The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog



BSU Editorial photo

If your students love music, encourage them to discover the world-class education available at Ball State University.

Recognized for its national leadership and innovative programming at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, Ball State’s School of Music prepares students for a wide range of careers. Students are challenged academically as well as musically, mentored by faculty while they develop their skills, deepen their artistry, and experience all the School of Music has to offer.

Students also can perform with award-winning ensembles, develop recording engineering and songwriting skills, compose music for a variety of performers and media, or prepare to teach in today's music classrooms.

More than a dozen performance groups are open to Ball State students, including the 65-member Ball State Symphony Orchestra, the “Pride of Mid-America” Marching Band, and Ball State Basketball Band. Students can audition for a spot with the Ball State University Singers, or join the Statesmen or Women’s Chorus, open to any singer, no audition required.

The School of Music offers five majors and eight minors for undergraduates; two master’s degrees; a doctor of arts; an artist diploma; and an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, and doctoral secondary area of study in entrepreneurial music.

Take a virtual tour of the campus at Learn more by visiting or calling 765-285-5400.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

2018 Northern California Stadium Confirmed

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northern california regionalDiablo Valley College10.20.2018

We are excited to confirm that the Bands of America Northern California Regional Championship will take place at Diablo Valley College!

For more information on tickets and how to live stream the event, please visit the Regional page.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Music for All Affiliate Choral Festival

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Music for All is proud to announce Georgia Southern University will host its 4th annual Southern Invitational High School Choral Competition and Festival in its second year of collaboration with Music for All.  After reviewing numerous applications and recordings, the music faculty of Georgia Southern will host 15 selected choirs from Georgia and South Carolina on October 18 and 19  in Statesboro, Georgia.

Over 400 students have the opportunity to receive evaluation from and work with master teachers Dr. Kent Hatteberg, Music for All Choral Artistic Committee Member and Director of Choral Activities at University of Louisville; Mr. Ryan Marsh, Music for All ENVOY member and Choral Director at Lafayette High School in Lexington, KY; and Dr. Sara Lynn Baird, Professor Department of Music, College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University.

Dr. Shannon Jeffreys, Director of Choral Activities, and Dr. David Langley, Assistant Director of Choral Activities at Georgia Southern will be joined by vocal/choral faculty to offer private voice instruction and many diverse sessions and activities. Georgia Southern University choral students will perform in concert for participating choirs as they continue to work hard to make memories for the high school students and directors. Dr. Jeffreys stated “We look forward to announcing all of our winners in mid-October and hope they will apply for the Music for All National Choir Festival in 2020!”

As a Music for All Affiliate Festival, each participating choir will receive a scholarship toward application for the 2020 National Choir Festival in Indianapolis where Artistic Director, Henry Leck will be joined by Guest Conductor, Elena Sharkova; Composer in Residence, Rosephanye Powell; Evaluator-Clinicians: Angela Broeker, Rollo Dilworth, Eric Stark, Ly Wilder, Brandon Boyd, Joseph Flummerfelt, Jason Max Ferdinand; and Guest Choir, the Oakwood Aeolians. Visit for more information on the Music for All National Choir Festival.

Please join us in welcoming Jessica Morgan to the Marketing Department as a Marketing Coordinator!

As Marketing Coordinator, Morgan’s responsibilities include maintaining web, digital, and print materials, assisting with preparation for Music for All’s presence at national conventions, updating and maintaining Bands of America announcer scripts, design, and various marketing projects.

"We are very pleased to have Jessica join Music for All's marketing team," says Debbie Laferty Asbill, Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "Jessica gained experience helping and talking with our participants and supporters in her previous role with Music for All. As part of the marketing team, she now brings that spirit of service and background in marketing to our efforts to promote and share our programming and music education advocacy."

Jessica joined Music for All in February 2018 as the Administrative Assistant/Receptionist. She graduated from Indiana State University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Music Business with a focus on Marketing and Product Merchandising. During her collegiate career Jessica served as President of Sigma Alpha Iota, as well as the manager of the ISU Flute Choir. Morgan is originally from Terre Haute, IN and is a proud alumna of Terre Haute North Vigo High School. While attending Terre Haute North, she was highly active in the Music and Theater departments. 

