For many, knowledge of classical music is limited to compositions written by historic composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Tchaikovsky. While these composers are pioneers who will never be forgotten, the Ahn Trio, a group performing at Music for All’s Summer Symposium, has found a new way to take classical concepts and transform them into exciting original compositions for a more mainstream and modern audience. This ensemble has found a way to reach an eclectic audience across several genres by using unique violin, viola and piano styles in addition to collaborations with an array of pop singers, DJs, electronic music artists, photographers and dancers.
As I’ve been listening to the group’s album “Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac” all morning, I can’t help but to be thoroughly impressed by the creativity that this group exhibits. It’s no wonder they’ve been invited to play in all 50 states, over 30 countries and for some of the most influential world leaders such as President Obama and South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak. They’ve even performed as part of the TEDWomen talk series, showcasing their passion for music while exemplifying the qualities of driven, talented women.
I love how this trio’s performances take you on a musical journey as a group but each of the sisters has their own style that is distinctive and magical. It’s hard to miss how in-tune (music pun) they are with one another, but also how they play into their own strengths to create the best sound.
Professionally trained at the Julliard School of Music, Korean-born sisters Lucia (piano), Maria (cello) and Angella (violin) officially formed the Ahn Trio in 1989. Since, the group has been recognized globally by publications such as Time magazine, where they were featured as “Asian-American Whiz Kids,” in People magazine where they were named three of the “50 Most Beautiful People” and in the Los Angeles Times as a “dynamically flexible sound that gets us thinking about the bonding power of family.”
I can’t wait to listen to the Ahn Trio perform at the 2015 Summer Symposium on Thursday, June 26 in Emens Auditorium at Ball State University!
To learn more about the Music for All Summer Symposium and to register, please visit http://www.musicforall.org/what-we-do/summer-camp. Hope to see you there!
Returning students to the Bands of America Drum Major Institute put their leadership skills to the test today with a new challenge: The Marble Exercise. In addition to conducting and score study classes at the Symposium, drum major participants build and improve leadership qualities important to marching band leaders. Teambuilding exercises that expose leaders and move them outside their comfort zone are important in ensuring that drum majors can lead and empower in almost any situation.
In a group of 20, students received a piece of paper folded in half and one marble, which they were required to roll from one point, 25 feet out and around back to the original point using only the folded sheets of paper. Group members lined up their folded paper and attempted to move the marble down the line. After the marble passed through their paper, the participant would then have to move to the end of the line, helping the marble advance further. At first, the marble moved very quickly, students were unable to react in time and the marble fell soon after. Participants then realized that they would need to carefully control the pace of the marble, especially when it reached a curve in the track.
Throughout the exercise, some students because visibly frustrated, while others keep encouraging and supporting others. Many had simple phrases to help their fellow participants remember tactics they had agreed on, such as “Stay with your partner,” or “Keep your shoulders out.” After several tries and some discussion, the group was able to successfully roll the marble through the entire track. While many cheered at the distance they achieved, several even wanted to go further and keep improving.
Like the brick exercise and other leadership activities that the drum majors participate in, the Marble Exercise is applicable to their own program. The marble, like their band, does not stop rolling. Leadership must utilize control, make adjustments along the way and communicate constantly to ensure that the ensemble does not falter and fall. When the marble fell and the participants failed, they had to get up and try again, and keep encouraging the others in their group. While applicable to a lot in life, the nonstop rolling reflects the fast-paced nature of marching band. From band camp to daily rehearsals to competitions, you cannot allow yourself or fellow members fall off the wagon. If so, they’ll not only be behind, but also be discouraged.
“When you go back to your own program, I charge you to find a way to make a flame,” said DMI faculty member Kim Shuttlesworth. Drum majors must empower their band members to be passionate about the ensemble. They must create a supporting family environment, where students can be honest, caring and respectful of each other. Just one of many exercises throughout the week, the Marble Exercise helped students realize the importance of group encouragement and teamwork in a larger group. At the end of the day, the marble keeps rolling, and you must adjust.
