The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

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.

Better Leaders Followers Make All The Difference!

by Fran Kick
Here’s a test to try during your next ensemble rehearsal that just might prove my point faster and more interactively. Pick a particularly challenging part in the music to play – yet tell your first-chair players NOT to play. How does that sound?

Now consider these questions:

What if we over-rely on our best students to be our leaders and do little to develop all our students’ leadership potential?

If we constantly go to our leaders to “carry the load” and/or “make things happen” how engaged do you think others will be “watching things happen?”

iStock 000018302110XSmallWhat if leadership has less to do with leaders and more to do with followers? After all, bad leadership only occurs when there’s bad followership and good leadership only occurs when there’s good followership.

Could the quality of followership in your program actually have more influence on the quality of leadership in your program?

That’s why over the years, we’ve intentionally dovetailed our leadership curriculum to enhance both leadership and followership. [See “What we believe when it comes to developing student leadership” for more insight to our approach to leadership development—both for the leadership weekend and the weeklong summer symposium.] Every day, every section of the Summer Symposium gets to play with, and experience first-hand, the leadership+followership dynamic.

Now, we don’t call it that per se. After all, students do come to the Leadership Weekend Experience to be better leaders. (Imagine how many students would come to a Followership Experience?) Yet the truth is we’re simultaneously sharing both the importance of better leadership and better followership. Effective leaders need to know how to develop effective followers and ultimately your future leaders.

Next time you pass out a piece of music to your ensemble, make sure all the first-chair players receive all the parts for their entire section, rather than just the first-chair part. That way they can help all the players in their section KICK IT IN! Because better leaders and better followers will make all the difference in your program!

Published in Stories
Monday, April 08, 2013

Life is better with music

Today's blog post in support of Arts Advocacy Days is written by Music for All's President and CEO, Eric L. Martin.

Life is better with music! That’s a tagline I borrow with pride from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, a great institution and strategic partner of Music for All. Advocacy (for the arts and especially arts education) is a pillar of Music for All’s strategic plan and vision to ensure that every child across America has access and opportunity to engage in active music making in his or her scholastic environment.

In March, we celebrated “Music in Our Schools” month with presentation of one of the largest ever Music for All National Festivals that included 2,100 students from across the nation in performances and camaraderie that showcased the best of scholastic music making and the excellence that comes from music and music education in our schools.

Perhaps, legendary drummer, Ndugu Chancler summed it up best in his “rap” with the Jazz Band of America confirming his belief in music, music education and power of jazz with an affirming “uh huh, yeah, that’s right.” 

This month, we are a proud National Co-Sponsor of “Arts Advocacy Day 2013,” supporting and helping to bring our collective voice about the importance of the arts and arts education to our nation’s leadership in Washington.

“Uh huh, yeah, that’s right,” we believe that every child in America is entitled to a quality arts education. A child’s education is simply incomplete unless it includes the arts.

Quality education and the educational preparedness of our children, rightly so, are driving and central issues demanding and deserving attention in our nation. As a people, we are exploring all of the possibilities. Many of the choices being explored are valid, valuable and viable. I work, as do all of us at Music for All, to ensure that whatever our choices, be they CORE, STEM or “all of the above,” include affirmative support and plans that ensure access and quality of opportunity for all children to engage in active music making (and the other arts) in his or her scholastic environment. My own experiences in school environments that appreciated and provided active music making and music education programs made me who I am, and opened and facilitated unique and powerful experiences in and avenues to leadership, teamwork, collaboration and community essential to my development and my performance as a leader. It is for this reason I believe arts education is essential to the development of our youth, and consequently, the character of our nation.

Life (family, community, business, or nation and our world) simply is better with music and the arts... “uh huh, yeah, that’s right.” Who we are as a people and a nation depends on it.

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Read Eric's last blog post on the subject of STEAM titled:  Music (and arts) for All in the 21st Century.

ericEric Martin is President and Chief Executive Officer of Music for All, Inc. He is a Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Festivals and Events Association, of which he is a member of its Hall of Fame. Mr. Martin was previously president of ELM Productions, an Atlanta-based special events production company. He has numerous annual and “once in a lifetime” production credits and was recognized with a regional Emmy Award for his production of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Parade on SuperStation TBS. Mr. Martin is a Certified Festivals and Events Executive and an honors graduate of Dartmouth College. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from University of Michigan Law School.