Join us in congratulating Jessica on this much deserved promotion. We are thrilled that she will continue to help support Music for All's mission to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences through Music for All!

Director of Bands at O’Fallon Township High School 

Dr. Gustafson-Hinds grew up in the small town of Monmouth, IL. The band program was fairly small, but Melissa says the director’s love for music and kids inspired her to pursue a career involving music. In addition to playing oboe at Monmouth, Dr. G (as her students call her), was also a baton twirler and dancer.

Melissa was unsure about her path as a teacher. Her mother was a teacher, so she figured that maybe this is a family gene that was passed down to her. What she does know is that growing up, she always felt her band program lacked resources, but she never knew exactly what those resources were. Although her band directors were amazing, she knew that the lack of resources prevented them from doing more in the band world. Dr. Gustafson-Hinds says that because of this, “My number one thing that I do as a teacher right now is to make sure I'm providing all the students a multitude of experiences within my power and resources that we have.”

Once her time in Monmouth concluded, Dr. G attended Illinois State University as an oboe player and conductor for the marching band, where she was first introduced to teaching. After a while, she decided that it was time to go and put her own stamp on things. At that point, she moved to Southern Illinois and ended up at O’Fallon Township High School, where she has now served 10 years out of her 24 years of teaching.

“I think my passion, at least for music education is providing just amazing experiences for kids”, Melissa says. Not only is Dr. Gustafson-Hinds the Director of Bands at O’Fallon, but she also serves as Department Chair, where she is involved with the choirs as well.

As she oversees O’Fallon’s marching band, wind ensemble, symphonic winds, symphonic band, and Milburn band, Dr. G oftentimes takes a step away from the music. She believes that it is important for her students to “learn to be people”. They need to be able to show up on time, always be prepared, work together with others, be positive, and be respectful to everyone. Many of these lessons are naturally portrayed to her students in the way she conducts rehearsals. As her former student at O’Fallon, I know that these are her standard expectations aside from showing up and playing your instrument.

“I think through band, there's so many things that they can learn despite being just great people. And besides giving them amazing experiences, I'm hoping that as they go through the program at O'Fallon Township High School, they end up being really amazing people, and that they can venture and then do their own thing.”

One of Melissa’s largest takeaways as a teacher is networking. She finds it very important to find someone that can be your go-to person. Nobody knows all of the answers, but there is always someone more experienced that may be willing to help. This is one reason why she loves the Midwest Clinic and Music for All. She says,“If you're at those marching band events, there's everybody around, or a concert band event or anything like that, it's a really great place to meet really fabulous educators that understand who you are”. Dr. G understands that, “because we're kind of on little islands, in a way, some people understand what you do, but not completely, because they're not living it.”

Dr. G believes that the best teachers are always learning. She tries to remain available to others because she knows that others have always been available to her.

Both Melissa and her students take the marching season very seriously. To them, Grand Nationals is not only an opportunity to perform, but it is an opportunity to learn. She considers herself blessed that she has a team that supports her ideas and visions. She believes in Music for All and our vision, and that has helped get her students to where they are now.

Dr. Melissa Gustafson-Hinds is all around an amazing woman, mentor, mother, and friend. She does a phenomenal job teaching her students to not only be fantastic musicians, but to be truly amazing people. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to study under her in my high school years. Without her guidance, I would not have the opportunity to share her story as a Music for All Marketing Intern.

Thank you Dr. G for being an extraordinary music educator!

Karissa Mills header

Music for All has named Karissa Mills as Administrative Assistant/Receptionist.

Mills joins Music for All full-time after completing a six-month internship with the Advancement Department. During her internship, Mills projects included: sponsorship fulfillment support, donor relations support, grant research, and assisting with the coordination of the Yamaha Directors’ Academy Scholarship program for the 2018 Music for All Summer Symposium. As Administrative Assistant/Receptionist, Mills is the first point of contact for those who visit and call the office. Her responsibilities include general administrative tasks, preparing documents and correspondence, conducting data entry for applications that are received, being attuned of staff schedules, meetings, and travel, and general upkeep of the office.

