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The Music for All Blog

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Symposium Day 3 Photo Stream

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Check out the photos from Summer Symposium Day 3! (Day 5 for our awesome Leadership students!)


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If I had to pick one adjective to describe the Wednesday concert in the Summer Symposium evening concert series, it would be…


We welcomed to the stage The PROJECT Trio, a “passionate, high energy chamber music ensemble” from Brooklyn, New York ( The group, comprised of Peter Seymour, double bass; Greg Pattillo, flute; and Eric Stephenson, cello, is anything but ordinary. The three met while attending the Cleveland Institute of Music together. A milestone for the group occurred in 2006 when Pattillo’s beatbox flute video went viral on YouTube. The PROJECT Trio concept stemmed from a desire to create music for the unique flue-cello-double bass combination, and these individuals’ pure love for music was evident as they performed for us last evening.

The PROJECT Trio composes and plays music in a vast array of genres. We were treated to all sorts of tunes, from Beethoven’s “5th” and the “William Tell Overture” to funky hip-hop and some sassy salsa beats. The audience even got to experience a more theatrical side of PROJECT Trio with their rendition of “Peter and the Wolf.”

The PROJECT Trio created a special opportunity for our Summer Symposium Strings Division students, who not only participated in in workshop with the Trio, but got to perform two pieces with them onstage. And what a stellar performance it was!

PROJECT Trio in rehearsal

The PROJECT Trio giving a workshop to the Strings students


playingwithstringsStrings students performing with PROJECT Trio in Emens Auditorium

A big congratulations to the Strings students, and a warm thank you to The PROJECT Trio for the unique blessing brought by their presence at the Summer Symposium!

For more information and a full bio of The PROJECT Trio, you can visit their website,; connect with “Project Trio” on Facebook; and follow @thePROJECTTrio on Twitter.


-Carolyn T.

Carolyn Tobin is the Marketing Intern at Music for All. Drawn to all that is digital media, she was an award-recipient of the NMU Tube Student Video Contest and was named the Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Communications and Performance Studies Department at Northern Michigan University. She is a devout runner, and has also enjoyed blogging about her adventures living in Spain and Argentina. Carolyn is a music, dance and color guard enthusiast, the former color guard section leader of Legends Drum & Bugle Corps from Kalamazoo, and she has served on the guard staff for Legends and for Marian University in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Mindi Abair Experience

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We’ve only had two evening concerts so far and the talent that has come to Emens Auditorium this week has already blown me away!

On Tuesday evening, Mindi Abair and her band came to the Ball State campus and I was lucky enough to get a few moments of her time to chat after her sound check.
Anytime I need to interview I interview anyone, let alone a professional musician, I wonder what the interview will be like: if it will be easy or hard, if they will be kind and sincere or if I will feel like I’m an imposition.

Lucky for me, the moment I was introduced to Mindi Abair, I felt at ease and like I was chatting with an old friend.

It was great talking with Mindi about the Summer Symposium and what happens throughout the week. She was genuinely interested in the Music for All's mission and talked at length about how important music education was to her own life. Mindi recognizes that because of how important music was to her life, she is a strong advocate for music education.

Watch Mindi’s Interview (as well as some highlights from the concert) here:


After leaving the interview with Mindi, I couldn’t stop talking about how awesome the concert was going to be (it was a really fun sound check!) and how great of a person she was. I definitely thought I knew how great the concert would be.

But I was wrong. It was better! The moment I walked into the auditorium I could feel the energy not only coming from Mindi and her band, but from the students who were up off their feet and simply enjoying the concert. It's almost impossible for me to explain the feeling that I had while watching our campers, watch the performance. It was amazing to see them so engaged and just LOVING what was happening on stage in front of them. Here's a photo that gives you an idea of what I'm talking about.

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The best thing about Mindi Abair: she's not only talented, she's just plain fun. You could see on her face, and on the faces of the members of her band, that they were having a BLAST performing for this incredible audience. At the end of the encore Mindi even invited students on stage with her (she couldn’t have known what she was getting into there, right!?) It was a pretty incredible sight, and I’m sure many students are not going to forget the night that they got to come up on stage while Mindi Abair finished out her show!


