The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

Student Features

This is the sixteenth installment of a new chapter in our Student Features series on the blog that we will be posting leading up to the 2017 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Music for All will be featuring three honor ensembles (Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America, and the Jazz Band of America) at the Music for All National Festival, March 9th through March 11th. We look forward to getting to know all of these wonderful students who have been accepted into these prestigious ensembles!

JasonD2

Name: Jason Donnelly

Hometown: Oviedo, FL

School Name: Paul J. Hagerty High School

Instrument: Euphonium

Which Ensemble Are You In?
Honor Band of America

What made you decide to apply to be a part of the ensemble?
From last year's honor band, I knew that it would be a great time that I wanted to experience again. When I heard that Michael Colburn would be conducting (former President's Own conductor and euphonium player), I was even more excited to apply.

What are three things you've learned from being involved in band or orchestra?
1. Anything is possible with enough practice and determination.
2. Improvement is a constant endeavor; if you feel like you've hit a brick wall, just keep going.
3. Art is subjective-pursue the things that interest you, not just the things that other people like.

Most memorable moment in band or orchestra?
Though it might now technically count as a "band" moment, playing Shostakovich's "Festive Overture" with a tuba-euphonium choir of over 75 at the International Euphonium-Tuba Festival was absolutely amazing. The sound of that many low brass players will be something I will remember for life.

Besides band/orchestra, what are you involved in at school?
I serve as the treasurer for the Tri-M Honors Society, and I am also a member of the National Honors Society and the French Honors Society.

What book have you read that you would recommend?
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It's a challenging and convoluted read, but certainly a worthwhile one.

What's your favorite song or piece of music?
That's a tough one. I'd have to say Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" just because of how versatile and adaptable it is. I've heard over a dozen transcriptions that are all beautiful in their own way.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Vanilla-but it's all about the toppings!

What's your favorite non-music related hobby or past time?
I enjoy screenwriting, even though I'm not very good at it.

What's one piece of advice you'd give a friend who needs some inspiration or motivation?
No matter how bad failure feels now, always know that there will be another chance, and another chance after that. The more times you fail, the sweeter your successes will be.

What's your current plan for what you want to do after graduating high school?
I plan on attending college for a degree in Euphonium Performance.

Have you participated in MFA/BOA events before? Which ones?
Yes! I was a member of the 2016 Honor Band of America conducted by Richard Floyd.

Tell us something interesting/unique about you:
While I am here for my euphonium playing, I also play many other instruments in various ensembles, including tenor and bass trombone, and multiple saxophones.

JasonDJasonD3

This is the fifth installment of a new chapter in our Student Features series on the blog that we will be posting leading up to the 2017 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Music for All will be featuring three honor ensembles (Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America, and the Jazz Band of America) at the Music for All National Festival, March 9th through March 11th. We look forward to getting to know all of these wonderful students who have been accepted into these prestigious ensembles!

SolomonA

Name: Solomon Alber

Hometown: Pleasanton, CA

School Name: Amador Valley High School

Instrument: Tenor Saxophone

Which Ensemble Are You In?
Jazz Band of America

What made you decide to apply to be a part of the ensemble?
I had heard about the Jazz Band of America from some friends of mine and from the videos of some of the past ensemble performances I gathered. I noticed the level high level of musicianship and my goal was to be apart of the band.

What are three things you've learned from being involved in band or orchestra?
I have learned that music, especially jazz music is a very involved activity that requires teamwork, yet also calls for individuality and uniqueness. Each member in the band needs to be solid and consistent when playing their part. Finally, musicians need to communicate with each other, whether it's between the drums and the bass in the rhythm section when keeping the time or the interaction between the soloist and the rhythm section.

Most memorable moment in band or orchestra?
My most memorable moment in band was during a solo section where I was soloing and all of a sudden the bass started to play off of the melodies I was creating. This then led to a distinct conversation between the rhythm section and myself as the soloist, that was innovative and conducive to a unique form of creativity. At one point, I remember utilizing the snare drum rhythms that the drummer was implementing into his swing feel.

Besides band/orchestra, what are you involved in at school?
Besides band, I am involved in UNICEF events held at my school, computer science projects formed with other students, and volunteering for extracurricular events held at school.

What book have you read that you would recommend?
A book I have read is called Ready Player One and I would recommend this book because it is full of suspense and does a superb job utilizing elements of 80s pop culture in a technological dystopian theme, in addition to this weaving in a creative storyline.

