The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

Stories (284)

It's Throwback Thursday and we are taking you back to 2001 at the MFA Summer Symposium! We all know that Tower's rhythm section lays down a groove like no other band! We were incredibly lucky to have them as our guests at the Summer Symposioum, performing for one of the best audiences out there – our Summer Symposium campers!
While we don't have Tower of Power this year at the Summer Symposium at Ball State, we do have a pretty awesome evening concert line-up!
Monday, June 23: Yamaha Young Performing Artists

Tuesday, June 24: Atlantic Brass Quintet
Wednesday, June 25: Big Bad Vodoo Daddy
Thursdsay, June 26: Christian Howes and Southern Exposure
Friday, June 27: DCI Central Indiana
Learn more about the 2014 MFA Summer Symposium Concert Series here
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday: #BOAThrowback

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For this week's Throwback Thursday we decided to do something a little different and feature YOUR BOA Throwback Thursdsay photos, so we asked our friends on Twitter to share their #BOAThrowback photos with us. We are happy to report that we got a great response, and have some awesome and fun photos to share.



Want to see more #BOAThrowback photos? Check out the complete feed here:

Please join us in welcoming our newest member of the Music for All Marketing Team, Mackenzie Ziegler! We are very thankful to have Mackenzie joining us this summer as we prepare for Summer Symposium this June! You'll definitely be hearing more from Mackenzie throughout her semester here with us, but in the meantime, let her introduce herself to you!


My name is Mackenzie Ziegler and I am the new Marketing Intern here at Music for All. I am a senior (yikes!) at Butler University majoring in Arts Administration Music with a minor in Strategic Communications. Essentially, I am double majoring in business administration and music. I study flute under Karen Moratz, current principal flutist with the ISO, and oboe under Malcolm Smith, former principal oboist with the ISO. I am also involved in many organizations at Butler. I am the President of the Butler chapter of Tau Beta Sigma – National Honorary Band Sorority and am the Treasurer of the Butler chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota – International Music Fraternity for Women. I am always very busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

So, obviously, music is kind of my life. I have been playing for 10 years and have been actively involved in marching band for 8. I attended Warsaw Community High School where I was involved in every musical related ensemble that they had, literally. I was in Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Marching Band, Pep Band, Jazz Band, Clarinet Choir, Flute Choir, and Winter Percussion Ensemble and I loved every minute of it! After graduating in 2011, I began working with the Clay City Imperial Regiment marching band out of Clay City, IN. My uncle, Mark Ziegler, has been the band director there for about 8 years and he wanted me to come to work with the woodwind players. I fully enjoyed that experience and miss it every summer when band time comes around!

When I am not doing something with music you can usually find me watching TV, reading, crafting, playing with my new kitty, Anna, or working my part time job at Starbucks on 86th and Michigan Road in Indianapolis.

Mackenzie2  Mackenzie3

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Everything Beautiful

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At Music for All, our mission is to provide positively life-changing experiences through music for all. We believe that music is powerful beyond measure and can change lives. At every single one of our events, there is something that I see or hear that proves to me that we have accomplished our mission, and that music CAN change people’s lives in so many ways.

This year at the Music for All National Festival, the Honor Band of America had the opportunity to be involved in something even more incredible than the experience of being part of a national honor band. This year, the Honor Band of America performed the premiere of a commissioned piece, Everything Beautiful by composer Samuel Hazo under the baton of Eugene Migliaro Corporon.


Everything Beautiful was commissioned by The Charles F. Campbell Jr. Memorial Consortium, in memory of Charles (Chuck) Campbell, Jr, a respected music educator, conductor and mentor to young music teachers, and 2012 posthumous inductee of the Bands of America Hall of Fame.

While many of the young musicians who performed in the 2014 Honor Band of America had never had the opportunity to meet Chuck Campbell before he passed, they were tasked with the responsibility of being the very first musicians who would perform this beautiful piece of music in his memory.

During their time rehearsing, the students had the opportunity to learn about Chuck Campbell and why he was special to so many people. They even had the chance to hear from the composer himself, Samuel Hazo, to really understand what this piece of music was about. (To learn more about the piece and the history behind the commission click here.)