Published in Advocacy in Action
Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Why do you #BelieveInMusic ?

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Music motivates. Music mesmerizes. Music moves.

We at Music for All believe in music and in music education, which is why we strive to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. We believe that, apart from the pure beauty of music, it provides benefits to us outwardly and inwardly through personal learning and growth, team building, striving to reach goals and much more.

But we want to know about our followers—why do YOU believe in music?

We invite you to follow the #BelieveInMusic hashtag and join our Twitter campaign to help spread the word about the amazing powers of music. Reply @musicforall with “I #BelieveInMusic because…” to share your thoughts and feelings. Great responses will be retweeted!

Take a look at what people are already tweeting:

“I #BelieveInMusic because it helps me recognize beauty.”

“I #BelieveInMusic because it can teach us what we should know about each other and what we already know about ourselves.”

“I #BelieveInMusic because music is life”

 To learn more about Music for All’s music advocacy program, visit


Make sure you’re staying connected with us!

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Published in Stories

The article below was featured in the Music for All January/February Newsletter. With March being Music in Our Schools month, we thought it would be appropriate to share again here on the blog, enjoy!

Music (and arts) for All in the 21st Century
by Eric L. Martin, President and CEO, Music for All

“Humans need to communicate, share, store and create.As a species, we’ve engaged 
in these functions for centuries. There’s really nothing new about them. What is new are the forms, or tools, that students use to meet these needs.”
From 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn, by James Bellanca and Ron Brandt (Eds.) (Leading Edge series)
SpeakingMusicOver the several months leading up to last November’s elections, I was inundated (as I’m sure you were) with campaign ads touting the virtues (or lack thereof) of candidates of all persuasions and ilk. These ads showcased each candidate’s commitment and ability to address and solve our largest challenges, most important human needs and their ability to perpetuate and allow us to attain the quintessential “American Dream.” Beyond the economy, much emphasis was and still remains placed on maintaining or reclaiming our ability to compete and lead globally. The conversation about our young people was often about the loss of our educational edge. We’re convinced, and maybe rightfully so, that we are failing to educate and prepare our children for the competitive challenges of the 21st century. It’s a valid conversation, however, I feel a responsibility to bring another voice into the discussion.
Folks around my office sometimes fondly (or not so fondly) know and label me “a diploma snob.” For some, a diploma snob means where you went to school, but for me, and I own this observation, it’s more about how you’ve been prepared and trained to think and reason. Science, technology, engineering and math, the STEM concepts we hear about so often, have their rightful place and I certainly support moving from STEM to STEAM, infusing and demanding that the arts be inserted and recognized as a core, valid and vital part of the learning and achievement equation. However, my support for STEAM is more deeply rooted in my “snobbery.” 
What I care about in every student and every professional I encounter, be it personally or for Music for All, are their “abilities to think and reason.” I look for and build my faith in the future of our children, our nation and our culture on the ability to teach children “how to think and reason,” a very different concept than “what to think.”
I am a product of the arts, infused naturally and effectively, in a total education. Engagement in the arts (and other programs of human engagement), coupled with core academic subject matter, gave me the opportunity and platform to help understand and advance human, societal and business relationships. Understanding not just that things work, but how they work, why they work and realizing their impact on ones’ self, and others, form the essence of prepared and effective leadership. In this context, I am a “snob” about preparing our children to thrive effectively in the future.
So what does this have to do about the 21st century workforce? For me, its about the 21st century “Life Force.” I’ve traveled across the country speaking to students, teachers, administrators and parents with an “artistic” interest that drives my professional commitment. Almost daily, I struggle to hear effective dialogue and collaboration as our leaders seek to address, solve and resolve some of our most difficult local and global challenges and conflicts. I long for more conversation with the historical, philosophical and “civil” teachings and dialogue about the development of America’s strength and destiny from an ultimate commitment to the common good, general welfare and societal empathy and commitment to the wellbeing and advancement of “the least of those.” I miss experiencing our American commitment to active listening, the common good and the art of compromise. Too often, the dialogue (or absence thereof) is centered on winners and losers, my way or the highway, and to the winner goes the earned and rightful spoils. 
I often ask what our student performing arts ensembles would be and sound like if they did not learn skills about individual and ensemble commitment to concepts like intonation, leading and following, collaboration and exchange of thoughts and ideas, or if they refused to accept and see the benefits of leadership. I can only imagine the unintended discordant result of an ensemble whose idea of excellence is “every man or woman out for himself or herself.”
Great ensembles know, and are taught, that great results only come from collective achievement. The whole is only as successful as the individual parts comprising it. Performance responsibility of each individual is necessary for ensemble success. In other words, all members of the ensemble have a vested interest in the skill development, well-being and achievement of others. “We’re in it together,” is a vital and essential factor and tool for success. We become great when each and every member not only understands “the what” and “the how”, but also “the why.” It is then that they can lead themselves with effective decision-making and collaboration for the “common good.” If only all of our leaders, including government leaders, shared that common understanding. In the end the “audience,” like our world, benefits.
“The combination of core academic subjects, 21st century themes and 21st century skills redefines rigor for our times. However, rigor traditionally is equated with mastery of content (core subjects) alone, and that’s simply not good enough anymore.”
