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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Staff Edition

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Another Thursday, another throwback post! This week, we decided to crowd-source Throwback Thursday and give you a few memorable moments from our staff. While many of our staff members (including myself) are alumni of Music for All programs, we do have several staff members who participated in other musical outlets and some who were not involved in music. Here are a few musical moments from our devoted staff members. Enjoy!

LauraLaura Blake
Events Manager

Instrument: Trumpet

Memorable Moment: I completely own that I grew up as a marching band junky! So when I say that my most memorable experience wasn't marching related, some who know me well may gasp. A truly defining moment was performing at the National Concert Band Festival. It was one of the only noncompetitive experiences I had in high school. There is an exhilaration that comes from preparing and performing some of the hardest music written for that medium. You rehearse and prepare and with such a small group you really have to own your part, your notes, your emotional investment in the process. Then you are ushered into a grand hall and have the performance of a lifetime, followed by music giants taking time and working with you, it's an unprecedented experience for most high school students, it certainly was for me. There are no trophies, no high distinctions or even discussion of who gave a better performance.  Your thinking, where's the reward? Trust me, there is a moment. It's one that will never be replicated, but will stay with you forever.


johnsbandpic-webJohn DeRoss
Seasonal Marketing Assistant

Instrument: Guitar/Vocals/Harmonica

Memorable Moment: I was playing in a cover band during my Junior year of college, and we got offered a gig at a house party on campus.  We decided to go for a whole new set, and play nothing we had before.  Believe it or not, I can still remember the entire set list (Money - B. Gordy, Mary Jane's Last Dance - T. Petty, Stuck in the Middle with You - Stealers Wheel, The Weight - The Band, I Second That Emotion - S. Robinson, Like a Rolling Stone - B. Dylan, Helter Sketler - The Beatles, and Jumpin' Jack Flash - Rolling Stones).  Anyway, everything was going pretty well and I was having a great time getting to play music by virtually all of my favorite artists.  That was, until we got to "Helter Skelter."  The song started out rocking, and I was screaming the lyrics in my best McCartney impression.  Then, somehow, we fell apart.  I'm not sure who's fault it was (probably all of ours for not practicing enough) but our drummer and lead guitar player switched to a bridge unexpectedly in the middle of the song, as our bass player and I jumped into another verse.  Needless to say it did not sound too great, but we recovered, had a laugh, and I tossed my guitar to the side to belt out our last tune, "Jumpin' Jack Flash", while channeling my inner Mick Jagger.  Even though we had a little flub, the night was still great. Any time that I'm able to play music I love, with great friends is a good time. 


DavidDavid Foth
Events & Participant Relations Administrative Assistant

Instrument: Trumpet/Euphonium

Memorable Moment: While I never had the opportunity to perform in a Bands of America Regional with my high school band, I did have the honor of performing in exhibition with the UMass Minuteman Marching Band at the 2011 Grand Nationals. I had many memorable performances with the UMMB, but that one was definitely in the top 3. Towards the end of our show, we "crashed the stands," meaning the entire band ran past the front sideline, and we formed a giant "wall of sound." Watching the positive reactions of everyone sitting in the first few rows of the stands was priceless. Even better was the huge standing ovation we received afterwards. It's a memory I definitely won't ever forget!


MollyMMolly Miller
Event Coordinator

Instrument: Flute/Drum Major

Memorable Moment: In 2004 my band traveled from Kentucky to Indianapolis to compete in Grand Nationals. It was my sophomore year and I’ll be honest- I was a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all. As we took the field in Finals competition, all of that anxiety melted away. Looking up from your first set to realize you’re about to perform in front of tens of thousands of people is an incredible feeling. Now, every year that I stand on the front sideline during our GN awards ceremony, I’m reminded of that feeling and am so thankful we are providing that life-changing experience to another group of students. My ‘tied-for-first’ memorable moment (is this cheating?) was winning our state competition my senior year. This photo is from that night- can you tell I was excited?


