We’re staying in the 90’s for Throwback Thursday this week, honoring the Lassiter H.S. Trojan Marching Band and their director for more than 30 years, Alfred Watkins. At their third ever Grand National appearance, the Lassiter band won the 1998 Bands of America Grand National Championship. The 1998 event marked the beginning of the 12-band finals tradition that continues today at Grand Nationals.
Utilizing Jerry Goldsmith’s music from the 1975 film “The Wind and the Lion,” Lassiter enchanted the RCA Dome crowd with virtuosic woodwind runs and a beautiful Oboe solo. Just watching the show again today on MFA Video, I was blown away by the incredible student achievement, even 15 years later.
The tradition of achievement continued at Lassiter H.S. for many years under the baton of Alfred Watkins, even earning a second Grand National Championship in 2002. The Lassiter band not only enjoyed success on the marching band field, but also in the auditorium, attending the National Concert Band Festival three times and the Midwest Clinic four times. The Lassiter band received the Sudler Shield for Marching Excellence and the Sudler Flag of Honor, and Alfred Watkins was inducted into the BOA Hall of Fame in 2008.
Watkins has also trained many of the finest music educators at clinics across the nation such as the MFA Summer Symposium and as educators in his program at Lassiter. Dr. Catherine Sinon Bushman served as an assistant director at Lassiter from 1998 - 2007. She has just joined the faculty of the St. Cloud State University Department of Music and will even be adjudicating at the Texas Dairy Queen® Bands of America Regional Championship at Dallas-Fort Worth this weekend!
Alfred Watkins retired from Lassiter H.S. this past spring, and the Lassiter Band produced an incredible video highlighting his impact on music education in Lassiter, Cobb County, Georgia and the nation.
This Throwback Thursday, we're going back to 1996! The 1996 Grand National Championships marked an important change for the Bands of America event: the Championship expanded to a three-day format, featuring 80 marching bands at the RCA Dome. For the first time, Grand Nationals included three rounds of competition: prelims, semi-finals and finals.
At the Grand National Finale on Saturday evening, a new Grand National Champion was named: the Lake Park High School Marching Band from Roselle, Illinois! Under the direction of Bands of America Hall of Fame member Kenneth Snoeck, the Lake Park H.S. Band performed their show "Queen of Spades." Here are a few Lake Park band members, breaking ranks to celebrate their incredible achievement!
Do you have a Grand Nationals experience you would like to share? We'd love to hear it; share in the comments below!
As an avid fan of the Music for All blog, (we know everyone currently reading is a subscriber. No? Well what are you waiting for?) you probably know all about the Directors’ Academy and what is has to offer.
But JUST in case you don’t know about the sessions offered at Summer Symposium FOR DIRECTORS- I’m going to tell you about it. (And even if you think you know, humor me and read this post? It helps my self-esteem when my work gets read; my ego thanks you in advance.) ☺
First of all, the Summer Symposium really is an amazing opportunity. It brings you the absolute best to provide a comprehensive experience. It truly is a TOTAL experience, with something for every band director: high school and middle school, from the most experienced to the younger teacher at the start of his or her career. Music for All offers tools that will allow you to achieve peak performance for your ensembles and yourself. The Symposium is the place to get a head start on next year’s thinking. It’s a place to make connections, get new ideas and learn new strategies.
At the Music for All Summer Symposium Directors’ Academy, you get:
• Control of your own experience
• The Cavaliers in Residence
• Peer-to-Peer Networking
• Professional Development
• Dream Team Faculty
• Great Facilities
• One-on-one directors’ lounge: personal consultation with the masters
• Universal Pedagogy for Schools Small and Large, Suburban, Rural and Urban
• Nightly concerts
• An opportunity to play in the Directors’ Band
• And everyone’s favorite part: Director Socials in the evening!
Now I realize that everything I just told you is a very general overview and you are probably still reading this and thinking, “But WHAT will I really be learning in sessions at camp? Is it worth it?”