Greetings from the Music for All Summer Symposium! After a successful Leadership Weekend Experience, all 1,200 students and directors are now on campus to begin the weeklong summer music camp at Ball State University. Like we have covered in this blog previously, demonstrating examples of music's impact on children through "advocacy in action" is a great way to support your music program and ensure that music education remains a core component of scholastic education. We'll be sharing inspiring stories all week on the MFA Blog and MFA social media pages, so stay connected! And now back to this week's news in music education and advocacy:
NAfME members will be in Washington, D.C. later this week advocating for federal support of music education and STEAM. On June 26, NAfME, in cooperation with the Congressional STEAM Caucus, will host "Music Education Powers STEAM." The STEAM Caucus was created by Rep. Susan Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) last year to promote the arts as an integral part of scholastic education, alongside science, technology, engineering and math.
At the John K. Lazares Alternative School near Lebanon, Ohio, had the unique opportunity to fuse music and science instruction by learning how to build an electric guitar. Local college, Sinclair Community College, participated in a National Science Foundation-funded project that encourages science study through music. “Students relate to guitars, and they see the relevance of their STEM education classes as they get real, hands-on experience," said Thomas Singer, head of the STEM Guitar Project. By providing the project in a school with at-risk students, the program not only provided excitement for music and science, but also exposed students to new careers involving science and the arts.
As a former participant in both a competitive and a non-competitive marching band, I found myself at the middle of many arguments on competitive philosophies. This article takes an interesting look in the transition from competitive marching band to non-competitive. Either way, marching bands are often the most visible group in the music program, sometimes even the school. They represent the school in parades, at games, and at band events. It will be fascinating to watch these schools and see how the non-competitive environment affects performance, student success and student interest.
The best way to advocate for music education is the lead by example. At the Leadership Weekend Experience this weekend, close to 500 student leaders learned how to better serve their own music programs and inspire their fellow musicians to work harder through that same servant leadership model. In each session that I attended, I was blown away by the intensity, passion and leadership potential that so many of the students embodied. I'm much more confident in the success of our world with these kids at the helm. Read this blog post from fellow MFA staffer Mackenzie Ziegler about her very first Leadership Weekend Experience!
On Saturday, close to 500 hundred students arrived at Ball State University to begin the Leadership Weekend Experience! Students began with an opening session featuring Fran Kick, moved on to break-out sessions and small group sessions and finished the evening with a rousing keynote from Dr. Tim. Following the keynote, students were treated to a surprise party to cap off an exciting day!
Students received Leadership Weekend T-Shirts and markers and began signing each other's shirts while dancing to tunes spun by DJ Blitz (aka MFA Senior Marketing Coordinator Erin Fortune). By signing these T-shirts, students are commemorating their Leadership Weekend experience and creating lasting connections with fellow campers.
The Leadership Weekend Party is a long tradition at the Summer Symposium, and while the returning Leadership students likely remember the party from previous years, it was a complete surprise to first-year attendees. The SWAG Team and DTAs (Directors' Track Assistants) chaperoned the party, and even got in on some of the dancing!
At the end of the party, campers left to their dorms for the evening with new leadership skills, t-shirts full of signatures and inspiring notes and memories that the students will keep for a long time.
Are you still debating whether or not you should attend the the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha in June? Here are the top 10 reasons why you should consider it!
Each night after a day full of track intensive work (and fun!), the WHOLE camp comes together for an evening of inspiring music! Whether your favorite is an evening of jazz, virtuosic soloists or some of the world’s best drum corps, there will be at least one night you can’t wait to tell your friends back home about!
Whether you are a jazz cat, guard diva, marching band buff, orchestra nut, concert band wiz, or drum guru, there’s a division and a place for you at the Music for All Summer Symposium.