What's your favorite song or piece of music?
My favorite piece of music is called "Danza del Altiplano" by Leo Brouwer because it has a virtuoso quality yet, it also possesses a culturally rich and blues influenced sound.

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Mint chocolate chip

What's your favorite non-music related hobby or past time?
My favorite non-music related hobby or past time is spending time with friends exploring the world and discussing many interesting topics such as philosophy, science, and politics.

What's one piece of advice you'd give a friend who needs some inspiration or motivation?
One piece of advice I would give a friend who needs some inspiration or motivation is instead of taking on something that does not interest you, find something you are interested in and pursue it to the best of your ability.

What's your current plan for what you want to do after graduating high school?
My current plan for what I want to do after graduating high school is to continue studying music and progressing to the best of my ability. I also want to continue to gain knowledge to be a well rounded individual.

Have you participated in MFA/BOA events before? Which ones?
I have not participated in MFA/BOA events before.

Tell us something interesting/unique about you:
I am a bilingual. I understand both English and Russian. My family is mostly from places such as Israel, Ukraine, and Russia.

This is the fourth installment of a new chapter in our Student Features series on the blog that we will be posting leading up to the 2017 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Music for All will be featuring three honor ensembles (Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America, and the Jazz Band of America) at the Music for All National Festival, March 9th through March 11th. We look forward to getting to know all of these wonderful students who have been accepted into these prestigious ensembles!

JTH

Name: J.T. Holdbrooks

Hometown: Alabaster, AL

School Name: Thompson High School

Instrument: Bassoon

Which Ensemble Are You In?
Honor Band of America

What made you decide to apply to be a part of the ensemble?
To be apart of an ensemble other than just my band at home!

What are three things you've learned from being involved in band or orchestra?
I've learned to manage my time, how to work with others, and how powerful music can be to others.

Most memorable moment in band or orchestra?
Playing at the Music for All National Festival with my Wind Ensemble two years ago!

What's your favorite song or piece of music?
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Cookie dough

What's your favorite non-music related hobby or past time?
Going to the lake and kayaking.

What's your current plan for what you want to do after graduating high school?
Go to the University of Alabama and study Music Performance!

Have you participated in MFA/BOA events before? Which ones?
Yes. I played with my Wind Ensemble at the Music for All National Festival in 2015.

Tell us something interesting/unique about you:
I play the Alto Saxophone in Marching Band.

This is the third installment of a new chapter in our Student Features series on the blog that we will be posting leading up to the 2017 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Music for All will be featuring three honor ensembles (Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America, and the Jazz Band of America) at the Music for All National Festival, March 9th through March 11th. We look forward to getting to know all of these wonderful students who have been accepted into these prestigious ensembles!

GreyV

Name: Grey Vandeberg

Hometown: Madison, AL

School Name: Bob Jones High School

Instrument: Baritone Saxophone

Which Ensemble Are You In?
Honor Band of America

What made you decide to apply to be a part of the ensemble?
When I was in eighth grade, I listened to a recording of the 2011 Honor Band of America on Youtube. I was absolutely astounded with the quality of musicianship in the ensemble, and despite having no intentions of actually making it, I figured it would be better to be safe than sorry.

What are three things you've learned from being involved in band or orchestra?
I've learned how to be a leader through my time directing the sectionals and assisting the middle school band, how to develop a more efficient work ethic through my rigorous practicing schedule, and how to help my peers through strenuous situations through the difficulties that come with band.

Most memorable moment in band or orchestra?
I was apprehensive about the saxophone my first year as I was playing the alto, but the first time I played the baritone, I knew that my heart lied in band. I will never forget the first note I played on the bari.

Besides band/orchestra, what are you involved in at school?
Tri M Honor Society (officer), Social Studies Honor Society (officer), Debate team, Model UN, Science Honor Society, Science Bowl Team, and National Honor Society.

What's your favorite song or piece of music?
The Tattooed Bride by Duke Ellington

What's your favorite non-music related hobby or past time?
I am an avid movie-goer, and have a real passion for cinema.

What's your current plan for what you want to do after graduating high school?
I plan on attending Vanderbilt as my first choice college and double majoring in Biochemistry and Music.

This is the second installment of a new chapter in our Student Features series on the blog that we will be posting leading up to the 2017 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Music for All will be featuring three honor ensembles (Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America, and the Jazz Band of America) at the Music for All National Festival, March 9th through March 11th. We look forward to getting to know all of these wonderful students who have been accepted into these prestigious ensembles!

