Hometown: Terre Haute, IN
How long have you been with Music for All?
What has been your favorite part of working at Music for All?
My favorite part of working at Music for All has been experiencing the passion and dedication that everyone has for the mission of Music for All.
Do you have a favorite memory of working an event with Music for All?
In my short time with the organization, my favorite memory so far has been hearing the Honor Orchestra of America perform at the Music for All National Festival.
What is your musical background?
I’ve played the flute for over ten years! I’ve played in marching band, orchestra, wind symphony and flute choir. I majored in Music Business at Indiana State University where I continued my musical studies.
One thing you couldn’t live without?
Coffee and cats
What kind of music do you listen to?
I listen to everything! I really love Lana Del Rey, Meghan Trainor, Ariana Grande and Bruno Mars. I also listen to a lot of musical soundtracks.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to go hiking and canoeing when the weather is nice. I also like to paint and draw typography. But most often I like to hang out with my cat Darcy and watch Netflix :)
What are you currently reading?
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Do you have a favorite quote?
“There’s the whole world at your feet. And who gets to see it but the birds, the stars, and the chimney sweeps.” -Mary Poppins
What's a show you've binge watched recently?
Gilmore Girls always, but recently I’ve been watching the Netflix Original, A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Favorite movie not many people have seen?
Director of Bands, Liberty Junior High, in Richardson, TX
Chris Pineda understands the importance of music education in historically underserved student populations. He shares his thoughts on how schools like his can continue to improve their programs and community they serve.
Chris Pineda was the youngest of five kids in an active, athletic family. “All of my siblings were varsity athletes, and in fifth grade I raised my hand when they asked who wanted to join band, and I came home instituted with a tuba,” Pineda said. He was fortunate to have the ability to participate in sports and band all the way through high school which lead him to pursue a career in music.
Pineda was the first person in his family to attend college after receiving a full music scholarship from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX to study tuba performance. During his senior year at SMU, he was accepted to the Cincinnati Conservatory to obtain his Master’s in Performance. To reach the required number of credits to be a full-time student Pineda enrolled in a music education course with Lynn Jackson. Due to the class and teaching private lessons throughout his college career, Pineda realized he enjoyed teaching more than playing. He decided to decline the offer from Cincinnati and stay at SMU for his Master’s in Music Education.
After obtaining his master’s degree, Pineda received the job of Assistant Director at Liberty Junior High in Richardson, TX. During his second year at Liberty Junior High, he was named Head Director. “I was a second-year teacher with a first-year teacher as an assistant, so it was kind of like the blind leading the blind through those first couple of years,” Pineda said, “we worked really hard to develop the positive culture in the band program and in the community.”
Pineda believes the Liberty Junior High band program has become successful due to many factors. One of those factors is the support that has been provided through initiatives like the Dr. William P. Foster Project. Pineda says, “Most schools aren’t getting any richer, and I’m so glad to see there’s a proactive approach and people are joining forces because that’s just utilizing more resources.”
A partnership including The College Band Directors National Association, Music for All, and the National Band Association made the Dr. William P. Foster Project possible. This initiative recognizes quality programs serving historically underserved student populations. The Dr. William P. Foster Project also incorporates a mentor program including many peer consultants who are committed to connecting with individual teachers leading band programs in underserved schools and communities. It also provides music educators with successful teaching materials to reference.
“I find myself fortunate that in my position I did have mentors and guidance, and I had people to reach out to,” Pineda said, “But, there are a lot of teachers out there that might feel they’re on an island and need someone to support them.”
Along with mentors and support, Pineda also has had prior experience walking the halls of a historically disadvantaged populated school. “My parents didn’t have a lot of money, and joining the band program not only opened doors that were closed, it opened up doors that I didn’t know were there,” he said. Pineda is passionate about providing those same opportunities to his students who might be in a similar situation as he was. He had no idea what raising his hand in fifth grade to play the tuba would do for him, but it paid for college and led him to his future career in music education.
Music for All is proud to be a part of the Music Education Alliance, alongside the College Band Directors National Association and the National Band Association. Learn more about the Alliance and its William P. Foster Project at musicedalliance.org.
What is your hometown? City, State.
