Our Staff Story this week focuses on the incredible connection between James Stephens, Director of Advocacy and Education Resources, and Cam Stasa, Director of Participant Relations and Special Projects, at Music for All.
Cam Stasa has a long history with Music for All. She performed in the first “Marching Bands of America” event in 1976, and was Drum Major when she marched again in Summer Nationals in 1979.
Stasa continued her involvement when she joined the Bands of America staff in 1989 as the Director of Operations. She was serving as the Director of Band Relations when she first encountered James Stephens.
“Everyone knows Cam Stasa and everyone has a story of how they are connected to her. My story begins when I was in high school and she told me ‘Oh my gosh we are so glad you are here!’ at the 1994 Bands of America Grand Nationals.’” Stephens, a senior Drum Major at Bellbrook High School at the time, remembers Stasa as the nice woman who spoke to him as she lined him and fellow drum majors up to take the field. It was this year that Bellbrook H.S. was named the Class A Grand National Champions.
On the bus ride home Stephens remembers how grateful he felt for his Bellbrook H.S. directors and their willingness to take a group of students to compete at BOA. He also remembers reflecting on the day at Grand Nationals and thinking, “Who are these Bands of America people who have given so much of their time, energy, and talent to create a space, a national stage, where we get to do what we just did?” He never expected that he would later come to know several of those people on a much deeper level, specifically the woman who excitedly welcomed him, and many others, on the field at Grand Nationals in 1994. He also never imagined he would work alongside them one day.
“I have known Cam for 27 years,” Stephens said, “Actually my whole family has known her for a long time.” Due to Stephens’s siblings’ involvement in the Bands of America program, Stasa has become an important figure in all of their lives.
While in college Stephens volunteered at BOA events and eventually started bringing his own students once he became a director. This was when he started to see Cam more frequently and began cultivating his relationship with her. He then continued his involvement when he agreed to become a faculty member at the Music for All Summer Symposium. In 2014, Stephens filled the position of Director of Advocacy and Education Resources at Music for All. He now works closely with Stasa everyday and has an office just down the hall from hers. Stephens said, “Music for All is a family and Cam is part of my personal family as well”. Stephens even named Stasa the godmother of his one-year-old son.
When asked about how she feels about her impact on a young boy from Bellbrook High School, Stasa said, “It is very overwhelming to realize the impact we have had on individuals, and music education in the entire world. For every life we have touched through our events, that experience remains with each individual. It is immensely gratifying to hear stories from people who participated years ago. The connecting point never ends.” She also stated, “It’s family, it’s generational, and it keeps going. There is a large number of young people who we impacted in their career who have gone on to become directors and now they want to participate with us.”
The connections and impact on others is what keeps the organization of Music for All growing and evolving. “Our mission at Music for All is to create positively life-changing experiences and we are, that is just fact, “ Stasa said. She then explained how the organization is only in its 40’s and has many more years to go. “There will be a whole new generation of people sitting in this office who I assume are going to be as dedicated and as driven, and who have had their own experience with us,” said Stasa. It is Stasa’s and Stephens’ hope that all students who attend Music for All and Bands of America events receive a similar positive experience that they both received as students.
2018 was a year of firsts for the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. The highly-anticipated premiere of the National Choir Festival took place with 12 choral ensembles performing at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, a breathtaking performance by the Aeolians of Oakwood University, and the Music for All National Choir Concert featuring all choral students of the National Choir Festival.
The National Choir Festival performing choirs included:
Conner H.S. Chamber Choir – Hebron, KY; John DeFerraro, director
Dobyns-Bennett H.S. Varsity Choir – Kingsport, TN; Jenny Rogers, director
Herricks H.S. Chamber Choir – New Hyde Park, NY; Louise O'Hanlon, director
Kings H.S. Chamber Choir – Kings Mills, OH; Hope Milthaler, director
Lafayette H.S. Madrigal Singers – Lexington, KY; Ryan Marsh, director
Liberty H.S. Chamber Singers – Colorado Springs, CO; A. J. Wulf, director
Little Miami H.S. Select Women's Chorale – Morrow, OH; Sarah J. Baker, director
Logan H.S. Chamber Singers – Logan, OH; John McClain, director
McMeans Junior H.S. Varsity Choir – Katy, TX; Steve Kalke, director
Miami Union Academy Concert Choir – North Miami, FL; Jeremy Sovoy Jordan, director
Oakwood Adventist Academy Choir – Huntsville, AL; Justin Jordan , director
Takoma Academy Chorale – Takoma Park, MD; Lulu Mwangi Mupfumbu, director
Many people were moved to tears by these talented musicians. The church was the perfect venue to display the variety of voices. Later on in the evening, the Aeolians of Oakwood University performed a beautiful 90-minute performance, under the direction of Jason Max Ferdinand. Their repertoire included: Lift Every Voice, If I Can Help, How Great Thou Art, Jubilate Deo, Keramos, Psalm 67, Joshua, Ezekiel, True Religion, Take it to the Lord in Prayer by Nolan Williams, Holy City, and Someday.
