The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog



To be honest, I could write an ENTIRE blog about my trip not just one post! I would write about how one random person I took a selfie with at Disneyland ended up going to college with me and we have been best friends and drum majors for 3 years.

I would write about all of the countless reunions I have had with members of the band since 2017; how the Rose Bowl Stadium ended up being my college home stadium; or how my best friend and I became such close friends with people we met in the band we ended up staying in Ohio for a few days with them after DCI Finals.

But, my most memorable moment is from the beginning.
It is funny, even though the week of BOA TOR 2017 was the most fun and enjoyable week of my life, the moment I will always cherish is when I got the email saying I was accepted into the 2017 Bands of America Honor Band in the Rose Parade early in 2016. I had spent four years waiting to audition, as the seniors from my freshman year of high school had participated in the 2013 Honor Band.

I spent lots of time asking about their experience in the band, and listening to them tell their stories and every single time I thought to myself "I am going to do that." To be quite honest, at that point in my life, it was the biggest thing I had ever been sure of.

I didn't know what I wanted to do after high school, I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I didn't even know what I wanted to have for breakfast the next day. But I knew that I wanted to be in the 2017 Bands of America Tournament of Roses Honor Band.

There were also 7 other students from my school's band program that auditioned, so that Friday morning, we were all nervous wrecks outside the band room, refreshing our emails over and over and being ready to celebrate or console our fellow members once the notification emails came out. I remember one of our trombone players got his announcement first, and we all tried to figure out what the algorithm was. Was there an order to the emails being sent out? Some pattern to this madness?

Then, the time came. I had received my email, and at that moment nothing was more important. I got in! The other 6 members received their emails as well, and that morning there were rounds and rounds of hugs, congrats, and sighs of relief. I even remember our band director being out there with us. And there, that memorable moment, was where this whole amazing journey started.

I ended up publishing a vlog with more memorable moments from my experience:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

MFA's IMPACT: Ric and Jeannette Coons

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Our new Music for All Impact series will introduce you to some of the incredible advocates of Music for All as they share their stories of Music for All’s impact on them and why there were compelled to pay it forward to ensure that others feel that impact as well. In today’s spotlight, we are thrilled to introduce you to Ric and Jeannette Coons.

 Ric Coons Photo 3Ric and Jeannette distributing "Team Texas" shirts before CTJ's 2019 Grand Nationals trip.

How did you become involved with Music for All?

My first introduction to Music for All (MFA) was in 2011. Our oldest daughter was a freshman guard member in the Claudia Taylor Johnson H.S. band program. The program competed in Houston and made their first trip to Grand Nationals in Indy and my wife and I followed the band there to watch them compete and make finals. That was when I realized that this was far different than the marching bands I grew up with in the 80’s in California.

What attracted you to the cause?

Music was a very important part of growing up for me. It was what kept me engaged in school from 4th grade through high school and taught me life lessons that I have used in my adult life and career for the past 35 years. The more I learned about MFA outside of just the marching arts with the Summer Symposium and National Festival as well as the music advocacy programs that work to ensure that every child has access and opportunity to have music education as part of their scholastic environment, I felt the need to support it.

What is your favorite Music for All memory?

While there are many, the 2019 Grand National Championships were special to my wife and me. We attended in 2011 with our freshman daughter competing. We returned in 2019 with our freshman son competing and our adult daughter getting to experience the event as a spectator cheering for her brother. Announcing our program as the Esprit de Corps award winner – it just reminds us of the lessons that our kids are learning as part of their programs and the life value it brings to our kids and families.

What impact has music education had on your life?

Friendships that we have made in our programs, as well as in programs from across the country, have been amazing. The process of learning to be a part of something bigger than yourself has been impactful, as well as learning the passion and dedication required to reach a purpose or goal.

What does Music for All's mission mean to you?

The statement of providing “positively life-changing experiences for students” means a great deal to my wife and me. I experienced this growing up and I have seen it with my children and so many children that have had the access to music education in middle school and high school.

Ric Coons Photo 1Ric, Jeannette, and their son at the Urban Farm for the San Antonio Food Bank with the Claudia Taylor Johnson Band 

What compelled you to be a donor?

We have seen music programs and fine arts across the country lose funding over the years. My wife and I have seen the value of music education and we are fortunate enough to have a phenomenal group of music educators that support our kids. We have been fortunate enough to be in a position to support our middle and high school programs here locally. But we also feel the need to support the mission of MFA outside our local community and are proud to do so.

In your opinion, what is the most important work that Music for All does?

