The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

Congratulations to Dr. Barry Shepherd, Superintendent of Cabarrus County Schools in North Carolina who is the 2013 recipient of the George N. Parks Leadership in Music Education award. Dr. Shepherd received the award during the opening finals ceremonies at the 2013 Grand National Championships, presented by Yamaha on November 16.

Developed by NAfME, the National Association for Music Education and Music for All, the award is named for George N. Parks (1953–2010), director of the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1977 until his death, and honors an exemplary music educator who embodies the characteristics and leadership that Mr. Parks personified.

Learn more about the George N. Parks Leadership in Education Award

About Dr. Barry Shepherd

Since joining Cabarrus County Schools in February 2008, Dr. Barry Shepherd has led the school system through some of its most challenging and exciting times.

During his tenure, the school system has seen unprecedented reductions in funding. Yet, Cabarrus County Schools has continued to thrive thanks to Shepherd, who has successfully advocated for placing value on “people rather than things.”

Despite the challenging economy, student enrollment for Cabarrus County Schools has continued to grow – resulting in the need for more schools. And Shepherd has the led the school system through the construction of five new school buildings, as well as numerous academic and educational programs including magnet schools at Coltrane-Webb Elementary and J.N. Fries Middle, Central Cabarrus and Concord High Schools, the Cabarrus-Kannapolis Early College High School, Language Immersion at Furr Elementary School, and the Mary Frances Wall Center, a preschool for children with special needs.

Under his direction, Cabarrus County Schools’ students are making strides on end-of-year assessments, the graduation rate has increased and the school system has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding.

Dr. Shepherd also is leading the school system in its focus on global education. Through a partnership with the Center for International Understanding at the University of North Carolina, Cabarrus County Schools is among several school districts across the state participating in Confucius Classrooms. Through this program, Cabarrus County Schools’ teachers and administrators have visited schools in China to learn about Chinese education and as part of a reciprocal agreement.

Prior to joining Cabarrus County Schools, Dr. Shepherd served as superintendent of Elkin City Schools and as assistant superintendent in Mooresville Graded School District.

Dr. Shepherd is a native of Wilkes County, N.C., and has held administrative positions in Iredell-Statesville Schools, Lexington City Schools and Thomasville City Schools.

He is a graduate of Appalachian State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in music education and a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership. He received his Doctor of Education degree in education from Columbia University in New York.

Dr. Shepherd is married to Laura Shepherd. They have two daughters: Fran and Parker, who attend Cabarrus County Schools.

Published in Stories

The Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster Award annually recognizes the extraordinary commitment, dedication, support and sacrifice of music parents and boosters around the world by shining a spotlight on an individual who exemplifies these qualities.

The award is named in honor of Patrick John Hughes, the father of Patrick Henry Hughes. Patrick Henry is a remarkable young man who, despite physical challenges that would seem overwhelming to many, has excelled as a musician and student, singing and playing piano and trumpet with the Louisville Marching and Pep Bands, with the help of his father, who tirelessly maneuvers his son’s wheelchair through the formations with the other 220+ members of the Cardinal Marching Band

On Friday night during Grand Nationals the 2013 Patrick John Hughes Parent Booster award was awarded to Dick Zentner, of Pennsylvania.

PBAWARD1Music for All's President and CEO, Eric L. Martin with Dick Zentner, 2013 Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster Award Recipient

Zentner Family

Eric Martin, Dick Zentner, Zentner's daughter Dawn Tatters, grandsons Dylan and Doug Tatters and Zentner's son Ron Zentner

Mr. Richard “Dick” Zentner first became involved with the Norwin Band Boosters in the 1980’s. He began his booster parent journey on the pit crew and when it became known that he had his commercial driver’s license, he was quickly recruited to drive one of the equipment trucks.

As Mr. Zentner’s other children continued their participation in the Norwin band program, so did he, serving on many booster committees and even serving as booster president for several terms. But Mr. Zentner was not just a supporter of the Norwin band program- he often met with other fledgling band parent organizations and shared with them the Norwin booster model and the wisdom of his experience.