To close out the National Choir Festival, the Music for All National Choir Concert took place at Hilbert Circle Theatre on Saturday afternoon. The concert was bookended by the national Treble Choir and Music for All National Choir, featuring 500 voices from 12 high schools from New York, Maryland, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Colorado, as well as one Junior High School Choir from Texas, and two youth choirs from Indianapolis Children’s Choir: Bel Canto and Bella Voce. This impressive concert was under the direction of Music for All Choral Artistic Director, Henry Leck, founder and conductor laureate of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Guest Conductor, Dr. Rollo Dilworth, Professor of Choral Music Education at Temple University.
The choir performed new choral works written specifically for the Premiere National Choir Festival. The concert began with conductor Richard Saucedo’s Music for All 2018 National Fanfare, followed by Saucedo’s arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner, newly-arranged for choir and orchestra for the Music for All Premiere National Choir Festival. The National Treble Choir performed Great Camp Meeting, and I Sing Because I’m Happy composed by Rollo Dilworth, and two original compositions by Jim Papoulis. Next, a special guest choir NOTUS, from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, performed three contemporary musical selections under the direction of Dr. Dominick DiOrio. NOTUS is committed to championing living composers through the commissioning, programming, and recording of new works. The National Festival Mixed Choir then performed Freedom’s Plow by Rollo Dilworth, Jubilate Deo, (Movements 6 and 7) by Dan Forrest. The concert came to a spectacular close with Henry Leck’s We Believe in Music – written in honor of the premiere National Choir Festival. The choir was accompanied by members of the Ball State University Symphony Orchestra, directed by Douglas Droste. NOTUS of Indiana University and The Aeolians of Oakwood University also joined in the finale of the concert, filling Hilbert Circle Theatre with more than 500 voices raised in joyful song.
More than 3,000 musicians from across the country participated in the 2018 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Between March 14-17, these musicians graced Indianapolis’ finest concert halls with music varying from three national honor ensembles, concert band, orchestra, percussion, jazz, chamber, and for the first time this year, choir. These performances took place in Clowes Memorial Hall and Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University, Hilbert Circle Theatre, Warren Performing Arts Center, Indiana Historical Society, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, and the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center at the University of Indianapolis. Here’s the Festival by the numbers:
This year’s Festival had a total of 94 total ensembles which included:
The total number of attendees was approximately 3,800. Here’s the breakdown:
Invited concert bands, orchestras, choirs, percussion ensembles, and honor ensemble members participating in the 2018 Festival come from 32 states including:
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Invited concert bands, orchestras, choirs, percussion ensembles, and honor ensemble members participating in the 2018 Festival come from 193 Schools.
Check out more photos from Festival here:
Mrs. Thompson’s son, Jack, was a camper at last summer’s Middle School Concert Band Camp at the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha. Jack was one of 115 middle school students – part of the total camp community of more than 1,700 students, band directors, faculty members, staff and volunteers. We talked with Mrs. Thompson about Jack’s Summer Symposium experience – and hers.
How did you hear about the MFA Summer Symposium?
We live in a music-friendly city with passionate and talented music teachers. Our schools provide our children with exposure to professional educators who demonstrate what it takes to make music: hard work, grit, courage and even a sense of humor. My son, Jack, was reluctant to go to band camp in 7th grade, even after his director suggested it. Luckily, Jack attended the following year as an 8th grade student. We had heard of many music camps, but his director shared how much he thought Music for All would be a good fit for Jack.
What did your son like most about camp?
As parents, we were very encouraged not to hear from Jack too often - a good sign that all is well. All parents should be told that when they drop their child off at camp. When we did hear from him, we received brief messages like, “I loved hearing Black Violin!”, “Best food ever!”, and “I’m learning so much from the oboe teacher! This is amazing!”. If you asked Jack what he liked most about his experience, he would share: that is was the music he played, working with the oboe clinician, the people that were present, and the evening concerts he attended.
What were your initial expectations of camp?
Of course we expected Jack to grow as a musician and learn new music skills by going to camp. We also hoped that he would learn or solidify social and emotional skills like setting an alarm to get up on time, meeting new friends, and speaking up if he needed help during a lesson or rehearsal. And he did! Such great development to have happen before starting high school.
What parts of camp were you most impressed with?
