Today's guest post is from Nicole Presley, a Music for All Summer Symposium SWAG (if you do not know what a SWAG is, read more here) and former Summer Symposium student division participant. Thank you Nicole for sharing your story with us!
It’s funny how even though I’m still a full-time student sitting in class for hours upon hours for thirty weeks of the year, attempting to learn as much as I can, I learn the most during ten days at the end of June. I don’t sit in a classroom for those ten days. I don’t have a textbook to read. Sometimes I can’t even take notes. But I know for a fact that it’s for those ten days at the Music for All Summer Symposium that I learn the most.
For four out of the past five summers I’ve attended the Summer Symposium; once as a camper and three times as a SWAG. Between the campers, the Music for All staff, the clinicians, and the other SWAGS, I feel as though I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the most beautiful people that walk this earth.
When I’m talking about camp I find myself saying things like, “It’s just the best.” If you’ve been to the Symposium, you know: sometimes it’s hard to put a finger on just what makes it so overwhelmingly great. I’ve come to realize that the people are what make it “the best.” I learn so much more than just music from the people I interact with at camp.
In December of 2011, I was coming back from a four month long study abroad trip in Spain and once I was back in the States my connecting flight home was cancelled. I would have been stranded in the airport overnight if it hadn’t been for a SWAG who came to save me even though it was a school night and she was already in her pajamas.
Last summer at camp I was a little sick and lost my voice almost completely for the majority of the week. Every day there was one camper who, no matter how terrible I sounded or how hard I was to understand, would say, “You’re sounding much better today, Nicole,” with a sympathetic smile on his face.
The SWAG Team shouted “Happy Birthday” at me on my birthday, sending me into silent fits of laughter (it’s really hard to laugh when you have no voice!) at seven o’clock in the morning.
On the last day of camp last summer, one of the SWAGs who has been SWAGging for so much longer than me, who I admire incredibly, told me how proud he was of me and the person I was becoming.
From them I’ve learned that friendship means going far out of your way to help someone in a time of need, no matter how big or how small; that a smile and a little understanding can go a long way; that laughter really is the best medicine; and that being a mentor means letting someone know that they’re doing at least a little bit of the right thing. They’ve taught me that I want to be more like them.
Sometimes in my head I hear George Parks saying: “Raise your hand as high as you can. Now raise it two inches higher. That’s what wrong with your lives!"
When it comes down to it, I think that’s one of the biggest things that I try to take away from the Symposium each year. I hear it said in sessions with clinicians and I see it carried out in the actions of the people around me.
Give as much as you can give, and then give more.
Better Leaders Followers Make All The Difference!
Now consider these questions:
What if we over-rely on our best students to be our leaders and do little to develop all our students’ leadership potential?
If we constantly go to our leaders to “carry the load” and/or “make things happen” how engaged do you think others will be “watching things happen?”
What if leadership has less to do with leaders and more to do with followers? After all, bad leadership only occurs when there’s bad followership and good leadership only occurs when there’s good followership.
Could the quality of followership in your program actually have more influence on the quality of leadership in your program?
That’s why over the years, we’ve intentionally dovetailed our leadership curriculum to enhance both leadership and followership. [See “What we believe when it comes to developing student leadership” for more insight to our approach to leadership development—both for the leadership weekend and the weeklong summer symposium.] Every day, every section of the Summer Symposium gets to play with, and experience first-hand, the leadership+followership dynamic.
Now, we don’t call it that per se. After all, students do come to the Leadership Weekend Experience to be better leaders. (Imagine how many students would come to a Followership Experience?) Yet the truth is we’re simultaneously sharing both the importance of better leadership and better followership. Effective leaders need to know how to develop effective followers and ultimately your future leaders.
Next time you pass out a piece of music to your ensemble, make sure all the first-chair players receive all the parts for their entire section, rather than just the first-chair part. That way they can help all the players in their section KICK IT IN! Because better leaders and better followers will make all the difference in your program!
Music motivates. Music mesmerizes. Music moves.
We at Music for All believe in music and in music education, which is why we strive to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. We believe that, apart from the pure beauty of music, it provides benefits to us outwardly and inwardly through personal learning and growth, team building, striving to reach goals and much more.
