One of the most entertaining parts of the Music for All National Festival each year is the Jazz Band of America concert on Friday evening. Since it's creation in 2007, jazz greats such as Patti Austin, Shelly Berg, Wayne Bergeron, Ndugu Chancler, John Clayton, Dr. Lou Fischer, Luke Gillespie, Wycliffe Gordon, Ron McCurdy, Jeff Rupert, Stan Smith and Phil Woods have jammed alongside some of the most talented high school jazz musicians in the country. Today, we're looking back to that very first Jazz Band of America concert in 2007, which featured the legendary Wynton Marsalis.
Wynton Marsalis with the 2007 Jazz Band of America
The 2007 Festival marked the first year the event was named the "Music for All National Festival," combining the honor ensembles, National Concert Band Festival, National Percussion Festival and Orchestra America National Festival under one spectacular and educational experience for thousands of students. To celebrate the creation of the Jazz Band of America, Music for All welcomed conductor Ron McCurdy and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis to lead the ensemble at Clowes Memorial Hall. The talented young musicians also had the unique opportunity of opening for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. You can watch a clip from the 2007 performance of the Jazz Band of America below.
The experience of performing with Wynton Marsalis and witnessing the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra firsthand had a lasting and life-changing experience for the participants. Many of the young musicians of the 2007 Jazz Band of America have gone on to study jazz in college and perform on some of the greatest stages for jazz. Last month, the tenor saxophone soloist in the above video, Paul Melhus, appeared on an episode of NPR Music.
This year, Music for All welcomes Yamaha Artist and music educator, producer and author Caleb Chapman to lead the Jazz Band of America. Trombonist Robin Eubanks will be the featured soloist for the Friday evening concert. Click here to learn more about the 2014 MFA National Festival and purchase tickets. On March 29, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will return to Clowes Memorial Hall with the rest of the Marsalis family for a special Clowes Hall 50th Anniversary event. You can visit cloweshall.org for more information.
Seth Williams is the Advocacy 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.
Today's guest post is from Caleb Chapman, award-winning performer, author, music educator and producer and the 2014 Conductor of the Jazz Band of America, part of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha.
I have been blessed to have many fantastic mentors in my path to become the musician and educator I am today. Two of my absolute favorites are the legendary John Clayton and Dr. Lou Fischer. So, you can imagine how much of an honor it was when I was invited to follow both of them as director of MFA’s Jazz Band of America!
MFA has asked for me to describe a bit about my approach to directing a big band. While there are dozens of philosophies I espouse, there are two that immediately jump to mind.
Improvisation Defines Even Big Band Jazz
It is becoming harder and harder to identify what styles of music fall under the umbrella of jazz. But to me, the one constant is the element of improvisation. While many people associate this strictly with soloists, I love to carry it over into the actual performance by the big band as a whole.
As a matter of fact, as a director, I love to “play” the band like an instrument. I actually practice directing in the same way I do my sax, and take it just as seriously. Changing the dynamics of a section or the form of a chart on the spot creates a spontaneous excitement that the audience can feel. Altering the feel or texture behind a soloist creates new sonic environments to explore. The musicians become engaged at a much higher level than simply playing notes on a page.
While not squarely in the jazz wheelhouse, I had the opportunity to see this in action with a different type of band last week when I got to hang with Dave Matthews and my very good friend, GRAMMY-winning saxophonist, Jeff Coffin, at the Dave Matthews Band’s Utah concert. As I was watching the show from backstage, I was given in-ear monitors that allowed for a unique concert experience as I could hear everything the band said to one another during the show.
It was exciting to watch as Dave would change the form of the tunes on the spot, stretching solos or vamping. Drummer Carter Beauford would frequently give audible cues on how many hits the band would play. And the horn section of Jeff and Rashawn Ross would improvise backing figures for the soloists.
All of these elements kept the musicians on stage focused and playing at their highest level, creating a performance for the audience that night that will never be replicated in exactly the same way – a gift to the 17,000+ plus in attendance. That is the beauty of improvised music!