Music advocacy – your ability to bring so many national sponsors together and provide outstanding opportunities for our kids to perform in such a positive way that will touch their lives forever. They carry that with them and it leads them to want to give back so that others that do not have access can be supported.

What do you wish people knew about Music for All?

There is no other organization in the country that provides the ability to bring young people together for the sole purpose of promoting the musical arts in a positive manner and in world-class venues and that promotes access to music education within our youth communities - from BOA events to the honor brands that allow individuals from across the country to grow together. MFA uses its platform to support areas that do not have access to music education.

Do you have an anecdote/story about Music for All or a Music for All event that really moved you?

Grand Nationals 2019 – I arranged a gathering with parents/alumni from 8 different bands that we have gotten to know from across Texas – and Avon, our honorary Texas band after their 2017 appearance. While we had some great conversations with the MFA team prior to that event, the event was just to watch the live feed of the announcements of the finalists. Eric Martin, MFA’s President and CEO at that time, took time out of what has to be one of his busiest days to speak to the members that were assembled to do a Q&A on the direction of the organization. It was touching that he would take the time to join us.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating?

Look at the entire scope of the organization, its mission, and the performance of that mission over the years. If you have a family that has been involved in music education and have seen what it has meant to them, then reach out to support this organization. It is a worthy mission and our kids across the country need the arts.

Ric Coons Photo 2The Coons Family

Monday, September 21, 2020

MFA's IMPACT: Dr. Christopher Protho

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Our new Donor Spotlight series will introduce you to some of the incredible advocates of Music for All as they share their stories of Music for All’s impact on them and why there were compelled to pay it forward to ensure that others feel that impact as well. In the second spotlight of our series below, we are thrilled to introduce you to Dr. Christopher Protho.

Chris and Eric EditedPictured left to right: Eric Martin, President & CEO Emeritus of MFA, and Dr. Christopher Protho

How did you become involved with Music for All?

I started when I volunteered in the bus parking lot at the Morgantown, WV Regional (known as the Eastern Regional) in 1990. As a freshman in the WVU band, it was not like I had much of a choice. I had no idea what Bands of America was. I barely understood that marching bands competed against each other. 

The real connection came in 1991, at the end of my freshman year. I was a few minutes late for the Wind Symphony’s commencement rehearsal in May. I was asked to see Dave Satterfield (WVU Asst. Director of Bands and Cadets staff) after rehearsal. Dave was generally responsible for discipline, so I spent the rehearsal preparing myself for a well-deserved tongue-lashing. Instead, he asked me if I could work at a camp in Wisconsin, the 1991 BOA Summer Workshop [now the MFA Summer Symposium] held in Whitewater, WI. BOA needed a clarinet SWAG to fill a last-minute vacancy. Just like that, I was an 18-year-old SWAG who had never been to Wisconsin, never worked with so many students, and (like most of the world) didn’t know what SWAG meant. (Heck, I didn’t know that SWAG was an acronym and I really didn’t know how special it was to be one.) In those days, the whole camp participated as the “Pick ‘n Save Band of America” in a Milwaukee parade. 1400+ kids marching in an enormous band in the rain. The band was so big that, although the picture covers what looks like a mile, the whole band’s not in the picture because the back half of the guard hadn’t turned a corner. An old friend of mine still has my red SWAG shirt. I worked Grand Nationals that year and my thank you note was hand-signed by all FIVE staff members.

 Protho 1991 SWAG

What attracted you to the cause?

The people and the scale of the experience. I met so many great people – students, SWAGs, volunteers, staff, clinicians. It felt then (and feels now) that there’s this giant positive energy created through music - all moving in the same direction. Everyone wants to help; everyone wants to contribute; everyone wants to get their own piece of MFA awesomeness by giving some away to someone else. Everyone was helped to feel and be special – every band on the field, every kid at camp, every fan, every pit dad. It has never been just about the official-looking people – kids in their uniforms or judges and staff in their polo shirts. At an Orlando regional, there was a woman who had pulled up a chair to a pond outside the stadium. I remember sitting next to her, listening to her talk about her life’s journey while she was fishing, yes, fishing outside the stadium. It felt like that in 1990 and every year and every event since.

As for the scale, I am beyond amazed at the replication of this feeling and this experience. It is often said that it would be great if something positive could be bottled. Marching Bands of America, Bands of America, and Music for All have found the magic to do just that. In the last thirty years, I have worked in about 50 or 60 venues, from tiny high school fields to NFL stadiums and complete college campuses. The magic is not just in the mission; it’s in the tens of thousands in the MFA family that replicate the mission everywhere for everyone.

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What is your favorite Music for All memory?

