The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

Stories (283)


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

Written by


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


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Metropolitan Wind Band Invitational

Written by

MWBI Banner 1

 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 Metropolitan Wind Band Invitational Festival Coordinator, Todd Nichols, about the event and what it means to partner with Music for All. Mr. Nichols is the Director of Bands at Roxbury H.S.


 Nichols Headshot MFA 2Why did you decide to host an Affiliate Regional Concert Band Festival?

Ever since our first interaction with Music for All, I have been sincerely impressed by the organization and it’s efforts to provide the very best in music education for all students. For a long time I have wanted to provide the same kind of opportunity and positive influence for school music programs in our area. The partnership with MFA, in my opinion, was a perfect fit!

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

13 groups are performing this ear and all are from NJ. We got hit pretty hard with snow this winter and some additional groups were unable to attend due to make-up scheduling conflicts, etc. Our goal is to have this festival grow and include bands from all over the Northeast.

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

Since 2008, we have presented a similar non-competitive festival striving to provide the very best in evaluation possible. Having the endorsement from MFA helps to solidify our festival as one that is of quality and professionalism. What makes it different this year is being able to add the 45 minute clinic component.

If you had to do this over again, what would you do differently?

I would work even harder to reach out to ensembles outside of our state and encourage them to participate and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

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

For over a year, both our Band Parent Organization and student Band Council have been working tirelessly to make this festival a success for all who attend. Our goal is to provide top notch service for all who attend!!!

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

James Keene, Richard Crain, Dr. Terry Austin, and Glen Adsit. All are EXPERT conductors, musicians, and clinicians. Our goal is to bring the incredible artists to tour festival and these gentlemen are just that. They are some of the absolute best in the business!!!

How much are tickets? Are there still tickets available?

Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students, and $3 for seniors. Seating is still available.

Any special performances planned?

Our goal is to annually have a spotlight ensemble perform at the end of the festival. This year it will be the Eastern Wind Symphony, a tremendous ensemble from Princeton, NJ. You can find out more about the ensemble at In the years to come, we hope to highlight service bands, college and university ensembles, and professional ensembles. What a better way for students to become inspired than to hear great ensembles live!!

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

Our wind ensemble performed at the 2008 and 2012 National Concert Band Festival. Our marching band has participated in MFA Regional Championships since 2006. Since 2012, I've provided input and guidance to MFA's educational team on aspects of the National Concert Band Festival.

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

A tremendous amount. We are incredibly fortunate to have WONDERFUL parents led by FANTASTIC committee chairs. Our MWBI chairman, Mr. George Wendt, also chairs our home marching band show, and along with our incredible BPA president, Mr.. Paul Wasek, they help to make all of this a reality for the kids. Our band parents literally move mountains to make things happen! :)

How long have you been teaching at Roxbury H.S.?

10 years at RHS – 16 total years.

What is your favorite part of teaching?

Providing opportunities for all of my students.

Proudest moment as an educator?

Watching my students realize and accomplish a goal that they thought they couldn’t achieve.

Keys to a successful career in music education?

Determination each and every day.

Anything at all that you would like to add?

Our entire Roxbury organization is tremendously honored that MFA puts their trust in our festival and we are thrilled to host this event with MFA’s support.


The Metropolitan Wind Band Invitational will be held on Saturday, April 5 at Roxbury H.S. in Roxbury, NJ.  For more information please visit


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: 2007 Jazz Band of America

Written by

One of the most entertaining parts of the Music for All National Festival each year is the Jazz Band of America concert on Friday evening. Since it's creation in 2007, jazz greats such as Patti Austin, Shelly Berg, Wayne Bergeron, Ndugu Chancler, John Clayton, Dr. Lou Fischer, Luke Gillespie, Wycliffe Gordon, Ron McCurdy, Jeff Rupert, Stan Smith and Phil Woods have jammed alongside some of the most talented high school jazz musicians in the country. Today, we're looking back to that very first Jazz Band of America concert in 2007, which featured the legendary Wynton Marsalis.

Wynton MarsalisWynton Marsalis with the 2007 Jazz Band of America

The 2007 Festival marked the first year the event was named the "Music for All National Festival," combining the honor ensembles, National Concert Band Festival, National Percussion Festival and Orchestra America National Festival under one spectacular and educational experience for thousands of students. To celebrate the creation of the Jazz Band of America, Music for All welcomed conductor Ron McCurdy and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis to lead the ensemble at Clowes Memorial Hall. The talented young musicians also had the unique opportunity of opening for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. You can watch a clip from the 2007 performance of the Jazz Band of America below.

The experience of performing with Wynton Marsalis and witnessing the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra firsthand had a lasting and life-changing experience for the participants. Many of the young musicians of the 2007 Jazz Band of America have gone on to study jazz in college and perform on some of the greatest stages for jazz. Last month, the tenor saxophone soloist in the above video, Paul Melhus, appeared on an episode of NPR Music.