But we want to know about our followers—why do YOU believe in music?
We invite you to follow the #BelieveInMusic hashtag and join our Twitter campaign to help spread the word about the amazing powers of music. Reply @musicforall with “I #BelieveInMusic because…” to share your thoughts and feelings. Great responses will be retweeted!
Take a look at what people are already tweeting:
“I #BelieveInMusic because it helps me recognize beauty.”
“I #BelieveInMusic because it can teach us what we should know about each other and what we already know about ourselves.”
“I #BelieveInMusic because music is life”
To learn more about Music for All’s music advocacy program, visit www.musicforall.org/i-believe.
Make sure you’re staying connected with us!
“Like” us on Facebook:
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I’ve had the distinct privilege of bringing our band, from Wheeling High School, Wheeling, IL, to the Music for All Festival on three occasions, including this year. Your 2012 National Festival was incredible. The best one yet! The JW Marriott Hotel, Dr. Tim, meals, Buca di Beppo, Clowes Memorial Hall, clinicians, concerts, Indianapolis, and the Music for All Staff, were all wonderful. Our expectations for the National Festival were extremely high and you exceeded all of them, and much more.
Your goal, “to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all,” was in full force with our kids, parents, and staff. Your event is unique, positive, musical, rewarding, and special. You have made a mark on our kids and program that will last forever. Because of this, we will have many students applying for your 2013 Honor Band of America and Jazz Band of America.
It was incredibly refreshing to hear about your new focus and vision to truly make Music for All, Music for All. I believe our program is an example of where you are heading. Greater than 50 percent of our student body is Hispanic. We also have large Russian and Polish immigrant populations. A large percentage of our student body qualifies for our free and reduced lunch program. While many of our students and families have socio-economic challenges, we have a parent booster group that provides tremendous financial support. Our wonderfully diverse community supports our kids and program like no other. There are many schools, some very close to us, with numerous financial advantages, including large homes, and expensive cars, yet our kids have learned about a great equalizer, education and work ethic.
Thank you for providing a forum for young musicians, and us directors, to aspire. I too believe in Music for All!
To learn more and place your order by February 10, 2012, click here.
Deadline: February 24, 2012
The William D. Revelli Scholarship was established in 1993 in honor of the late Dr. Revelli, for his contributions to music education. This $1,000, one-time scholarship honors a graduating senior who is performing at the 2012 Music for All National Festival and is nominated by his or her director. Recipients must intend to pursue a degree in music education. The scholarship will be awarded during the banquet at the National Festival in Indianapolis on March 17, 2012.
Click here to learn more and complete your application. Completed applications are due February 24, 2012.
Impact, Music for All’s annual report and resource for education, advocacy and performance information for fiscal year 2011 (March 1, 2010 - February 28, 2011), is now available for download here.
As the current fiscal year comes to a close, Music for All has much for which we can be thankful. Most of all, we are thankful for friends and supporters like you who embrace and support our mission to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all.
In 2011, we took Music for All, Bands of America and Orchestra America programs to 11 states and drew participants from 30 other states and three foreign countries. Almost 3,000 students and teachers participated in the Music for All Summer Symposium and Music for All National Festival, and another 70,000+ students participated in Bands of America events before more than a quarter million fans, families and supporters. We provided counsel as well as access to our advocacy tools and resources for hundreds of teachers, parents and students who saw their access and opportunities to participate in music education and performance threatened by educational budget cuts.
We know that you believe in our ideals and programs, and we ask and hope we can continue to have, deserve and count on your support. As we approach the end of the year (February 29, 2012), Music for All has reached 97% of our fundraising goal, and we need your help to continue to strengthen our programs and educational experiences. A gift from you will give us the significant boost we need to reach our goal of influencing students and educators through our programs and providing Positively Life-Changing experiences through music for all. More importantly, your gift provides leadership and inspires others – individuals, corporations and foundations alike – to join in and support our cause.
Support you provide now will help ensure that we can continue to serve at a high level and execute key objectives for 2012 and beyond. To donate to Music for All, donate online, or send your donation to:
Thank you for supporting Music for All’s positively life-changing programs and experiences!
Maggie Vetter of Kings High School in Kings Mills, Ohio received a $2,000 scholarship from Jolesch Photography.