Most MFA events I attend are part of the fall marching championships, so most of my stories come from that part of the year, but I’ve had great memories at the Summer Symposium, the MFA National Festival, and several events that have evolved into other student opportunities in my years between BOA’s 15th Anniversary and MFA’s 45th Anniversary. NOT FAIR. This would be like picking my favorite child. (Editor’s note: Chris provided ten amazing memories, I chose five of my favorite stories he shared for you all to read here.)

5. Atlanta, GA – While problem-solving at the loading dock of the Georgia Dome, the Western Carolina University marching band walked by. From out of the mass of WCU humanity, I hear, “Hey, Mr. Protho, is that you?” A student from my middle school moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, finished high school, had joined “The Pride of the Mountains,” and six or seven years later, we unfathomably found one another in one of the most unlikely places.

4. Charleston, WV – Due to a late scheduling change, the Morgantown, WV Regional was moved to Charleston. Additionally, we needed to do the regional without a volunteer site staff (as the WVU “Pride of West Virginia” stayed in Morgantown for the rescheduled game). It became an “all-hands-on-deck” event. We ran that show with about 15 people, with everyone chipping in wherever they could, including Scott McCormick, BOA President, selling programs until he threw his back out and Eric Martin, BOA’s new Vice President, guiding bands from warm-up to the stadium (across a set of active railroad tracks). 

3. Indianapolis, IN – At the RCA Dome pre-Lucas Oil Stadium renovation, buses and trucks needed clearance from a BOA volunteer (designated “Check Point 1”) before driving around the stadium to unload on the tarmac and at the loading docks. One snowy Grand Nationals, I was working on the tarmac as a form of “traffic cop” to help Check Point 1 know when there was sufficient space for the next band to come around. I got a radio call from Jenny Ridge at Check Point 1: “Chris, there’s a band that has to unload NOW!”  I replied, “What is so urgent?”  Jenny said, “You’ll see.”  A truck came around the stadium with virtually no roof.  It had hit a train trestle that was too low and that had peeled the top of the truck back like a sardine can, allowing it to snow on the band’s equipment.

2. Massillon, OH – During this show I was assisting in keeping trophies and medallions straight during awards ceremonies. One year, Mars High School won Class A and was, therefore, entitled to medallions, including medallions presented on-field during the Finals Awards Ceremony. As the director at Mars Middle School, I was extraordinarily proud of my former students. As I prepared to hand several medallions to a VIP to be presented to Mars’s drum majors, I was asked at the last second to present the medallions myself. My pride for my students went off the chart as I had the honor of looking my past students in the eye as they received the highest honor the band had ever received. (Just writing about this moment has me in tears.) My photo of that moment is one of my greatest treasures.

1. Indianapolis, Indiana - I was serving as Contest Director at Grand Nationals and was taking a break, having a conversation with Eric Martin (MFA’s previous President & CEO). A reporter from a major national newspaper entered the room for a scheduled interview with Eric. As I tried to do the polite thing by gathering my belongings so the two could have the room to themselves, Eric invited me to stay. I listened to Eric go further than share a recitation of what MFA does; he shared the core of the mission, why we do what we do, and how what we do impacts people, schools, communities. It wasn’t an interview; it was a sermon. It was an MFA TedTalk.  After decades of seeing, hearing, and feeling the embodiment of love and care through what was known (at the time) as Music for All, I thought I understood it. After listening to Eric, I instantly knew I had a way to go to really know what was going on and why. It was like climbing a mountain, looking up, and realizing I had thousands of feet left to climb.

What impact has music education had on your life?

I am who I am and how I am through music education. Through mentorships lasting seconds to decades, I have learned my part in the lives of young people, the people that support them, and all the people whose paths cross mine over time.  Learning to play the clarinet has, over the years, become a means to an end.  First, I learned to play, then I learned to lead, to follow, and eventually, through music education, learned what my path was meant to be. Internalizing the process of developing and sharing artistry and creativity with others is something that I no longer need an instrument or a baton to achieve.

What does Music for All's mission mean to you? 

I’d like to address this question rather literally. For grammar fans, the mission has two broad parts: the verbs “create, provide, and expand” and the noun “positively life-changing experiences”. For some time, I focused exclusively on the noun. I gave so much thought to what “positively life-changing experiences” look to our larger music community.  I have come to believe that understanding the noun through J.K. Rowling’s adaptation of Louis Armstrong’s famous quote, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Just picking up an instrument, listening to the radio or your local symphony, coming to an event, or saying “thank you” to a volunteer takes one down the path to a positively life-changing experience. 