Can you tell we have some pretty passionate and awesome staff members? It is such an honor to be able to work with each of them every day. If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned! We'll have more staff profiles and Throwback Thursday staff posts soon. If you have an idea or story for Throwback Thursday, we'd love to hear it! Just fill out our online "Share Your Story" form and it could be featured in an upcoming post.



As a brass player myself, I love playing with other brass players in small ensembles. It is in those small ensembles where you are able to fully expereince the versatility of brass instruments. This is exactly why I am very excited for the Atlantic Brass Quintet’s (ABQ) performance at the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha in June. I’ve been listening to their recordings all morning and can’t wait to hear them fill up Emens Auditorium with some outstanding music!

The Atlantic Brass Quintet will be performing Tuesday evening (June 24) at the Symposium. The ABQ is a group of five virtuosic musicians from across the country who have played together for many years. From Brazil to Carnegie Hall to the White House, the Quintet has performed across the globe since its founding in 1985. The group performs a wide variety of music, from Monteverdi to Stravinsky and jazz standards to brass street music. Listen below to their most recent album, “Crossover,” just released this year:


The Atlantic Brass Quintet began in 1985 in Boston as a competition brass quintet, winning awards across the world for their performances. Current tuba player John Manning was a founding member of the Quintet. Since 1985, the group has been comprised of some of the country’s foremost brass players. Currently the group includes founding member John Manning (tuba), Tim Albright (trombone), Seth Orgel (horn), Andrew Sorg (trumpet) and Tom Bergeron (trumpet).

The Quintet has been the resident brass quintet of Boston University, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Boston Conservatory. Over the past 30 years of music making, the group has become known for their emphasis on music from across the world. The regularly perform ethnic music from the streets of Brazil, Cuba, the Balkans, and New Orleans. In 2012, the Atlantic Brass Quintet partnered with kerPlunk Dance to present a unique dance and brass piece entitled “Music in Motion.” You can watch selections of the piece in the video below:


I think The Boston Globe put it best of the Atlantic Brass Quintet: “They kick butt.” I'm looking forward most to hearing one of my favorite pieces, Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, which also happens to be an audience favorite for the group. For anyone thinking about attending the Symposium, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Atlantic Brass Quintet live! I certainly can’t wait to see what the group comes up with for their performance at the Summer Symposium!

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.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 1987

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This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to the teenage years of BOA, a time when newspapers were the primary source of information, and the Berlin Wall was still standing tall.  Seems like a while ago, right? 


This 1987 article from the Detroit Free Press highlighted what is still BOA’s largest event: the Grand National Championships. However, this Grand Nationals was slightly different than what we’ve grown accustomed to over past years. It wasn’t held in Indianapolis, the city that has become BOA’s home. No, back in 1987 Grand Nationals were staged at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, Michigan (They would again be held at the Silverdome in 1988). 50 bands competed, and only two days were needed to crown a champion, Marian Catholic H.S. And, as most know, today we have two jam-packed days of prelims followed by full day of semi-finals and finals performances. Needless to say, Bands of America is now an adult.

Detroit 2

This piece also included a quote that I think sums up BOA performances perfectly: “It’s not the old high step (University of) Michigan marching band performance that many people are used to. It’s a much more sophisticated performance. It’s more of a concert hall effect with motion.”

So what do you think? How have you seen BOA change throughout the years?

Check out the full article below.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Why Kids Need Camp?

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Why should students and directors attend the Music for All Summer Symposium this June? Check out the infographic from MFA Summer Symposium Marching Band Division Coordinator, Jeff Young of Dynamic Marching, and see the ways that camp can be life changing!
Today for Throwback Thursday we are posting a guest throwback photo! The Franklin High School band from Franklin, Tennessee sent us this throwback from their very first band at their school, in 1937!
The Franklin band is trying to find any of the original members. They would be 91 years old or older. Help them spread the word with this post!
Does your band have an awesome Throwback photo that you want to share? Send it to us along with your story! We'd love to see it. You can send your photos and stories to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


April is Jazz Appreciation Month and the very last day, April 30, is International Jazz Day with cities all over the world hosting special events.  One of them will be a celebration of David Leander Williams’ new book “Indiana Jazz: The Masters, Legends, and Legacy of Indiana Avenue” with book signing and music by Indiana Jazz Legacy artists Clifford Ratliff and Hank Hankerson accompanied by Monika Herzig at Topo’s 403 in Bloomington.  The event is produced by Jazz from Bloomington with support by the Jazz Education Network.