Well, I can tell you that we have directors from all different backgrounds and school sizes who come back to camp year after year. And if those directors were sitting across from you today they would all absolutely tell you it’s worth it.
But don’t take it from me- hear it from those directors themselves!
We know sometimes it’s hard to make a case for attending a workshop/convention/camp without first knowing exactly what sessions will be available. Maybe you are looking to brush up on new technology, talk with someone about your marching band show design, or just looking for a chance to play your instrument and hear new music coming out in the next year. Well, we understand that completely! Here's the full, tentative schedule of sessions for the 2013 Directors' Academy!
You can also watch a collection of featured Directors’ sessions on the MusicforAlltv YouTube channel:
Don’t forget- if you are a Color Guard or Percussion Instructor, there are specialized tracks within the Directors’ Academy for you!
So make sure you register today and I'll see you in Muncie in just a few weeks. Make sure you stop by headquarters and say hi and tell me about your camp experience!
Today's blog is written by Erin Fortune, Music for All's Participant Relations Coordinator.
It’s hard to believe that it is already Friday of camp week. What an exciting week it has been. We saw nearly 1,000 students and directors on the campus of Ball State – all eager to share ideas, learn and come together in support of music making. Today, as I cover the MFA Headquarters, answering questions and phone calls from directors, clinicians, students and parents; I think about how awesome it is to be here in Muncie, Indiana and a part of this camp.
Yesterday was definitely a busy day for me but it was also one of the best. The morning was spent running around getting prepared for the Tournament of Roses® BOA Honor Band Luncheon, where we brought together currently accepted students and students who were interested in applying to be a part of the band. It was pretty amazing to see that we have 21 students at camp who will be joining us for the parade in January!
Some people don’t realize, but in addition to the 7 student tracks we have at camp we also offer a Directors’ Track and Color Guard Instructor Academy. Throughout the week, the directors can choose from different sessions to attend like “Competition and the Instrumental Program” by Joe Allison and Amanda Drinkwater, “iPad Apps for Band and Beyond!” by Robert W. Smith, and “Exploring Show Concepts in Design” by Michael Gray, Lee Carlson, Alfred Watkins, and David Vandewalker. One highlight of my day is the director and clinician lunch that I get to attend daily. I love talking with directors about the sessions they have been attending.
After lunch I was able to escape headquarters long enough to go check in on some student tracks. The color guard moved inside to escape the heat in the afternoon so they were doing some staging for their final show in the Sports Complex. The SWAGs in the color guard track have had “theme days,” and yesterday’s theme just happened to be Princess Day, which is my favorite day of the week! When I arrived, they already had a sash made for me that said “Princess Erin,” and they gave me a crown and a wand! They definitely have fun over in the color guard area of camp!
Later in the day I decided to go over to Emens Auditorium a little early to try to catch part of the Time for Three rehearsal. I’m going to forewarn you that I will absolutely GUSH about Time for Three. I think they are amazing! But on my way to check their rehearsal out, I got distracted by what I heard coming out of the University Theatre’s door that was ajar. I was really curious about what I was hearing so I wandered over to that stage and found out that the Directors’ Concert Band was rehearsing. It was pretty neat to see the directors in the seats where their students typically sit, and it was great to see them conducted by the one and only Alfred Watkins. They also sounded fantastic, and I ended up staying to watch longer than I had anticipated!
By the time I was done listening in on the director’s band, the Time for Three rehearsal was almost over. The Orchestra Track students were sitting in the audience, and you could tell they were very excited! Prior to this, the Orchestra Track had a few rehearsals with Time for Three’s Nick Kendall so they already knew a little bit of what was in store for them during the evening concert.
The evening concert opened with a wonderful tribute by Music for All’s CEO Eric Martin for Dr. Margot Lacy Eccles, a supporter and frequent patron of the arts, Time for Three, and Music for All. Dr. Eccles passed away earlier this week. Mr. Martin reminded us that our life is the dash between birth and death, and that we should all strive to have the type of “dash” that Dr. Eccles had.