Chasing the Perfect Performance
One of my musical heroes, saxophonist Branford Marsalis said, “Humans are imperfect… We’re on the quest for the perfect performance and every note has to be right. Man, every note is not right in life.” While I agree that there will never be a perfect performance, I don’t think that should keep us from trying! I think because of its perceived loose nature, too often big band music doesn’t receive the diligent attention its classical big brother does. In actuality, there is absolutely nothing casual about a big band performance!
We all want to have the treasured “tight” band. One challenge has been that there is currently no universally accepted method to approaching the notated jazz language. I'm sure other big band directors can agree: it is critical that every musician on the bandstand interpret the charts the exact same way. Over the years, I collected some standard practices to approaching articulation, which has helped my students become unified while playing. This has made a huge difference because it allowed my students follow some key rules so that we can afford the space to improvise and play "within the lines" (Jeff Coffin and I recently published these methods in our book, "The Articulate Jazz Musician").
Once the language is defined, the other aspects of the music can be tackled. As they say, the devil IS in the details. Polishing dynamics, intonation, and groove allow the music to be played as the composers were envisioning. THAT is the difference between a pro band and a student ensemble, not the age level of the musicians. Is it possible to have high school aged musicians play like pros? Absolutely! Our Crescent Super Band here in Utah made up entirely of musicians ages 15-18 has been named Utah’s “Best Professional Band” in any style for 8 years running.
Directing a big band is one of the most fulfilling challenges in music education and getting the students motivated, challenged, and consistent is truly the best part. One of my favorite moments during a show is when the set is coming to a close and the band is at its peak energy. There really is no other experience in my life that quite compares with it! I am excited to be part MFA’s Jazz Band of America and can't wait to work with the talented musicians in this amazing ensemble. See you in Indianapolis!
Caleb Chapman is an award-winning performer, author, music educator and producer. For more information on Caleb's projects and educational innovations visit CalebChapmanMusic.com.
When I was in high school, I always looked forward to the beginning of a new school year. There were pristine pads of paper, a Technicolor rainbow of brand new pens and fresh folders just begging for a doodle or two. There were new things to learn and a locker to decorate and fill with books. All of my color guard friends and I were still excited about what we had learned at band camp, knowing we would get the opportunity to show off soon. The year was filled with possibility and it was mine to shape.
With all the hustle and bustle that accompanies the start of school, it can be easy to get caught up in what needs to be done NOW. The marching season looms large for many of us and concert band season can seem like a distant dream. But it’s not too early to plan. Planning starts today for tomorrow's experiences.
You’re on stage, squinting past the lights to see if you recognize anyone in the audience. Your instrument is tuned, your music is open and you are ready. People who’ve become lifelong friends in the span of 5 days surround you and the nervous energy sounds like an electric buzz. The hours you have spent in sectionals, master classes and full rehearsals have all led to this moment. The conductor enters to applause, you sit up a little bit straighter, the baton raises and it begins.
That is the experience of participating in a Music for All Honor Ensemble, and that kind of life-changing experience really begins long before you set foot in the J.W. Marriott hotel in Indianapolis in March 2014. It begins long before the acceptance letters are put in the mail in November. It even begins before the September 15 application deadline. That experience starts TODAY. It starts when you fill out an application to be part of one of the Music for All National Honor Ensembles.
So as you crack open that new bottle of valve oil, restring your bow, pick up some fresh reeds; enjoy it. Savor this time when possibilities abound. But also take the time to learn more about the Music for All Honor Ensemble experience. Once you know more, the next step will be clear. Don't put off till tomorrow what can be done today. Apply for the Honor Band, Honor Orchestra or Jazz Band of America. Start making memories.
Music for All is proud to announce that Caleb Chapman will be the 2014 Jazz Band of America conductor! Caleb's incredibly unique combination of skills as a producer, educator, author, and performer have marked him as a rising star in the music industry. We are very excited that Caleb will be sharing his talents with the 2014 Jazz Band of America this March in Indianapolis.
Already know about Caleb Chapman and can't wait for the opportunity to work with him this March? Don't wait! Send your application in today to be a part of the 2014 Jazz Band of America. You can find the application and audition requirements here on the Music for All website.
Want to know more about Caleb? Read on!