Indiana holds a special place in the history of Jazz in America.  We asked Indiana University Lecturer and author of “David Baker – A Legacy in Music,” Monika Herzig to share her knowledge of Indy’s Jazz roots.



 Except for the historic Walker Theatre just north of downtown there seems to be nothing unique about Indiana Avenue these days and especially no jazz venues that are worth dedicating a book to. The legend of Indiana Avenue dates back to the Jazz Age when musicians would embark on the Chitlin circuit, a network of venues in towns around the Midwest and South featuring safe engagements for black touring groups during segregation. The central geographic location of Indianapolis at the crossroads of America made it a favorite touring stop and clubs and dance halls blossomed up and down the Avenue. . Known as "Funky Broadway," "The Yellow Brick Road," and "The Grand Ol' Street," black business was thriving during the heydays of segregation in the 1930s and 40s in the blocks around the Madam Walker Theater. There was jazz six nights a week in more than 30 clubs lining the Avenue, and great touring bands such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington could be heard regularly at the Sunset Terrace.


In addition, Crispus Attucks High School was established in an effort by the Indianapolis population to segregate the school system.  It turned out that bad intentions turned into great results. Here is an excerpt from Lissa May’s chapter in David Baker – A Legacy in Music (IU Press, 2011):

The attitude of excellence that permeated the school was exemplified by the music department. Instrumental music teachers LaVerne Newsome, Norman Merrifield, and Russell W. Brown were outstanding musicians, trained at some of the finest music schools in the country. LaVerne Newsome, a graduate of Northwestern University, taught orchestra, string classes, and music appreciation and was known for his dedication to his students. Merrifield, chairman of the Attucks music department, was a pianist, choral director, band director, composer and arranger. He held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Northwestern University. The music department thrived under his leadership, embodying the values of post-Reconstruction black American life which blended African heritage with European art music.


The result of this nurturing environment and the nightly exposure to great music was a crop of young jazz musicians that excelled at their craft and was essential at codifying the language of jazz. Trombonist J.J. Johnson is acknowledged as the most virtuous and prolific jazz trombonists in history. Guitarist West Montgomery created a new style of playing using his thumb to mute strings and his Riverside Recordings have become models for jazz guitarists around the world. Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard became known for his high-energy approach to ensemble playing and his modern jazz songs became standard repertoire for every aspiring jazz musician. Trombonist Slide Hampton was the youngest member of the Hampton family, a family band of 12 siblings that toured for years before settling in Indianapolis and becoming mentors to the music community.  Bassists Larry Ridley and Leroy Vinegar left for New York and played with most prominent musicians at the time.  And David Baker’s combo including David Young, Al Kiger, Joe Hunt, and Chuck Israels, a regular feature at the Topper, was recruited by composer/ theorist George Russell for a string of legendary recordings on Riverside Records. The list goes on with many more notable musicians – a wonderful mural picturing several of them can be found now in Indianapolis at 332 N College. 




The lesson to be learned is that a nurturing community and exposure to excellence has tremendous impact on young learners. Especially during the month of April, let’s celebrate our regional legacies and jazz heroes. And throughout the year, let’s create a community of support and role models to foster excellence in our next generation.


monikapicMonika Herzig teaches classes on the Music Industry, Creativity, Programming, and Community Arts Organizations at Indiana University. She is the co-founder of Jazz from Bloomington, a jazz society fostering exposure and education about Jazz, and currently serves on the board of the Jazz Education Network, the largest international jazz organization. Her jazz record label ACME Records is home to the jazz ensembles Monika Herzig Acoustic Project, Kwyjibo, Third Man, and BeebleBrox. Herzig received a B.A. from Paedagogische Hochschule Weingarten, Germany in 1988, an M.A. from the University of Alabama in 1991, and a D.M.E. from Indiana University in 1997.