“Growing proportions of the nation’s labor force are engaged in jobs that emphasize expert thinking or complex communication- tasks that computers cannot do.”
“The assessment is forward looking, focusing on young people’s ability to use their knowledge and skills to meet real life challenges, rather than merely on the extent to which they have mastered a 
specific school curriculum.”
From 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn 
Harvard Professor, Shelley Carson, wrote the following for the Huffington Post after a 2010 G-20 Summit meeting: “The G-20 Summit in Toronto is now over and, not surprisingly, one of the conclusions of the conference was that in order to attract investors, nations need to provide an ’environment that promotes creativity.’ From politics to business to education to sports, creativity is one of the buzzwords of this decade. We used to think of creativity as the province of artists, musicians and writers. Now we’re waking up to the fact that all facets of modern life demand creative input.1”
Most social and educational scientists agree that creativity is a necessary core “skill.” Creativity is an essential tool for 21st century success. And the beauty of our opportunities is that the human brain is built for creativity. Our responsibility as practitioners and promoters of music education is to ensure that our children have access, opportunity and skills necessary to discover and activate their God given and innate abilities. Our individual, organizational and human success depends on it. In short, Dr. Carson summarizes that, “creativity is important for artists, writers, musicians and inventors; but it is also crucial for societies, businesses and individuals who need to juggle fulfillment with the demands of the rapid-change culture. You not only need to be creative to enhance your life, you need it to survive.”
Our society is replete with evidence of success authored by artistically inspired achievers. A 2009 Harris Interactive poll shows that three-quarters of Fortune 100 executives were involved in some type of music program while in school and research shows that the longer executives participated, the more successful they became in life.
“The skills that they are learning, the things that they’re doing as a part of their music program, and their leadership experiences … these are the things that I look for when I’m hiring people. When I see on the resume that there is some type of artistic activity and leadership experience, I know that is someone I’m interested in interviewing. It’s the skills that aren’t taught anywhere else that make that person stand out above the rest.”  – Christian Howes, San Francisco Bay Area based Computer Software Designer/Engineer
I am fortunate to live in a state and a community that truly embraces the importance of arts, arts education and a strong artistic environment. Music for All’s corporate presence in Indianapolis, IN is no accident. Instead, our presence is part of our community’s plan to embrace, encourage and build a holistic support of the arts into its community growth strategies and initiatives. In a community that, for the most part, has no grand natural attraction or calling, like mountains, oceans or lakes, Indianapolis has created its own enticements and incentives for the arts. The city’s commitment to the arts is the reason that Music for All, Drum Corps International, the Percussive Arts Society, the International Violin competition, the American Pianists Association and the Heartland Truly Moving Pictures International Film Festival call Indianapolis home. 
It is no accident that Indiana is a state where one of its (and America’s) largest privately held corporations is led by the corporation founder’s son’s middle school band director. Entrepreneurs clearly recognize and are attracted to talent that includes evidence of creativity, creative instinct and problem solving in their repertoire. It is further no accident that Music for All is blessed to be governed by leaders who themselves (or their children) are products and beneficiaries of quality music education. They are entrepreneurs, corporate executives, lawyers, accountants and community leaders who see and are passionately committed to music and arts education.
The arts, and particularly ensemble experiences in the arts, have always provided an edge for development and appreciation of creativity, in an environment defined by collaboration, group and individual problem solving, mutual respect and cooperation. If it is true that success and a successful workforce in the 21st century require critical thinking, creative problem solving, innovation, effective communication and team work, then every American child’s scholastic day should include an active “hands-on” experience in the band, orchestra, dance, theatre, art and/or choir room. The collaboration necessary for success (student to student, student to teacher, student to parent, parent to teacher and everyone to their community – the audience and beneficiary) is inherent in the process. The goal is 
not professional artistry. They all will not become Christopher Martin (Principal Trumpet of the Chicago Symphony), renowned actress Jennifer Morrison or even Carl Cook or Kem Hawkins (CEO and President, respectively, of the Indiana-based Cook Group), but they will be better prepared and more able to compete and contribute meaningfully in the 21st century. 
The discussion about 21st century skills and creativity as a necessary and essential component is not new, nor is it likely to go away, at least not before we begin to look to the needs of the 22nd century. One need only look to Time’s 2005 article on the subject, still valid and valuable in 2012. At Music for All, we are committed to being a catalyst to ensure that every child across America has access and opportunity to participate in active music making in his or her scholastic environment. Our name and mission require no less of us. We believe in music education, music in our schools and Music for All.
1 “Creativity in the 21st Century” Huffington Post Article By Shelley Carson, Ph.D.
Research psychologist; lecturer, Harvard University, following the 2010 Toronto G20 Summit
ericEric Martin is President and Chief Executive Officer of Music for All, Inc. He is a Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Festivals and Events Association, of which he is a member of its Hall of Fame. Mr. Martin was previously president of ELM Productions, an Atlanta-based special events production company. He has numerous annual and “once in a lifetime” production credits and was recognized with a regional Emmy Award for his production of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Parade on SuperStation TBS. Mr. Martin is a Certified Festivals and Events Executive and an honors graduate of Dartmouth College. 
He holds a Juris Doctor degree from University of Michigan Law School.