Through the years Mr. Zentner played an increasingly important role in planning and coordinating the band’s transportation to and from all local competitions and community events, as well as events like BOA, WGI and band trips to Florida. Whenever the band had somewhere to go, Mr. Zentner made it happen flawlessly.

Through his involvement with the Norwin band program in the 1980’s, Mr. Zentner became a trusted confidant and friend of Norwin Director of Bands, the late L.J. Hancock. Though Mr. Zentner’s youngest son graduated from the Norwin band program in 1994, he continued to coordinate logistics, attended band parent meetings and served as an advisor to L.J. Hancock. In 2000, L.J. Hancock passed away, and while Mr. Zentner was crushed to have lost such a close friend, he worked toward helping to maintain the quality of the band program for the sake of the students. Since L.J. Hancock’s passing, Mr. Zentner has assisted in the transitioning of four band directors into the Norwin band program.

ZentnerwithNorwinBandMr. Zentner with the Norwin band

Former Director of Bands, Ian Morrison, said “As a former student in the Norwin band program, I personally remember “Mr. Z” unloading my Sousaphone from the truck and wishing me good luck. As a former director of bands at Norwin, and one of the band directors that Dick helped to transition into the program, I can say from personal experience that parents like Dick are invaluable to the success of an organization such as ours. In the uncertain times of transition, Dick was a calming and steadying influence on me and the band parents’ organization.”

There is no denying that Mr. Zentner has been a devoted and loyal advocate of the Norwin band program. After more than 25 years of involvement and working with 5 director of bands, Mr. Zentner has truly become an icon of the Norwin band.

“Since I have become the director of bands at Norwin, Dick and I have talked about the history of the program, what it means to him and why he does what he does. Throughout the conversations the words loyalty and tradition come up often. In many ways, Dick is the keeper of this tradition as he has been around longer than any of our current staff and is truly part of what makes the Norwin Band program successful. The guidance that he has provided me during my brief time as the Norwin director makes him almost like a father figure in this regard. Like me, when I was a student, most students don’t know just how much Mr. Zentner does for all of them and how much he shapes their experience, especially on the road. I will always be grateful for what Dick does for this organization.” –Director of Bands, Timothy Daniels

Norwin Directors and ZentnerDick Zentner with the Norwin HS Directors

Mr. Richard “Dick” Zentner has not only been a booster, pit crew dad, equipment truck driver, logistics specialist, prop construction crew member, volunteer coordinator, Vice President of the Norwin Band Aides, President of the Band Aides, Norwin band historian and Director of Operations during his time with the Norwin band, Mr. Zentner has been a true advocate of music education and a champion of every student.

“Year after year, rehearsal after rehearsal, performance after performance, Dick is there doing what needs to be done because he knows the importance of supporting the efforts of the student. Dick Zentner is the epitome of a dedicated band booster.” – Linda Hancock, Norwin Band Staff 1985-2001

NorwinGroupNorwin students, directors and fellow boosters supporting Dick Zentner at the Parent/Booster Award Ceremony

Read more about Patrick John Hughes and his family and the Parent/Booster Award at, where you can also find out how to nominate the exceptional parent or booster in your music program.

Learn more about the award and how to submit a nomination

Watch the Video of the Award Presentation


Published in Stories
Another guest blog today! This one is from Dan Pritchett, a proud band dad and a member of the pit crew from Valley Christian High School Band from San Jose, California.
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I'm on the flight back from our performance at Bands of America championships in Indianapolis. This was the band's first trip to this competition, but it's the last trip for me as my youngest is a senior. The performance this season was called Arabian Odyssey which is fitting as marching band has been an odyssey that began 7 years ago when my oldest was a freshman.

I will be honest, marching band isn't my thing. I understand the challenge as I was in marching band in high school. I enjoyed the time with my friends, but it was just an activity. As an adult, I am impressed by the level that these students perform at, but it just doesn't grab me. And I was reminded of that last night as I watched the finals. I was transported back to the first year where we watched from the stands. It was important to be there for my daughter but I wasn't drawn to it otherwise.