The most impactful was summed up in the presentation to the parents on the last day of camp. The Music for All staff discussed, what I like to call, the cycle of work ethic. We learned about three points that motivate musicians, or anyone working towards something they enjoy. Practice...success...fun. That “camp circle” is discussed often in our home.
The idea of deliberate practice taught by Jack’s oboe clinician can be applied with any skill or goal any of us are trying to reach. Jack also learned about flow or being in the zone as he played.
Can you imagine your child being conducted by one of the best band instructors in the country? Or having a composer come and speak to the ensemble so that they understand why the music was written the emotion behind the piece? How about the opportunity to play with master musicians? Music for All offers these opportunities at the right time for young musicians when their brains and abilities are soaring.
What would you tell another parent who is thinking about sending their child to camp?
It can be so challenging to send your child away to camp. For many it is also costly. But for our family, it was one of the best things we’ve had the opportunity to provide for our child. Jack’s future with the oboe looks bright, and the Music for All Summer Symposium has inspired skills that translate to all aspects of his life. Seeing our child grow as a result of his experiences at camp reminds us that band camp holds many more gifts and experiences than music. Is the musical training extraordinary? Yes! Is camp fun? Yes! Was it hard to send him? Yes! But the experience was positively life-changing, and one we are so glad our child had.
For more information about the Middle School division vist http://camp.musicforall.org/middleschool/
Alicia Piper of Cypress Ranch High School in Cypress, Texas was awarded The Revelli Scholarship on Saturday, March 17 during the Gala Awards Banquet at the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, in Indianapolis.
The Revelli Scholarship is a $1,000 award given annually to a senior who will be attending college as a music major and who is participating in the Music for All National Festival. The scholarship honors the legacy and memory of Dr. William D. Revelli and his vision for music education.
In addition to being a 6A Texas All-State Band member for two years, Alicia has performed with her Region Band Wind Ensemble for four years and her Region Orchestra for three years. As a drum major in the marching band and a first chair in wind ensemble, Alicia decided she wants to become a music educator and can’t wait to stand in front of her own ensemble one day.
Congratulations to the 2018 Revelli Scholarship recipient, Alicia Piper.
The four newest members of Music for All's Bands of America Hall of Fame were inducted Saturday night, March 17, at the Gala Awards Banquet of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, in Indianapolis, IN.
Kevin Ford, Randy Greenwell, Matt James, and Dean Westman were inducted during a ceremony at the 2,800+ guest Festival Banquet in the JW Marriott Grand Ballroom.
Arris Golden understands the importance of connections amongst the music education community and has ideas of how to strengthen it even more.
Golden is the current Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.. Although she has been successful in music education for many years, she first received a poli-sci degree from UNC Chapel Hill.
Golden attributes her decision to go into music education to her band director at UNC Chapel Hill.
“There was that linchpin moment that we all have when a new director showed up and a lot of us went... ‘Guess we're going to be doing more school.’” Golden stated. “He was that inspiring; he was that much of a difference maker.”
After another four years of school, she decided to use her music education degree and become a middle school band director in Cary, NC. “No one goes into it expecting to be super rich,” Golden said. “And you know, you discover after you get involved in music and the right people come into your life that it is just another version of being super rich.”
During her 18 years as a middle school band director, Golden decided she was interested in studying conducting. She attended multiple workshops and symposiums in hopes of bettering her conducting skills. One of the best events she has ever attended for conducting included Dr. Kevin Sedatole, who she connected with and, as a result, ended up attending Michigan State University in 2014 for her Doctor of Music Arts in Wind Conducting. After finishing her coursework in 2016, Golden accepted a position at UNC as Interim Assistant Director of University Bands and then was appointed the job for the following academic school year, full-time.
Golden attributes a lot of her opportunities and success to the connections she has developed. “You just have to put yourself in a place and be at a level where you can take advantage of the things that happen around you and for you, and be able to recognize those,” Golden said. She is a firm believer in working collaboratively with those in the music education field, and learning from their successes and failures.
“I have a really close knit group of friends in North Carolina, especially where I taught for all those years and we all just like to help each other.” She stated. “We like to go to each other's band rooms, we like to go to each other's rehearsals and just talk about music, and talk about how to make the students more involved.”
Golden continues to help others and take advice from music educators as well. “I hope that because I've been able to do so many things throughout my career - I'm African American and female, at the collegiate level, and conducting bands now, that I serve as an example you can do this. If you do the things that are required to go into the profession you, female or African American, can be successful,” Golden said. Even though she believes that music education is a well-connected profession overall, Golden wishes to
find ways to share more information, because everyone has something to share.
After becoming a moderator of the band director group on Facebook, Golden saw just how impactful words from fellow music educator colleagues could be. She still thinks there could be more helpfulness and positivity on the page, along with more willingness to take constructive criticism and suggestions. “One of the biggest things is to take more advantage of the people around you that are willing to help you and know more than you do,” Golden said.