Published in Advocacy in Action
Today's guest post is written by Bobby Lambert, the Bands of America Drum Major Institute Coordinator and Assistant Director at Marian Catholic H.S. in Chicago Heights, Illinois.
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I am delighted to represent the staff of the brand new Bands of America Drum Major Institute. This weekend in fact, I spent time with James Stephens, Assistant Band Director from Broken Arrow High School, planning some of the activities and lessons for our camp. It is an exciting venture into a new world of taking drum major instruction, something that has been around for many years, and putting it into 21st century technology and understanding.
For example, we are looking at Disney and their approach to entertainment and using that as a lens over our approach toward education. Simply put, we want to exceed the expectations of those coming to our camp not only this year, but for many years to come.  The exciting part of coming to this first camp will be helping to engineer future camps with student input and experience. These “pioneers” will, in essence, help design the future of what we hope will become a new standard in summer music education.
CoreTeachingPrinciplesWhile we want to move toward the future, we must begin with strong foundations—Leadership at its Core. The BOA Drum Major Institute will create opportunities that promote honorable Character, comprehensive Content, effective Communication and, the final ingredient for ensemble cohesion and individual enrichment, Chemistry.
Beginning with self-analysis, students learn their strengths and weaknesses, wants and needs and finally, the paths they wish to explore. We work to create leaders for whom leadership is not an exercise or task, it is a natural extension of their being.
The musical and visual knowledge possessed by the most effective drum majors is extensive. From score study and concise conducting patterns to visual acuity and showmanship, our program will provide instruction, challenges and growth.
Our program will help develop communication skills by examining the words we speak, the signals we give, the message that is received and the actions that occur as a result. Drum Major Institute participants will examine each aspect and work to find his/her own unique style.
In the most embracing and encouraging community in America, participants will examine with us this vital, often intangible portion of a successful ensemble. With the building blocks provided in this camp, we will explore the importance of group dynamics, define the variables that affect it and incorporate ways to influence the elements that matter most. 
Look for more information as we continue to build this experience. We believe this will be something very special. Join us and help us create the first ever BOA Drum Major Institute!
Bobby Lambert
Bands of America Drum Major Institute Coordinator
Assistant Band Director, Marian Catholic High School, Illiniois
Published in News
Monday, January 28, 2013

2013 William D. Revelli Scholarship

Music for All’s efforts to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences includes awarding a number of scholarships.