The verbs have had a more profound effect on me lately. It speaks to the universality of human connection. Creation, provision, and expansion are all methods to extend the beauty of music into the universe, even that little piece of the universe we get to call ours, whether it’s associated with a mascot, identified with zip code, or measured in light-years. The mission is beautifully interminable. There is no end to expressing and serving the mission; there is no point at which one can say, “OK, I’m done. I’ve achieved the mission. I can sit down now.”

What compelled you to be a donor? 

Donating is a small act of giving back and helping to make the creation, provision, and expansion expressed in the mission statement happen. Since I was a toddler, MBA, BOA, and MFA, have continued to find ways to extend the beauty of music into universes large and small, into genres new and traditional, into communities seeking to maximize the excellence to which they have become accustomed and communities who require assistance and support to take the next step toward excellence.

To the friends and family who haven’t been on my journey, it could be easy to misconstrue our relationship. “Chris, they put you on an airplane and send you to here or there and you get to see the best bands in the country and rub elbows with the most talented music educators.” It can sound like Music for All has given me so much over the years. Through one lens, that may be true. What is far more true, is that while I’ve had experiences at the events I attend, is that those experiences cause one to give that experience to one more person, one more community. If my few meager dollars can make that happen, then all the moments will have been worth it.

In your opinion, what is the most important work that Music for All does? 

Persist. Making MFA’s various events happen on simply the logistical level (that leads to the personal and emotional levels) requires an inordinate amount of time, effort, and resources. Being blessed to have had opportunities to serve in leadership at events from time to time, incrementally learning what happens behind the curtain to allow the magic to happen in front of it is truly mind-altering. Without time, effort, and resources, events simply don’t happen. MFA has been able to put those pieces together for generations, and hopefully for generations more. Your homework should be to go to the MFA website’s staff page to see the names and faces of those people you may never see and may never meet but are indispensable to MFA’s events. Imagine Grand Nationals or the Summer Symposium being planned by this small, dedicated group ranging from interns to executives. That’s where we come in as donors and volunteers.  Whenever and wherever you can add to the pools of time, effort, and resources that allow MFA to persist in order to reach out to just one more child, one more program, one more community.

What do you wish people knew about Music for All?

How few full-time employees actually work for MFA. (See the homework assignment above.) For years, I thought there were hundreds; dozens would be generous. 

Do you have an anecdote/story about Music for All or a Music for All event that really moved you? 

At the 1991 Grand Nationals, the process for presenting medals is different than it is now. Then, volunteers individually presented a medallion to each student. As I was presenting a class champion medallion to a young lady from (what was then) Plymouth Centennial High School, they were announced as the National Champions. She removed her hat so I could get a medallion around her neck. As the announcement was made, she broke out in tears as I presented her medallion. I wanted to cry with her.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating?

Think about the next step MFA can take because of your donation. Over the years, MFA has developed different dimensions to meet its mission, expanding its geographic footprint, recognizing more student-musicians in more musical genres, extending its reach into underserved communities, recognizing the impact of supporting the growth of young educators, and more. Your donation helps MFA take that next step and helps you take that step along with MFA.

Join Dr. Protho in making a gift in support of Music for All's impact here.


Music for All continues to assess how we can best serve the needs of school music programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the current uncertainty of many schools’ changing learning environments plus community concerns about safety, Music for All has announced today that it will be unable to present the 2021 Music for All National Festival, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was made after several months of consultations with music educators and our educational advisors, in the interest of the health, safety, and wellness of all associated with the Festival. The well-being of the students, teachers, volunteers, and communities associated with our programs remains our number one priority. Music for All made the decision at this time out of respect for the planning required for schools and ensembles, and the process of facility and venue preparations.

The impact of COVID-19 on Music for All was initially felt with the early conclusion of our 2020 Festival in March, followed by the subsequent cancellations of our June Summer Symposium and the Bands of America 2020 Championship season. With this decision for the 2021 Festival, we share in the deep disappointment of performing students, teachers, and boosters from schools who were aiming to apply for this prestigious event. We hope that the decision will allow directors to focus their energies on the unique task of teaching this semester and for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

Music for All remains committed to providing significant educational programs. We recently announced our remote learning and virtual live performance opportunities for the fall. We will continue to offer these virtual experiences in the winter and spring of 2021. Visit to learn more and sign up.

Music for All is launching special donation campaigns in October and November, in order to sustain the organization through the impact of the pandemic and to continue to offer our educational programs. “We hope that our followers and participants will watch for these special fundraising events, culminating with a special online event with special guests on November 14,” said Neil Larrivee, Vice President of Mission Advancement. Details will be announced soon on the upcoming donation campaigns.