MeganS

Name: Megan Savage

Hometown: Port St. Lucie, FL

School Name: Homeschool

Instrument: Cello

Which Ensemble Are You In?
Honor Orchestra of America

What made you decide to apply to be a part of the ensemble?
The opportunity to perform with students from all over the country and with outstanding conductors.

What are three things you've learned from being involved in band or orchestra?
Music is a universal language that can be used to communicate with everyone, regardless of beliefs, cultures, age, and interests. Music can also reflect every human emotion, becoming a way to speak without words. It is a skill that you will carry with you the rest of your life.

Most memorable moment in band or orchestra?
Performing Dvorak's 8th Symphony in the Straz Performing Arts Center.

Besides band/orchestra, what are you involved in at school?
I enjoy taking science, foreign language, and being the representative for the medical laboratory technologist club.

What's your favorite song or piece of music?
Passacaglia by Handel

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Chocolate

What's your favorite non-music related hobby or past time?
Improvisational abstract sketching

What's one piece of advice you'd give a friend who needs some inspiration or motivation?
Whatever you find your hand to do, do so with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10a

What's your current plan for what you want to do after graduating high school?
Major in music performance, and possibly biological science.

Have you participated in MFA/BOA events before? Which ones?
Honor Orchestra of America, 2015 & 2016.

Tell us something interesting/unique about you:
I am a first degree black belt in taekwondo.

This is the first installment of a new chapter in our Student Features series on the blog that we will be posting leading up to the 2017 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Music for All will be featuring three honor ensembles (Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America, and the Jazz Band of America) at the Music for All National Festival, March 9 through March 11. We look forward to getting to know all of these wonderful students who have been accepted into these prestigious ensembles!

KamaliC

Name: Kamali Clora

Hometown: Bellevile, MI

School Name: Belleville High School

Instrument: Trombone

Which Ensemble Are You In?
Honor Band of America

What made you decide to apply to be a part of the ensemble?
As a musician, my desire is to hoan my skills as a trombonist and expand my knowledge of music. To do that, it is pivotal that I expose myself in environments where I can share the same musical aspirations as my peers. Being able to play beautiful symphonies with people who take music as seriously as I do is a great experience. It is an honor to be playing in the Honor Band of America because of prestine reputation, high achievements in musicality, as well as the respectable educational setting. I believe there is nothing more powerful than a group of young musicians with the same passions towards music, who work together to accomplish a common goal.

What are three things you've learned from being involved in band or orchestra?
1. Not to ride on my talent to get the job done.
2. Do not take these experiences for granted.
3. Have fun while playing and feel the music!

Most memorable moment in band or orchestra?
Discovering the music and learning it bar by bar with my band mates, then being able to perform it at a concert showing people how hard we worked.

Besides band/orchestra, what are you involved in at school?
-Science Olympia Team
-Debate Club
-Theatre
-Interact Club
-National Honor Society
-Student Council
-Choir Club
-Student Leadership Team
-Chess Club
-Table Tennis Club
-Spanish Club
-Varsity Tennis

What book have you read that you would recommend?
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

What's your favorite song or piece of music?
Symphony No.9 by Antonin Dvorak

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Vanilla Oreo

What's your favorite non-music related hobby or past time?
I like to play chess, pool, and tennis.

What's one piece of advice you'd give a friend who needs some inspiration or motivation?
Just know everything will get better in due time, keep your head up and smile. Good things will come to those who wait!

What's your current plan for what you want to do after graduating high school?
I hope to attend the University of Michigan and enter the pre-med program.

Have you participated in MFA/BOA events before? Which ones?
No I have not.

Tell us something interesting/unique about you:
I am kind and is always happy. I believe laughter is the best medicine and to live life to the fullest!

KamaliC2

Student Feature: From Aloha to Aloha

Monday, 20 April 2015 15:02 Written by Sarah Champayn Look

Screen Shot 2015 04 20 at 2.28.26 PM

Music has always been a part of my life; I don’t remember ever not doing it. I’ve played the ukulele since I was six, guitar since I was 10 and began to introduce myself in the world of orchestra by playing the viola at age 13. When I joined 7th grade band, I had my heart set on playing the bassoon, however, since my mom is an amazing sidekick parent, she forced me into playing the clarinet. I was terrible at it and hated band. At the end that year, I asked my band director if I could switch to bass clarinet. As I expected, he said no, and I tried hard to stop playing. 