Where did you go to high school? Where did you go to college and when did you/will you graduate?
Lebanon High School & Indiana University (will graduate May 2018)
What is your major/degree?
Major: Arts Management
What is your musical background?
In high school I played bass clarinet in our Wind Ensemble and Tenor Sax for Marching Band and Jazz Band. I also participated in Musicals, Concert Choir, and Show Choir, and continued singing in college.
What has been your favorite part of this internship experience?
So far my favorite part of interning was getting to see the first ever Music for All National Choir. As someone who has loved singing their whole life it was amazing to be present for that concert and watching singers from across the country come together for their love of music.
What is an interesting fact about you?
I’ve been to the Czech Republic, Poland, and the Netherlands and will be travelling to Israel, Switzerland, and France this summer!
Who are your top three favorite artists?
Adele, Bruno Mars, and Eric Whitacre
One thing you couldn’t live without?
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy hanging out with my friends, getting to know people, going to performances, and trying new things.
What are you currently reading?
If You Really Loved Me by Jason Evert
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe
What's a show you've binge watched recently?
Favorite movie not many people have seen?
Zombeavers… It’s a terrible scary movie but my friends and I love to watch it!
by Chris Gleason
Instrumental Music Educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
“OK class, today is practice chart turn in day.” Audible groans and murmurs came from the band. As I began collecting the monthly practice charts I noticed Spencer writing “20 minutes” in every box on the chart. I moved in on his position like a stealthy cougar ready to pounce. With a triumphant “A Ha!” I snatched his paper and told him to follow me into my office. I immediately picked up the phone and called his father. “Mr. Williams, I just witnessed your son filling out his practice chart and forging your signature.” With little hesitation, Mr. Williams responded, “No, I filled it out and signed it this morning.”
How could this be possible? The child was lying and so was the father! My first instinct was to dock both Spencer and his father 10 points for a committing a crime against musicianship. Instead, I took a long hard look at what I was doing to create an environment in which kids lied about practicing and parents covered it up.
After many years of making mistakes, reflecting, and reading, I have come to a few conclusions:
1) Grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.
2) Grades create a preference for the easiest possible task.
3) Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking.1
So how do we get students to stop focusing on the grade? How is assessment different than evaluation? What role does assessment play in my classroom?
CHANGING THE NARRATIVE
The word “assessment” has been used in different ways throughout the years. Regardless of the exact definition, the word has become toxic in education. Visions of long standardized, multiple-choice tests flood the minds of students when the word is evoked. Similarly, educators think of testing that in most cases does not reflect what is most important in their classrooms. Tainted with the view that everything worthwhile can be measured and reduced to a number, educators pressed for data have to battle an inner war of both valuing assessment and discouraging it. We need to take back this term and use it for good in our classrooms. Assessment plays a critical and vital role in the education process.
WHAT IS THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS?
Gathering Information: Assessment simply is a strategy for gathering data that is directly linked to your outcomes. The Assessment Process includes three steps (as seen in the figure below). The first step is to assess or gather information about learning. To be honest, as educators we are always assessing students. In fact, it is impossible not to assess learners just as it is impossible to stop assessing internal things such as hunger, mood, energy level, etc., or external things such as temperature and light. We are always taking the “pulse” of the class and individual students in an informal sense just as we are gathering in data about student performance, knowledge, and desires, beliefs, and connections. The key to the gathering stage is to consider what information is important since there is so much of it. It is very easy to get swallowed up by the data or to get lost in less-than-important facts and numbers. What educators need to ask themselves is “What question do I want answered?” and “Do I have a tool to capture or gather the information?”
Evaluation: The second step in the Assessment Process is evaluation. Evaluation is defined as the process of analyzing or interpreting the data. When analyzing or interpreting the data we often compare the results to a set standard, others or ourselves. As most researchers would tell you, one data point does not provide a tremendous amount valid data. Acquiring data over time can help to identify trends yielding a clearer picture of stability, growth or decline. The question is how to collect reliable data over time and deciding what to compare it to.