Each year, Music for All awards the William D. Revelli Scholarship at the Music for All National Festival. This scholarship honors a graduating senior who plans to pursue a degree in music education. The Revelli Scholarship is awarded in memory of Dr. William D. Revelli, one of America’s foremost band conductors, and the icon for whom the Revelli Foundation was created and named in 1994. The Revelli Scholarship honors Dr. Revelli’s vision for music education.

 Last year’s recipient, Kyle Norris from Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is attending Oklahoma State University this year.

2012Revelli Winner for Blog Post“I'm so glad that I get to go to school every day and learn how to become the best music teacher I can be so that when I am teaching students someday, I can hopefully affect them in the same positive way my teachers have affected me,” said Norris. Thanks Music for All and the Revelli Scholarship for helping me get here!”


The $1,000 William D. Revelli Scholarship is a one-time scholarship for a graduating senior who is performing at the 2013 Music for Al National Festival and is nominated by his or her director. Recipients must intend to pursue a degree in music education and demonstrate outstanding musicianship, leadership skills and work ethic.

To apply for this year’s scholarship, download the application here.
The deadline for submitting your application for the Revelli Scholarship is February 22, 2013.

Please share this information with any students  (and directors of students) who might be interested in this scholarship opportunity. We know continuing education can be expensive and every little bit helps these students to become amazing music educators!

Published in News
Thursday, December 13, 2012


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In partnership with the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Music for All is proud to launch two projects on the new power2give site. The power2give site is an online cultural marketplace designed to connect donors with projects for which they are passionate. Music for All will utilize power2give to offer our supporters opportunities to make direct impact on our world-class programming.

Music for All currently has two projects posted on that supporters can donate to:“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”-IPS Rose Parade Sponsorship, which is an opportunity to send an Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) student to Los Angeles to participate in the BOA Honor Band in the 2013 Rose Parade®; and “Music Matters: Support Music in our Schools,” a project to develop an advocacy and awareness campaign through PSAs that promote the importance of music education in our schools.  You can view information and help fund these projects at:

Chase Bank will be donating $0.50 for every $1.00 donated to the, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”-IPS Rose Parade Sponsorship. Music for All would like to thank Chase Bank for its support of the arts in our community.

 We hope you join us in showing your support for music and arts education by sharing these projects with fellow supporters of the arts via email and social media. If you have questions about the projects, please feel free to contact Music for All at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 317-636-2263. 


How does it work?
Music for All and other 501(c)(3) organizations in Central Indiana will submit projects in need of funding to the power2give website. After approval from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the project will be posted to the website for up to 90 days, where you can select an amount to donate toward the project. The minimum donation is just $1. For every dollar raised, 12 cents goes to cover administrative costs and credit card fees.

What happens if the project I donate to isn’t fully funded?
If you give to a Music for All project that isn’t fully funded, a representative of our Development Department will contact you to notify you how the project will be adapted to utilize your generous gift.

What are the donor benefits?
Music for All has developed incentives for donors to ensure that they are closely connected to the project.  After the project is funded or has expired, Music for All will distribute the donor benefits listed on the power2give give project page.
Is my gift tax deductible?
Yes, because power2give is a program of the Arts Council of Indianapolis, a 501(c)(3) organization and the donor benefits listed do not have tax implications, your gift is fully tax deductible.

What are ways I can get involved with a project aside from donating?
You can help promote projects through email and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. For information on volunteering for Music for All, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information on power2give, please visit

Published in News
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Inspiring Words

Music Quote

I’m not going to try to hide it.  I am completely fascinated with quotes. I love beautiful words. Add some wonderful graphic to those beautiful words and I’m in heaven. Thank you Pinterest for deepening this love for me.

 Last Friday I wanted to do something fun on the Music for All Facebook page so I asked our Facebook fans what THEIR favorite quote about music was. I was surprised by the number of quotes I had never heard before and decided to ask some of my coworkers what THEIR favorite music quotes were! I found out that I’m not alone in my love for a beautiful quote, so I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Here is what some members of the Music for All staff said:

 ·      Nancy Carlson, EVP and Chief Financial Officer: “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible in music”- Aldous Huxley
·      Mike Pyron, Marketing Intern: ”It’s funny how a melody sounds like a memory”- lyrics from an Eric Church/ Springsteen song
·      Seth Williams, Development Coordinator: “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”- Aldous Huxley
·      Rachel McFadden, Participant Relations Coordinator: “You are the music while the music lasts.” –T.S. Eliot
·      Zachary Modjeski, Participant Relations Intern: “Music without passion is just noise”
·      Kyle Courtney, Events Coordinator: “Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”
·      Julie Rapp, Accounting Specialist: “Music is what feelings sound like.”- Author Unknown and “A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence”- Leopold Stokowski
Here are some of the favorite quotes that our Facebook Fans posted:

·      “You can take me out of the music, but you can never take the music out of me”
·      “Music for All is a wonderful organization and doing wonderful things!” (Sorry couldn’t resist sharing these very kind words from the Musicians of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra!)
·      “I believe in music the way people believe in fairy tales.” – August Rush
·      “Music is Art Painted on Silence”
·      “When words fail, Music speaks”
·      “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”- Albert Einstein
·      “Being in the band is one of the greatest things you can do, and don’t let anyone ever tell you any differently!”
·      “La musica es el idioma universal” translation “Music is the universal language”
·      “If it sounds good, it is good”
·      “Without music, life would be a mistake”- Nietzsche
·      “Music is what feelings sound like”
·      “Even if the whole world has forgotten, the song remembers when”- Hugh Prestwood, sung by Trisha Yearwood
·      “Music will save the world”- Pablo Casals
·      “God gave us music so we could pray without words”
·      “To all those who enter, you are subject to the relentless refining process of music, through uncompromising standards”- Bruce Dinkins
·      “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us”- Martin Luther
·      “If Music is Love, Love is Music, then Love is everywhere”
·      “It’s all about music. Everything else is second”
·      “Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn”- Charlie Parker
·      “Life without art is stupid”
·      “The great thing about music: when it hits you, you feel no pain”

While it is extremely hard to pick a favorite, especially after reading all of these wonderful quotes, my personal favorite music quote is:

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”

Which is your favorite?

Erin Fortune
Marketing Coordinator- Music for All

Published in News
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 2012 Patrick John Hughes Parent Booster award was awarded to PJ Littleton, of Tennessee.

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Eric Martin-President and CEO of Music for All, David McCullough-Director of Bands at Butler University, Webb Littleton, Casey Littleton, PJ Littleton, Susan Littleton, Cameron Gish- Director at Hillsboro M.S.

PJ Littleton is an active volunteer and arts supporter with the new band program at Hillsboro Middle School in Franklin, Tennessee.

As a youth, PJ Littleton represented his home state of West Virginia in the McDonalds’s All American Band, performed in the All-American Jazz Band, minored in music at West Virginia University, studied at the Berkley College of Music and worked in the music industry for over 10 years before moving to Franklin to raise a family.

In 2011 Hillsboro Middle School was the only middle school in Williamson County in Tennessee without an established band program- and the school that Mr. Littleton’s 6th grader would be attending. Mr. Littleton an avid supporter of music and music education attended every district roundtable discussion, every zoning meeting and every PTO meeting, fighting tirelessly for district support of a new band program.

When others said that the school’s small enrollment (275 middle school students) would not have enough interest for a band, Mr. Littleton pushed on with his belief that each student at Hillsboro deserved the right to perform in a band program similar to any other school in the county. After weeks of discussion the Board of Education agreed to hire a band director for Hillsboro. PJ Littleton is more than a proud parent and a dedicated band booster president. PJ Littleton is a true music advocate who saw a need for a music program and didn’t stop until the students of Hillsboro Middle School had access to music.

While administration was busy hiring new leadership for the school and building new classrooms for the influx of new students, a group of parents began meeting to discuss other academic, athletic, and arts-related needs of the group. This group of parents eventually formed a 501(c)(3) organization called Hillsboro Tomorrow, an organization that has funded over $300,000 in improvements to the school. PJ Littleton has been an active member of this organization since its conception, and worked with board members to allocate $45,000 of funds raised to support the new band program. Mr. Littleton was however responsible for finding the donors and business supporters to raise his requested amount of money.
“PJ has been a cornerstone of our band program, even before most knew we were going to have a band program. He has given of himself tirelessly with his time, his passion, and his resources. As someone who has worked alongside of him and has a child benefitting from his efforts, I can’t say enough wonderful things about PJ Littleton. We have worked together for the benefit of Hillsboro for nearly two year now, and the only complain I have heard him utter during this time is that he has not been able to do more” – Rhonda Kollenborn, President, Hillsboro Tomorrow.