Every artist, no matter the medium, strives to connect with his or her audience. I know I’m not the only one who believes that the 2014 Honor Band of America accomplished this the night they premiered Everything Beautiful for a packed house at Clowes Hall during the Music for All National Festival.

Composer Samuel Hazo put it best in this video that takes us inside Everything Beautiful.

“Great music played well starts on the inside and comes out and hits
the audience on the inside before it ever hits their ears.”

Everything Beautiful
. Never has there been a more perfect title for a piece of music. Every time I listen to it, I cannot think of a better adjective to describe what I’m hearing than simply – beautiful.

The Honor Band of America did a magnificent job connecting with their audience and invoking so many emotions throughout the three movements. Bravo, members of the 2014 Honor Band of America!

Watch the full performance of Everything Beautiful performed by the 2014 Honor Band of America:

To learn more about the history of the Everything Beautiful commission, composer Samuel Hazo and to read the program notes click here. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Eagle

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As my time at Music for All comes to an end, I though it fitting to dedicate this throwback Thursday post to my first and favorite event, 2013 BOA Grand Nationals.

This past year’s Grand Nats was one of the most exhilarating, challenging, sometimes frustrating, and all around fun experiences of my life. Helping produce positively life-changing experiences for the participants, their families, and all of our amazing volunteers is something I will never forget. And, as a huge Colts’ fan, walking on the field, into the press box, and all around Lucas Oil Stadium was a dream come true.

As a non-BOA participant myself, I didn’t fully grasp just how important these championships were to our many fans.  But, I learned very quickly. One afternoon I, along with my fellow marketing assistant (we miss you Cristina!) were tasked with handling quite possibly the most prized possession in the house: The Eagle. We wheeled the trophy up from the field, through elevators and onto the main concourse. The looks we were garnering from passersby throughout the stadium gave me my first clue to just how “big” this was. A few stopped us to ask “Is that the real Eagle?”  When we answered with “yes, and we’re giving everyone the chance to get their very own picture taken with it,” their faces lit up.


Soon, fans from all across the stadium began coming to our booth hoping to have their own moment with the trophy. We snapped photos, exchanged stories, and learned some really interesting history about the Eagle, and BOA itself. I can’t even tell you how many folks just wanted to come and look for their school’s engraving from past championships, and share a tale from that year’s marching season. The amount of joy that came from these people as they thought back to their marching days or stood next to the Eagle for the first time could have lit the entirety of Lucas Oil Stadium that weekend. 

This was the moment that cemented in my mind just how important Music for All is. BOA is not just a competition but, as we at Music for All like to say, an absolutely life-changing experience. I will never forget my time with Music for All, and am honored to add my name to the incredible legacy of the organization. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

MFA Staff Profiles - Kyle Courtney

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Courtney Kyle

Name: Kyle Courtney

Position: Event Coordinator

Hometown: Newburgh, Indiana

How long have you been with MFA?

Just over two years.

What is your educational background?  Where did you go to school, and what did you study?

I went to Indiana State University and got a Bachelor of Science with emphasis on Music Business. Give or take a couple of credit hours, it is essentially a double major in Music and Business Administration.

What is your musical background?  

In high school, I played Euphonium for the Castle Marching Knights (yes, I was a BOA kid) and the concert bands. I also sang in our show choir and was a part of several stage productions. In college, I stuck to singing and performed with of our concert choir and chamber ensemble, the Sycamore Singers. I also play guitar (badly), and my biggest regret is that I never was in a rock band in high school. If I could have had just ONE successful stage dive…

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

It truly depends on my mood, but I have a particular love for 90’s rock music, only because it is the best era of music (fact). That being said, I have a VERY eclectic array of albums, from Metallica to Queen to the Goo Goo Dolls to Michael Buble. Growing up, I was introduced to many different types and styles of music and I am still constantly discovering new artists, as well as appreciating those that have paved the way.

Why is music important to you?

