The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog


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!

10. Awesome Evening Concerts!

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!

9. There’s something for everyone

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.

8. Leadership is the theme

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.

7. Learn from the best

Where else would you get to go to be instructed by so many of the top music educators and clinicians from across the country?

6. Create life-long friends

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!

5. Take music & performance skills to the next level

This IS the Music for All Summer Symposium, so first and foremost you will be getting top-notch performance instruction from our outstanding faculty!

4. Get energized for next school year

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!

3. Get the away from home “college experience”

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.

2. It’s more fun than a summer job!

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!

1. Surrounded by students from across the country who are different – but also JUST LIKE YOU!

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!

Published in Stories
Thursday, August 22, 2013

Start Making Memories

When I was in high school, I always looked forward to the beginning of a new school year. There were pristine pads of paper, a Technicolor rainbow of brand new pens and fresh folders just begging for a doodle or two. There were new things to learn and a locker to decorate and fill with books. All of my color guard friends and I were still excited about what we had learned at band camp, knowing we would get the opportunity to show off soon. The year was filled with possibility and it was mine to shape.

Rachel Color Guard Girls

With all the hustle and bustle that accompanies the start of school, it can be easy to get caught up in what needs to be done NOW. The marching season looms large for many of us and concert band season can seem like a distant dream. But it’s not too early to plan. Planning starts today for tomorrow's experiences.

rachel 2

You’re on stage, squinting past the lights to see if you recognize anyone in the audience. Your instrument is tuned, your music is open and you are ready. People who’ve become lifelong friends in the span of 5 days surround you and the nervous energy sounds like an electric buzz. The hours you have spent in sectionals, master classes and full rehearsals have all led to this moment. The conductor enters to applause, you sit up a little bit straighter, the baton raises and it begins.

That is the experience of participating in a Music for All Honor Ensemble, and that kind of life-changing experience really begins long before you set foot in the J.W. Marriott hotel in Indianapolis in March 2014. It begins long before the acceptance letters are put in the mail in November. It even begins before the September 15 application deadline. That experience starts TODAY. It starts when you fill out an application to be part of one of the Music for All National Honor Ensembles.

So as you crack open that new bottle of valve oil, restring your bow, pick up some fresh reeds; enjoy it. Savor this time when possibilities abound. But also take the time to learn more about the Music for All Honor Ensemble experience. Once you know more, the next step will be clear. Don't put off till tomorrow what can be done today. Apply for the Honor Band, Honor Orchestra or Jazz Band of America. Start making memories.

JR2 2113


Click here to learn more about the Music for All Honor Ensembles

Apply today!



Rachel McFadden is currently an Administrative Assistant at Music for All and is thrilled to get back to her band nerd roots after so many years of trying to "blend in." She has a degree in Communication Studies from Manchester University and has previously held such varied jobs as Copywriter, Arts and Crafts Director and Aeronaut. 

Published in Stories

 Trio onstage cropped.jpeg

If I had to pick one adjective to describe the Wednesday concert in the Summer Symposium evening concert series, it would be…


We welcomed to the stage The PROJECT Trio, a “passionate, high energy chamber music ensemble” from Brooklyn, New York ( The group, comprised of Peter Seymour, double bass; Greg Pattillo, flute; and Eric Stephenson, cello, is anything but ordinary. The three met while attending the Cleveland Institute of Music together. A milestone for the group occurred in 2006 when Pattillo’s beatbox flute video went viral on YouTube. The PROJECT Trio concept stemmed from a desire to create music for the unique flue-cello-double bass combination, and these individuals’ pure love for music was evident as they performed for us last evening.

The PROJECT Trio composes and plays music in a vast array of genres. We were treated to all sorts of tunes, from Beethoven’s “5th” and the “William Tell Overture” to funky hip-hop and some sassy salsa beats. The audience even got to experience a more theatrical side of PROJECT Trio with their rendition of “Peter and the Wolf.”

The PROJECT Trio created a special opportunity for our Summer Symposium Strings Division students, who not only participated in in workshop with the Trio, but got to perform two pieces with them onstage. And what a stellar performance it was!

PROJECT Trio in rehearsal

The PROJECT Trio giving a workshop to the Strings students


playingwithstringsStrings students performing with PROJECT Trio in Emens Auditorium

A big congratulations to the Strings students, and a warm thank you to The PROJECT Trio for the unique blessing brought by their presence at the Summer Symposium!

For more information and a full bio of The PROJECT Trio, you can visit their website,; connect with “Project Trio” on Facebook; and follow @thePROJECTTrio on Twitter.


-Carolyn T.

Carolyn Tobin is the Marketing Intern at Music for All. Drawn to all that is digital media, she was an award-recipient of the NMU Tube Student Video Contest and was named the Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Communications and Performance Studies Department at Northern Michigan University. She is a devout runner, and has also enjoyed blogging about her adventures living in Spain and Argentina. Carolyn is a music, dance and color guard enthusiast, the former color guard section leader of Legends Drum & Bugle Corps from Kalamazoo, and she has served on the guard staff for Legends and for Marian University in Indianapolis.

