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The Music for All Blog

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Visit the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

View more photos from Taylor University Escape to Reality Challenge Course.

Hello! My name is Lauren Williams, and I am the Marketing Intern for Music for All. I just returned from the Leadership Weekend Experience at Taylor University "Escape to Reality" challenge course, and I am guest blogging about the students’ time there and the valuable lessons they learned.

Zip line webThe first activity I could see as I approached the Leadership site was the zip line. Students put on harnesses, and they were challenged to climb to the top platform using metal rungs on a structure resembling a telephone pole. This is not an easy feat as it requires concentration, determination and bravery to reach the top platform. Once there, the students took a thrilling ride down to the end of the clearing. Those who accepted the challenge of climbing to the top learned to step out of their comfort zones and face their fears.

Close by, other students were taking the ropes course challenge. Harnessed and hoisted to the top of the course, students tested their balance and coordination by walking the tight rope and even leaping for a trapeze – 25 to 30 feet above the ground! I was amazed at their bravery, and when they were lowered back down; they couldn’t stop grinning from the excitement.

Next, the students met with Tom Pompei, Natural Horsemanship professional, and his trusty steed Spark.

Spark with kids webPompei related the skittish nature of horses to new members on a team. In a new environment, people become intimidated and may shy away from new experiences. To be a good leader, one must show the newcomers that they are welcome and cared for, and soon they will become comfortable and trusting, just like a horse. A good leader also needs to pay attention and cater to different personalities (like extroverts and introverts) to achieve effective leadership. Finally, a good leader will use positive and encouraging language to guide their team to success. These three L’s—love, language, and leadership—are the keys to working well with a team.

Water bottle act 2 webPompei’s next activity involved splitting everyone up into pairs and using empty water bottles to make their partner perform a certain action. One person got a piece of paper saying what the action was (like jumping jacks or a salute) and had to make the other perform it by tapping them with the bottle. For instance, the instructor would tap their partner’s hand and then their forehead to make them do a salute. The only rule was that they couldn’t talk to each other. Some students were able to get it right away, but others had a harder time. The lesson was that leadership isn’t about telling people what to do, it’s about learning how to adapt and guide them to success in a way they can relate to and understand. Everyone communicates differently, and leadership takes patience and careful attention, even if it gets frustrating.

Ropes webAfter lunch, I tagged along with a group of students through the woods to another rope challenge. The group stood on one side of a small, circular clearing and used a swinging rope to reach one of the three wooden platforms on the other side. They had to go one by one until everyone was on one of the three platforms. As people crossed over, space on the platforms became tight. The only rule was that if someone’s feet touched the ground, they had to completely start over. It took a few tries, but they were able to complete the challenge by holding on tight and making sure nobody fell off until the last person was over.  This activity taught them that when working on a team, the success of every individual is critical to the success of the team as a whole. Every person needs to support his or her teammates in any way possible to achieve the team’s goal. It was so refreshing to hear the sincere words of encouragement they shared with each other as each student prepared to swing to the platforms.

Even though I was just observing and taking photos, the positive energy of the Taylor University Leadership Weekend Experience was so strong that I couldn’t help but feel like a part of it myself. The students learned extremely valuable lessons about teamwork and leadership that will not only aid them in their musical endeavors, but also with their education, friendships, and future career choices.


Opening SessionVisit the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

Welcome to the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium! My name is Kristin Conrad, and I’m the Senior Marketing Coordinator at Music for All. I will be blogging throughout the week to keep you informed about the activities students will be participating in at Summer Symposium. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be in two places at once, although I wish I could since I would enjoy seeing everything happening at camp. But, I'll do my best to keep you in the loop throughout the week and help provide an insider’s look at the Symposium experience. You'll also see posts from other MFA staff members this week as they attend sessions and experience camp.

If you followed the Summer Symposium blog last year, you may remember that last year was my third year at camp as an MFA staff member. This is my fourth camp, and it’s so nice to be back on campus at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. This is the second year Summer Symposium has been held on the campus of Ball State University.

The MFA staff moved into our headquarters this past Wednesday, and we've been hard at work setting up and prepping for the week. The SWAG Team is also on site, working hard already to help make sure your children have a great experience. The SWAG Team plays a major role in the Summer Symposium, serving as counselors, staff assistants and role models to the 1,000+ student participants.