For more information on the Jazz Band Division of the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha, please visit


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wilco's BOA Connection

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I’ve been on a huge Wilco kick lately. Seriously. In the past two weeks I’ve listened to everything from “A.M.” to “The Whole Love,” and enjoyed every second of it. Jeff Tweedy’s songwriting, and the group’s skill constantly left me in awe. I was hooked. I had to learn more about these people who had brought me so much joy. So, like most would, I did a quick Google search and soon found myself lost in an endless maze of Wikipedia articles, learning things like Jeff Tweedy’s early influences included The Ramones and country music, and that bassist John Stirratt was a member of Phi Kappa Tau. 

As I kept digging through the Wilco archives, I stumbled onto a video interview with current drummer, Glenn Kotche, from 2007. During the interview Kotche mentioned some very interesting information. He revealed that he was member of the Lake Park High School drumline and… wait for it…. a former Bands of America participant, and Summer Symposium Percussion TA!

I was shocked, and honestly a little embarassed that I didn’t already know this for a couple of reasons.

1. I am a Music for All Staff Member.

2. Wilco is one of my all-time favorite bands

3. Glenn Kotche is an amazing drummer!

After letting this sink in, I realized, it made perfect sense. Of course Kotche is a BOA alum. He is one of the most talented drummers in music, a strong supporter of music education, and uses percussion in an intelligent and very interesting way. In the video above (you have to take a look, just trust me) he mentions how his music background has influenced playing with Wilco. Specifically, he talks about approaching percussion as not just a method of keeping the beat, but rather of contributing to the musical experience by adding texture or color, as it would in an orchestra or another setting*. This is something Kotche attributes to his years spent studying percussion at Lake Park and with MFA adjudicator, clinician and evaluator, James Campbell at the University of Kentucky. He says that these past experiences gave him the ability to play a variety of different styles, whether it’s backing a soft ballad, or creating chaos in a rock environment. 

The skills Kotche picked up during his education/BOA career aren’t all musical, either. As we hear from many former students and participators, Kotche’s experiences taught him how to work, think quickly, and play in front of a large audience. It gave him confidence and an increased ability to muli-task and analyze. His success is due to, in part, the instruction he received from, and interactions he had with music educators throughout his life.

*Check out this song, “I am trying to break your heart” from Kotche’s first album with Wilco, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” for a great example of using percussion as a texture or color.

The moral of story here is this: there are BOA alums all around us, in all sorts of fields. From lawyers, to doctors, to teachers, to rockstars, those who benefitted from music education can be found everywhere. Individuals like Kotche were afforded the opportunity to pursue music in their childhood, and we must ensure that coming generations receive the same chance. Because who knows? The next Glenn Kotche may be competing in the Bands of America Championships this fall, and we could sure use a few more like him around.


Music for All is full of outstanding employees and we want you to meet them! Each month you'll have the opportunity to learn about a different staff member with our Staff Profiles. 


Name: Michelle Maloney-Mangold

Position: Administrative Assistant and Receptionist

Hometown: La Porte, IN

How long have you been with MFA?

Seven months.

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

I have a bachelor’s degree in music and English from Butler University, a master’s degree in English from the University of Connecticut, and in one year (hopefully) I will have a Ph.D. in English from the University of Connecticut.

What is your musical background?  (What instruments have you played? Played in groups or bands? Just enjoy music in general?)