As the President of Caleb Chapman Music, Caleb oversees nearly 200 of Utah’s most talented musicians in thirteen elite ensembles, including the Crescent Super Band, which has frequently been hailed as one of the best professional bands in the world to be comprised entirely of young talent.
Caleb’s groups have been featured at many of the world’s most prestigious music festivals including appearances in The Netherlands, Mexico, Switzerland, France, Sweden, and Italy. Caleb’s bands are so well recognized, the Crescent Super Band easily filled the world's most famous concert venue - Carnegie Hall - in their debut performance there in May of 2013. The bands have also performed with nearly 200 guest artists, including Grammy-winners David Sanborn, Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Peter Erskine, Kurt Elling, Gordon Goodwin, Wayne Bergeron, Dave Weckl, Nicholas Payton, Jeff Coffin, Eric Marienthal, Ernie Watts, and Bob Mintzer. They have been featured with musicians from such recognizable bands as Journey, Dave Matthews Band, the Neon Trees, Steve Miller Band, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Tower of Power, Genesis, the Saturday Night Live Band, and many others. Additionally, his bands have received national airplay on Sirius XM.
In the last 8 years Caleb’s bands have been honored with 22 DownBeat Awards. The Crescent Super Band has also won eight consecutive “Best of State” awards for Utah and twice won the prestigious Best of State Statue Award identifying Caleb’s program as the top organization in Arts and Entertainment in Utah, beating out every other professional music, arts, and film organization in the state for the honor.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert presented Caleb with the prestigious 2013 “Governor’s Performing Artist Award”, given to one artist annually for significant contributions to art in Utah.
In 2011, Caleb was named the “John LaPorta International Jazz Educator of the Year”, one of the highest honors in music education. Age 37 at the time, he was by far the youngest to ever receive this honor. Additionally, Caleb has been named Utah’s “Best Educator” (2011) and “Best Music Educator” (2012) by Utah Best of State.
Caleb is a finalist for the first ever "GRAMMY Music Educator Award" which will be presented in 2014. In 2007 he was honored as the inaugural inductee into the Horne School of Music Hall of Fame and received the “Superior Accomplishment in Music Award” from the Utah Music Educators Association. He is the 2006 recipient of the KUER FM90 “Voice of Jazz Award”. He currently serves as Vice President on the Board of the Jazz Education Network (JEN), the world's leading organization for jazz education and advocacy.
Caleb has been invited to direct several All State Jazz Bands and will be conducting the prestigious Jazz Band of America at the Music for All National Festival in March of 2014. He has performed and presented at the famed Midwest Clinic. He has presented clinics at music festivals accross the country and is in high demand as a guest speaker and presenter.
In addition to his position at Caleb Chapman Music, Caleb serves as Music Academy Director at the innovative Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts, one of the nation's leading charter schools dedicated to the arts.
Caleb's book, "The Articulate Jazz Musician", written with Dave Matthews Band saxophonist and multi-GRAMMY winner, Jeff Coffin, was released by Alfred Publishing in January of 2013. He has also written for Hal Leonard Publishing and JAZZed Magazine, and has a regular column, "Sound Thinking" which is published monthly by the Daily Herald newspaper.
Caleb is an active saxophonist. He is a fixture in the Utah scene and has appeared with artists as varied as GRAMMY-winning bassist, Christian McBride and Neon Trees frontman, Tyler Glenn. He has performed the National Anthem on solo saxophone at NBA games for the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, the Denver Nuggets, and the Utah Jazz. His playing is featured on recordings by dozens of artists, including the GRAMMY-winning DJ, Kaskade.
Caleb is a featured clinician and sponsored performer for Yamaha Saxophones.
Check out this video where Caleb describes his style as a music educator and why he believes music education is important!
Learn more about the Jazz Band of America here. The Jazz Band of America is one of three prestigious honor ensembles that are a part of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. The 2014 festival will take place March 6-8 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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).
Performing 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.
2013 YYPA WINNERS:
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.
Luke 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 2013 YYPA Concert Performers
YYPA 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,
http://usa.yamaha.com/music_education/yypa, to learn more and apply.
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.
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
It’s hard to believe it’s already Wednesday evening of the Music for All Summer Symposium! Tonight, I had the opportunity to listen to the jazz students’ dress rehearsal with the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra in Emens Auditorium, prior to their performance this evening.