Music is one of the few things that touches everyone.  It’s on the radio, on our phones, on our computers, in the movies and TV shows that we watch, and is continuing to be made every day. We develop personal relationships and become emotionally and monetarily invested in the art because it invokes feelings within us that nothing else can. Music can be a reminder, an escape, an outlet and a career, connecting us all to one another in various shapes and forms.

Why do you believe in music education?

I can state all kinds of statistics and studies proving that music education is an essential component for healthy and sound academic development, but really I was just very fortunate to have a lot of great educators that taught me life skills through music. They pushed me to work hard, be a good leader, be focused, set and accomplish realistic goals, learn to work as a team and strive to be as good as I can. What I realize now is every component that makes an ensemble successful also makes a business successful. Only a handful of my friends ended up in the music industry or music education, but many of the people that were involved with me in music found success and happiness in various other industries and I ABSOLUTELY believe that it was because of the training we received.

What sort of things do you do in your free time (hobbies)?

I am a HUGE football fan. However, I am a Steelers fan living in Indianapolis, so I get plenty of grief from Colts fans, but my allegiance will not waiver. I also have an (unhealthy) obsession with movies and pop culture and a barrage of obscure facts that, I feel, really makes me a hit at parties.

What led you to Music for All?

Between my sophomore and junior year of college, I was struggling to figure out which aspect of the music industry I wanted to work in, so I went to a Foo Fighters concert to clear my head. For three hours, I screamed lyrics and sweated uncomfortably close to complete strangers, and it was the most pure I had felt in a long time. From that point forward, I made it my goal to work in the world of live performance, just to provide others with that same feeling.

I had the opportunity to work as the stage manager for the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra my last two years in college, gaining valuable event planning and “gear schlepping” experience. Upon graduation, I moved down to Nashville where I worked for a couple of music agencies, assisted at the Country Music Awards and went on the road with Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. It was all a lot of fun, but I couldn’t help feeling like something was missing from the equation. I had the very fortunate opportunity to interview and get the Event Coordinator position here at Music for All, where I am able to provide the same experiences that made me the person I am today. I couldn’t be happier!

What do you enjoy the most about working for Music for All?

Seeing the kids faces after they DO have a “positively life-changing experience.” I still remember at Grand Nationals last year, hearing a girl say “I can’t believe we just marched on the same field the Colts play on!” and it brought me back to that moment for me when I was in high school. Working on our side of it, we are often so caught up in making the event run, it’s easy to forget that those reactions are why we do what we do. We make it a point to step back and watch a few shows, just to remember what it’s really about.

Also, I have the best co-workers in the world. It takes a special kind of person to do this kind of work, and we are so lucky to have an office full of them.  Plus, they tolerate me making EXTRA strong coffee.

What is your favorite Music for All event, and why?

Grand Nationals is my favorite event that we do. First of all, Lucas Oil Stadium is an INCREDIBLE venue and the stadium staff we work with are amazing. The city of Indianapolis embraces this event and we are so grateful that they work with us each year to make it bigger and better.

From my perspective, it is really nice to have the MFA and site staff together in one place. For the previous two months, we have all been traveling around to various parts of the United States and we get to finally sit down and share the hilarious and enlightening experiences from the fall. It is a perfect end to the season!

What’s one interesting thing about yourself that some on staff may not be aware of?

I have a little sister that my parents adopted from China when I was a junior in high school. It has been an awesome experience to watch her grow up and I absolutely love her to death. I am jealous of her ability to ALREADY play piano better than I ever could (she has been playing for 4 months…I took it for 2 years in college), but am very proud to see her embracing music as a part of her life. In a few years, I look forward to seeing her in a Castle Marching Band uniform.


Are you still debating whether or not you should attend the the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha in June? Here are the top 10 reasons why you should consider it!

10. Awesome Evening Concerts!

Each night after a day full of track intensive work (and fun!), the WHOLE camp comes together for an evening of inspiring music! Whether your favorite is an evening of jazz, virtuosic soloists or some of the world’s best drum corps, there will be at least one night you can’t wait to tell your friends back home about!