I started playing the clarinet when I was in sixth grade, and I played all through college and still play it today. I was also a drum major in high school and college. I majored in music education, so I had to learn most of the wind instruments, percussion, and some string instruments. I was so bad at the trombone, though, that my director named a syndrome after me, and my piano playing is pitiful. The only instrument other than the clarinets that I would play in public would be saxophone and maybe, maybe trumpet.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

I have loved rock music since I was born. I was the kid in middle school who only wore band t-shirts (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, Pearl Jam) and dyed her hair with Kool Aid to try to look as much like Kurt Cobain as possible. Today, I mostly listen to alternative, indie, and classic rock, although I also love music I can dance to. The thing I miss most about college is listening to and discussing classical (especially the Romantics and the Modernists and 15th-century polyphony) and jazz (especially Cool Jazz) on a daily basis. I also have a ridiculous schoolgirl crush on Eric Whitacre.

Why is music important to you?

Music was my whole life growing up. My parents taught me to love rock music from the time I was a baby (some of my first words were Bon Jovi lyrics), and I always wanted to be a musician. In high school in particular, music gave me a place to belong—I was pretty much queen of the band kids, and I loved it so passionately. My band directors took a special interest in me from the beginning; I went into high school thinking I was going to quit after one year, but on the very first day of high school concert band, I knew I’d stay all four years. In college, I had a built-in group of friends from the day I stepped on campus, and those people are still some of my best friends today. I don’t get to play very much anymore, but music is still crucial to my everyday life. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Why do you believe in music education?

For all the reasons I listed above and more. I used to be really big about throwing statistics about SAT scores and grades at people, but now I just say that music—like literature, dance, theater, visual art—is integral to our experience of being human and understanding what it means to be human. I strongly believe in the value of a liberal arts education, and you can’t have that without art.

One of my favorite quotations has always been, “Music is essentially useless, as life is.” In other words, music is key to our humanness, to what it means to be alive. To dismiss the value of music is to dismiss the value of life and the beauty of the world.

What sort of things do you do in your free time?

I read, a lot, for school and for fun. I obsessively watch TV and see movies, and I love going to concerts and good restaurants. I’m also pretty loyal to my sports teams, especially to Butler Basketball (go Bulldogs!), the Chicago White Sox and Blackhawks, the Indianapolis Colts, and Liverpool F.C. In general, I love being around my friends and family, so I love to combine the above activities with them as much as possible.

What led you to Music for All?

I recently moved back to Indianapolis to finish my dissertation, and my friend Laura Blake (one of the people I met on my first day at Butler in 2002) let me know about the opening. I had marched in BOA events in high school and volunteered for them in college, so I knew the value of the organization and that Laura had loved working here for years. So I applied and here I am!

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

I love seeing the looks on students’ faces at our events. I get choked up a lot when they are walking off the field or the stage or Chuck has just given a particularly epic announcement or Dr. Tim has just given a big speech and enthralled everyone. Our events really do change students’ (and their families’ and directors’) lives. That’s the best part.

I also adore my co-workers. Their passion and sense of humor makes it a joy to come to work.

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

I haven’t gone through Symposium yet, so this could change, but probably Grand Nationals. It’s aptly named, because it really is grand. There are just so many students, spectators, and schools in attendance, and the level of performance is so incredibly high. I just love it, the grandeur and pageantry.

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

Oh, gosh. I’m a pretty open person, so I’m not sure there’s much people don’t know. I think my two defining characteristics, though, are that I’m the oldest of six kids and that I’m basically a nerdy, 14-year-old fangirl. (That’s not an insult to 14-year-olds. I mean it in the best possible way.) When I love something, I tend to obsess over it, which leads to lots of embarrassing rambling and my buying posters and dolls I don’t need and my owning so many books that my husband threatens to cut me off. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, so everything I love is in earnest. (There goes my hipster cred…) But less this be known: my obsession with vampires has earned me a great deal of ridicule, yes, but it also led to my first academic publication and several conference presentations. So kids—stay nerdy. 

SJVCBI Facebook logo

Music for All is proud to partner with concert band festivals across the country to present "Affiliate Regional Concert Band Festivals."