Act: The third step in the Assessment Process is to act. Based on the assessment and evaluation several possible actions could result including (but not limited to) grades, reflections, strategy modification, etc. It is important to note that assigning a grade is only one of the many actions that could take place. Moreover, assigning a grade or number may be the least significant action to affect student learning. For example, you finish rehearsing a technical passage with your clarinet section and ask, “Clarinets show using your hand a number between 1-5 as to how proficient you are playing that passage.” This “data” can help inform you and the student if a sectional (or some other strategy) is needed. It doesn’t mean that you should grab a grade book and jot down responses.
HOW DO WE ASSESS?
Summative: Start with your outcome as this is the destination. Ask yourself:
Diagnostic: Next, consider where your students are starting. Ask yourself:
Formative: Great news! Every strategy you create for your classroom is already a formative assessment. The key is craft creative, varied, and rich strategies that lead to your outcome. Ask yourself:
TEACHER, TAKE HEART!
Courage is necessary when assessing students. The wise teacher knows that they will learn a lot about themselves and about education from their students. True authentic assessment means to take a look at what is working and what is not working. When a class does poorly on a task is this a reflection of the teacher, the class, or a bit of both? It takes courage to look at the “data” and evaluate what went wrong. Often times, if an entire class does poorly it is mostly a reflection of the educator picking too difficult a task or not sequencing and layering skills/knowledge to get to the benchmark. Teachers with an open mindset will learn from this, reevaluate, and try a new approach. Teachers with a closed mindset will blame the students and refuse to look at their own teaching as the potential problem.
• What and how we assess points to what we value. What we spend time and effort assessing ultimately tells our students what is most worthwhile about their experience in our classroom. We can speak about the importance of creativity, critical thinking, internal motivation, and process over product, but do these values shine when it comes to the assessment going on in your classroom? Do you assess what is easy to measure or what is actually most important? Do you utilize progressive teaching practices, but then run out of time for any meaningful feedback? Could your students explain your classroom assessment process to their parents?
GOING BEYOND THE GRADE
I embrace the belief that teachers can de-emphasize grades, while building intrinsic motivation when we promote autonomy, mastery, and purpose. For example I have my students take ownership of quarterly reflections and individualized self-assessments that are based on rubrics created by the student and teacher. Parents rave over the quality and depth of the multifaceted report that includes both student and teacher comments. I engage students’ distinct and diverse interests and intelligences by using authentic summative projects that are presented in a video prior to performances (or as we call them, “informances”). I educate students about their brains and myelin. Instead of demanding practice charts, I teach the value and characteristics of deep practice. I also teach the value and necessity of mistakes, something too often stigmatized in our product-focused education system.
As Ken Robinson stated in his 2013 Ted Talk about the growth of the human mind, “Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” We need to harness the research and strategies to create schools that spark children’s imaginations. As music educators, let’s take back the term “assessment” and use it to help our students achieve and succeed.
 Kohn, A. (2011, November). The Case Against Grades. Educational Leadership.
Chris Gleason is an instrumental music educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He is the 2017 Wisconsin Middle School Teacher of the Year and the first Wisconsin teacher to be named a finalist for National Teacher of the Year in 50 years. Chris is the recent recipient of the UW-LaCrosse Burt & Norma Altman Distinguished Alumni Award, 2017 GRAMMY Music Educator Award semifinalist, 2016 Michael G. George Distinguished Music Education Service Award and 2018 National LifeChanger of the Year Award nominee. Chris is also a Teacher Leadership and Engagement Specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Rodney Dorsey’s method of teaching includes building connections and meaningful relationships with his students, and being able to recognize music and people individually to see how they are bridged together.
Born and raised in Gainesville, FL, Rodney knew from a young age that he wanted to go into the education field. He realized the importance of teaching after witnessing the impact his mother, a Family and Consumer Science teacher, had on her students. Rodney then found his talent in music and began to play the clarinet.
“I think there was a subconscious message that teaching was important. I thought I wanted to play clarinet and I made a shift to teaching. I thought I wanted to be a band director and majored in Music Ed.”
He received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Florida State University. Following his graduation, Rodney began his first teaching job in Tallahassee at Rickards High School. Being so close to Florida State, he was able to expose his students to quality music-making, while still having a close, personal connection to his alma mater.