The second year I became more involved but it was really the third year that it all changed. I became more involved in the transportation crew. For the next four years, I never saw our band from the stands again and my only regret is that it took me 2 years to get involved.

Being part of transportation is hard work and I spend less time on it than several others. You're the first there on performance days and the last to leave. You're often hot or cold or wet or sometimes all 3 on the same day. You push, pull, carry and drag all manner of objects. You also get to solve puzzles provided by the directors as they try to deliver a show to impress the audience and judges.

Something happens though. You make friends. It becomes part of your life. It becomes part of you. The season begins with the new parents joining the crew as their children join the program and it ends with the realization that some of the parents won't be back because they have graduating seniors. Each of those have gotten harder for me because I knew that this was going to be me soon. And now I'm the one moving on.

For all the hard work there are rewards. People may think that the best view is from the stands where you can take in the performance as a whole. From a pure entertainment perspective they are probably right, but I wouldn't trade the best seat in the stands for my view from the field. The rush of getting the band on and off the field, being close enough to see their faces, watch the performance unfold at a personal level, that's the real show.

I've also been places that most will never be. I've been on field level in more stadiums than I can remember. I've been backstage at Disneyland. I've been in the service tunnels of Lucas Oil Stadium. I've walked the San Francisco Chinese New Years Parade route twice. I've helped move over 1,000 pounds of band equipment from San Jose, through the entire length of Cambodia and get it back in one piece. None of this happens from the stands.

From all of this comes one piece of advice to parents, get involved. It changes the entire perspective that you will have on your children's activities. As I said, my only regret is I waited. The past 7 years have been hard work but incredibly enriching. I do have to move on as my daughter graduates but this is certainly harder than I could have predicted on the first day of the season 7 years ago.
-Dan Pritchett
Published in Stories


Join us for the Tim Lautzenheiser Student Leadership Workshop during the 2013 Grand National Championships, presented by Yamaha! Work with the man himself, Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser on Friday, November 15th. This leadership workshop encourages the growth of the group via a nurturing of agreed-upon organizational values that establishes a solid foundation for positive growth in every aspect of your band program.

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This is a MUST on your list of things to do while at the Grand National Championships. And the best part? The early pricing has been extended! Register online BEFORE you arrive and you can register for the workshop for $30 per person! Remember: one director attends FREE for every 10 students enrolled! (But register now for these savings, it will be $35 per person on site).

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Leadership skills are not just something that will help you in band, or in high school. This is one of those workshops where you will learn things that you will utilize every day for the rest of your life, and have fun while learning them!

So don't wait- register now and get ready for an awesome two hours with the incomprable Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser and more than 500 of your new best friends!

Read more about the Dr. Tim Lauzenheiser Student Leadership Workshop here. Register online for just $30 per person here.

Published in Stories

Today's guest post is from Fran Kick, professional speaker, author and division head of the Leadership Weekend Experience at the Music for All Summer Symposium presented by Yamaha. Fran Kick also co-presents the Future Music Educators' Experience during the Grand National Championships.

for Fran kick Week 4 blog

Last week we talked about the real competition – learning week to week and improving yourself, yet how can you make sure you know what you’re doing?

Well in addition to the strategies shared last week, here are a few things you can do:

First, learn it right the first time. While it may sound like it’s too late in the season for that – you’d be surprised how many things we learn incorrectly. You’ve heard the expression that “practice makes perfect” – well in truth “practice makes permanent!” The more you do it wrong, the more challenging it can be to fix it later on. After all “old habits do die hard.”

Second, figure out what you’re already doing right and identify what still needs work. Create a list of “everything you still need to fix!” While some of these items will be addressed in the few rehearsals that remain, many more will not.

Finally, take what you need to work on and plan when (outside of rehearsal time) you’re going to work on it. Perform what you work on for others and have them “check you off” so you’ll know you got it.