This new initiative is part of our ongoing support of the essential "core" of every band program: the concert band. Music for All will provide one National Concert Band Festival evaluator to participate, as well as student and teacher scholarships to the Music for All Summer Symposium.

We spoke with San Joaquin Valley Concert Band Invitational Festival Coordinator, David Lesser, about the event, and what it means to partner with Music for All. Mr. Lesser is the Director of Bands at Clovis North H.S.

Why did you decide to host an Affiliate Regional Concert Band Festival?David Lesser Clovis North

It is an honor to be associated with an organization that believes in the educational value and artistry in creating music. MFA has helped to increase the resources available for our festival which will also increase the musical and educational experience for each student and director involved with performing at our festival. MFA has allowed us to continue with a truly musical and educational approach to providing a great performance opportunity for music programs while enhancing certain areas of the experience.

How many groups are performing, are they all from around your area?

There are eleven groups performing. This year all are from the Central California. In the past we have had groups from all areas of the state.

Have you presented something similar to this in the past? If so, how is hosting this festival different?

This is the 6th Annual San Joaquin Valley Concert Band Invitational. The festival was created to provide a musical performance opportunity to celebrate artistry and camaraderie between performers rather than apply a score to art. MFA has been very supportive of maintaining that vision.  The only main difference is the support MFA has given to enhance what we have previously been doing.   

How have your parents and students been engaged in helping plan and prepare for the festival?

Our festival is facilitated by each of our students in the band program. They all will volunteer 4-5 hours assisting prior to and throughout the day of the festival.

Who will be evaluators for your festival?  What criteria did you use to select them?

Mr. Ramiro Barrera, Director of Bands, James Logan High School, Union City California. Retired

Col. Arnald Gabriel, Conductor, United States Air Force Band, Retired

Dr. John Locke, Director of Bands, University North Carolina, Greensboro

Mr. Alfred Watkins, Director of Bands, Lassiter High School, Murrieta Georgia, Retired

These gentlemen were selected as collaborators because of their extreme high standards and dedication to music education as well as their expertise in our country. The ability to have such outstanding adjudicators along with our performing venue is what drives directors to choose to attend our festival.

How much are tickets? Are there still more tickets available?

The performances throughout the day are free. Attendance to our evening gala concert is $10.00, and we have about 300 seats still available.

Any special performances planned (not HS ensembles)?

We have a gala concert beginning at 7pm where each of the adjudicators for the day will conduct a piece with the Clovis North High School Wind Ensemble. Following will be our featured performer, the California State University Fresno, Wind Orchestra conducted by Dr. Gary P. Gilroy.

What has been your past involvement with Music for All/ BOA?

This is my first personal involvement with MFA and BOA.  I have had students perform in the Honor Band of America as well as am colleagues with many educators who have adjudicated for BOA or had ensembles perform at MFA or BOA events.

How many volunteers does it take to run a festival like this?  How did you recruit them?

It takes about 80 volunteers to run the event at this time. They were recruited through our monthly parent meetings, phone calls and the wonderful colored hand button on the CHARMS Office Assistant calendar.

How long have you been teaching at Clovis N. H.S.? 

I have been teaching at Clovis North since the first day the school opened a short 7 years ago in 2007,and this is my 13th year teaching.

What is your favorite part of teaching? 

My favorite part of teaching is seeing the “light bulb” moments students have on a daily basis while witnessing them become greater than they thought they could be. 

Proudest moment as an educator? 

When I know students have developed a life-long appreciation for music and it is due to our work together in band. 

Keys to a successful career in music education? 

Surround yourself with great people, people who are better than you, and always keep learning.

Anything at all that you would like to add? 

I am extremely proud of all the work that the volunteers and students do in order to run an event such as this. We are extremely privileged to have the facilities we do and are overjoyed to be able to share those facilities with ensembles from outside our area. We are also thankful that Music For All has recognized the experience we provide for students, educators and parents and have agreed to support our festival!!!  