At the Music for All Summer Symposium we don’t believe that only drum majors or section leaders benefit from leadership. We believe that EVERY student benefits from leadership training and that’s why it is incorporated in EVERY division of the Summer Symposium. Anyone who is willing to pay attention, respond and get involved has the potential to positively lead others.
Where else would you get to go to be instructed by so many of the top music educators and clinicians from across the country?
At camp you will be with over 1,000 other students from all across the country. You will not only have the opportunity to make friends within your own track, but you will make friends with other students in your dorm, your swags, and faculty! These are relationships that can last you a lifetime; just think of the instagram followers you will have when you get home!
This IS the Music for All Summer Symposium, so first and foremost you will be getting top-notch performance instruction from our outstanding faculty!
There is no doubt about it that you will take things that you learn at Music for All Summer Symposium back to your own band, orchestra or guard program back home, not only music or performance skills, but attitude, energy, and a new outlook. Imagine how much stronger of a performer and leader you’ll be and how it could positively impact your school ensemble!
You’re probably already thinking leaving home to go to college and into the broader world in the next 1-4 years. Heading away from home can be pretty nerve wrecking. Going to a week long summer camp on a college campus is a great way of getting the experience of being away from home, navigating around a campus and having a roommate! It’s a week of learning about yourself in a new environment.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. What would you rather do? Come to camp, make music and hang out with awesome people or go to work everyday? (p.s. you have the rest of your life to work, spend this summer at camp!) Plus, we know that a large percentage of Fortune 500 CEOs participated in their school music programs, so think of it as an investment in your future!
At school you probably are in a band with anywhere from 50-350 students (give or take) who have similar interests as you, and maybe half who are as PASSIONATE about music making as you are. Can you imagine being in one place, where the focus is music making and you are surrounded by over 1,000 people who are just as passionate as you are about band, orchestra or guard? Well, you can stop dreaming because that place exists, and it’s in Muncie, Indiana at Ball State University this June.
So what are you waiting for? If these reasons didn't convince you that the Symposium is the right place for you, check out our videos on YouTube from last year's camp as well as the extended online coverage!
Ready to dive in and have the best summer of your life? Register for the MFA Summer Symposium here!
As a brass player myself, I love playing with other brass players in small ensembles. It is in those small ensembles where you are able to fully expereince the versatility of brass instruments. This is exactly why I am very excited for the Atlantic Brass Quintet’s (ABQ) performance at the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha in June. I’ve been listening to their recordings all morning and can’t wait to hear them fill up Emens Auditorium with some outstanding music!
The Atlantic Brass Quintet will be performing Tuesday evening (June 24) at the Symposium. The ABQ is a group of five virtuosic musicians from across the country who have played together for many years. From Brazil to Carnegie Hall to the White House, the Quintet has performed across the globe since its founding in 1985. The group performs a wide variety of music, from Monteverdi to Stravinsky and jazz standards to brass street music. Listen below to their most recent album, “Crossover,” just released this year:
The Atlantic Brass Quintet began in 1985 in Boston as a competition brass quintet, winning awards across the world for their performances. Current tuba player John Manning was a founding member of the Quintet. Since 1985, the group has been comprised of some of the country’s foremost brass players. Currently the group includes founding member John Manning (tuba), Tim Albright (trombone), Seth Orgel (horn), Andrew Sorg (trumpet) and Tom Bergeron (trumpet).
The Quintet has been the resident brass quintet of Boston University, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Boston Conservatory. Over the past 30 years of music making, the group has become known for their emphasis on music from across the world. The regularly perform ethnic music from the streets of Brazil, Cuba, the Balkans, and New Orleans. In 2012, the Atlantic Brass Quintet partnered with kerPlunk Dance to present a unique dance and brass piece entitled “Music in Motion.” You can watch selections of the piece in the video below:
I think The Boston Globe put it best of the Atlantic Brass Quintet: “They kick butt.” I'm looking forward most to hearing one of my favorite pieces, Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, which also happens to be an audience favorite for the group. For anyone thinking about attending the Symposium, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Atlantic Brass Quintet live! I certainly can’t wait to see what the group comes up with for their performance at the Summer Symposium!