Not only was PJ Littleton instrumental in making sure this school had a band program, but he was also instrumental in recruitment of band members. Even before the band director was hired, PJ was working with the community and creating a campaign “Catch the Dream, Build the Band,” that would spread awareness. The campaign was not only a tool for fundraising, but created a buzz about the band to incoming students.
Throughout the summer before the first year of the band Mr. Littleton raised over $35,000 in private donations that were used to purchase new chairs, stands, equipment ad a stock of school-owned instruments.

He not only gave of his time to fund raise but also gave of his time to help the new band director to prepare the new band room (a former storage room/ computer room) by spending hours painting and readying the room for use.

Throughout the 2011-2012 school year, Mr. Littleton served as the Band Booster President and continued to raise funds, help spread the accomplishments of the students to fellow parents and district administrators, volunteered at concerts and school events, attended PTO meetings, created band traditions, coordinated a year-end banquet, and even taught trumpet sectionals for the inaugural jazz band.

Thanks to PJ Littleton’s efforts, the new band program included nearly 60 students in its first year (20% of the student body). Enrollment soared to 90 students (30% of the student body) the next year. Mr. Littleton was there once again to help raise funds needed for new instruments to meet the increased enrollment.

PJ Littleton has no doubt been instrumental in raising much-needed funds for the new Hillsboro Middle School Band program, but his impact is much larger than that. “His impact reaches further than dollars and cents. His innovative ideas have transformed the way we think about band at Hillsboro School, and within our own county. I am constantly inspired by his selfless attitude, his contagious energy, his tireless pursuit of excellence, and is unmatched passion for public school music education. Through his efforts, we are becoming a comprehensive band program with a large stock of high-quality instruments, appropriate equipment, and an outstanding parent support system. But more importantly, he is helping to provide outstanding and memorable experiences for our students and their families, in a way that Hillsboro School has never achieved prior to this endeavor.” – Cameron Gish, Band Director, Hillsboro Middle School

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Several bands from the most severely affected regions of Hurricane Sandy’s path, including Bridgewater-Raritan High School and Hillsborough High School from New Jersey, Annapolis Area Christian School from Maryland, and Cape Fear High School and Panther Creek High School from North Carolina, have found a way to make it to Indianapolis, Indiana for the Bands of America Grand National Championships presented by Yamaha as scheduled despite the difficulties these bands have faced over the last few weeks. Music for All is proud to have these bands here in Indianapolis this weekend and is asking for help in embracing and supporting their participation.

In addition Music for All is asking its participating bands and their fans to join in supporting ALL of the victims of Hurricane Sandy by making a donation in the name of ALL of the bands (and music students) in America to the American Red Cross. “At Music for All we want to teach students about more than just music. We are committed to helping to prepare students to be great citizens and professionals. One of Music for All’s core values is Leadership. We lead through positive action and are committed to serving others for the greater good of society. While the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is terrible, it is an opportunity for our students and communities to practice real leadership and engage in doing so” says Eric Martin, President and CEO of Music for All.

The Hurricane Relief initiative has started with a $100 donation from Music for All’s President and CEO, Eric Martin. Additional funds (cash or checks) are being accepted at the Music for All Information & Awareness Booth on the North Concourse of Lucas Oil Stadium from Wednesday November 7 through Saturday November 10th. Additionally on Saturday, volunteers including members of the Avon High School and Carmel High School Orchestras from Indiana will come through the stands with buckets to accept donations. ALL of the funds will be delivered to the Indianapolis office of the American Red Cross in honor of Music for All and ALL of the band and music students and boosters in America.

If anyone wishes to join in the relief efforts they can also send a check made out to the “American Red Cross” to the Music for All office at 39 W. Jackson Place, Suite 150, Indianapolis, IN 46225 or make a donation to the America Red Cross directly at 

Music for All has already seen support for the Hurricane Relief initiative from its partners as well as the Indianapolis area community. Pepwear has provided t-shirts that will be the uniforms of the volunteers on Saturday, Sharp Business Systems has donated printing services and the Home Depot has donated the collection buckets. Avon High School has also graciously opened its doors to the Bridgewater-Raritan High School band to rehearse, which will be their first rehearsal since the super storm hit.

 Music for All hopes that this Grand National’s initiative becomes a catalyst to inspire a “student participant lead and driven commitment to create, determine and support a special Bands of America project benefiting others at each Grand Nationals, beginning November 2013.”

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