Luckily, things changed as I went into 8th grade. Being my second year of playing in the Oahu Band Directors Association, Central District Middle School Honor Band, I was given a solo in “Orpheus Overture.” After the performance, Moanalua High School band director, Mr. Elden T. Seta, came up to me to congratulate me on a well-done solo. This was the same man who had taught my older sister (she also played clarinet) and was currently my older brother’s band director. Little had I known that I was going be so inspired by his passion and work ethic for many years to follow. From that night on, I became inspired by his passion and work ethic. I practiced my clarinet everyday and strived to be the best person that I could possibly be. 

The next year I began attending Moanalua High School. During my sophomore year I earned the title of Miss Teen Hawaii United States and, in effort to create a platform for the competition, founded a non-profit organization called “Love ME Through Music.” This organization uses music therapy the heal those who are going through emotional and physical challenges. I began to see music as more than just a common ground for a group of students, it was something to take pride in and grow with.

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My junior year I began attending Kamehameha Schools Kapālama. I felt lost, sad, and by senior year, I felt as though I was no longer performing with the vigor and determination that I once did and thought about giving up on my music. Shortly before losing all hope I found out that my old ensemble, Moanalua High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble, was attending the Music for All National Festival in 2015. I suddenly felt inspired and wanted to perform at the same venue they were. Mr. Seta and my mom encouraged me to apply for the Honor Band of America, which also performs at the festival. I decided to audition, which meant practicing and videoing myself with a lot of faith and pixie dust of hopes that I would get in. Turns out,  I did! It was crazy knowing that I was going to be the first student from Hawaii to be in the Music for All Honor Band of America.

Before I could blink, March and a number of financial problems appeared. I ended up buying my plane ticket to National Festival the night that I was supposed to leave, had two connecting flights (including one which was cancelled), missed my seating audition and finally arrived in Indianapolis at 2:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. There were many obstacles getting there, but every moment of National Festival made it absolutely worth it. 

One of the greatest moments I had while I was there was after I performed with HBOA and the band members of the Moanalua High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble greeted me. I looked for them to thank them for coming to the performance and ask them how they enjoyed it. They paraded me with hugs and a plethora of compliments, and then out of the blue, a close friend of mine in the band began to lei me with beautiful orchid lei. It turns out that they had brought lei as a makana (a gift that a person from Hawaii brings when they travel to other places to show appreciation toward people who welcome us) and everyone in the ensemble suddenly showered me with dozens of them. I had so many they went over my heads and arms. To have people who had no idea who I was but just wanted to congratulate me was indescribable—I started to cry!  

When I returned to the HBOA reception, people were staring at me. It’s not everyday you see an individual lei’d over her head in the middle of Indianapolis, IN. I had to bypass several people before I could even reach my mom. She instantly burst into tears when she saw my wide smile, and I excitedly yelled, “Hey Mom, look what I got!” Obviously I couldn’t take the lei with me on my 4,000-mile journey to get home so I followed my first instinct – to share. I started to lei other musicians, their families and all the administrators that I could find. It’s amazing how a single lei can affect such a large amount of people. A friend who I have met in HBOA even came up to me and promised that she would press every single petal and keep the lei as a memoir. People were coming up to me left and right sharing their gratitude of a touch of aloha I have given them.

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Back at home, I see these orchid lei everywhere. Never had they phased me before until that night. To see these genuine smiles on my newfound friends made me love Hawaii more than ever. In fact, I have promised my fellow friends that I would come back up to watch them and bring lei for everyone in the 2016 HBOA.

Music for All and the Honor Band of America helped me realize why I love music so much and that, no matter where I am or whom I’m with, music has the ability to sustain and create lifelong friendships. It’s also shown me the magic of performing that comes from knowing that everyone in your ensemble has put in countless hours to practice and share the thing that they love. Good music comes from perfection. Great music comes from passion. 

I’m so thankful for everything this organization has given me the opportunity to experience and I hope to use my knowledge and passion to obtain a doctorate in music education and teach at the primary education level. I also hope to continue to develop my family’s non-profit organization, Love ME Through Music, into a broader project so that we can help students like me go to National Festival every year. 

Student Feature: Finding the Tune of My Passion

Friday, 27 March 2015 15:28 Written by Mikaela Ray

Finding the tune of my passion

I sobbed so much the first day of high school marching band and, after an interesting three-year journey, I now know that it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.