Click here to learn more and to register for the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha, held June 23-28, 2014 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
This Throwback Thursday, I thought I would share a recent trip I made to the original home of Music for All: Whitewater, Wisconsin. While driving through a cold and snowy Wisconsin late last month, I decided to take a short detour to the quaint town of Whitewater. I can't imagine what this town looked like during the summers of the 1970s and 1980s, high school students and music educators teaching, practicing and performing. Starting in the summer of 1976, Whitewater became the center of marching music education when McCormick Enterprises took a huge risk and decided to invest in the success of young music students.
As I drove up to Perkins Stadium (originally Warhawk Stadium) in Whitewater, I was overcome by the memories made here. I could imagine the students and fans walking up the large hill to the stadium, overlooking the rolling fields of Wisconsin farmland. Bands of America Hall of Fame band directors Michael Rubino, Bob Buckner and Greg Bimm would be preparing their ensembles for a performance in the Marching Bands of America (MBA) Summer Nationals. MBA clinicians such as William D. Revelli would be providing valuable insight to young music students and band directors. If you were a music student or educator in the 1970s and 1980s, Whitewater was the place to be.
Driving through the small farm town, I wondered, "Why Whitewater?" Whitewater not only served as the home of Marching Bands of America, but also previously hosted the very first Drum Corps International Championships in 1972 and 1973. Both DCI and MFA provided placques to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater honoring the college, which still stand out today on the stadium wall. Last year, DCI providing a fascinating look at the beginnings of drum corps at Whitewater. I also looked to Music for All founder Larry McCormick's book God Is My Drum Major for more information on Whitewater: "It was a perfect location with a beautiful stadium and facility with dorm housing available at reasonable prices."
William D. Revelli, Gene Thrailkill and Mike Davis at the 1976 Summer Nationals
Participation in the Summer Nationals and music workshops grew and grew after the inaugural year. The original purpose of Marching Bands of America stands true to Music for All's mission today to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. In fact, you may recognize some of the language from MBA's original purpose statement: "An individual's choice to participate in the band, and that band's participation in the broadening experience of competition, is a postive step toward becoming a winner in life." That's right, even in 1976, each of the participants was a "winner in life!"
1976 Grand National Champions, Live Oak H.S., CA and director Michael Rubino
Whitewater was home to Music for All during the formative years of the organization. From the decision to move to a fall marching band championship in 1980 to restructuring as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Whitewater was home to some of the earliest memories and first positively life-changing experiences. Still today, Perkins Stadium remains a venue for marching ensembles, including a yearly DCI show and the Wisconsin State Marching Band Championships. Although Summer Nationals ended after 1988 and the Summer Band Symposium moved to Illinois State University in 1992 to accomodate the growing camp, Whitewater remains an important part of Music for All's story. My short trip to Whitewater was well worth the detour and provided a fulfilling look into Music for All's earliest history.
Music for All asked our friends on Facebook and Twitter what they would ask John Mackey if they had the chance - and he graciously answered their questions.
John will work with Concert Band Division students and directors at the MFA Summer Symposium this June at Ball State University.
We hope you enjoy the Q&A with John Mackey as much as we did. The questions were fantastic and his answers are thoughtful (and sometimes hilarious!) Let us know if you learned anything new in the comments, or if you have another question you would ask. Who knows, maybe we'll get him to answer some more questions at Symposium! Enjoy!
What was your inspiration for Foundry?
Asked by Brian Munoz via Facebook
This was my wife’s idea. She said that if she were a percussionist, it would be fun to play a piece where she could hit stuff with hammers. She also thought it was cool that with percussion, just about anything you strike could be considered a percussion instrument, so she suggested I write a piece that used all kinds of non-traditional percussion, but things that students could find at hardware stores and junk yards – and you’d then strike those things, maybe, with a hammer. Fun, right? So it was her idea to write for “found” percussion. My take on it was to try to write something aggressive in tone, sort of a sibling to my piece “Asphalt Cocktail.” The result – aggressive music with lots of found metal percussion – sounded like a steel factory. So the title is a play on that, because it sounds like a foundry, but the first five letters are “found,” as in “found” percussion.