Published in Stories

Are you planning to apply for the 2014 Music for All National Festival?

Music for All is receiving applications and audition recordings now for the 2014 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, March 6-8 in Indianapolis, IN. Applications and audition recordings are due June 5, 2013. So that we can be sure to expect your application and prepare for the listening process, we invite you to submit this form indicating your intention to apply for the 2014 Festival.

All submissions are confidential and non-binding. This simply helps us to plan for the listening process and to ensure that we receive audition materials you might send (we'll be on the look out for your application).

The Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha celebrates outstanding music making by the nation's finest concert bands, orchestras and percussion ensembles. Learn more about the Festival here.

Published in News

It’s hard to believe it’s already Wednesday evening of the Music for All Summer Symposium! Tonight, I had the opportunity to listen to the jazz students’ dress rehearsal with the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra in Emens Auditorium, prior to their performance this evening.

BWJO 1I was very impressed with the sheer enthusiasm of the ensemble. The combination of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra and all the jazz track students on stage was definitely impressive as well – they spanned almost the entire length of the stage, creating quite an impressive sound.

As I watched Mark Buselli rehearse the ensemble, he had so much energy and enthusiasm that the students couldn’t help but be enthusiastic as well. View this video of the dress rehearsal to learn more.

BWJO 2After the jazz dress rehearsal, I was excited to discover I had enough time to run across the street to the Music Instruction Building to catch the last half of the orchestra students’ Chamber Orchestra Rehearsal with Time for Three’s Nick Kendall.

The groundbreaking, category-shattering trio Time for Three transcends traditional classification, with elements of classical, country western, gypsy and jazz idioms forming a blend all its own. The members -- Zachary (Zach) De Pue, violin; Nicolas (Nick) Kendall, violin; and Ranaan Meyer, double bass -- carry a passion for improvisation, composing and arranging, all prime elements of the ensemble’s playing. Tf3 sets itself apart not only with its varied repertoire performed with astonishing technical acuity, but also through its approach. Its high-energy performances are free of conventional practices, drawing instead from the members’ differing musical backgrounds. The trio also performs its own arrangements of traditional repertoire and Ranaan Meyer provides original compositions to complement the trio’s offerings.

The trio also passes along strong, positive messages to young people. Their video, Stronger, relays the following message: “Be stronger, achieve your dreams, fight against bullies or WHATEVER strong force is against you.” You can view this video here.

As Kendall worked with the orchestra students on a piece called Hymn, he instructed students to play with feeling and really try to get into it.

“You guys can really just move with the music,” Kendall said. “If musicians look like [they’re thinking] ‘why am I here,’ it’s a waste of the audience’s time…believe in the moment and enjoy the harmonies.”

The results were immediate, and I watched students incorporate movement and really get into the emotional nature of the music, which was very lyrical and expressive. View a video from rehearsal here.

Nick Kendall 3As the students rehearsed the next piece, Orange Blossom Special, Kendall instructed the students to put as much enthusiasm and energy into the piece as they possibly could in order to truly get as much out of the musical experience as possible. I watched the students giving it their all, even so late in the day at almost 7:30 p.m. It was inspiring to see them working so hard to achieve a musical goal.

As rehearsal came to a close, I chatted for a second with Clarice, a student from Indiana. I asked her what it was like working with Nick Kendall.

“It was different,” she said. “A lot of new things – we learned some improv, and it was fun!”

Right now, students are enjoying the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra concert at Emens Auditorium, and the jazz students will be performing on stage for a couple pieces that are part of this concert. And, orchestra students have a special immersion performance on stage with Time for Three tomorrow, June 28, at 8 p.m. at Emens Auditorium.

These special immersion performances give students an opportunity to learn and absorb important musical lessons that I feel also translate to significant life lessons.

I found this text on Time for Three’s website, as part of the description for their video I described above, and I think the philosophy and thought behind it make perfect sense:

“We are Time for Three and this is our story -- the story of so many kids who every day face challenges to who they are and who they want to be: their dreams, their ambitions, their identity. This video is for you guys. Be strong. Stick with it. We did, and we are stronger for it.”



Published in News

Today, Music for All published a series of interesting, often moving video stories from the 2012 Music for All National Festival and honor ensembles. During the event, we interviewed members of the honor ensembles and the conductors. Marry those interviews with behind the scenes video from rehearsals and outstanding performance footage and you have a series of compelling stories that really gives you a feel for the experience of these national honor ensembles for high school musicians.

I hope you'll take some time to watch these stories, compiled in the 2012 Festival playlist on our YouTube channel:;feature=plcp

Videos include of the Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America and Jazz Band of America. The playlist also includes a feature on the experience for the invited ensembles, highlights from the string master class with Time for Three's Nick Kendall, the Opening Session video and the banquet keynote address from Mr. Eric L. Martin, President and CEO of Music for All.

I hope you enjoy and share!