After teaching at Rickards for three years, Rodney received his Master’s degree in Conducting at Northwestern University. After graduation, he continued his teaching career in Georgia and in Florida.
Rodney eventually went back to Northwestern for his Doctorate in Conducting, and then taught at DePaul University in Chicago for five years. After another teaching opportunity in Michigan, he eventually ended up as the Director of Bands at the University of Oregon where he currently teaches.
He is passionate about the bridge between people and music, and when music transcends the group or instrument. Rodney is also very adamant about building connections with his students.
“I just don't think it works well if they are just a nameless face. There's a limit, but I think students in our classes need to know we care about them and care about what they do beyond band or orchestra.” He urges his students to listen to a variety of music, and pays great attention to the verbal and non-verbal cues of his students: “not just what they play, but what they’re saying to you.”
Rodney’s hope is for people to see past the music. “I think competition does this to us because we worry about the things that are objective, the things that are clearly definable, observable, quantifiable. Are the fronts of notes together? Are the backs of notes together? I think we forget to ask what does the music say or what does the music have the potential to say? It's that thing of a great musician, they're a great musician and they just happen to play trombone.”
Rodney attributes his successes to the support of his parents and uses that by being a role model that influences and supports his students.
Music for All is pleased to welcome Norman Lasiter as the newest addition to its staff. Lasiter joins the Music for All team as Office Manager and Executive Assistant, serving the organization’s executive leadership.
Lasiter has an extensive performing and arts administration background. He is a professional singer and entertainer with numerous credits in professional and community musical theater. He has also recorded and produced solo albums as a cabaret artist with Music Director, Christopher Marlowe, and recorded an original holiday song with Grammy-winning recording producer, Mike Berniker, recorded and distributed by Sony Music. Mr. Lasiter worked for more than a decade in various roles at Sony Music Entertainment Inc. as a paralegal in litigation/law, telecommunications, and human resources departments. For over 15 years, he also owned a custom art framing shop/gallery.
“We’re delighted to have Norman Lasiter join the Music for All team," said Eric Martin, President and CEO of Music for All. "Relying on broad background and passion for music and music making, Norman will contribute meaningfully to our organization and delivery of its mission.”
As Office Manager and Executive Assistant, Lasiter will assist and support Music for All’s Executive Leadership team and overall office administrative functions.
“I’m excited to have another “product” of band and scholastic music education join the team and bring his many years of performance, administration and entrepreneurial experience and drive to the cause of Music for All.”
In addition to his performance experience and credits, Lasiter earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music) from Butler University and did graduate study at The University of Tennessee. A native of Greenwood, IN, he was a proud member and President of the Greenwood Marching Woodmen under then director of Bands, Herman Knoll. Currently, a retired Senior Vice President – Hal Leonard Corporation, Knoll is a member of the Music for All Board of Directors.
Andrea Brown is an example of how music, and the connections created from the passion for music, can change a person’s life in ways they never expected.
Brown was from a very small rural town in west Tennessee and was one of two horn players. In eighth grade she was invited to join the high school band and it sparked her love for music. “It was definitely in eighth grade when I was marching with the high school band that I knew I wanted to be in music. I can’t remember if I wanted to be a conductor or a performer, but I knew music is what I wanted to do,” Brown said.
Brown is the first college graduate in her family. She graduated high school and went to school at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. While there, she played horn, sang in the chamber choir, played piano in the jazz ensemble, and played in multiple quintets. She spent a couple summers at Brevard Music Center, which eventually lead her to attend graduate school to study horn performance. While studying horn, she realized she wanted to conduct, so she picked up an additional master’s degree in music education with a conducting emphasis.
After teaching at a few different schools, including her alma mater Austin Peay, she received her doctorate in conducting and is currently the Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Michigan.
“Looking at where I started, one would probably not guess that I would be doing what I’m doing today. I have to say that my high school band director got me started with that. He was a person that everyone thought so highly of in our region, in our state and he worked with my parents to get me to the Mid West Clinic when I was a junior in high school and it was life changing,” said Brown. She attributes her success to the many connections she cultivated throughout her life. “I think making human connections has been incredibly important to my career because it’s allowed me to experience aspects I never thought as an eighth grader, thinking I want to be a music teacher at some point, “ said Brown.