This evening concert was defintly one of my favorites I have seen in my past three camp experiences. I hope that the students enjoyed it as much as I did!




Erin Fortune is the Marketing Coordinator focusing on digital marketing at Music for All, and has been working with Music for All for nearly three years, first in the Participant Relations department and now in marketing. She is a graduate from the Music Industry Management program at Ferris State University in Michigan and is a former Percussive Arts Society Intern and a Yamaha Corporation of America, Band and Orchestral Division Intern.



While conducting is an important part of the Bands of America Drum Major Institute at Summer Symposium, leadership training is key to the DMI curriculum. Each day, the DMI Faculty empowers campers to become effective leaders of their own band through varying lessons and exercises. I was intrigued by one of these exercises outside Pruis Hall and decided to stick around to watch our young leaders at work.

James Stephens, DMI Faculty member and Associate Director of Bands at Broken Arrow High School, created the exercise "The Brick Game" and presented it to the drum majors with fellow faculty member Kim Shuttlesworth, Director of Bands at James Bowie High School and former drum major of the University of Texas at Austin "Showband of the Southwest."

DMI-bricksThe challenge: Each group of approximately 15 students is provided 10 bricks in order to travel a path of 20 feet without touching the ground. All of the bricks start on one side, and one member must be touching each brick at all times until they cross the path. If any group member touches the ground or leaves a brick unattended, they must start over. Groups are given a couple minutes to devise a plan; however, they cannot speak during the exercise. Although nonverbal communication is key in "The Brick Game," there are many more attributes of effective leaderership required to be successful in this exercise.

Many groups first attempted to cross the bricks individually without assistance; however, many fell or left bricks unattended. Quickly, members began to use each other for support and assistance. An active awareness of each other and their surroundings proved valuable to the groups. Patience was one of the most important attributes for the "The Brick Game." The group I watched required several tries before reaching the goal. While it was easy to become frustrated after a failed attempt, patience and perseverance prevailed.

Unlike most leadership exercises where the difficulty lies in finding the solution, the difficulty in this exercise was completing the exercise once the solution is found. Very quickly, groups had successful plans to get across the path; however, executing the plan proved very difficult and required that each member commit to the plan. The success of the group falls on every single member, not just one leader. Just like in an ensemble or on the field, the weak link was easily visible. Positive reinforcement and support helped the entire group achieve the challenge.

DMI-3In the end, only two of nine groups were successful. It took participants nearly 30 minutes to get the entire group across the path. Once one group was successful, I was surprised at the reaction—they clapped and celebrated for themselves politely, but quickly stopped to encourage the other groups. While friendly competition served as the initial motivation, the drum majors remained committed to each other. The unsuccessful groups did not seem too discouraged, as they recognized the leadership skills learned during the exercise.

The Drum Major Institute's core teaching principles include Character, Content, Communication and Chemistry, and "The Brick Game" reflected these principles: the patience and persistence revealed the character required for an effective drum major and leader; the requirement for all to commit was similar to the content of marching ensembles; all forms of communication, including nonverbal, were integral; the awareness and support between group members reflected the chemistry of a successful community.

I am very glad I decided to stop by the Drum Major Institute. The leadership and life skills displayed in just one exercise were astonishing, and I am confident that each of the participants will become an excellent drum major, leader and human in his or her own community.


Seth Williams is currently Development 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.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Symposium Day 2 Photo Stream

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Check out the photos from Summer Symposium Day 2! (Day 4 for our awesome Leadership students!)

If the photo stream above is not viewable for you, try this link:

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The first out of a week-long evening concert series, the 2013 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Concert was a powerful, beautiful and magically musical closing to our first day of the full-week Music for All Summer Symposium. Our 1000+ campers filed into BSU's Emens Auditorium, but I'll bet very few, if any, knew exactly what kind of treat was in store.