I was very impressed with the sheer enthusiasm of the ensemble. The combination of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra and all the jazz track students on stage was definitely impressive as well – they spanned almost the entire length of the stage, creating quite an impressive sound.
As I watched Mark Buselli rehearse the ensemble, he had so much energy and enthusiasm that the students couldn’t help but be enthusiastic as well. View this video of the dress rehearsal to learn more.
After the jazz dress rehearsal, I was excited to discover I had enough time to run across the street to the Music Instruction Building to catch the last half of the orchestra students’ Chamber Orchestra Rehearsal with Time for Three’s Nick Kendall.
The groundbreaking, category-shattering trio Time for Three transcends traditional classification, with elements of classical, country western, gypsy and jazz idioms forming a blend all its own. The members -- Zachary (Zach) De Pue, violin; Nicolas (Nick) Kendall, violin; and Ranaan Meyer, double bass -- carry a passion for improvisation, composing and arranging, all prime elements of the ensemble’s playing. Tf3 sets itself apart not only with its varied repertoire performed with astonishing technical acuity, but also through its approach. Its high-energy performances are free of conventional practices, drawing instead from the members’ differing musical backgrounds. The trio also performs its own arrangements of traditional repertoire and Ranaan Meyer provides original compositions to complement the trio’s offerings.
The trio also passes along strong, positive messages to young people. Their video, Stronger, relays the following message: “Be stronger, achieve your dreams, fight against bullies or WHATEVER strong force is against you.” You can view this video here.
As Kendall worked with the orchestra students on a piece called Hymn, he instructed students to play with feeling and really try to get into it.
“You guys can really just move with the music,” Kendall said. “If musicians look like [they’re thinking] ‘why am I here,’ it’s a waste of the audience’s time…believe in the moment and enjoy the harmonies.”
The results were immediate, and I watched students incorporate movement and really get into the emotional nature of the music, which was very lyrical and expressive. View a video from rehearsal here.
As the students rehearsed the next piece, Orange Blossom Special, Kendall instructed the students to put as much enthusiasm and energy into the piece as they possibly could in order to truly get as much out of the musical experience as possible. I watched the students giving it their all, even so late in the day at almost 7:30 p.m. It was inspiring to see them working so hard to achieve a musical goal.
As rehearsal came to a close, I chatted for a second with Clarice, a student from Indiana. I asked her what it was like working with Nick Kendall.
“It was different,” she said. “A lot of new things – we learned some improv, and it was fun!”
Right now, students are enjoying the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra concert at Emens Auditorium, and the jazz students will be performing on stage for a couple pieces that are part of this concert. And, orchestra students have a special immersion performance on stage with Time for Three tomorrow, June 28, at 8 p.m. at Emens Auditorium.
These special immersion performances give students an opportunity to learn and absorb important musical lessons that I feel also translate to significant life lessons.
I found this text on Time for Three’s website, as part of the description for their video I described above, and I think the philosophy and thought behind it make perfect sense:
“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.”
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
Today, Music for All published a series of interesting, often moving video stories from the 2012 Music for All National Festival and honor ensembles. During the event, we interviewed members of the honor ensembles and the conductors. Marry those interviews with behind the scenes video from rehearsals and outstanding performance footage and you have a series of compelling stories that really gives you a feel for the experience of these national honor ensembles for high school musicians.
I hope you'll take some time to watch these stories, compiled in the 2012 Festival playlist on our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9E3C2BF94BCF2F27&;feature=plcp
Videos include of the Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America and Jazz Band of America. The playlist also includes a feature on the experience for the invited ensembles, highlights from the string master class with Time for Three's Nick Kendall, the Opening Session video and the banquet keynote address from Mr. Eric L. Martin, President and CEO of Music for All.
I hope you enjoy and share!
Debbie Laferty Asbill, Music for All
The third annual Jazz Education Network Conference, January 4-7, Louisville, KY, is calling for submission of research papers related to the conference theme, Developing Tomorrow's Jazz Audiences Today!
The Jazz Education Network is a Strategic Partner of Music for All. Read the complete information and submission guidelines.