The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

2011 Music for All National Festival begins

Wednesday, 16 March 2011 12:18 Written by Kristin Conrad

The 2011 Music for All National Festival began today, and we're off to a great start. Yesterday, the Music for All staff spent the day setting up our headquarters on site and getting everything ready to go in the venues we're using throughout the festival.

The Honor Orchestra of America and the Jazz Band of America have met for orientation meetings and are off and running with rehearsals. The Honor Band of America students will have their orientation meeting this evening so many students have been checking in throughout the day.

Our entire staff is excited that festival is now under way. We'll continue to update this blog throughout festival so check back often for updates.

Kristin Conrad

DJ Corchin books on iBooks

Wednesday, 09 March 2011 11:59 Written by Debbie Laferty Asbill


We're so proud of DJ Corchin, long-time SWAG and friend of Bands of America and Music for All! He has two books now available on iBooks: Band Nerds: Poetry from the 13th Chair Trombone Player and, yes, You Got a Boogie. Check out DJ's books now on iBooks!

Each month the SupportMusic coalition holds a teleconference to share current advocacy actions and ideas from communities and schools nationally and abroad. If you missed this month's SupportMusic teleconference with featured guest Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian, you can listen to the call in it's entirety. You can also search archives to listen to audio or read transcripts.

Sound off! Share your story on video

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:20 Written by Debbie Laferty Asbill

It's Celebrate Camp month at Music for All, leading up to the March 31 Early Bird Deadline for the MFA Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha.

I hope you'll help us celebrate by sharing your stories about your MFA camp experiences. Submit a video telling or showing us how and why Music for All programs and music education have been important in your life.

Use your camcorder, your phone, your webcam – we’re most interested in your story, not the production quality of your video, however, if you can provide HD video it might make it onto the big screens this fall at BOA Championship stadiums!

How to submit your video
Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo, then fill out this online form to submit it to us. We may select your video to share online on's new Sound Off area, coming soon!

Don't forget to enroll in the 2011 MFA Summer Symposium by March 31 to save on the registration fee. We have a new location this June - at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. Check out all the info on this amazing camp.

...and watch for more info on Sound Off and invitations to submit your stories on video about any MFA, BOA or Orchestra America experience and how music has positively impacted your life.


Since 1998, the NAMM Foundation has been conducting the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) Survey, a nationwide search for communities whose programs exemplify commitment to music education. The initiative recognizes and celebrates communities and their school administrators, teachers, board members, parents, community leaders and students for their support and commitment to their music education programs. The program also acknowledges community and school district commitment to ensure access to music education for all students.

Music for All is proud to take part in this important national recognition effort, and we encourage you participate in it as well by completing the 12th annual Best Communities for Music Education in America (BCME) survey. The 2011 survey will once again be conducted in collaboration with The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, KS, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

Visit The NAMM Foundation on the Web at now and through March 13, 2011 to review and complete an online survey form on behalf of your community. If you prefer, you can forward this message to a school administrator, teacher, or Board of Education member who has more of the data close at hand.

Over the years, school districts have reported that being designated a “Best Community for Music Education” helped them gain valuable recognition for their communities that in turn aided their efforts to sustain and grow their music education programs. We encourage you to participate now on behalf of your community.

Participate in the survey.

Big props to seven members of the 2011 GRAMMY® Jazz Combo and GRAMMY® Jazz Band who are alumni of the MFA Jazz Band of America 2010 or part of next month’s 2011 Jazz Band of America. Great job on the GRAMMY® broadcast Sunday night!

Congrats to these Jazz Band of America members:

GRAMMY® Jazz Combo
William Bridges, Lauderhill, FL, North Broward Preparatory School, Alto Saxophone
Zachary Ostroff, Belvedere, CA,The Branson School, Bass

GRAMMY® Jazz Band
Enrique Sanchez, Kissimmee, FL, Osceola County School of the Arts, Trumpet, Lead
Josh Shpak, Walnut Creek, CA, Northgate High School, Trumpet
St. Clair Simmons III, Dover, PA, Dover Area High School, Trombone
Chris Palowitch, Pleasanton, CA, Amador Valley High School, Bass Trombone
Aaron Shapiro, Highland Park, IL, Highland Park High School, Guitar

…and congratulations to all the 2011 Jazz Band of America members!

Congratulations, Michael Daugherty

Monday, 14 February 2011 11:03 Written by Debbie Laferty Asbill

Congratulations to Michael Daugherty, who won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition yesterday for his piece "Deus ex Machina." The Nashville Symphony Orchestra's album with that piece and Daugherty's "Metropolis" also won two more awards.

I enjoyed this interview with Daughtery on NPR when the Grammy nominations were announced.

What do YOU believe?