The Yamaha Young Performing Artists program, known as YYPA (pronounced YIP-pa), began in 1988, with last night's concert marking its 25th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, composer David P. Sartor composed a special trumpet fanfare that was performed by 2013 YYPA winner, Josh Gilbert, and two former YYPA winners, Stephen Bottom (1994) and Chad Winkler (1995).

trumpet-trioPerforming the trumpet fanfare, "Prologue," from left to right: Chad Winkler, Stephen Bottom and Josh Gilbert

YYPA is an annual competitive program designed to recognize outstanding young musicians, ages 16-21, from the world of classical, jazz and contemporary music. Winners are invited to attend an all-expense paid YYPA Celebration Weekend, where they perform in Emens Auditorium with national press coverage, attend an awards ceremony, and participate in professional workshops and clinics designed to launch a professional music career. This year's eleven YYPA winners, listed below, underwent an extensive audition process and were selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants from across the country.

Xue Su, Cincinnati, OH - Flute
Ron Cohen Mann, New York, NY - Oboe
Danny Mui, Kalamazoo, MI - Clarinet
Tsz Kiu Kwok, Iowa City, IA - Saxophone
Alekos Syropoulos, Ann Arbor, MI - Jazz Saxophone
Joshua Gilbert, Lexington, MA - Jazz Trumpet
Markus Osterlund, Honolulu, HI - Horn
Joe LeFevre, Kalamazoo, MI - Tuba
Johnathan Hulett, South Miami, FL - Jazz Drum Set
Addison Frei, Oviedo, FL - Jazz Piano
Kanako Shimasaki, Springfield, OH - Violin

While helping to seat YYPA winners' families in the auditorium, I enjoyed brief conversation with some of them. It was awesome to hear how proud these families felt and how excited they were to see their young musician perform that night.

And for good reason. These performers were, simply put, astonishing. From a drum set jam session and a beautifully soothing clarinet piece to a sassy violin tune and a musical montage of flute, humming and beat-boxing, the concert showcased an array of diverse, naturally talented and well-disciplined emerging artists. I am confident that if each of this year's YYPA winners continue to pursue their craft, they have bright futures ahead of them.

Former YYPA winners have gone on to highly successful careers, becoming faculty at universities, members of prestigious ensembles and recording artists. Many have become Yamaha Performing Artists and Clinicians.

The concert also gave campers a special chance to see some of their Symposium faculty perform, as Sammy K, Jeremy Allen and Luke Gillespie were featured onstage for select jazz numbers.

jazz-with-alekos-syropoulosLuke Gillespie (piano), Jeremy Allen (bass) and Sammy K (drums) performing with YYPA winner Alekos Syropoulos

The evening exemplified the incredible musical talent of our nation's youth, exactly what we strive to create, provide and expand through the Music for All programs. The YYPA concert operates in conjunction with the Summer Symposium, and Music for All is proud to have the program continue in our relationship with Yamaha Corporation of America. A special thank you to our camp participants—you guys were a great audience!

all-onstageAll 2013 YYPA Concert Performers

Ron-Cohen-Mann-with-JohnYYPA winner Ron Cohen Mann pictured with John Wittmann, Director of Artist Relations, Yamaha Corporation of America, at the post-concert reception

For more information about YYPA, follow "Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) Competition" on Facebook.

Think YOU might have what it takes to be a Yamaha Young Performing Artist? Check their website,, to learn more and apply.

-Carolyn T.

Carolyn Tobin is the Marketing Intern at Music for All. Drawn to all that is digital media, she was an award-recipient of the NMU Tube Student Video Contest and was named the Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Communications and Performance Studies Department at Northern Michigan University. She is a devout runner, and has also enjoyed blogging about her adventures living in Spain and Argentina. Carolyn is a music, dance and color guard enthusiast, the former color guard section leader of Legends Drum & Bugle Corps from Kalamazoo, and she has served on the guard staff for Legends and for Marian University in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Symposium Day 1 Photo Stream

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Check out the photos from Summer Symposium Day 1! (Day 3 for our awesome Leadership students!)


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One of the coolest experiences we offer our campers at Summer Symposium every year is the corps-in-residence, and for the first time since 2008, we are excited to welcome back The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps to camp!

With the Drum Corps International season underway, we are very grateful for The Cavaliers to be able to stop at camp for a few days in the middle of their national tour. Starting on Wednesday, they will be working with the Marching Band, Color Guard, Percussion and Directors tracks. The corps’ staff will be holding clinics for each track, which will include numerous “show and tell” opportunities by the corps’ members that feature segments of their 2013 field production.