Her hope is to see more members participating in the Facebook group in the future.
Photo by Darrell Fife
As Music in Our Schools Month continues, we are excited to share an example of the special camaraderie cultivated through music, between Music for All’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Jeremy Earnhart, and Courtney Melton, former student and current Assistant Director of Waxahachie High School, TX.
Dr. Earnhart is off to DFW today with his daughter Kierstyn, to attend Melton’s wedding. Earnhart first met Melton when she was attending Bedford Junior High in Bedford, TX. Melton’s older sister, Caitlyn was in high school at the time and a member of Earnhart’s band. Courtney was also a member of the L.D. Bell Band from 2005-2008. She was the flute soloist for the marching band in the 2006 show titled "The Remaining" and the 2007 show title "Transcendents," which won them the Grand National champion title.
A terrific musician, Melton continued at the University of North Texas, which happened to be the same university Earnhart attended for his Bachelors and Masters degree. Earnhart presented to the North Texas Future Education Group with Morton – along with many other promising directors – was in attendance. Melton is now the assistant director at Waxahachie High School outside of Dallas, TX. “I am so proud of her accomplishments at Waxahachie High School and the ensembles overall achievement of being named the 2018 State Honor Band,” Earnhart stated.
Earnhart has been in contact with Melton over the years and is now excited to be attending her wedding stating, "I am humbled and excited to witness this incredibly important day in the life of Courtney and her new husband."
Nick Gonzales doesn’t just believe in the power of music, he believes in the power of connections, and the impact one can make on another’s life through music.
Gonzales is the current Director of Bands and Orchestra at West Lake Junior High in Salt Lake City, UT and has taught band for 14 years. Before West Lake, Gonzales taught in Klein and Spring, TX. His first job in the Klein district was in an affluent area with many motivated students, parent volunteers, and an overall heavily involved community. It wasn’t until after Gonzales began teaching in the Spring district that he realized the great motivation and ability the students had at his previous school. After teaching at a school with less community involvement Gonzales stated, “I realized these kids are coming from broken homes. These kids have a lot to worry about that's not even school, so they come to our schools, and they come to our classroom, and the last thing they're thinking of is their education.”
When he began teaching students who were positively affected by music and the connections made through music, Gonzales realized his job was about so much more than teaching students how to play instruments. “In my teaching, I had to really be aware of number one before music, the kid, and we have to start building relationships with the kids, and show them that we care,” Gonzales said. His focus was not on how much musical knowledge a student could gain from his classroom, but how much kindness he or she could receive and give. “What we say is that when you walk into this band hall, it's sacred. There's kindness. We teach kindness. We have standards,” Gonzales said, “we have to be structured, and even after school, yes, you're here, but you still have to follow what we do, and follow those steps that we do, but enjoy yourself responsibly, and be kind to people.”
After acquiring his passion for assisting underprivileged students, Gonzales started a non-profit called Stone of Hope Youth, an organization that helps provide disadvantaged youth an opportunity to help improve self esteem, learn discipline, respect, and encourage them to strive for excellence as students so they will attend college. During the school year, Stone of Hope Youth provides a Mentor Program for disadvantaged boys who lack positive male role models in their life.
After founding the Stone of Hope Youth program, Gonzales was approached about assisting with the Foster Project, an organization created by the National Music Education Alliance, with the purpose of assisting, mentoring, and providing resources to underserved communities. The Music Education Alliance started the program in hopes that it would inspire and create an incentive for educators, and their band programs, to create a positive environment for students within their programs. Gonzales was approached to become a mentor for other directors through the Foster Project, and now he is the Western Division Chair for the program.
Throughout his life, Gonzales has dedicated his time and energy into teaching and mentoring young minds through music. His next mission is to mentor more directors like himself into being positive forces for their students as well. Gonzales understands the importance of the connections that music can create and has dedicated his life to purposefully connecting with those around him. His biggest tip is, “find as many mentors as possible, and talk about the profession, and number one, talk about how you can influence kids, and be willing to change your mindset. Be better. Use people to help you with that, and to be honest with you.”
Music for All is proud to announce the launch of the Advocacy in Action Awards, a radically different call to action. This program will collect, share, and inspire “great ideas” for advancing music making in communities across the Nation.
Are you proud of what you are doing in your community to help advance your school music program? We encourage you to submit your ideas! Winning entries will be promoted at all Music for All programs.
• Fundraising & Sponsorship
• Recruitment & Retention
• Marketing & Promotion
• Parent & Booster Involvement
• Community Engagement
• Decision-Maker Interaction
Applications open May 1, 2018.
Please visit advocacy.musicforall.org for more information.