After this touching tribute, the Time for Three concert opened with the playing of their new music video, and anti-bullying message, “Stronger,” an arrangement of Kanye West's “Stronger” and Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” and “Nightvision.” Here is what Time for Three says about this music video on their YouTube channel:
“We are Time for Three, and this is our story -- the story of so many kids who every day face challenges to who they are and who they want to be: their dreams, their ambitions, their identity. This video is for you guys. Be strong. Stick with it. We did, and we are stronger for it. http://www.tf3.com”
As someone who has seen the video several times I knew what to expect, but I have a feeling that the majority of the students in the audience had never seen the video before. It was shockingly quiet as the video played, which still astounds me because how do you get nearly 1,000 high school students in one room to be silent? But when the video comes to an end, and the student featured in the video is playing at his school’s talent show, every single student started clapping in unison with the audience in the video. You can find the music video for “Stronger” here.
Time for Three then came out and wowed the audience with their impressive style and passion for improvisation, composing and arranging – all prime elements of the ensemble’s playing. They transcend traditional classification, with elements of classical, country western, gypsy and jazz idioms forming a blend all its own. Time for Three is Zachary (Zach) De Pue, violin; Nicolas (Nick) Kendall, violin; and Ranaan Meyer, double bass who met at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.
Time for Three played many selections, including arrangements of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.” The energy in the auditorium was electric, as Nick Kendall from Time for Three mentioned on several occasions.
“It’s awesome to play for other musicians, no, performers, who really listen,” Kendall said. “We get our energy from the energy you are giving to us.”
Last night I was in awe watching Time for Three, as I usually am when I see them perform, but my favorite thing about Time for Three is their passion and dedication to music education and the next generation.
Time for Three invited the 2012 Music for All Orchestra Track on stage with them to perform their last two pieces, “Hymn” (which Time for Three dedicated to Dr. Eccles) and “Orange Blossom Special.” The students received the music at the beginning of camp and have been working on these two, in addition to the pieces they will be performing during Saturday’s concert. Seeing their faces as they performed with Time for Three was awesome, and I’m sure the reaction from the audience made each and every one of those student’s nights. I know I was incredibly proud of them all.
After the concert I headed to the Vic Firth reception and got the chance to hear the Directors’ Jazz Band, and they were also incredible! It was awesome to see and talk with Vic Firth himself, who was in town for Summer Symposium.
As busy as yesterday was it ended in such a positive way that I couldn’t help but smile the whole way back to my dorm room as I thought about the day and all of the people I had the chance to talk with. Thank you to all of the students, SWAGs, directors, and fellow staff members that made my Thursday wonderful. Thank you to Time for Three, the Orchestra Track, and the directors’ bands for making me smile while watching their performances. I’m looking forward to joining the students and directors at the DCI show tonight and can’t wait for another awesome evening at camp!
-Erin Fortune, Participant Relations Coordinator at Music for All
Day two of the full week MFA Summer Symposium is coming to a close, and we’ve had a great start to camp! Today in the afternoon, I was able to take a break from my responsibilities in our staff headquarters to head out and watch some sessions.
First, I walked over to the quad to observe color guard students in their Equipment Technique and Repertoire teams. Students were rehearsing in small groups for their final performance on Saturday. I walked across the quad and stopped to watch several groups, including two groups tossing flags and another learning a dance routine. One group was working with flags and practicing a lyrical section of their routine, which was quite beautiful to watch.
I stopped to chat with two students during one of their water breaks. I asked Whitney, a student from Kansas, if she was enjoying her experience at Summer Symposium. She said yes, and I asked what she enjoyed the most. “Everything! It’s just all fun,” Whitney said.
I also chatted with Edyn, a second-year camper from Ohio. I asked if she could give me some details about what they were working on. “It’s a dance and routine for our show-and-tell performance on Saturday,” she said.
“It’s nice to see [and meet] these people,” Edyn said. “Since I live quite a long way away from most.”