When summer band camp started the summer before freshman year I was the new kid – terrified and alone. Day after day it was mentally and physically exhausting, maybe one of the toughest things I’d done in my life, and I hated it. As I began to let my guard down, I grew stronger, made friends and became more excited to play.

School started in August and with the new experiences I had over the summer I now looked forward to concert band during the week and marching band with football games or competitions on the weekends. Each day I spent as a musician I learned more. Not only did I gain knowledge about playing my horn and things such as tuning and rhythm, but I also began to learn how to be a dependable and think critically. School may have taught me English and algebra, but band taught me that my actions and performance in life directly affects others.

I grew tremendously as a person from freshman to sophomore year. I became a more reliable, forward thinking team player. Sophomore year stretched me even more. I began to learn how to lead as a musician and a person. I learned respect, when to lead and when to follow through my involvement with marching band, my school’s inaugural winter guard and the principal horn spot in the wind ensemble. That winter I had my first experience with Music for All when my wind ensemble went to National Festival. It truly showed me how amazing high school concert band could be and how music could bring people together. After seeing the Honor Band of America perform, I wanted nothing more than to play at that level of excellence.

IMG 3891MFA President and CEO, Eric Martin and Mikaela at the Music for All National Festival

After Music for All National Festival I auditioned for drum major. I thought I had the “cat in the bag,” but that dream ended when David, my director, explained that I needed to be mellophone section leader instead. He explained that the section needed someone strong, and he needed me to be that person, but though I was honored I was also disappointed because I didn’t get to lead in the way I wanted. I didn’t know it then, but his decision would mark a monumental change in my future with music.

Overwhelmed with the thought of leading my section during the upcoming fall, I looked to my past and present band directors as well as section leaders and I observed how they led. I realized that they were all passionate about music and people. They were discerning, decisive and weren’t afraid to apologize when they were wrong. They led fearlessly and by example.

I had the passion for music (I practically lived in the band room and loved it), I always had a passion for helping people, but I had no idea how I was going to attain the many other qualities of a good leader. After expressing my concern, my band director encouraged me to attend the Music for All Summer Symposium and leadership weekend. Attending gave me the knowledge, confidence and tools I needed to lead and the tools to put these new skills into practice. I returned home invigorated and ready to make a difference.

Starting with my high school’s band camp, I led the mellophones all of junior year. We tackled after-school rehearsals, long hours at weekend competitions and the dynamic that comes with any group that spends the majority of their free time together. I got to know my section as people began to understand how they learned best. I was their friend and cared for them, which made them willing to follow me. I was fearless, decisive, passionate, discerning and unafraid to apologize. I pushed them as a section and as people. Not only was I successful, but also I had the time of my life doing it.

During the fall of 2013 I realized that I love to teach. I applied play with the Music for All Honor Band of America and was accepted that December. Time flew until the National Festival in March where I got to perform with some of the most talented people of my life and under the direction of some of the most seasoned clinicians, including our amazing director Eugene Coorporon. I made valuable connections that I will continue to cherish in my professional career and I pushed myself to perform better than ever before. Mr. Coorporon taught me how to improve a group’s performance by only saying few, but well thought out, words and to believe in myself. That weekend was the best weekend of my life.

Again, Music for All had given me the capability to go back to school and use new skills to improve personally as a musician and as a leader for my classmates. I applied again for HBOA the next fall and also joined my school’s Serenade Ensemble, which would play at the first ever Music for All Chamber Music National Festival. In addition, I applied for the William D Revelli Memorial Scholarship thinking of the great moment when the winner at the previous year’s festival had received it.

A few months later I found out that I was going to receive the scholarship. I was honored and wanted to tell everyone, but I had to keep it a secret until it was announced.

Revelli Scholarship WinnerMFA Annual Fund Manager, Gregg Puls and Mikaela after she was awarded
the William D. Revelli Scholarship at the Music for All National Festival

Coming back to Indianapolis in March felt like going home. I reunited with old friends, met new ones and got excited to make some great music. Kevin Sedatole was a wonderful conductor for the Honor Band of America and my chamber ensemble performed with precision and true musicality.

All of my experiences with Music for All have confirmed my passion to become a music educator and I can’t wait to bring a band of my own to National Festival someday.

 

Student Feature: Family Ties

Sunday, 12 October 2014 20:00 Written by Erin Fortune

Hannah and Sarah

We love this story about two cousins who were marching in different bands at the Jacksonville Regional this past weekend. Both of their bands made finals and were able to meet up with each other during Break Ranks!