9. There’s something for everyone

Whether you are a jazz cat, guard diva, marching band buff, orchestra nut, concert band wiz, or drum guru, there’s a division and a place for you at the Music for All Summer Symposium.

8. Leadership is the theme

At the Music for All Summer Symposium we don’t believe that only drum majors or section leaders benefit from leadership. We believe that EVERY student benefits from leadership training and that’s why it is incorporated in EVERY division of the Summer Symposium. Anyone who is willing to pay attention, respond and get involved has the potential to positively lead others.

7. Learn from the best

Where else would you get to go to be instructed by so many of the top music educators and clinicians from across the country?

6. Create life-long friends

At camp you will be with over 1,000 other students from all across the country. You will not only have the opportunity to make friends within your own track, but you will make friends with other students in your dorm, your swags, and faculty! These are relationships that can last you a lifetime; just think of the instagram followers you will have when you get home!

5. Take music & performance skills to the next level

This IS the Music for All Summer Symposium, so first and foremost you will be getting top-notch performance instruction from our outstanding faculty!

4. Get energized for next school year

There is no doubt about it that you will take things that you learn at Music for All Summer Symposium back to your own band, orchestra or guard program back home, not only music or performance skills, but attitude, energy, and a new outlook. Imagine how much stronger of a performer and leader you’ll be and how it could positively impact your school ensemble!

3. Get the away from home “college experience”

You’re probably already thinking leaving home to go to college and into the broader world in the next 1-4 years. Heading away from home can be pretty nerve wrecking. Going to a week long summer camp on a college campus is a great way of getting the experience of being away from home, navigating around a campus and having a roommate! It’s a week of learning about yourself in a new environment.

2. It’s more fun than a summer job!

This one is pretty self-explanatory. What would you rather do? Come to camp, make music and hang out with awesome people or go to work everyday? (p.s. you have the rest of your life to work, spend this summer at camp!) Plus, we know that a large percentage of Fortune 500 CEOs participated in their school music programs, so think of it as an investment in your future!

1. Surrounded by students from across the country who are different – but also JUST LIKE YOU!

At school you probably are in a band with anywhere from 50-350 students (give or take) who have similar interests as you, and maybe half who are as PASSIONATE about music making as you are. Can you imagine being in one place, where the focus is music making and you are surrounded by over 1,000 people who are just as passionate as you are about band, orchestra or guard? Well, you can stop dreaming because that place exists, and it’s in Muncie, Indiana at Ball State University this June.

So what are you waiting for? If these reasons didn't convince you that the Symposium is the right place for you, check out our videos on YouTube from last year's camp as well as the extended online coverage!

Ready to dive in and have the best summer of your life? Register for the MFA Summer Symposium here!

Since 1975, passionate and skilled educators have been key to ensuring that Music for All programs are positively life-changing. We are incredibly thankful for the continuous support of music teachers across the country. In celebration of both Teacher Appreciation Week and Throwback Thursday, here are some of the many wonderful teachers who have impacted Music for All!


For Teacher Appreciation Week, we'd love to hear about teachers who have impacted you. Send an email to Erin Fortune at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about why you want to thank your teacher this week, and it could be included in a blog post this week. (If you have a photo to share of you and your teacher, or just your teacher, even better!)

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Saying Thanks

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Thank you chalkboard
I am not afraid to admit, I love special holidays. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving – I love these days that remind me to do something for someone else, to think about something more than my everyday life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think couples should express their love for each other on days other than Valentines, you should tell your mom you love and appreciate her every chance you get, you should think of the things you are thankful for each day… Yes, we all should do these things, each and every day.

I’m sure there are some people who manage to do all of these things everyday (please tell me your secrets!). I for one, do not. I get wrapped up and consumed with life, with work, with my to-do list. I get so busy that I just don’t think to thank the people around me for being awesome (or call my mom as often as I know I should).

This is why I LOVE that there are days that are meant to celebrate, days that draw our attention to the people and things that are important.

This week is one of those times to really show your appreciation for people who deserve your appreciation and thanks everyday. This week – we celebrate teachers.