Thursday, 10 February 2011 12:50 Written by Debbie Laferty Asbill

Enjoy this great article by Fran Kick, then click "Read more" at the end to share your thoughts in the comments box about how student leaders need to be better prepared to help make things happen. If we select your comments to post online, as a “thank you for sharing,” we’ll make sure you receive a PDF discussion starter guide–based on this article – that you can use with your students. PLEASE SIGN IN before you comment so that we have your email address to send your PDF to, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. separately with your name, requesting the PDF.

 Download the full January/February 2011 Music for All Newsletter.

What we believe when it comes to developing student leadership:
What Do YOU Believe?

by Fran Kick

“A student leadership curriculum that is integrated into an organization’s infrastructure can have a direct, positive impact on that organization’s ability to successfully plan, practice, process and perform.” – Kevin Ford, Band Director for The Leadership Conservatory for the Arts at Tarpon Springs High School, Florida. Florida Music Director, August 2010.

Having worked with Bands of America/Orchestra America/ Music for All over the past two decades, I share in their passion and mission to develop student leadership rather than just let student leaders “rise to the top.” Reaching out to the best-of-the-best in your program and inspiring them to lead is one thing. Helping all your students simultaneously be an example and a peer teacher for others is quite another thing.

In the course of creating the various leadership experiences—both for the leadership weekend and the weeklong summer symposium— everyone involved has come to believe and reinforce a number of approaches that collectively contribute to developing the leadership capacity in students. Here is what we believe when it comes to developing positive student leadership:

Leadership isn’t about a title. While many people will say that “leadership isn’t about a title or a position,” too many times it’s selected students who have titles or positions that end up going to “leadership programs.” This program strives to do something different. We offer all students an opportunity to learn more about leadership.

Anyone who is willing to pay attention, respond appropriately and get involved in what’s going on has the potential to positively lead others. Every day we see examples of too many people not paying attention, or not responding appropriately. The world and our future will challenge everyone to engage in what’s going on around us many times over. Whether you’re a leader, a participant, or someone who “sees something” that needs to be done, acting on that responsibility is the key to building a caring community, school, organization, family or company. Many might prefer to stand back and abdicate their responsibility, giving up the opportunity to make a difference. Perhaps even whining, griping, complaining and blaming a given situation on others. Think of all the people you know who do just that! Helping students see that they have the ability to create a response–and therefore the responsibility to make things happen in our world–might be one of the most important lessons we share and active examples we set.

“Making things happen” is better than “watching things happen” or “wondering what’s happening.” Everyone has a choice–based on how well they pay attention–to contribute, criticize, or even ignore what’s happening around them in the world. While everyone can’t do everything that needs to be done, we can all do something wherever we are in life to make a positive difference.

Collaboration and cooperation always wins over competition and criticism. The arts in general can be a pretty competitive environment since performance level comparisons abound. Both individually and collectively we sometimes get sucked into an I’m-better-than-you or we’re-not-as-good-as-them mentality. While some of the National and Regional events Music for All sponsors and creates are competitive, the truth of the matter is that ideally these serve as celebrations–acknowledging achievement, highlighting excellence, and showcasing improvement. The “competitions” simply serve as an excuse to come together and share “what we do and how we do it.”

Actions speak louder than words. That’s why leading by example drives so much of what we do. After all, you can’t lead others until you lead yourself. Team SWAG—a group of dedicated volunteer directors, parents, college students and alumni—serves as the finest living example of servant leadership on the planet. You’ll see them at many of the Music for All events making things happen. They selflessly give their time without much fanfare or attention so that things just happen—almost magically many times.

Another great example of actions speaking louder than words, while demonstrating collaboration and cooperation, is the College Music Education Major Championship Semi-finals events held each year at the DCI World Championships in August and the Bands of America Grand Nationals in November. All three organizations—DCI, NAfME and Music for All—know that if we expect students, parents, teachers, schools and communities to work together, organizations need to work together as well. These one-day events, which are free for any full-time college student currently majoring in music education (undergraduate or graduate level), brings three of the nation’s largest music education organizations together—alongside with their various sponsors and partners, reaching future music educators with a message and a method that might inspire them to professionally pay attention to what is possible in today’s marching music education world.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Gandhi

Leadership is about attitude, behaviors and skills. It’s about helping students see that success in leadership, and ultimately in life, comes from working hard, getting better at what you do, and having fun in the process. Aristotle described this joy experienced during the pursuit of achieving excellence and called it “eudaimonia.” Maslow called it “self-actualization.” Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced CHICK-sent-me-high) calls it the optimal experience of “flow,” and I’d call it KICKin’ IT IN!

“Learning to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of hard work is essential to successful development.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Some consider this the law of reciprocity; that you get what you give; as ye sow, so shall ye reap; that what you plant, is what you get. Call it cliché or karma, the world does tend to reflect back to you what you send out to it. This cycle of cause and effect reinforces that Golden Rule to do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

We believe in active learning by presenting lessons within the context of an experience to bring to life the leadership content students need to succeed. That’s why there’s less sitting and listening to lectures and more moving and involvement via large and small group experiential, teambuilding and problem-solving initiatives. It’s illustrating and bringing to life the leadership lessons within our program so that students can bring to life and illustrate the leadership lessons in your program. It’s learning by doing with pragmatic, immediately applicable, people-skill-building attitudes and approaches that students can then bring back within their organizations to improve performance.

