semi-Finals classes.

In Class AAAA, 1st place Hebron HS (TX) took the Outstanding Music Performance and Outstanding General Effect awards, and 2nd place Broken Arrow HS (OK) captured Outstanding Visual Performance. Avon HS (IN) took 3rd place. In Class AAA, 1st place Harrison HS (GA) won all caption awards, followed by 2nd place Franklin HS (TN) and 3rd place Dobyns-Bennett HS (TN). In Class AA, 1st place Marian Catholic HS (IL) won all caption awards, followed by 2nd place Kiski Area HS (PA) and 3rd place Miamisburg HS (OH). In Class A, 1st place Adair County HS (KY) won all caption awards, followed by 2nd place Beechwood HS (KY) and 3rd place St. James School (AL).

The Finalist bands were randomly announced as being The Woodlands HS (TX), Avon HS (IN), Hebron HS (TX), Broken Arrow HS (OK), Marian Catholic HS (IL), Round Rock HS (TX), Carmel HS (IN), Harrison HS (GA), Keller HS (TX), William Mason HS (OH), Homestead HS (IN), and Blue Springs HS (MO). Representatives from each band drew for their performing position in Finals. In addition, Finals performances concluded with an exhibition performance by Class A Champion Adair County HS, as Class Champions present an exhibition in Finals if they aren’t in the top-12.

After the performance of all finalist bands, Music for All presented its first Advocacy in Action Award to the Country Music Association’s Music Makes Us campaign, which has pledged $10,000,000 to school music programs. Then it was time to bring out the finalist bands and announce the placements and special awards. Once all the finalist bands were on the field and received their individual accolades, a video montage of all the bands from that participated in Grand Nationals was presented, leading into the presentation of the Semifinals Class Champion awards to the Class Champions and the finalist special awards.

The Al Castronovo Espirit de Corps Award was presented to the Colony HS (AK). Hebron HS won the Grand Finals Outstanding Music Performance Award and The Steve Brubaker Outstanding Visual Performance Award was a tie between Avon HS and Broken Arrow HS. Broken Arrow HS won the Outstanding General Effect Award.

Broken Arrow HS, 1st place, 97.50
“Wild Blue Orchid” featured the searing and soaring music of Dmitri Shostakovich, the opening blue sea of flags swallowing the field and leading one to wonder how the winds were going to swim to shore. Among intriguing visuals were horse heads on the guard, a reference to The White Stripes’ video, “Blue Orchid,” which featured a horse with raised hooves…the show and orchids both relying upon cross pollination.

Avon HS, 2nd place: 97.00
With several counterbalanced pumpjacks and oil derricks dotting the arid landscape, “Black Gold” told the story of the discovery, removal, and exploitation of oil in the developing days in the American Southwest. A huge oil-coated tarp covered much of the band as a well experienced a blowout, accompanied by the shale flags of the oil slick-costumed guard turning gold to represent the riches that were to follow.

Hebron HS, 3rd place: 96.25
In “360,” we learned that what goes around, turns and spins around…and around, and around…in ways that would make the average person dizzy. Who knew there were that many variations on curves and circles? From the mesmerizing oboe solo to the hotter-than-the-sun tenor saxophone feature, this show caught us in a circle of wonder, which unlike circles; had an end that unfortunately came about three hours too soon.

William Mason HS, 4th place: 95.35
With enough scaffolding to supply four blocks of New York City tenement fire escapes, “Somewhere” told the timeless story of doomed lovers Tony and Maria with mostly unexpected non-“West Side Story” music. Multiple Tonys and Marias tried to live their life apart from the violence and hatred surrounding them, as the outside world brutally intruded upon their dreams, ripping them (and our own emotions) apart.

Carmel HS, 5th place: 94.40
“9 Lives” was a veritable homage to our feline friends, with tall scratching posts across the field and a large ball of string tempting the curious tabbies, guard members whose hair was made up to look like cat ears. A glistening jewel was far too much a temptation to the cat burglars who clawed through the laser beams to prevent the jewel from falling into any other’s paws. A purr-fect way to enjoy 11 minutes.

The Woodlands HS, 6th place: 93.70
“TimeBenders” explored opposing elements that make up time, these two disparate elements often split from side-to-side. The representation of “mechanical time” was both musically and drill-wise rather jagged and relentlessly machine-like, and the simultaneous “body time” was curvier and far less structured. The band started and stopped at the command of the announcer, who obviously had time on his side.

Round Rock HS, 7th place: 93.00
“This is My Letter to the World” featured Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and the peacefully pastel vision of a 19th Century spring on the rural open prairie. Enthusiastically embracing the challenges of what could be a rugged and unforgiving life, the hard work of pioneering settlers was rewarded with the gift of a simple peace, making daily life a continuous journey offering up unending opportunities.

Marian Catholic HS, 8th place: 90.90
When Marian Catholic first made Finals for the first of 32 consecutive years, the concept of string theory was still in its infancy. Only slightly less complex than the world of quantum mechanics, “String Theory” delved into a magical world of marionettes who were first controlled by outside forces, then used their control bars to turn the tables, stringing their aggressors along in a grand act of turnabout.

Harrison HS, 9th place: 90.25
“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” was inspired by the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. Music and visuals were regal and demur at times, impetuous and treacherous elsewhere, (with the conflicting emotions sometimes expressed simultaneously). The show provided a Cliff Notes encapsulation of Mary’s life and aspirations; perfect for those who didn’t know how things panned out for her because they never read the book.

Blue Springs HS, 10th place: 89.10
Large digital screens amongst the pit percussion kept trying to manipulate the thoughts of the audience in “Subliminal,” with 40 television test pattern sets across the field reminding all why the great electronic babysitter is to be mistrusted as much as it is to be enjoyed. We know we should adhere to the instruction, “DO NOT LOOK AT THE TELEVISION SET,” but hey…nothing else is on and it’s too nice to go outside.

Keller HS, 11th place: 88.70
A famed Dylan Thomas poem provided the catalyst for the emotional angst that powered “do not go gentle…” Barren, snow-covered tree sets added a sense of foreboding chill. Like the poem on which it was based, the show didn’t plunge into despair, but embraced the affirmation that life is to be embraced and lived to its fullest, sensed in the victorious fanfare-like nature of the music that grew out of the darkness.

Homestead HS, 12th place: 88.25
In “Poiesis – An Act of Creation,” the art of the creative process was brought to the fore as the guard continually adjusting Tinker Toy-like poles to create whimsical assemblages that would have been right at home at a modern art gallery opening. Often, imperceptible drill forms snapped into position as some unseen artist finally experienced a Eureka moment, then sat back to admire their creative masterpiece.

For many years, Michael Boo has covered a large variety of pageantry events. He is the Staff Writer for Drum Corps International and has written for BOA and WGI for much of the existence of the two organizations. Michael Reed writes and blogs for WGI Indoor Marching Percussion and Color Guard events. Megan Bonfield and Christopher Drake are both Staff Writers for

See the list of all Grand National Finals results, as well as all 2015 BOA Championship awards results.