Draft FB Cover Photo John Hersey HS 2014FINAL
Music for All is proud to partner with concert band festivals across the country to present "Affiliate Regional Concert Band Festivals."

This new initiative is part of our ongoing support of the essential "core" of every band program: the concert band. Music for All will provide one National Concert Band Festival evaluator to participate, as well as student and teacher scholarships to the Music for All Summer Symposium.

We spoke with Chicagoland Invitational Concert Band Festival Coordinator, Scott Casagrande, about the event, and what it means to partner with Music for All.  Mr. Casagrande is the Director of Bands at John Hersey H.S., and an educational consultant for Music for All.

Scott Casagrande picWhy did you decide to host an Affiliate Regional Concert Band Festival?

It's a win-win for everyone involved. MFA lends its considerable resources to our festival, improving the educational experience for every student and band program involved. Music for All fulfills their mission statement to support music education in any way they are able and they extend their "brand" to students and programs that might be unfamiliar with them.

How many groups are performing, are they all from around your area?

There are 39 bands and app. 2400 students participating in this year's festival. Most are from the Chicago area, but some are coming from the St. Louis area, as well as the Quad Cities on the Iowa border. 

Have you presented something similar to this in the past? If so, how is hosting this festival different?

This is the 14th year of the Chicagoland Band Festival and the 2nd year that MFA has been directly involved. The format of the festival, when it was originally established, was based on the MFA National Concert Band Festival so the format of the festival really hasn't changed. The biggest difference I have seen is more exposure due to publicity, as well as interest from band programs because of the respect that MFA demands in our band world.

How have your parents and students been engaged in helping plan and prepare for the festival?

Every student in the band program volunteers 3-4 hours of time and 90% of our families provide at least one parent to volunteer. Our festival steering committee has been meeting monthly since the beginning of the school year. 

Who will be evaluators for your festival?

Prof. John Casagrande
George Mason University, Emeritus

Mr. David Morrison
Prospect High School, Retired

Mr. Don Shupe
Libertyville High School, Retired

Mr. Dallas Niermeyer
John Hersey High School, retired

Dr. Michael Fansler
Western Illinois University

Mr. John Thomson
New Trier High School, Retired

Mr. Dan Farris
Northwestern University

Mr. Richard Floyd
University Inter-Scholastic League, TX, retired
Music for All Clinician

Dr. Barry Houser
University of Illinois

Prof. James Keene
University of Illinois, Emeritus

Mr. Gary Markham
Music Coordinator, Cobb County School District, GA, retired

Dr. Mallory Thompson
Northwestern University

What criteria did you use to select them? 

These are some of the most respected musicians and educators in the United States and the main reason that so many bands participate in our festival.

How much are tickets? Are there still more tickets available?  

Yes. Tickets are $8. 

Any special performances planned?

Elmhurst College Wind Ensemble 

What has been your past involvement with Music for All/ BOA?

Our Symphonic Band has participated in four National Concert Band Festivals and I have been personally involved with the National Concert Band Festival as a band host or participant in all but 2 years since it's inception in 1992. I am currently an Educational Consultant for Music for All.

How many volunteers does it take to run a festival like this?  

We have about 200 student and volunteer positions that are filled over the course of the weekend.  

How did you recruit them?  

Blood, Sweat and Tears from the steering committee!

How long have you been teaching at John Hersey H.S.?  

This is my 15th year at Hersey and 25th year of teaching.

What is your favorite part of teaching?

Making music with students and providing "life-changing" opportunities........ (to use a familiar phrase)

Proudest moment as an educator?  

Watching so many of my students continue to perform in college, as well as so many of them continuing on to be music educators.

Keys to a successful career in music education?  

To quote one of my heros, Mr. Ted Lega retired band director from Joliet Central HS:  "Perseverance and drive........."


The Chicagoland Invitational Concert Band Festival will be held on Saturday, April 12, at John Hersey H.S. in Arlington, IL. For more information please visit