Student leadership development needs to be developmentally appropriate for students. While that might seem like common sense to anyone in education, you’d be surprised how many student leadership programs are simply corporate leadership programs “watered down for kids.” Same messages and methods inappropriately adapted for student groups. There might be some serious developmental considerations to this. If you don’t believe me, check out the way elementary school student councils too many times become more about “the election” than learning about “the service of leadership.”

We believe in a constructive servant leadership approach. Servant leaders achieve results by giving constructive attention and care to the needs of those they serve vs. just themselves. They’re more about We/Us than I/Me. Seems like a contrarian concept given our current culture that continuously craves more and more of the ego-gratifying, attentionseeking, self-aggrandizing, 15-minutes of fame, I’ve-got-more-friends-than-you, Facebookfrenzy, status-updating, Twitter-text-messaging mania. And admittedly, the status-oriented, command-and-control, power-centered authoritarian leadership style does have its place. But when it comes to developing student leadership, we believe it’s time for more servant leaders who are seen as humble stewards of their organization–leaving a lasting legacy in the younger students they teach.

“Intrinsic motivation” has greater impact and is better at maintaining meaningful change than “extrinsic motivation.” In other words: self-motivation over the long run is much better than manipulation. Sure you can carrot-and-stick your kids to do what you want them to do. But ultimately, you’re putting more emphasis on the external reward vs. the internal satisfaction of a job well done. Plus, you’re setting yourself up to always have to tell students what to do and when to do it. Students will start to see more value in what they get for doing something, rather than enjoy the process of doing.

Leadership wisdom is created when you stop and reflect. Which is why every leadership experience, activity and initiative is followed by time to debrief and think about what was experienced, what was learned, and how that lesson can be applied in future and/ or different situations. Helping students “stop their world” to reflect, think and process “what they’re doing” as well as “how they’re doing” is an important aspect to our leadership development approach. Too many times in our always-on, 24/7, over-scheduled world, students don’t take the time to slow down, think it through and decide what to do. Being able to slow down, self-assess, take corrective action and even take a time out can bring a bit of saneness in our seemingly insane world.

The leaders of tomorrow are in the bands and orchestras of America today. We all know there’s something about music that opens up the creative mind. This combined with the leadership experiences music organizations offer creates a huge developmental influence impacting students well beyond their high school years.

In a multi-year, multi-university study of leadership involving over 50,000 college students from 52 different campuses, researchers found that pre-college experiences “predicted most of the variance in college leadership outcomes.”1

That kind of pre-college influence demands that we intentionally consider the kind of influence we have on a student’s leadership identity development. Do we just pick leaders and expect them to lead? Are previous student leaders leaving a positive legacy? What kind of example are we setting with what we do vs. what we believe? Are we “walking the talk” when it comes to preparing, nurturing and growing more students into student leaders, or do we artificially limit it to one or two students per section?

What do YOU believe? Now it’s your turn to share what you believe student leadership development needs to be. Click "Read more" to share your thoughts in the comments box about how student leaders need to be better prepared to help make things happen. If we select your comments to post online, as a “thank you for sharing,” we’ll make sure you receive a PDF discussion starter guide–based on this article– that you can use with your students.

1 Dugan, J.P., & Komives, S.R. (2007). Developing leadership capacity in college students: Findings from a national study. A Report from the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership. College Park, MD: National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs. Fran Kick has been KICKin’ IT IN with Music for All since 1990 as both a speaker and clinician for students and directors.

Bravo, Bob and Donna Buckner

Friday, 31 December 2010 11:02 Written by Debbie Laferty Asbill

Here's a nice story about Music for All's long-time friends  Bob and Donna Buckner and the Western Carolina University Pride of the Mountains marching band in the Rose Parade, from the Ashville Citizen-Times. Congrats to WCU and all of the bands in the Rose Parade New Year's Day...we'll be watching and cheering!  (Check out the list of bands.)

Marketing Internship

Wednesday, 22 December 2010 15:23 Written by Debbie Laferty Asbill

MFA taking applications for Marketing Graphic Design Intern

Be a part of the team that provides positively life-changing experiences through music for all! Music for All is seeking applicants for a Graphic Design Intern in our Marketing Department, for the semester January 15 through May 15, 2011, in our Indianapolis office. The open Marketing Internship responsibilities include layout and design of print publications, promotional and marketing materials, Web site updates, direct mailings and convention materials. The Marketing Intern will also participate in fulfillment of marketing efforts including direct mailings, e-marketing broadcasts, press release distribution and media relations and other work to support the Marketing Department. This is a paid internship: up to $900 per month depending on experience and education level. This position includes involvement in the on-site production of the Music for All National Festival in March.

  Learn more and see how to apply.