A big thanks to Sheri Byrd, Sarah's mom (Sarah is pictured left), who shared this photo with us and told us more about these cousins! 

"My daughter is on the left. Her name is Sarah Katherine Byrd and she is in eight grade and on the colorguard for James F Byrnes High School Rebel Regiment. This is her first year on colorguard and her second season marching. She is pictured with her cousin, Hannah Byrd, who is on the colorguard for Harrison High School. Hannah is a sophomore, and has marched with Harrison since she was in 6th grade.

This was taken after the finals performance when they had met up together to congratulate each other on the great performances. I have included a second picture where they had finally found each other amongst all the students on the field. They are cousins and have always gotten along well but Sarah Katherine's older sister was in guard and so the 3 of them have always bonded over guard. Because Hannah and Sarah Katherine have always been closer in age, this opportunity to compete and support each other, has given them a new closeness and made them appreciate the support they get from each other even more."

BreakRanksJacksonville Harrison and James F. Byrnes

 

Student Feature: One Core. One Family

Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:45 Written by Erin Fortune
Today's student feature guest blog is from Annette Kukunas! Annette has attended the Music for All Summer Symposium for a few years now, but was part of the inaugural class of the Bands of America Drum Major Institute last year! We are so thankful that Annette shared her thoughts about the experience with us and allowed us to share those thoughts with all of you!
AnnetteUniform
My name is Annette Kukunas. Last fall, I entered my senior year and second year as sole drum major of my high school band in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had attended the Summer Symposium the year before and really had a positively life-changing experience. The minute I left camp I knew I wanted to come back the next year. During the year after my first Summer Symposium, I heard that the MFA camp would have a new drum major training curriculum. It was a difficult decision to put my faith in something that was completely new. Using what I had learned, I decided to have an open mind and take a chance with DMI. I was anxious about what the new camp would bring.

One of the first days at camp for Leadership Weekend last summer I saw Scott Lang at breakfast and stopped to say hello. He introduced me to Bobby Lambert, the Drum Major Institute coordinator, and made me feel more comfortable. Bobby explained that things would be a little different this year, but I responded confidently that I was interested in learning new things in new ways. However, looking back on this, I know that wasn't exactly truthful. I felt fairly confident in my leadership skills and my conducting, as I had spent two previous years conducting and in a leadership position. I was expecting to review most of what I already knew and maybe learn a few new tips.
 
At the first session of DMI, I knew I was completely wrong. We started conducting immediately (something I LOVED) and I was amazed by the talent of the staff before us. I could tell that this week would be something I would not forget. I thank Bobby and the rest of the DMI staff for starting new traditions and letting us be apart of that. Every veteran I talked to, except for one, agreed that we enjoyed what and how we learned this year more than last. Everyone else agreed it was hard to imagine a better camp.

photo 7AnnetteSaluteCROPPEDOn the first day I also noticed the necklaces that the staff and SWAGs wore. I couldn't help but wonder what they symbolized. When they were handed out to the squad leaders, I couldn't be more excited. The necklaces reminded me of something drum corps members wear and how connected they all are. I know that wherever I may be, if I ever see an arrow, it will remind me of the amazing week I had at DMI, and every person I meet that wears a similar necklace will have shared this week with me and is a part of our family. I can't put into words what I think every time I catch a glimpse of the piece of metal around my neck.
 
DMI has changed my outlook on so many things. I have not only become a better drum major, but more importantly, I have become a better person. I want to thank Bobby and the Drum Major Institute staff for providing 385 high school students with a positively life-changing experience that will not be forgotten. There are so many things I have taken back to my band. We now have a new tradition for training for our next drum major and we'll be sending them to the Bands of America Drum Major Institute. Hopefully in the next year or two, I will also be attending as a SWAG and will get to join in from a different perspective.
 
I am so confident that someday DMI will be revered by drum majors across the country and that the 386 students in the inaugural class will be envied for being able to create of the traditions that will still be present. Thank you for demanding excellence from every single one of us. I don't think I've ever felt closer to such a large group of virtual strangers. It's crazy to think that in only a week, Bobby and the DMI staff transformed us into such amazing people.
 
 
One Core. One Family.
 
Sincerely,
 
Annette Kukunas
BOA Drum Major Institute 2013
Yellow 4, Squad 1

AnnetteSquad

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