Making sure you know what you’re doing individually is the single greatest thing you can do to improve yourself and your section. Your directors and staff have a limited number of rehearsals left to correct way too many things. Show some initiative and make sure you know what you’re doing.


This post was originally released on the “Break Ranks” podcast with Dan Potter. The .mp3 audio file is available to hear, download, and share.


Fran Kick currently serves as division head of the Music for All Summer Symposium Leadership Weekend Experience. He is a nationally-recognized speaker and educational consultant who talks with students and the many people who work with them. You can find more information about his work with music-related organizations and events at

Published in Stories


Arts education leaders, advocates and educators from across the nation responded to an invitation from Music for All to help it identify priorities and supporting initiatives for its next strategic plan.  More than 40 persons assembled with Music for All board and staff on September 11 to hear first hand from key stakeholders and advocates in the field of scholastic music and arts education. The board of directors, executive leadership and sponsors of Music for All are now focusing on those and other new ideas recently proposed for the organization’s future, largely highlighting the need for more inclusive programming and an expansion of resources to further both reach and access of scholastic music education.


More than a dozen participants active in the arts and representing various community sizes, ethnic and economic demographics offered TED Talk-style presentations pitching new priorities, ultimately underscoring the need for program development at the elementary level and a stronger focus on underserved communities. Proposing a devotion of resources to offer grants that reduce or eliminate participation fees, speakers emphasized the importance of an encompassing “music for all” approach.

“We recently passed the halfway point of our current strategic plan and feel now is the right time to begin planning and focusing on the future and what’s next for the organization,” said Music for All President and CEO Eric Martin. “We are experiencing unprecedented growth and success in our programming and organizational development, and are well ahead of plan on delivery or current strategic objectives. Our plans and actions should be bold, focused and inspire positive action and change.”

Speakers included:

·      Scott Lang - Scott Lang Leadership

·      Randy Greenwell and Matt James – Directors of Bands, Lawrence Central High School, Indianapolis

·      Richard Floyd – State Director of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, Austin Symphonic Band conductor

·      Corey Bonds – Director of Bands at Glasgow High School in Glasgow, Ky.,

·      Bob Phillips – Director of String Publications for Alfred Music, American String Teachers Association President

·      Pam Phillips – Managing Editor, Suzuki and String Acquisition for Alfred Music

·      Dr. Scott Dorsey – Director of Education and Communication, American Choir Directors Association

·      James Seda – Director of Bands, Southwest DeKalb High School in Dekalb, Ga.

·      Richard Saucedo – former Director of Bands, Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind., and educational consultant for Music for All

·      Robert W. Smith – composer, arranger, faculty at Troy State University in Alabama

·      Susan Smith – Director of Bands, St. James School in Alabama and educational consultant for Music for All

·      Michael Kumer – BoardsMTO, Interim Executive Director at PANO, a nonprofit organizational management firm

“Our programming currently extends nationally to include direct service to 70,000 student musicians and is presented annually before audiences exceeding 300,000,” said Martin. “Yet, the needs and challenges to music education, student access and participation remain numerous and daunting. We want to learn, be inspired and called to action by our stakeholders. This is what enables us to chart a future course to advance our mission and ensure the validity of our vision.”

Download the press release

Read Music for All's current strategic plan


Published in News
Thursday, October 10, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 1998

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.


Lassiter4Utilizing 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!

Lassiter HS

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.


Seth Williams is the Development 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.

Published in Stories
Thursday, October 03, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 1996

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.

1996 Grand National Finale


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!

Lake Park Band

Do you have a Grand Nationals experience you would like to share? We'd love to hear it; share in the comments below!



Seth Williams is the Development 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.


Published in Stories

Today's guest post is from our 2012 Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster Award Winner - PJ Littleton from Franklin, Tennessee. Learn more about the Parent/Booster Award here.


Everything I ever needed to know, I learned at Band Camp.