Edyn lives in Ohio, and she said she has made friends with several students who live in Michigan.
I observed for a couple more minutes as one of the small flag groups performed a full sequence from their routine to music. Then I decided to visit the Directors’ Academy for a little while.
I walked over to sit in on a session with Mark Buselli, Jazz Band Division Coordinator and Director of Jazz Studies at Ball State University. I made it in time for the second half of his session, and he was deep in conversation with the attendees. This session was smaller and more intimate, which allowed directors the chance to truly have in-depth conversations about their individual situations.
The session was called “Preparing Your Band for a Jazz Festival,” and Buselli chatted with the directors present to give advice and answer questions about how to improve their respective jazz programs.
One high school director participant was discussing how she has volunteered to work with a middle school jazz program. It has definitely added a lot to her plate, but it was clear from the conversation that it’s important to her that the program not only stays alive, but also thrives.
“At first when you said you volunteered, I thought, ‘oh, this poor girl,’” Buselli said. “But, then I thought – that’s your feeder school, that’s brilliant! I think you’re very smart and on the right track.”
Buselli was very encouraging and helpful as he discussed the unique situations each of these teachers faces in their day-to-day work. He also talked about why teaching can be so satisfying, and it was inspiring to see the excitement in his face, and hear it in his voice, as he discussed this.
“As a teacher, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t care what level I teach, I teach to see the process,” Buselli said. “Young students – you can see so much progress over a short amount of time.”
Buselli also talked about the concept of active listening versus passive listening. He discussed an exercise teachers can use in the classroom. Buselli said to take five minutes of focused time and ask, “What is the bass player doing? How is the horn interacting with the piano player?” This is a way to focus on active listening and help students see that there’s more going on than just background music.
I took a moment at the end of the session to thank Mr. Buselli, and he also passed along a handout with some words I enjoyed reading. I left with these words in hand and contemplated them for a while today so it seems appropriate to leave them with you as well:
The Sweetness of Music
“As we approach a new century and a changing international economic climate, we think that scientific and technological education should be our highest priority. And yet these fields, at least the way they are practiced today, only tangentially affect the heart and soul, where morality and values are rooted, while music goes right to the heart.
Studying music, one learns about talent, thought, work, expression, beauty, technique, collaboration, aesthetic judgment, inspiration, taste, and a host of other elements that shape life in all its aspects. As we learn to control our fingers, lips, and breath in making music, subliminally, music is shaping us, making us people of sensitivity and judgment.”
-From Thomas Moore’s 1996 book: The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life
Congratulations to Josh Torres, named Center Grove High School's Teacher of the Year. I've personally enjoyed watching Josh's successes and growth as a music educator, percussionist and, recently, as a father. Congratulations, Josh!
Read the story on the Center Grove Community Newsletter:
The 2012 American Bandmasters Association Convention is now taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Music for All offices. We want to let you know about some great performances that will be taking place February 29 - March 3.
Here is some information about the concerts happening this week as part of the convention:
Wednesday, Feb. 29 - 8 p.m.
Purdue University Symphonic Band; Ball State University Wind Ensemble
Thursday, March 1 - 8 p.m.
Michigan State University Wind Symphony; Indiana University Wind Ensemble
Friday March 2 - 8 p.m.
United States Army Field Band (The concert is free but tickets are required.*)
Saturday, March 3 - 2 p.m.
Butler University Wind Ensemble
We welcome the national convention of the American Bandmasters Association to Indianapolis. Each concert will feature some of the country's finest wind bands under the batons of an array of the world's finest conductors. All concerts are free and open to the public.
*For Field Band tickets contact the Clowes Hall Box Office, purchase tickets online at ticketmaster.com or call 1-800-982-2787. For more information visit cloweshall.org.
|Download Butler University's American Bandmasters Association Flyer - click here.||
Download the United States Army Field Band Poster - click here.
Visit americanbandmasters.org for more information about the convention. Don't miss out on this opportunity to see and hear some great performances!
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.