Thank you to all of the music educators, clinicians, event staff, volunteers, and donors who have supported Music for All during this difficult time. We continue to work toward – and look forward to – the time when we can gather in person to make music together again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Changing Trends in Collegiate Music Recruiting

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Students with an entrepreneurial vision, songwriting and composing skills, are as highly recruited as those with advanced music theory knowledge. Students are becoming more aware of the many career paths available to them in the music entertainment industry: movies, television programs and commercials, podcasts, video games, streaming content, and recordings. And high schools are finding they need to incorporate instruction in composition, orchestration, arranging, and songwriting into class curriculum to help the student make college and career decisions. So what does that mean for the scholastic music educators?

Scholastic music educators--choral directors, band directors, and orchestra directors—now need to incorporate arranging and songwriting in their curriculum from early grades through high school to give their students a competitive edge in the collegiate application and audition process. Students with these skills are in high demand, and in fact, several Schools of Music over the past five years have offered scholarships to songwriters and rappers because of their potential ability to bring copyright and publishing royalties into their coffers. Several universities have stated that a student’s advanced placement theory credits are weighted less in the admission decision process than a songwriting submission, especially if the song follows proper song structure.

Additionally, many School of Music and Music Department recruiters are looking for students with an entrepreneurial mindset. Recruiters have realized the US media and entertainment industry is the largest in the world and there are now over 20 colleges or universities offering an undergraduate degree in Music Entrepreneurship. At $717 billion (in 2019) in the US alone, music represented 1/3 of global media and entertainment. This industry includes motion pictures, television programs and commercials, broadcasts, radio, video games, and ancillary services and products. In 2019, the music industry was ranked 11th in the US economy and it is predicted the industry will reach more than $825 billion by 2023.

Collegiate music education is a business. Colleges, universities, and conservatories must make a profit. A growing trend among many Music Departments is to have publishing and recording companies within the department, where they publish new music from professors, students, and alumni, as well as educational resources and curriculums. Music Departments also depend on tuition and student fees, such as lab fees and tutoring fees. And they sell services—master classes, camps, symposiums, and ensemble weekends—as well as showcasing seniors in musical theatre before Broadway producers, opera singers in New York for talent agencies, and instrumentalists before the American Symphony League.

The face of collegiate recruiting has changed and will, in light of COVID-19 and its repercussions, continue to evolve. Scholastic music educators will find themselves with new challenges as they strive to help students and their parents navigate the collegiate music application and audition process. is the premier site for resources for teachers, parents, and students to help in this new, evolving world. And we are proud to announce that Eric Martin, former CEO of Music for All, has joined as its President. Mr. Martin and Randall Bayne, founder and CEO, are committed to assisting students, along with their teachers and parents, navigate these ever-changing and somewhat treacherous waters to find the scholarship opportunities best suited for their career goals. Visit today and explore the possibilities and connections available to help you and your students, especially during this challenging year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Virtues of Virtual Acoustics

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Many schools built in the 60’s and 70’s have music rooms that resemble typical math or science rooms: small cubic volume, low ceilings, poor soundproofing and inferior or no acoustical treatments.

That was unfortunately the case at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minnesota. Knowing that there were no plans for new construction in the near future, Choir Director Philip Brown pleaded with the school administration to improve the room.

“We talked about options and our superintendent said, ‘Let’s do it right the first time.’ He asked what the best solution was, and we liked the idea of virtual acoustics,” Brown says.

A virtual acoustics system includes an array of microphones and speakers placed strategically in the music room to digitally alter and improve the acoustics of a space. These systems can also go beyond that capability and mimic the acoustics of a broad range of performance venues — from a large recital hall to a cathedral to a small auditorium. The goal is to help performers hear what they’ll sound like at a venue they’ll be performing in. It helps them hear themselves and each other and know when and how to adjust to improve the overall performance.

Hearing is Believing

Brown had experienced virtual acoustics firsthand at the national American Choral Director’s Convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center. He watched a demonstration of Wenger’s VAE® (Virtual Acoustic Environment) Rehearsal System and quickly realized how much it could help solve their acoustical problems.

“It was fascinating to see how the singers made modifications using the VAE system versus not having anything at all,” Brown says. “That was the biggest thing to me as a music educator. How are the singers responding to it?”

“The power of the system comes in so many angles,” he explains. “It heightens everything to a different educational and performance level.” He was able to convince school administration and the system was installed.