What inspired Undertow?
Asked by Banon University via Twitter
Tardiness. I was completely stumped about what to write, so I procrastinated. During the time that I should have been writing music, I was playing video games – or one specific video game: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on the Nintendo DS. In that Zelda game, you sail a ship from island to island (dungeon to dungeon), and while you sail, music plays – and it’s good music. So I spent a great number of hours playing that game – and hearing that music - instead of writing what would become “Undertow.” Eventually, though, I had no choice but to start writing “Undertow,” because it was about to be due, but my brain was conditioned to hear the kind of music you hear in a Zelda video game, and in this case, a swashbuckling sea adventure. So that’s what I wrote: my brain’s idea of new Zelda music. An “undertow” is a spinning current that pulls ships underwater – ships like I sailed in that Zelda game.
With my school, we’ve played Undertow, Foundry, Sheltering Sky and Night on Fire. I love them all…how do you find your inspiration?
Asked by Lindsay Elizabeth Frees via Facebook
Wow, your directors are my favorite people in the world! The thing that helps me to keep each piece fresh is to approach each one differently, whether that’s a unique scoring (“Night on Fire” uses three or more hand drums; and “Foundry” uses 12 percussionists, many of whom play “found” percussion), an unusual rhythmic pattern (“Undertow,” which is mostly in alternating 7/8 and 4/4), or something as seemingly straight forward as the desire to write a lyrical piece that sounds like it contains old folk songs, when in fact the tune is new (“Sheltering Sky”). It’s hard to come up with a new idea for each piece. That’s really the hardest part of writing something – it’s not picking the notes, but deciding ahead of time what the reason is for the piece to exist at all. It takes a long time to figure out those things – time I spend walking, or jogging, or biking. I get my best ideas while exercising, not while staring at the computer monitor.
Aurora Awakes is my favorite of your pieces. What inspired you to incorporate U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name?
Asked by David Bowen via Facebook
The 80s station on Sirius XM radio. We were driving to dinner one night, and that US song came on the radio. It starts and ends with that 6 note riff in the guitar, on top of sustained synth chords. In the middle, the song itself happens, but it’s all bookended by that intro and outro with those six notes on top of those chords, and I think those outer sections are the best part of the song. So my idea was, why not make a whole piece just about those six perfect notes? I changed the key, and I changed the chords, but you’d still recognize them. So I wrote the fast part of the piece, or at least most of it, but then I got stuck. So I asked my wife, Abby, what I should do. She said she thought the fast music sounded like it was getting brighter and brighter, so the piece made her think of sunrise. She suggested that if it’s a piece about sunrise, why not write an opening for it that’s slow and still, like the start of the day right before the sun first peeks above the horizon? So, that’s what I did.
In Xerxes, why did you compose such a bold bass line?
Asked by Megan Jofriet via Facebook
I’d always wanted to write a hard, aggressive march. I also listen to a lot of progressive rock, and I think I had that sound in my head when I started “Xerxes,” so the first thing I came up with was that bass line, which sounds to me like it could be in a song by the band Tool. Last year, a guy named Brooks Tarkington made an arrangement of “Xerxes” for metal rock band. It’s incredible, and sounds to me exactly the way the tune sounded in my head when I first thought of it. You can hear Brooks’ version on my Soundcloud page.
Do you read all the stuff people post to you on the many Internet sources?
Asked by Greg Newton via Facebook
I definitely read a lot of it, at least on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter makes it easy to find those things, but Facebook doesn’t, because, at least for my accounts, I can’t search other wall posts. I’ve learned not to read YouTube comments about my music, because although most are nice, there’s always one that’s nasty, and that’s the only one I ever remember.