This year, Music for All welcomes Yamaha Artist and music educator, producer and author Caleb Chapman to lead the Jazz Band of America. Trombonist Robin Eubanks will be the featured soloist for the Friday evening concert. Click here to learn more about the 2014 MFA National Festival and purchase tickets. On March 29, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will return to Clowes Memorial Hall with the rest of the Marsalis family for a special Clowes Hall 50th Anniversary event. You can visit for more information.



Seth Williams is the Advocacy Coordinator at Music for All. Seth is no stranger to Music for All and Bands of America – first as a participant and as an intern in Development and Participant Relations. He is a graduate of Butler University and previously worked in the Broadway theatre industry in New York. A proud alumnus of “The Centerville Jazz Band,” Seth is likely the biggest band nerd he knows.

corporonAt the 2014 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, Eugene Migliaro Corporon will not only be honored as a Bands of America Hall of Fame inductee, but he will also become the first to conduct the Honor Band of America three times in its 23-year history. Today, we're looking back at Maestro Corporon's first Honor Band of America at the 1995 National Concert Band Festival in Chicago, Illinois.

The 1995 National Concert Band Festival was the first since the death of bandmaster Dr. William D. Revelli, who was instrumental in the educational foundation of Music for All and whose vision helped create the National Concert Band Festival just four years earlier. Mr. Corporon, who just took over the baton for the University of North Texas' Wind Symphony, conducted the Honor Band of America at the historic Medinah Temple in Chicago. Like today, the 1995 Honor Band of America was comprised of talented young musicians from across the country. 16 accomplished concert bands also performed as part of the National Concert Band Festival.

1995 Honor Band of America, Medina Temple, Chicago, Illinois

The Honor Band of America performance featured a composition commissioned by Bands of America for the 1995 National Concert Band Festival. The piece, American Faces by David Holsinger, was a musical tribute to the diversity of America and is still frequently performed by high school and collegiate ensembles today. The concert also featured prominent clarinetist Eddie Jones, performing a transcription of Carl Maria von Weber's Second Concert for Clarinet.


Mr. Corporon also conducted the Honor Band of America in 2004 and will return to the Clowes Memorial Hall stage to conduct the 2014 ensemble in a sold out concert. He has been a long-serving member for Music for All's evaluator and clinician team since the early years of the National Concert Band Festival. Mr. Corporon is Conductor of the Wind Symphony and Regents Professor of Music at the University of North Texas. He is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach and Claremont Graduate University. Mr. Corporon, a frequent guest conductor at the Showa University of Music in Kawasaki City, Japan, has also served as a visiting conductor at the Julliard School, the Interlochen World Center for Arts Education and the Aspen Music Festival and School. He is also the principal conductor of the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, a professional group made up of musicians from the Dallas and Fort Worth metroplex.

To learn more about the 2014 Music for All National Festival and the Honor Band of America, click here.


Seth Williams is the Advocacy Coordinator at Music for All. Seth is no stranger to Music for All and Bands of America – first as a participant and as an intern in Development and Participant Relations. He is a graduate of Butler University and previously worked in the Broadway theatre industry in New York. A proud alumnus of “The Centerville Jazz Band,” Seth is likely the biggest band nerd he knows.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Whitewater, WI

Written by

This Throwback Thursday, I thought I would share a recent trip I made to the original home of Music for All: Whitewater, Wisconsin. While driving through a cold and snowy Wisconsin late last month, I decided to take a short detour to the quaint town of Whitewater. I can't imagine what this town looked like during the summers of the 1970s and 1980s, high school students and music educators teaching, practicing and performing. Starting in the summer of 1976, Whitewater became the center of marching music education when McCormick Enterprises took a huge risk and decided to invest in the success of young music students.

As I drove up to Perkins Stadium (originally Warhawk Stadium) in Whitewater, I was overcome by the memories made here. I could imagine the students and fans walking up the large hill to the stadium, overlooking the rolling fields of Wisconsin farmland. Bands of America Hall of Fame band directors Michael Rubino, Bob Buckner and Greg Bimm would be preparing their ensembles for a performance in the Marching Bands of America (MBA) Summer Nationals. MBA clinicians such as William D. Revelli would be providing valuable insight to young music students and band directors. If you were a music student or educator in the 1970s and 1980s, Whitewater was the place to be.


Driving through the small farm town, I wondered, "Why Whitewater?" Whitewater not only served as the home of Marching Bands of America, but also previously hosted the very first Drum Corps International Championships in 1972 and 1973. Both DCI and MFA provided placques to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater honoring the college, which still stand out today on the stadium wall. Last year, DCI providing a fascinating look at the beginnings of drum corps at Whitewater. I also looked to Music for All founder Larry McCormick's book God Is My Drum Major for more information on Whitewater: "It was a perfect location with a beautiful stadium and facility with dorm housing available at reasonable prices."