Custom Installation

Jefferson’s virtual acoustics system was made specifically by Wenger for smaller settings, such as classrooms. The system isn’t a new concept, but it’s nimble enough – and affordable enough – that classrooms in colleges and high schools across the country are finding that it’s a solid solution to help their students get more out of their rehearsal time.

“The Wenger Acoustic Team came in and explained what they would do to work with the low ceilings and two different ceiling heights and how they would make it work,” Brown says.

He describes the old room as “dead.” He says singers would overcompensate, push too hard, and get tired, affecting their technique. “Virtual acoustics increase your sensation of what’s coming back to you, so you can stay with a healthier technique for a longer period of time,” Brown says. “The system adds energy back into the room and provides a teaching tool for the instructor,” says Matt Hildebrand, Acoustics Product Manager at Wenger Corporation. “When the system is off, the classroom is quiet and perfect for verbal instruction or teaching theory.”

The Benefits of Better Sound

Users frequently site these three things that they enjoy most about the system:

  • It’s easy to use. The environment can be changed with the touch of a button, even from the podium where the control panel is positioned.
  • The different acoustic environments are preset and offer flexibility as well as custom settings. The nine settings include studio, baroque, medium recital hall, large recital hall, medium auditorium, large auditorium, cathedral and a custom setting.
  • Digital record and playback capabilities work with any of the nine acoustical settings for immediate listening in rehearsal, archiving or creating an audition recording.

Before the system was installed, Brown says his students did not enjoy singing in the choir room.

“After adding the system, we did a total flip and the kids were very excited to get in here and experiment with it,” Brown says.

There is a custom setting that mirrors the acoustics of the school’s auditorium which helps them practice without having to occupy the performance space.

“We only get so many rehearsals in our auditorium before our concerts because it is a space that gets reserved for a lot of events and activities,” Brown explains. “Now, they walk into the hall and there are no surprises, so it takes us less time to acclimate.”

Using the system during rehearsals, Brown likes to sample different settings. If they are practicing a baroque piece, they can use the baroque setting and transcend the class into a different time period.

Brown says the system helps eliminate the unknowns and builds confidence in his students.

“There’s an arena setting to prepare us for a national anthem stadium performance. We can actually rehearse in an arena setting so the kids will know how much feedback they’re going to get and how much echo there’s going to be so they can respond to it. When we arrive, the group is prepared and can sound their best.”

Record, Listen and Learn

For both teacher and student, the record and playback functions allow for learning and adjustment. Brown says it gives the students more ownership of the performance and constant reflection about what they are hearing. They can perform something two different ways, listen to both and decide which they like better.

They can use the VAE Rehearsal system with the entire choir working together, or in small groups. If students are not in class at the same time, they can record their session and the second group can use their recording as an accompaniment.

It has also come in handy for submitting competition and scholarship recordings.

Worthwhile Investment

With every “wow” moment that students experience when hearing the system for the first time, Brown’s decision to install the system is solidified. As he sees each class of students learn, grow and improve, he knows that students for years to come will reap the benefits.

“The students can now go so much further. They know how to listen and improve. It allows them to have flexibility so whatever environment they play in they can be comfortable and feel successful in those environments. It really makes a difference at an incredibly high-quality level.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Patrick Mainieri

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More often than not, when you ask someone what makes Music for All special, they talk about the people, and we couldn’t agree more. “People” is one of Music for All’s core values and we are incredibly fortunate to have many committed supporters of our mission to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. We hope that our new Donor Spotlight series will introduce you to some of these incredible advocates of Music for All as they share their stories of Music for All’s impact on them and why there were compelled to pay it forward to ensure that others feel that impact as well.

Maineri DSBlog

How did you become involved with Music for All?
I was a participant as a drum major my senior year of high school. It was the first year in our school’s history that our band performed at BOA events. We performed at the St. Louis Super Regional and Atlanta Super Regional that fall. I got reengaged with MFA during the Fall of 2015 as the assistant band director of a program that participated in fall events. In Summer of 2016 I became a SWAG for Summer Symposium and have enjoyed that role each summer since. In March 2017, I attended my first National Festival with our Wind Ensemble students. After building relationships with many of the amazing MFA staff, I began helping on the Events and Participant Relations teams, now regularly assisting at Fall events, Festival, Tournament of Roses, and Summer Symposium. I also enjoy serving on the Advocacy in Action committee, as I get to have amazing conversations about the trend-setters in the music education profession. There is an incredible amount of creativity among music educators!

What attracted you to the cause?
Hands down, the mission and the people. There is an amazing ‘energy’ around everyone at a MFA event. Every person affiliated with MFA is mission minded and focused on the experience. I have taken much of the "vibe" from a MFA event and used it to guide my work as I create experiences for students and families at the school level.