National Teacher Appreciation Week is May 5-9. Teacher Appreciation Week is the PERFECT time to really do something special, to go out of your way, to thank all of the amazing teachers in your life (or your child’s life!)

There are MANY ways to celebrate the teachers in your life. After doing some research online and asking my friends who are teachers, I came up with a quick list of 5 ideas to get you started:

1)    Gift Cards: So easy, but who doesn’t love receiving a Starbucks gift card, Target gift card, etc.? And it doesn’t even have to be much. I’ve received $5 Starbucks gift cards and was over the moon appreciative. Easy. Simple and something that your favorite teacher will be sure to use.

2)    Banner: Have your class work on creating a big banner with messages from everyone, and hang it in the room when your teacher walks in.  This idea is definitely cost effective, but incredibly thoughtful. Trust me – thoughtful gifts of appreciation mean the most!

3)    Food: Are you part of a band booster organization or PTA? Pitch the idea to treat teachers to lunch! When I asked my friends about the best teacher appreciation surprise they had ever had, most of them talked about food! Breakfasts, Lunches, Treats. Teachers LOVE this. If you are a student, maybe bake some cookies or find out what your teacher’s favorite snack is!

4)    Handwritten Note: By far, this was the gift that the majority of the teachers that responded to my inquiry appreciated the most. And lucky for you, it just might be one the easiest things you can do. Get a nice note card, get a plain lined sheet of paper – heck, write it on a napkin (preferably clean)! But just tell your teacher WHY you think they are amazing, and just how they have touched your life. I promise you, your teacher doesn’t hear it enough. Writing it down will let them hold on to it, and I bet your teacher will hold on to that note for years after you leave their classroom. Think I’m exaggerating? Check out this video from Scott Lang where he talks about his “Happy Files” and encourages other teachers to start theirs!

5)    Feature your teacher on the MFA blog: We want to know ALL about the amazing teachers in your lives. So, what better way to appreciate them than telling the world about how great they are! Send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about why you want to thank your teacher this week, and I will include it in a blog post this week during our weeklong Teacher Appreciation celebration. (If you have a photo to share of you and your teacher, or just your teacher, even better!) I’ll then share the posts on Facebook and Twitter so we can both do our best to try and make your teacher internet famous!

Links to some even more great ideas:

There are so many ways you can go about showing your teachers appreciation this week. From simple to elaborate, there’s no “right” way to do it. But for your teachers, who work so hard to help you become the best possible version of yourself, it will mean the world. So whether you pick up a Starbucks gift card or sit down to write a personal letter from your heart, please just take a moment to step out of your busy life and thank a teacher for making a difference.

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Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will be performing as a part of the 2014 Concert Series at the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha on Wednesday, June 25th.

We were lucky enough to hear from Karl Hunter from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy about how excited the band is to be performing at the Summer Symposium.

Formed in 1989, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has been keeping the soul of 40’s and 50’s swing music going strong for over 20 years. Named famously after an autograph by blues legend Albert Collins, they busted onto the scene in 1996, when their original songs “You & Me & the Bottle,” “I Wan’na Be Like You” and “Go Daddy-O” were featured in the soundtrack of the hit comedy Swingers. From there, the seven-piece group went on to sign with Capitol Records, releasing albums and touring extensively. Their popularity rose during this time, culminating with a performance at the 1999 Super Bowl half-time show, where they played alongside music icons Stevie Wonder, and Gloria Estefan in a “Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing.” The group’s music has been featured in over sixty movies and television shows during their career.

Over the last few years, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has shifted their focus. They are no longer performing in large arenas, and at Super Bowl halftime shows. Instead, they have begun playing with a number of American Symphony Orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Indianapolis Sympony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and recording more songs for projects such as the film The Wild, and Disney’s Phineas and Ferb.

We are extremely excited to have Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Music for All Summer Symposium, and know that the MFA Campers will have a great time at this evening concert. Click here to learn more and to register for the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha, held June 23-28, 2014 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Tickets are also available for those who are not attending the MFA Summer Symposium. Click here for more information.