Whitewater2William D. Revelli, Gene Thrailkill and Mike Davis at the 1976 Summer Nationals

Participation in the Summer Nationals and music workshops grew and grew after the inaugural year. The original purpose of Marching Bands of America stands true to Music for All's mission today to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. In fact, you may recognize some of the language from MBA's original purpose statement: "An individual's choice to participate in the band, and that band's participation in the broadening experience of competition, is a postive step toward becoming a winner in life." That's right, even in 1976, each of the participants was a "winner in life!"

1976 Grand National Champions, Live Oak H.S., CA and director Michael Rubino

Whitewater3Whitewater was home to Music for All during the formative years of the organization. From the decision to move to a fall marching band championship in 1980 to restructuring as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Whitewater was home to some of the earliest memories and first positively life-changing experiences. Still today, Perkins Stadium remains a venue for marching ensembles, including a yearly DCI show and the Wisconsin State Marching Band Championships. Although Summer Nationals ended after 1988 and the Summer Band Symposium moved to Illinois State University in 1992 to accomodate the growing camp, Whitewater remains an important part of Music for All's story. My short trip to Whitewater was well worth the detour and provided a fulfilling look into Music for All's earliest history.



Seth Williams is the Advocacy Coordinator at Music for All. Seth is no stranger to Music for All and Bands of America – first as a participant and as an intern in Development and Participant Relations. He is a graduate of Butler University and previously worked in the Broadway theatre industry in New York. A proud alumnus of “The Centerville Jazz Band,” Seth is likely the biggest band nerd he knows.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Q&A with John Mackey

Written by

Music for All asked our friends on Facebook and Twitter what they would ask John Mackey if they had the chance - and he graciously answered their questions.

John will work with Concert Band Division students and directors at the MFA Summer Symposium this June at Ball State University. 

We hope you enjoy the Q&A with John Mackey as much as we did. The questions were fantastic and his answers are thoughtful (and sometimes hilarious!) Let us know if you learned anything new in the comments, or if you have another question you would ask. Who knows, maybe we'll get him to answer some more questions at Symposium!  Enjoy!

Ask John MackeyWhat was your inspiration for Foundry?
Asked by Brian Munoz via Facebook

This was my wife’s idea. She said that if she were a percussionist, it would be fun to play a piece where she could hit stuff with hammers. She also thought it was cool that with percussion, just about anything you strike could be considered a percussion instrument, so she suggested I write a piece that used all kinds of non-traditional percussion, but things that students could find at hardware stores and junk yards – and you’d then strike those things, maybe, with a hammer. Fun, right? So it was her idea to write for “found” percussion. My take on it was to try to write something aggressive in tone, sort of a sibling to my piece “Asphalt Cocktail.” The result – aggressive music with lots of found metal percussion – sounded like a steel factory. So the title is a play on that, because it sounds like a foundry, but the first five letters are “found,” as in “found” percussion.

What inspired Undertow?
Asked by Banon University via Twitter

Tardiness. I was completely stumped about what to write, so I procrastinated. During the time that I should have been writing music, I was playing video games – or one specific video game: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on the Nintendo DS. In that Zelda game, you sail a ship from island to island (dungeon to dungeon), and while you sail, music plays – and it’s good music. So I spent a great number of hours playing that game – and hearing that music - instead of writing what would become “Undertow.” Eventually, though, I had no choice but to start writing “Undertow,” because it was about to be due, but my brain was conditioned to hear the kind of music you hear in a Zelda video game, and in this case, a swashbuckling sea adventure. So that’s what I wrote: my brain’s idea of new Zelda music. An “undertow” is a spinning current that pulls ships underwater – ships like I sailed in that Zelda game.

With my school, we’ve played Undertow, Foundry, Sheltering Sky and Night on Fire. I love them all…how do you find your inspiration?
Asked by Lindsay Elizabeth Frees via Facebook

Wow, your directors are my favorite people in the world! The thing that helps me to keep each piece fresh is to approach each one differently, whether that’s a unique scoring (“Night on Fire” uses three or more hand drums; and “Foundry” uses 12 percussionists, many of whom play “found” percussion), an unusual rhythmic pattern (“Undertow,” which is mostly in alternating 7/8 and 4/4), or something as seemingly straight forward as the desire to write a lyrical piece that sounds like it contains old folk songs, when in fact the tune is new (“Sheltering Sky”). It’s hard to come up with a new idea for each piece. That’s really the hardest part of writing something – it’s not picking the notes, but deciding ahead of time what the reason is for the piece to exist at all. It takes a long time to figure out those things – time I spend walking, or jogging, or biking. I get my best ideas while exercising, not while staring at the computer monitor.