“We are delighted to have Karissa Mills join the Music for All team,” said Norman Lasiter, Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO and COO. “Relying on solid education and experience in music and business and her passion for the arts, Karissa will contribute meaningfully to our organization and the delivery of its mission. I’m excited to have another “product” of band join the team.”

Mills graduated from Indiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Business. She was also a part of the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity for women, where she served as the Vice President of Ritual and Sergeant-at-Arms.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Educator Spotlight: Sarah McKoin

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Director of Bands, Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, TX

One of Sarah McKoin’s goals is to make sure that music is observed as being “art for art’s sake.” Music education has a purpose, and Sarah prioritizes finding that purpose and relaying it to her students.

Growing up in Indiana and Michigan, Sarah always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Her career path formed around her passion for music. To kick off her journey toward becoming a music educator, Sarah attended Michigan State University for her Bachelor’s Degree. She later attended Wichita State for graduate school.

During her musical journey, she moved to Texas to teach high school band before studying at the University of Texas for her doctorate. Sarah held a high interest in discovering what made Texas schools so amazing. “The standards, and the curriculum, and the passion, and the way that they teach, it's not everybody, they, are really exemplary,” Sarah said. “There is some fine, fine, fine teaching going on in Texas. I'm inspired by it. I feel fortunate I get to be around those people.”

Sarah has since found a family in her Texas Tech band community, where she teaches her students to follow their passions.

When asked what her passion is, Sarah responded with, “My passion is teaching, and music, and people, I guess those three things. I love to teach. I love seeing kids get it. I love seeing students put themselves out there. I love when you have particularly special performances and the connection that goes with that, it's intangible. You don't get that in math class, or I never did. I love that. That makes getting up and going to work exciting. I like teaching, and people, and music. I love that.”

Fulfilling a passion is simply not enough. Sarah believes that there has to be ways to continuously seek and feed that passion. She encourages teachers to challenge themselves to hear new ensembles, set higher standards for their students, and find a balance with new experiences.

As a woman in music, Sarah says, “People often ask me, ‘What's it like being a woman conductor?' and I'm like, "I don't know. I've never been a man, so I don't really have an answer for that.” Everyone who has influenced Sarah are quite amazing musicians, who just so happen to be men. “Music doesn't really know a gender, and art doesn't really know a gender, and passion doesn't really know a gender.”

Sarah wants to create a platform for young musicians to understand the purpose of music. “I think sometimes I see students come in and it's very segregated between, "We did this, and we did this, and we did this, and we did this." Sarah thinks that this mindset causes students to lose sight of all that music has to offer. She believes music should be experienced as a special gift rather than “a goal-driven trophy”. Sarah says, “I think Bands of America does a great job with taking art and music and still having a competitive environment, but making it something that's an artistic experience.” The gap between high school and college does not have to be the cause of attrition in music.

Sarah concludes that once students develop an understanding of applying musical solutions to technical problems, they will have a much more mature way of thinking.


Music for All welcomes Lucia Smith as Accounts Receivable Clerk!

As Accounts Receivable Clerk, Smith is responsible for assisting with the processing of summer camp and fall registrations, maintaining the integrity of all accounting records and files for vendors, customers, and participants; and assisting with other finance and administrative duties as needed and directed.

“We are thrilled to add Lucia to the Music for All Accounting Department,” said Tonya Bullock, Accounting Manager. “She is a wonderful asset to our staff and customers.”

Lucia graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a degree in Business, experience in Accounting and Customer Service. In the past Lucia has volunteered with various organizations including Children’s Bureau and Feed the Children.

Please join us in welcoming Lucia Smith to Music for All!

Drum Corps International has delayed the start time of the DCI Central Indiana show in Muncie, Indiana today, Friday, June 29, to 8 p.m. due to a Heat Advisory.

For more information on the show, visit


The 2018 Bands of America Southern California Regional Championship will take place at Monarch Stadium at L.A. Valley College in Van Nuys, California!

Stay tuned for ticket information coming soon.