“Maggie is driven toward excellence, and she loves to practice,” her band director Greg Mills says. “She possesses an engaging, upbeat personality and views obstacles as opportunities to improve.”
Observations of her father, who is a music teacher, and Mr. Mills helped Vetter to form her future teaching philosophies as well as define her passion for being an educator.
“I will be patient with my students as they begin to learn,” Vetter says. “I will also be flexible and love the art of music making, all while keeping the passion of teaching music so students can see, feel and embrace it too, and, of course, I will encourage students to practice.”
Maggie has not only learned the importance of arts in her own life, but she already knows the difference a music educator can make in the lives of students and has begun to put these traits into practice.
“The first [trait] is patience. The second is time. One of the last traits of a successful music educator is love for the art,” Vetter says. Music is a part of who I am, Vetter says, and she looks forward to the rest of her life as a music teacher.
The Fred J. Miller Family presented a $1,000 scholarship to Benjamin Clemons from Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park, Illinois.
Clemons grew up surrounded by music and music educators, as both of his parents are music educators. However, it wasn’t until high school that Clemons became inspired to become a music educator. In his scholarship essay, he wrote that being a section leader gave him insight into becoming a music teacher. He enjoyed teaching a group and pushing them to meet their goals. Clemons says he aspires to be a teacher who has a vast array of musical knowledge and technique, someone who is an effective communicator and, most importantly, a teacher with the ability to inspire his students to keep music in their lives.
“Ben has all the talents and qualities that you would expect to see in a fellow educator,” Mr. Mark Iwinski, Victor J. Andrew High School’s band director, says. “He will be a fine teacher and an excellent trumpet player because he recognizes high quality performances and is inspired by great musicians and educators.”
Yamaha Corporation of America presented a $1,000 scholarship to Devon Gordon of Danville High School in Indiana. Gordon was nominated by Adrian Hartsough, Danville High School’s band director, due to his strong musicianship, leadership qualities and strong work ethic.
“Devon’s a gifted French horn player and percussionist and has the strongest musical ear I’ve encountered from a high school student,” Hartsough says.
Gordon leads by example while encouraging others and supporting his peers. Gordon’s first experience assisting his band director with the middle school band provided him with an opportunity that would set his sights on becoming a music educator one day.
“I will always remember the day of their band contest,” Gordon says. “I sat myself down at the side of the gym, fully confident they were going to make me proud no matter what award they took home – they took home a gold rating. I still remember that being one of the proudest moments of my life.”
For Gordon, a valuable lesson was learned and a music educator was born.
“I realized that being a music educator is more than scores and successes,” Gordon says. “My dedication to these students has been my pride and joy, and I would love nothing more in the world than to be able to do this for the rest of my life.”
The Music for All Foundation presented three scholarship awards at this year’s Grand National Championships, presented by Yamaha. The MFA Marching Band Scholarships were established to honor graduating seniors who plan to major in music education in college. These one-time awards are made possible through generous gifts from the Yamaha Corporation of America, Fred J. Miller Family and Jolesch Photography.
You can also create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all by donating to the Music for All scholarship fund today. A gift to the scholarship fund provides lifelong impact and is a wonderful way to show support of music and arts education. Learn more about Music for All’s scholarships, or click here to donate to the scholarship fund.
Place a special message to honor your student, band, director or booster program in the keepsake Grand Nationals program book.
• Congratulate a senior band member for his or her dedication.
• Tell someone how proud you are of him or her.
• Honor a band director or booster volunteer.
Learn more and place your order by October 7.
The Music for All Marching Band Scholarship applications are due September 23. These scholarships honor graduating seniors who intend to major in music education in college. To be considered for a scholarship, the applicant must also be a member of a band performing at the Grand National Championships. The director of bands must nominate all applicants. These one-time awards are made possible through generous gifts from the following Music for All friends and sponsors:
• Mark Jolesch of Jolesch Photography ($2,000 Jolesch Scholarship)
• Fred J. Miller Family ($1,000 Fred J. Miller Family Scholarship)
• Yamaha Corporation of America ($1,000 Yamaha Scholarship)
To learn more about the scholarships or to apply, click here.