Here at Music for All, we recognize that our programming would not be possible without the support of our hard-working and dedicated volunteers. "Spotlight on Volunteering" is an on-going blog post series that highlights one of these superstar volunteers each month.
This month's superstar is... Trevor Ousey
Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What's your background with Music for All?
My very first experience with Music for All was in 2002 at the Bands of America Florida Regional marching contest with the Ridge View High School marching band of South Carolina. Back then, I was only an 8th grader, and little did I know that I would continue to be a part of Music for All far beyond high school! In addition to several BOA regionals, I also was a member of the 2005 Tournament of Roses band as well as the 2006 and 2007 Honor Bands of America. I was also a camper at the Drum Major Academy as part of the Summer Symposium in 2005 and 2006.
In college, I was honored to join the SWAG team. I wanted to continue to have that Positively Life-Changing experience even after high school and the SWAG team was the perfect fit. It quickly became so much more than just my yearly “Music for All” fix! I had the opportunity to meet and work with the “who’s-who” of the band world, and help create an amazing experience for the campers along the way. Most recently, I also served on the DTA (Directors Track Assistant) team. This furthered my interaction with amazing clinicians, educators, musicians, composers, and many other distinguished members of the music education community.
It wasn’t until this past year that I realized another dream of mine—to volunteer at the Music for All Grand Nationals! I have been a spectator before, but volunteering for the Grand Nationals is a completely different animal. It was such an amazing experience, and I cannot wait to return this year to volunteer again!
Q: When was the first time you volunteered with Music for All? Why did you decide to volunteer?
The first true volunteer experience besides the SWAG team (which is a whole experience unto itself) was Grand Nationals in 2013. At that point, I was in my 2nd year of teaching band in Uvalde, Texas. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the entire experience, from Wednesday night’s Indianapolis Marching Band Tournament to Saturday night’s grand finale. It was absolutely incredible! I met so many band directors that I idolized and heard a plethora of phenomenal bands.
Being a part of Grand Nationals had been a dream of mine since I learned about the event in high school, and I couldn’t think of any other way to get the full experience than to volunteer. Even the best seats in Lucas Oil Stadium cannot compare to the experience of being a volunteer in such a large and complex event. You leave the stadium each night exhausted, but in a gratifying way. Whatever you may do as a volunteer at Grand Nationals, from selling programs to coordinating the “flow” through the tunnels, you helped create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all the students, directors, and parents involved. Nothing can compare to that feeling.
Furthermore, as a band director myself, volunteering at Grand Nationals gave me a up-close-and-personal view of what it would be like to someday bring a band to the event. I learned about the procedures, the rules, and the timings. Not only did I grasp the logistics of the event, I was able to get up close with superior programs from across the country and see how they utilize their warm-up time, how they march through the tunnels, how their booster parents help with the action, and of course the finished product!
Q: You've been a SWAG and Director's Track Assistant at our Summer Symposium and a Grand National Championships Volunteer- which was your favorite experience and why?
Being a part of the SWAG and DTA teams for Summer Symposium have been by far the most rewarding volunteer experiences with Music for All. The Symposium serves as my annual “recharge” for good ideas, energy, and enthusiasm. As a middle school band director, every day can be a new and exciting challenge. Sometimes, I am not completely certain how to handle one of those challenges in the most effective way. That is where Summer Symposium comes into play. Each summer, I get the opportunity to work with some amazing clinicians, band directors, fellow SWAG team members, and students! I ask lots of questions and observe every rehearsal I can get. Every year, I leave Ball State refreshed and armed with a dozen new ideas and techniques. Not to mention a mountain of memories and friends to recall throughout the year!
Being on the SWAG team also reminds me of what positive citizenship looks, sounds, and feels like. Most campers know about the SWAG’s picking up lunch trays or scouring the campus of Ball State for trash to pick up, but once you are on the team, you realize there is so much more to the entire concept. SWAG is not a position, title, or opportunity, it is a way of life! I SWAG in my band hall as much as possible. I SWAG at my faculty meetings and district-wide trainings. It is truly a volunteering experience that will change you for the better!
Q: Grand Nationals is a huge event and you got to be right down in the action in the tunnels. What was the coolest thing you got to see while volunteering in Lucas Oil Stadium?
If anyone reading this is looking for a great way to dive head-first into Music for All as a volunteer, the tunnels of Lucas Oil during Grand Nationals is where you need to be! It takes an incredible amount of energy, enthusiasm, mental agility, and comfy shoes, but it is a true representation of what Music for All is all about—creating positively life-changing opportunities for everyone involved!
My favorite memory from last year’s Grand Nationals happened on the night of Semi-Finals. I had the privilege to meet the band and directors of the Nations Ford High School from South Carolina. They were in their first Grand Nationals appearance. From the first night preliminaries, the entire contingency of Nation Ford High School was full of energy and excitement. Mr. Martin Dickey, the director of bands, kept repeating over and over how thrilled he was to be there with the band surrounded by so many phenomenal programs. After preliminary competition was over, it was announced in the stadium that Nation Ford High School was one of the band that made it to semi-finals!
Saturday arrived and the energy and excitement of the band had quadrupled! As they entered Lucas Oil, Mr. Dickey’s smile lit up the entire tunnel! All of the band members were holding hands and some were even crying in excitement. Not only was it their first trip to Grand Nationals, but also they had made it to semi-finals! The pit dads were giving out high-fives, the band moms were giving hugs—it was so touching. To the band, they had won the entire event because they met and exceeded their expectations on one of the finest stages in marching band. As a band director, it was the epitome of what we teach to our students every day. As a fellow Carolinian, it was a scene that filled me with pride.
Q: Many of our volunteers have gone on to be music educators themselves, like you! How have your experiences with Music for All helped shape you as a music educator?
How much time do you have!?
Before becoming a music educator, I always tried to ask as many clinicians the simple questions, “What is your best piece of advice for a first-year band director?” Now that I am in the trenches, I ask more specific questions about teaching techniques, philosophies, and strategies to help my teaching and my program.
One of the clinicians that I have learned a lot from has been Alfred Watkins. Anyone in the band world knows his name and the amazing success he helped cultivate at Lassiter High School. But if you ask anyone about Mr. Watkins, before they talk about how successful he is, they mention how incredibly friendly and informative he is to everyone. I first met him last year at Symposium, and I was shocked when he asked me what I wanted to know! He was so eager to share and to teach. Later this year, I met him again at the Texas Music Educators Association convention. Not only did he remember me after only one year as a DTA, but he asked me why I had not emailed him with questions!
Mr. Watkins is only one of many, many clinicians at teachers at Symposium and Grand Nationals and the National Concert Band Festival that are willing to share and teach not only the students participating, but the curious and inquisitive band directors who follow! I would not be as confident in my teaching without this incredible well of knowledge and support.
Q: Would you recommend volunteering with Music for All?
Absolutely! Volunteering for Music for All will change your life. Now, I know you have probably read this sentiment before in other volunteer spotlights or from a Music for All publication, but take it from someone who has grown up with MFA. I was sold on MFA in Florida back in 2002 as an 8th grader, and 12 years later, as a young band director, I am still a huge supporter and advocate of Music for All and the company’s mission. So go volunteer! It will brighten your week, your month, and your year!