It is Brown’s mission to make connections with and inspire students, especially women. “I didn’t have an female conductors growing up or through my middle school, high school, college days. There were a few icons I knew of and I am very fortunate to call them friends now, but there weren’t any in my immediate area,” she said. Brown understands the small percentage of women represented, especially at the collegiate level. It is important to Brown to do whatever she can to even out the playing field.
Brown said, “I think what drives me is the interaction with people making music. I’m very fortunate that most of my career has been with students at a college level. That’s definitely the group that I match better with and I think what really keeps the spark fueled and fired.” She continues to use her experiences to impact those around her the same way many passionate directors, teachers, and professors did for her.
In January, Jack Ireland, an eighth grade Indianapolis Public School student, was assigned to work on a community project for an organization he cares about. As a passionate musician himself, Jack decided to get involved with Music for All and raise money for our cause. We answered some of Jack’s questions, and when he visited our office to gather more information and materials for his assignment, we learned more about his impressive project: a benefit concert at his school for Music for All.
When we asked Jack why he chose Music for All, he told us that he enjoys music and it is a large part of his life. He wants to help provide other people with the opportunity to participate in music, too. Unfortunately, he knows that music can be the first on the chopping block when it comes to budget cuts. He wanted to make people aware of the issue and raise money for our organization.
Members from the Music for All Advancement team were able to attend his benefit concert, which took place Thursday March 1, 2018 at CFI School 2. We were very impressed with the concert and all of Jack’s hard work! In the lobby, there was a display of informational posters and materials about Music for All that Jack had assembled, and the concert featured three rock bands, including Jack’s own band, Facing Daylight. The bands that performed were assembled through ASH ROCK, a program of Sam Ash Music. Through this program, registered students are assembled into bands as closely as possible by age and ability level. The groups learn and play rock classics spanning from the early days of the genre to contemporary songs of today, and most bands go on to write and record their own original future rock classics.
Jack had a goal of raising $500, but with donations online and at the benefit, Jack has raised $1,000 for Music for All! Jack and his mom, Joanna, came into the office on March 21, 2018 to present the check to us. All of the staff here at Music for All are extremely impressed, and will showcase Jack’s large presentation check in the front of the office for a month to celebrate his incredible work. Thank you, Jack, for leading by example and being an advocate for scholastic music education! You rock!
Summer Camargo was on of the many students who traveled to Indianapolis, IN for the 2018 Music for All National Festival. She wrote about her experience both years she attended and we are happy to share it!
Being in the 2018 Jazz Band of America was so amazing! I really enjoyed last year’s experience and this year. At the 2017 Music for All National Festival I had the incredible opportunity to work with a prolific arranger and composer, Mike Tomaro. This year, Jeff Rupert was such a pleasure to work with. He is so encouraging and positive. Both directors chose memorable, amazing charts for the band to perform.
Playing with Andy Martin last year was a privilege, and this year Yamaha performing artist, Sean Jones, was awesome! I was especially looking forward to working with him because he is one of my favorite trumpet players. Not only was he the guest artist, but he also was a master teacher and gave us lots of feedback during rehearsals.
Performing in Clowes Memorial Hall was just as spectacular as last year. It is such a unique opportunity to play in front of such a large, supportive crowd and the acoustics in the hall are incredible! Some other fun things we did this year included having our own jam session the day after the performance. We also attended the Honor Band of America performance, which was new for us this year.
Another special part of this year’s experience was that my school’s concert band, Dillard Center for the Arts Wind Orchestra, was invited to perform as a featured band! I really enjoyed having my friends from school in Indianapolis with me, performing with them, and hearing them cheer for me at the Jazz Band of America concert. I was also one of the three kids selected to represent my school at the Gala Awards banquet on Saturday evening.
I grew very close to the band members this year, just like last year. After spending so much time together during rehearsals and meal times, it would be almost impossible not to form lasting friendships! I still keep in touch with the members I met last year, and I am sure I will keep I touch with this year’s members. All in all, the memories I have made at Music for All will be ones I will treasure and never forget.
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.