What would you like band directors to know when performing your music?
Asked by Tom Cox via Facebook
That I’m still alive, so you can ask me a question if you need to! Or you can try to schedule a clinic with me so I can work with you and your band in person on my music. I love working in person with students and their conductors.
What is your favorite instrument?
Asked by Megan Jofriet via Facebook
Everybody asks that, and I honestly don’t have a favorite single instrument. I love writing for lots of trombones (the more the better) and a lot of percussion, so if I were to play an instrument, I’d probably play trombone or percussion. (I never formally studied any instrument.) But the colors you can accomplish with a mixture of instruments are what make a large ensemble so exciting. Vibraphone is a great sound, but bowed vibraphone in unison with low-register flute is an INCREDIBLE sound.
What inspires you every day?
Asked by Kristen Popovich via Facebook
What was your favorite piece to compose?
Asked by Kaytee Parker via Twitter
I have favorite pieces that I HAVE composed, but while actually writing, the process is normally so slow and so difficult that I wouldn’t use the word “favorite.” For example, “Asphalt Cocktail” is one of my favorites to listen to, but writing it was extremely slow and challenging. I think that’s one thing I like about it – that it sounds, to me, sort of effortless, but in reality, it was a real slog to write.
Do you think you’ll write more extensively for middle level groups?
Asked by Michael Filla via Twitter
Absolutely! I have one fairly easy piece, “Foundry,” which is considered a “grade 3” level of piece, but I want to write a “grade 2 – 2.5,” maybe even this spring. Writing for mid-level groups is very challenging – much harder than writing difficult music, because you can’t fall back on flashy performance techniques like fast runs or percussion licks. There are fewer notes, and every note has to be perfect.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you seek it out or let it happen organically?
Asked by Michael Filla via Twitter
Deadlines are inspiring, and I’m not kidding. Writing music is hard work, and I think it gets harder with each new piece, because you don’t want to repeat yourself and do the same thing you did in an earlier piece. I rarely write music just for fun – it’s always for a commission, and if there was no deadline, I’d spend all of my time just playing video games and watching TV.
What parameters do you give yourself in the initial stages of a piece (e.g. grade level, instrumentation, unique features)
Asked by Michael Filla via Twitter
The answer varies depending on the commission. For a university or military band commission, grade level isn’t normally a consideration, but for a middle school commission, it has to be, so that’s the starting point for the piece. Difficulty level also determines instrumentation (to a point), but that challenge can also lead to unique features, like in Foundry, where the normally limited instrumentation challenges of a middle school band could be overcome by asking the percussionists to play non-traditional “found” percussion, so that’s a case of the difficulty level leading to the most interesting element of the piece. For a university-level piece like “The Frozen Cathedral,” I was encouraged by the commissioning organization to add extra players, and I took that to mean “extra instruments” as well, so I included things like alto flute, bass flute, English horn, and 10 percussionists. I figured out the scoring before I started any sketches, and that greatly influenced the overall sound of the piece.
The marching band track of the 2014 Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha, has the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps in residence this summer! This unique opportunity allows students to rehearse and perform with the Carolina Crown in a Drum Corps International show. Marching next to these outstanding performers, the students attain an unforgettable experience. Check out this video from 2012 of the Summer Symposium marching band students performing with the Carolina Crown at Ball State University.
Not only do these students receive an incredible opportunity to march with the Carolina Crown, but they also learn important fundamentals involved in creating a high level performance. This includes creating balanced sound at all dynamic levels, developing a uniform marching look, cleaning drill, adding visual effect and fostering the student leadership necessary for a successful marching band. To see what the students and members of the Carolina Crown had to say about their experience together, check out this great video produced by Drum Corps International.
You don't want to miss out on this incredible experience! So SAVE THE DATES for the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha: June 23-28, 2014 and for the Leadership Weekend Experience: June 21-23.