Even though I’ve been to camp before, I’m still always amazed that this is an all-volunteer group! Dedicated band directors, college students, graduate students, directors and others interested in music education volunteer their time – over a week out of their busy lives – to provide a positively life-changing experience for each and every student participant. But, it extends even beyond this. Every time I have encountered a SWAG this week, he or she has either offered to help me with something I was working on, asked how my day is going, or simply smiled and told me they’re here if I need anything. It’s that compassion, dedication, responsive attitude and friendliness that truly sets this amazing group apart from the crowd.

The Leadership Weekend Experience is now under way, and I spent most of my morning over at registration in Park Hall. SWAGs helped students register, passed out their notebooks with materials for the week and provided them with a namebadge. They also chatted with them about what they can expect this weekend. I snapped a few photos while milling around registration, and you can find them here.

After registration, it was time for the Leadership Weekend Experience Opening Session in Pruis Hall. All participants attended this session, and they heard from Norm Ruebling, Camp Director of the Music for All Summer Symposium; Eric Martin, Music for All's President and CEO; and the Camp Medical Team. Then Leadership Division Coordinator Fran Kick presented a session that provided helpful tips for the weekend (or week ahead for full week campers).

Music for All recently adopted a new vision, and President and CEO Eric Martin talked about this at the beginning of the Opening Session. Music for All’s vision is to be a catalyst to ensure that every child across America has access and opportunity to participate in active music making in his or her scholastic environment. MFA will use our resources to provide national programs that recognize and support music students' performance and success, offer music educator training and professional development, and deliver tools and resources to participants and their communities that will assist them in supporting music education by promoting awareness of music’s impact on student growth and achievement.

Martin discussed how student campers here at Symposium can help advance Music for All’s mission and vision by simply passing along the message that music education is important and telling their story. Tying in to Leadership Weekend, students can be effective leaders and help by acting as “foot soldiers” for music education by telling others about their own positive, musical experiences.

“I believe in music education. I believe in Music for All. I believe in you,” Martin said to close his speech. Powerful words. If you’re interested in learning more about Music for All’s “I Believe” advocacy awareness campaign, you can read more on our website. And, check out this video in which music educators, student musicians, conductors and composers share why they believe music education is so important.
Fran Kick began his session with the students by discussing the concept of rules versus expectations.

“We need to make sure that one of the expectations, in fact, traditions of Music for All, is an attitude of gratitude,” Kick said.

Kick encouraged students to “thank everyone you see” and tune in and pay attention to the clinicians and faculty they’ll hear throughout the week. He also encouraged students to “pay attention, respond appropriately and be involved in what’s going on.”

These are serious and important lessons, but Kick delivered this message in a way that was fun and engaging for the students, joking here and there and incorporating team-building exercises. He had the students laughing, listening and also paying close attention to these important leadership lessons.

I left thinking about the concept of “actions speaking louder than words.” Kick told a story about students in a college lecture hall. Picture your typical college lecture hall, and then also picture it littered with trash left over from a class. Papers on the floor, empty soda cans, etc. As students attending the next class in the hall file in, most simply take their seats and go about their own personal business. But, one person begins picking up trash in his area and then sits back down. Immediately, others follow suit and do the same, cleaning up near their respective areas. Were any verbal instructions given? No. Actions speak louder than words. A simple, easy gesture from one student led to action from several others. Interesting.

Attitude really is everything, and I was reminded of that as well. As Kick discussed that “you get what you give,” I was reminded of a quote from John Horn that I truly love. “Anyone can be cranky or unkind or mediocre. Being positive and kind and excellent takes a lot more discipline and power."

At times when I’m feeling tired and unwilling to give any more of myself, I try to remind myself of this quote. I’m, admittedly, not perfect and sometimes forget this. But, it’s a quote that has stuck with me, and Kick’s session reminded me of this concept.

Leadership Weekend continues tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing what happens next!


Music for All still has immediate openings in the Music for All Summer Symposium (June 25-30) for Jazz Band, Concert Band and Orchestra. We have a need for 2 Trumpets in Concert Band, 2 Trombones and a piano in Jazz, and 4 Violins in Orchestra.

Call the MFA Headquarters at 877.643.6043 for Scholarship Information. This is first-come, first-served.

Please join Music for All in supporting CopyCat Music Licensing as they vie for a small business grant in Chase’s Mission: Small Business program. Each business needs at least 250 votes to be considered for a $250,000 grant. Eligible small business applicants will then be judged by a panel of business experts.

Vote today! The program ends June 30, 2012.

CopyCat Music Licensing serves educators, non-profits – including Music for All and Bands of America – and small businesses to provide services and guidance in music licensing and copyright issues.