What is your favorite Music for All memory?
There are too many to describe...but if I had to pick one, I'd say watching nervous campers become confident in their leadership over the week at Summer Symposium is always the best. Many kids “find themselves" at camp...because they get to BE themselves.

What impact has music education had on your life?
Music education has impacted almost every aspect of my life. My mom took me to my first trumpet lesson on February 1, 1996. I still remember the room upstairs in the music store. That lesson teacher inspired me from day 1 to love the process of making music. My junior high and high school band directors taught me the value of supporting and defending music education. I married my high school sweetheart, who I met through band. College revealed the network we have in our country to amplify music education. I learned a lot about the value of music education on our society through my work with my collegiate chapter of Phi Mu Alpha, Sinfonia and NAfME Collegiate. Now, as a school administrator, I find myself using many skills learned in my music classes and coursework - leadership, patience, attention to the smallest details, teamwork, listening, communication with varied stakeholders...the list goes on and on – in my daily work with the full school population and supporting teachers and parents.

What does Music for All's mission mean to you?
The word that I take from the mission is 'experience'. Everything in life is an experience and I want to ensure that my interactions with others, as well as the experience they are having holistically, are enjoyable and positive, for them. My personal gratification comes from observing others enjoy the experience.

What compelled you to be a donor?
My wife and I value donating, both financially and through service, with organizations that are meaningful to us. MFA is at the top of our list. Our donations to MFA became amplified when we saw we could make a difference in a child's experience at summer camp. Our focus started with helping get kids to camp, as we feel Summer Symposium is one of those 'once in a lifetime' experiences that could change the entire trajectory for a student.

In your opinion, what is the most important work that Music for All does?
I feel the most important work that MFA does is when it is centered on the student experience. Without students, we don't have music classes. Without music classes, we don't have music directors. And, without those students, MFA would no longer be needed in the capacity it serves. MFA does a lot of things REALLY well, but when the students and their experiences are front and center, I see MFA staff and programming reach new heights.

What do you wish people knew about Music for All?
I wish people FULLY understood that MFA is working, relentlessly, to better diversify its programming by adding more opportunities for all types of music education while working to reach those communities that have a higher need for advocacy and support.

Do you have an anecdote/story about Music for All or a Music for All event that really moved you?
After working on Event staff at the Bowling Green, OH Regional in Fall 2018, a few of us headed to Waffle House to get a late night snack. There was a teenage boy in a band shirt sitting at the table next to us and we began a conversation with him and his parents about the regional. The kid, Max, was a sophomore and that regional was his first MFA event – he loved every second of it. I told them about Summer Symposium and percussion track. Fast forward to summer…While working registration at the percussion track table, Max's mom says, "You may not remember us, but we met you at Waffle House in Bowling Green and you told us about this camp." I had one of those, “is this really happening?” moments as we registered Max for camp. Max enjoyed the 'best week of the summer' as he honed his snare drum skills and grew his leadership skills. It was awesome seeing Max, a nervous 10th grader at Waffle House, enjoy every second of camp that summer. Max is now a section leader for his high school program. I guess the anecdote is – Informing people of the opportunities MFA provides is often times the tipping point for them to have the experience. People can’t experience what they don’t know about. But, once they know, if it matters to them, they will make it a reality in their life.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating?
Do it. When we donate to MFA, we give based on the trust and knowledge that our donation is going to support music students and advocacy across our nation.

Join Patrick in making a gift in support of Music for All's impact here.

Kennedy Karen 242x350Music for All is saddened by the passing of Dr. Karen Kennedy, a founding member of the Music for All Choral Artistic Committee. Dr. Kennedy’s insights and vibrant inspiration were instrumental in the early development of the Music for All National Choir Festival.

Dr. Kennedy was the Director of Choral Studies at the University of Miami, where she oversaw the DMA and MM programs in choral conducting. Previous to her appointment at Miami, she held positions as the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Artistic Director of the Honolulu Symphony Chorus, and Director of Choral Studies at Towson University.

Outside of her work in academics, Karen enjoyed leading festival performances, most recently in notable venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Mormon Tabernacle, the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden, St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Canterbury Cathedral in England, and multiple venues in Austria. Off the podium, Dr. Kennedy was passionate about leading workshops on innovative rehearsal technique, vocal pedagogy and the choral classroom, and music literacy, garnering invitations nationally and internationally for teaching residencies at established festivals and retreats.