Speaking of their 2013 show, what’s it all about? The program is titled “Secret Society” (watch their announcement video here!) and takes a mysterious approach with the members starting the show dressed in hooded black robes. The musical sections include a great mix of both original and arranged compositions from contemporary composers Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino and John Mackey.

Of course one of the most exciting things the campers will be looking forward to is the DCI Central Indiana competition that will be occurring Friday night at Ball State’s Schuemann Stadium. Music for All has partnered up with DCI to allow all of the campers to attend the show as spectators. Six other DCI World Class corps will be joining The Cavaliers in what looks to be a fun evening of fantastic drum corps performances.

The fun doesn’t stop there, though! The highlight of the week for students in the Marching Band track occurs at the end of the DCI show when they will join The Cavaliers in an encore performance. Earlier in the week, the students will be learning a segment of music and drill from the corps’ show, and they will then perform alongside The Cavaliers on Friday night. Additionally, students from the Marching Percussion track (as well as instructors in the Percussion Specialist Academy) will join The Cavaliers’ drumline to play a cadence that will bring the drum majors from all corps onto the field for the awards ceremony. If you are in attendance at this show, these are two special performances you won’t want to miss!

We are once again very thankful for The Cavaliers to be our corps-in-residence, are excited to work with them, and can’t wait for them to provide life-changing experiences for our campers!



David Foth is very happy to return to Music for All as the Summer Events Intern after serving as the Fall Events Intern in 2012. Originally from the east coast, David grew up in Connecticut and attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he graduated from in 2012 with a degree in Sport Management. David has many years of experience as a performer in the marching arts activity, which includes time with his high school band, the UMass Minuteman Marching Band (formerly under the direction of Music for All Hall of Famer George N. Parks), the Connecticut Hurricanes Drum & Bugle Corps and the Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Leadership Weekend Day 2 Photo Stream

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Check out the photos from the Leadership Weekend Experience Day 2!

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Just before Nik Wallenda made his high-wire walk across the Grand Canyon live on national television, returning Leadership Weekend Experience students ventured 35 minutes north to Taylor University to experience the Escape to Reality Challenge Course. Like Nik Wallenda's unbelievable journey, campers stepped out of their comfort zone and built life and leadership skills in the process. As a Music for All staff member, I have never participated in the challenge course and decided to join the leaders in a truly life-changing experience.

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In our first exercise, campers were required to transport themselves between three platforms without touching the ground and only using two boards. The group was quickly able to brainstorm and test solutions. Effective communication, patience and support within the group resulted in a successful exercise. When the facilitator gave the group a "freebie" to touch the ground, the group weighed the options of maintaining pride and integrity as a motivator, or utilizing the second chance to be successful. I was impressed by the maturity and focus of this group in this tough challenge.

Nonverbal communication was key at the next station, where we arranged each other by birthdate and age on a narrow log without speaking. This proved to be a daunting challenge (although my place at the end was very obvious), but the group was very patient and incredibly helpful of each other. The group learned that nonverbal listening, or awareness, is integral to success as a leader. In the end, we succeeded, bringing the group of 12 closer, even in less than 24 hours as a team.

After lunch, I was excited to hear a new perspective on leadership from a former band director of mine, Tom Pompeii, in "Leadership Straight from the Horse's Mouth." Tom is an accomplished music educator and horseman, and provided the campers a fresh look at nonverbal communication. Tom's session introduced concepts for interacting and leading introverts vs. extroverts, similar to skittish horses. The awareness required to notice and respond appropriately to different types of people is important for new leaders.

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At the high ropes area, campers learned to live beyond their comfort zone and take a literal leap of faith. There were several stations that provided thrills, but required focus and concentration. Fellow campers on the ground cheered for those in the air, providing a safe, supportive environment for success. The daunting zip line was a favorite for the thrill-seeking campers. Even in my own, clumsy and unsuccessful attempt at climbing a pole and jumping toward a trapeze, campers were supportive, serving as the counterweight. From the apprehension of jumping off the ledge to the electrifying feeling of near free fall, my trip down the zip line was incredible. By stepping out of my own comfort zone, I was able to face my fears and grow, in my own leadership and life skills.