Aurora Awakes is my favorite of your pieces. What inspired you to incorporate U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name?
Asked by David Bowen via Facebook

The 80s station on Sirius XM radio. We were driving to dinner one night, and that US song came on the radio. It starts and ends with that 6 note riff in the guitar, on top of sustained synth chords. In the middle, the song itself happens, but it’s all bookended by that intro and outro with those six notes on top of those chords, and I think those outer sections are the best part of the song. So my idea was, why not make a whole piece just about those six perfect notes? I changed the key, and I changed the chords, but you’d still recognize them. So I wrote the fast part of the piece, or at least most of it, but then I got stuck. So I asked my wife, Abby, what I should do. She said she thought the fast music sounded like it was getting brighter and brighter, so the piece made her think of sunrise. She suggested that if it’s a piece about sunrise, why not write an opening for it that’s slow and still, like the start of the day right before the sun first peeks above the horizon? So, that’s what I did.

In Xerxes, why did you compose such a bold bass line?
Asked by Megan Jofriet via Facebook

I’d always wanted to write a hard, aggressive march. I also listen to a lot of progressive rock, and I think I had that sound in my head when I started “Xerxes,” so the first thing I came up with was that bass line, which sounds to me like it could be in a song by the band Tool. Last year, a guy named Brooks Tarkington made an arrangement of “Xerxes” for metal rock band. It’s incredible, and sounds to me exactly the way the tune sounded in my head when I first thought of it. You can hear Brooks’ version on my Soundcloud page.

Do you read all the stuff people post to you on the many Internet sources?
Asked by Greg Newton via Facebook

I definitely read a lot of it, at least on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter makes it easy to find those things, but Facebook doesn’t, because, at least for my accounts, I can’t search other wall posts. I’ve learned not to read YouTube comments about my music, because although most are nice, there’s always one that’s nasty, and that’s the only one I ever remember.

What would you like band directors to know when performing your music?
Asked by Tom Cox via Facebook

That I’m still alive, so you can ask me a question if you need to! Or you can try to schedule a clinic with me so I can work with you and your band in person on my music. I love working in person with students and their conductors.

What is your favorite instrument?
Asked by Megan Jofriet via Facebook

Everybody asks that, and I honestly don’t have a favorite single instrument. I love writing for lots of trombones (the more the better) and a lot of percussion, so if I were to play an instrument, I’d probably play trombone or percussion. (I never formally studied any instrument.) But the colors you can accomplish with a mixture of instruments are what make a large ensemble so exciting. Vibraphone is a great sound, but bowed vibraphone in unison with low-register flute is an INCREDIBLE sound.

What inspires you every day?
Asked by Kristen Popovich via Facebook

Coffee, mostly.

What was your favorite piece to compose?
Asked by Kaytee Parker via Twitter

I have favorite pieces that I HAVE composed, but while actually writing, the process is normally so slow and so difficult that I wouldn’t use the word “favorite.” For example, “Asphalt Cocktail” is one of my favorites to listen to, but writing it was extremely slow and challenging. I think that’s one thing I like about it – that it sounds, to me, sort of effortless, but in reality, it was a real slog to write.

Do you think you’ll write more extensively for middle level groups?
Asked by Michael Filla via Twitter

Absolutely! I have one fairly easy piece, “Foundry,” which is considered a “grade 3” level of piece, but I want to write a “grade 2 – 2.5,” maybe even this spring. Writing for mid-level groups is very challenging – much harder than writing difficult music, because you can’t fall back on flashy performance techniques like fast runs or percussion licks. There are fewer notes, and every note has to be perfect.

Where do you find inspiration? Do you seek it out or let it happen organically?
Asked by Michael Filla via Twitter

Deadlines are inspiring, and I’m not kidding. Writing music is hard work, and I think it gets harder with each new piece, because you don’t want to repeat yourself and do the same thing you did in an earlier piece. I rarely write music just for fun – it’s always for a commission, and if there was no deadline, I’d spend all of my time just playing video games and watching TV.

What parameters do you give yourself in the initial stages of a piece (e.g. grade level, instrumentation, unique features)
Asked by Michael Filla via Twitter

The answer varies depending on the commission. For a university or military band commission, grade level isn’t normally a consideration, but for a middle school commission, it has to be, so that’s the starting point for the piece. Difficulty level also determines instrumentation (to a point), but that challenge can also lead to unique features, like in Foundry, where the normally limited instrumentation challenges of a middle school band could be overcome by asking the percussionists to play non-traditional “found” percussion, so that’s a case of the difficulty level leading to the most interesting element of the piece. For a university-level piece like “The Frozen Cathedral,” I was encouraged by the commissioning organization to add extra players, and I took that to mean “extra instruments” as well, so I included things like alto flute, bass flute, English horn, and 10 percussionists. I figured out the scoring before I started any sketches, and that greatly influenced the overall sound of the piece.