CopyCat Music Licensing is committed to music education. Helping educators, schools and music ensembles navigate the copyright compliance process is a priority. Through their work, CopyCat Music Licensing helps promote access, creativity and a system that creates and supports a culture of compliance with intellectual property laws. Being awarded one of the 12 Mission: Small Business grants will give CopyCat an opportunity to help advance the creative spirit by helping composers receive “due compensation” and teach and nurture a culture of compliance and respect for the property rights of others, all while providing a needed service for educators and others.

Click here to vote now and to learn more. Login in and search for CopyCat Music Licensing. Note that there is another CopyCat business competing in the program – be sure that you are voting for CopyCat Music Licensing (La Crosse, WI).

Congratulations to Josh Torres, named Center Grove High School's Teacher of the Year. I've personally enjoyed watching Josh's successes and growth as a music educator, percussionist and, recently, as a father. Congratulations, Josh!

Read the story on the Center Grove Community Newsletter:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Towson University Confirmed

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Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium was confirmed today as the venue for the Towson, Maryland Regional Championship on October 27, 2012.

All fall venues have now been confirmed! To view the 2012 full fall schedule, click here.

Today, Music for All published a series of interesting, often moving video stories from the 2012 Music for All National Festival and honor ensembles. During the event, we interviewed members of the honor ensembles and the conductors. Marry those interviews with behind the scenes video from rehearsals and outstanding performance footage and you have a series of compelling stories that really gives you a feel for the experience of these national honor ensembles for high school musicians.

I hope you'll take some time to watch these stories, compiled in the 2012 Festival playlist on our YouTube channel:;feature=plcp

Videos include of the Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America and Jazz Band of America. The playlist also includes a feature on the experience for the invited ensembles, highlights from the string master class with Time for Three's Nick Kendall, the Opening Session video and the banquet keynote address from Mr. Eric L. Martin, President and CEO of Music for All.

I hope you enjoy and share!

Debbie Laferty Asbill, Music for All

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Desert Hills High School Confirmed

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Desert Hills High School was confirmed this week as the venue for the St. George, Utah Regional Championship on November 3, 2012.

To view the 2012 full fall schedule, click here.

Check back often for additional 2012 fall schedule updates and information.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Apogee Stadium Confirmed

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Apogee Stadium at University of North Texas was confirmed this week as the venue for the Denton, Texas Regional Championship on September 29, 2012.

To view the 2012 full fall schedule, click here.

Check back often for additional 2012 fall schedule updates and information.

166 School Districts and 10 Schools Achieve Prestigious National Designation

BestComm2012 0 2 1CARLSBAD, Calif. (April 17, 2012)The NAMM Foundation announced the results of its 13th annual Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) survey, which acknowledges schools and districts across the U.S. for their commitment and support for music education as part of the core curriculum. In all, 176 communities out of 237 that submitted surveys were recognized, including 166 school districts and 10 schools. The announcement comes in anticipation of NAMM’s National Wanna Play Music Week, (May 7-13) a weeklong promotion designed to encourage people of all ages and skill levels to experience the proven benefits and fun of playing music.

Established in 1999, The BCME survey is a nationwide search for communities who provide access to music education as an essential part of a complete education and exemplify commitment and support for music education. The BCME survey is designed and implemented in collaboration with The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

The announcement of the 2012 Best Communities for Music Education campaign comes during a crucial time as school districts nationwide finalize budgets. The Best Community designation is a distinction worthy of pride, but is also a call to action for local music education advocates to help preserve and potentially expand access to their current music education programs.

Past designees have reported that making the Best Communities list had a positive effect on their ability to advance recognition and support for music programs. NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen, encourages communities to use the designation as a cornerstone of vigorous advocacy for music education programs.

“We know that communities are struggling to maintain funding for many education programs and we applaud these communities that remain committed to a complete and quality education that must include music and the arts,” said Luehrsen. “We urge communities to celebrate the designation as a national recognition for their commitment to children and most of all, keep the music playing in their schools for years to come.”

Each school receiving the “Best Communities” designation scored in the 80th percentile or higher in the survey’s grading process. Participants in the survey answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and other relevant factors in their communities’ music education programs. The responses were verified with district officials and advisory organizations reviewed the data.

A copy of the survey can be downloaded for review at

In conducting the annual survey, the NAMM Foundation is joined by advisory organizations in the fields of music and education: Americans for the Arts (, League of American Orchestras (, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (, Music for All (, Music Teachers National Association (, National Guild For Community Arts Education (, Yamaha Corporation of America (, Young Audiences (, and VH1 Save The Music Foundation (

View the full press release for the complete list of Best Communities for Music Education. The roster is listed alphabetically and can also be viewed at

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to advancing active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs from the international music products industry.