"Let me leave you with this piece of advice: Set your goals high because it is very likely that you will achieve them. Make sure that whatever you aspire to do with your life (and it won't be marching band) that it is noble and worthy of the time and investment that you will make in it. If you compromise this, I promise you that in the end you will feel empty and disappointed for not challenging yourself to be all that your potential would have allowed. Don't let this happen.  You are better than this. Give your life away for something good!"

I sat restlessly fidgeting in my seat in the Creative Arts Center Concert Hall at West Virginia University while these words were being spoken from the dimly lit stage by then Director of Bands, the legendary Don Wilcox. I just wanted to get outside, learn drill, play my horn. Hey, it was the first day of Band Camp. This was no time for a long lecture. Let's get on the field and do this!

Our "Chief" knew better.

Funny how thirty-four years later I have long since forgotten my dots in the drill, but these wise words still resonate deep within my core and have helped guide and shape me as a man, as a husband and as a father. This is just one of many lessons I learned while buzzing my pursed lips behind a mouthpiece.

Today you can find me in Franklin, Tennessee, straddling myself between two bands, The Hillsboro Middle School Band and The Franklin High School Band where I respectively serve as Band Booster President and VP of Fundraising. These days have become the days of my life as I aim to apply everything I learned from being in the band so long ago, now for the betterment of not only my two band kids but for the other 339 kids that I love.

Honestly, I'm tired. Really tired. I am sitting in the back row of the balcony of the fabulous restored Franklin Theatre right now, my face aglow from my iPad, listening to FHS alum and daughter of Vince Gill, Jenny Gill perform for a Franklin Football fundraising music event called "Punt, Pass and Pick.” Jenny just spoke of how much it meant to her attending Franklin High where she kept so busy with cheerleading et al that she was able to stay out of trouble and make great memories of her time in school. Some of our current Franklin Band set the tone tonight, kicking off the evening lining the aisles with spirited Rebel music to energize the crowd as they so ably do!

It's been mentioned more than once between songs how laudable it is that our Franklin parents care enough about their children to go to such great lengths to provide the very best experiences for them. We have been able to establish an inspirational and cooperative culture that will nourish not only the football program tonight but the equally admired (and respected) band program as well. This is a rare and wonderful thing--we are so blessed that we can boast of this.

The 45 graduated seniors from last season's BOA Jacksonville Regional Champions and Grand Nationals semi-finalist Franklin Band collectively received in excess of $5.6 million dollars in scholarship funds. This is an average of $125,000 per musician scholar! I contend that they too may have learned a few things at Band Camp as they now embark on the next season of their young lives.

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Core Value #1 at The Franklin Band is Community -- "The community in which we live and our own community within Franklin High School shape who we are and in return, we shape it." I witnessed community at its finest tonight as I sat next to a fellow band booster executive board member as he shared band challenges and victories with a football booster standing behind him, listening with mutual appreciation, admiration and respect.

These are some of the things that I learned about life at Band Camp and this is indeed all I ever needed to know. And you know Mr. Wilcox, as it turns out, it was all about marching band for me after all!

"The only ones among you that will really be happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." -- Albert Schweitzer


- PJ Littleton


We thank PJ for his perspective, the Franklin community is lucky to have such a great advocate! To learn more about PJ, read his 2012 Parent/Booster award story. Know an amazing advocate of your music program? Learn more about the Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster award and how to nominate someone here.

Published in Stories
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BOA Regional Championship at Kettering

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Congratulations to all of the bands who participated in the 2013 BOA Regional Championship at Kettering! A very special thanks to our hosts, Kettering Fairmont High School, it was a wonderful day and we couldn't have done it without all of the fantastic volunteers who helped us out all day!

Here are some photos from both the Prelims and Finals awards ceremony as well as a few photos taken by our staff. Looking for more action photos of your band? Jolesch Enterprises will have photos available on their website coming soon - so make sure you check here  for group photos as well as action shots that they took at the event.

Looking for Results and Scores from the event? You can find those here. Shout out to our 2013 Kettering Regional Champions: William Mason H.S.!


Can't view this slideshow? Click here.


Published in Stories