Debbie Laferty Asbill, Music for All

Published in News
Friday, June 24, 2011

Uncommon Time

NickKendallI really didn’t think evening concerts could get any better than they have been already this week, but last night’s concert with Uncommon Time, featuring Time for Three’s Nick Kendall and Ranaan Meyer, and friends, blew me away.

Last night’s ensemble included Nick Kendall on violin, Ranaan Meyer on double bass, Josh Fobare on keyboards, and Matt Scarano on drums.

I had never heard of Time for Three before Summer Symposium, but I am now a huge fan. Time for Three blends jazz, funk, pop, country western and gypsy music and often quickly moves from these unique genres to a calm, deliberate classical sound. Not only are Nick and Ranaan very kind, they are incredible musicians and were a great resource to our Orchestra track students.

Music for All was very lucky to be able to have Nick and Ranaan as Artists-in-Residence at Symposium. They both worked with the Orchestra track students throughout the week.

Earlier in the week, students participated in a fiddle master class with Kendall and Meyer that helped them prepare for the unique experience of performing on stage during the evening concert.

After being at camp for 9 days, I was having a particularly long and tiring day. I went over to Emens to greet directors as they came in to watch the concert. While listening to the students and watching them do the wave, I started to get re-energized and really excited for the rest of the night.

I didn’t read up on Time for Three, and I didn’t watch any videos. I had no idea what to expect. Working for Music for All, most people assume that I’m a musician. While I play a little bit of piano, and was in choir in high school and college, I don’t classify myself as a musician, but rather more of a recreational music maker. I understand basic concepts of music, but I’m sure most of the students here at Summer Symposium could teach me a thing or two! What I liked the most about last night’s performance was that it showcases strings in a whole new and innovative way. It’s accessible and relatable to anybody, even if you don’t have an orchestra background or love of classical music. The pure talent of the performers transcends genres.

Sitting up in the balcony, I had a great vantage point of all the students down on the main floor. They were really enjoying the concert - cheering at appropriate times and just attentively listening through a lot of it.

I was enjoying the concert, and really not wanting it to end, when Nick Kendall said they would be playing their last piece with a few special guests. This was the piece that I had been waiting for all night!

As Uncommon Time started to play the beginning notes of “Ogden,” written by Ranaan Meyer and Josh Fobare, pianist; orchestra students started filling the stage one by one. After everyone was in place, the magic began with students playing fluid, powerful lines over a steady, hip-hop backbeat. The students’ playing combined with Uncommon Time was so powerful. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!

There was something extra special about this performance that really touched me. I’m still not quite sure what it was, or how to even describe it. During my short time with Music for All, there have been just a few moments that literally have taken my breath away. The first was at my first Grand National Championships during the video montage right before finale. This was the second.

I was overwhelmed with how incredibly proud I was to be part of an organization that provides these life-changing experiences to students. I can’t fully understand what it must have felt like for those students, to play with Uncommon Time on that stage in front of all their camp peers and many others. You could tell that they were connecting with the music, and therefore connecting with their audience. They were putting into use all of the lessons on movement they had received from Richard Clark earlier in the week.

As they played their last note, and the lights on stage went to black, the crowd erupted in applause that moved directly to the “Standing O” that Symposium students are known for giving to performers. Even the “adults” on the balcony joined in on this standing ovation. It was truly a remarkable performance.

As I left Emens Auditorium with one of my coworkers, I was beaming. We both could not stop saying, “wow, that was incredible.” That moment makes everything worth it. That moment is why we, at Music for All, are dedicated to these students, this camp and anyone who touches any of our programs. It is the reason why we all do what we do. I know for a fact that lives were touched last night – lives of the students who performed on stage, and for some in the audience. I know mine was.

I sincerely hope that all of the students at Summer Symposium get to experience many more moments like that one. I know I’m definitely looking forward to Saturday when we will get to see ALL of the tracks showcase what they’ve been doing at camp all week!


Published in News

oconnor_webMusic for All is proud to announce that Grammy Award-winning violinist/composer/fiddler Mark O'Connor will be guest soloist with the Honor Orchestra of America at the 2011 Music for All National Festival, March 17-19 in Indianapolis. Larry J. Livingston, University of Souther California, will conduct.

MFA has also extended the application/audition deadline for strings for the 2011 Honor Orchestra until October 15.

If you are familiar with O'Connor, then you already know how exciting this is. If not, here's just a sample of what folks say about his performances:

"One of the most spectacular journeys in recent American music." —New York Times

"One of the most talented and imaginative... working in music -- any music -- today." —Los Angeles Times

"Brilliantly original." —Seattle Times

O'Connor is widely recognized as one of the most gifted contemporary composers in America and surely one of the brightest talents of his generation. The Seattle Times writes: "No matter what he plays, when you’re listening to O’Connor, you know you’re listening to genius." Mark O'Connor incorporates many musical styles and genres into a sound that is uniquely his own. As noted by The Los Angeles Times, Mark O’Connor has "crossed over so many boundaries, that his style is purely personal."

The Honor Orchestra of America will perform two shared concerts with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at Hilbert Circle Theatre, March 18 and 19.

Learn more about the orchestra and download the application and audition requirements.

Published in News