Equally at home working with orchestra, Dr. Kennedy conducted fine ensembles including the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, the Miami Symphony, the Boca Raton Philharmonic, and the Symphony of the Americas. She prepared choruses for a wide range of events, from performances on MTV to collaborations with the Cleveland Orchestra. NAXOS released two recordings with her ensembles in spring 2017, joining her featured choir performance on the Latin Grammy-winning album Loco de Amor.v

Dr. Kennedy received numerous awards for teaching, including the University of Hawai’i Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching, and Arizona State University’s Manzanita “Top Prof” Award and was a two-time recipient of the Lawrence Township Schools Superintendent’s Award. She was a past-president of the Hawai’i Chapter of the America Choral Directors Association (ACDA), founding member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO), a past Repertoire and Standards Chair for Collegiate Choirs in ACDA’s Eastern Division, and maintained an active student ACDA chapter at the University of Miami.

“Karen was my student at Butler University, an esteemed colleague, and a friend,” said Henry Leck, Artistic Director of Choral Activities at Music for All. “She was beloved by her students and all those who witnessed her inspirational passion as a teacher and conductor.”

Music for All is pleased to welcome Neil Larrivee as Vice President of Mission Advancement. Mr. Larrivee will play a crucial part of Music for All’s current efforts to lead through the challenging times of the pandemic with new and expanded fundraising efforts through donations, grants, and new sponsorships. Looking forward, Mr. Larrivee’s vast experience and knowledge of the music industry will help support a strong Music for All long into the future.

Mr. Larrivee was the Vice President of Drumstick & Mallet Innovation for the Avedis Zildjian Company. For 34 years, Neil played a unique role in the overall growth of Vic Firth while also coordinating its music industry leading education program. In 2016, he was responsible for bringing together both the Zildjian and Vic Firth Education staffs into a single, fully integrated department. Most recently he was responsible for drumstick and mallet product innovation for Zildjian, Vic Firth & Mike Balter Mallet brands.

Outside of Zildjian, Neil has over 40 years of music teaching experience within the marching band, drum corps, and indoor marching percussion activities as well as private lesson instruction resulting in his induction into The Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps, Winter Guard International, Massachusetts Drum Corps and Music Educators Hall of Fame.

Neil is an active clinician and adjudicator in the marching band and indoor percussion arena. As an avid concert attendee, Neil will often be found taking in live performances of jazz, orchestral, or contemporary chamber music in Boston or wherever his travels may take him.

“With a decorated multi-decade career in the music education and business world, Neil will be a resource for all facets of Music for All, which includes the shouldering of responsibilities which will allow others to shift focus as we retool MFA for the realities of the years to come,” said Jeremy L. Earnhart, President and CEO of Music for All.

Headquartered in downtown Indianapolis, Music for All is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization that uniquely combines regional and national music education programming with awareness and advocacy efforts aimed at ensuring and expanding access to music in schools and communities.

Schools across America are in the midst of finalizing their plans for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. After thoughtful conversations over several months with enrolled directors, educational consultants and advisors, and several state associations, Music for All has announced today that it is unable to present its 2020 Bands of America Championships due to the many challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was recommended by the Music for All staff and affirmed by the Music for All Board of Directors.

We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of the students, band directors, staff, volunteers, spectators, and others associated with our programs remain our number one priority.

With this extraordinary development, we share in the deep disappointment of the thousands of performing students, teachers, and supporters.

Music for All remains committed to providing educational opportunities this fall. We are offering several remote evaluation opportunities in order to provide quality feedback from BOA adjudicators and MFA evaluators, and goal-oriented experiences to motivate and inspire students during this unusual time. Details on how to sign up for remote evaluation and virtual performance opportunities will be announced soon.

We will begin work right away on the 2021 Bands of America Championship season, in order to announce the 2021 schedule and open registrations later this fall. We cannot wait to see you all on the field and in the concert hall in the future.

Thank you to all of the music educators, adjudicators, event staff, volunteers, and fans who have continued to support Music for All during this difficult time. We will get through this together. Music for All continues to be here for you to provide positively life-changing experiences through music for all and to do everything we can to ensure that we all make sure music in our schools is stronger than ever in the future.

Your Support Will Help Music for All Make It Through These Unprecedented Times

As with most of us, Music for All has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ticket sales and event-related revenue from our Bands of America Championships is normally what sustains us year-round, serving more than 150,000 student and teacher participants each year.

In spite of current challenges, Music for All has been offering online learning opportunities for students and educators – and we want to continue to offer online guidance and peer support for teachers as we all work to make the most of this school year.

Your gift today will help Music for All to overcome current financial challenges and continue to promote and support music education, at a time when students need music and the arts the most.

Your Donation Makes a Difference:

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