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.
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.