Saturday, June 25, 2011

Last Day of the Summer Symposium

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Visit the 2011 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights.

We’ve reached the final day of Summer Symposium, and even though it’s early, it has been a busy morning already!

The morning started with a Parent Breakfast at 7 a.m. at The Atrium. Shortly after breakfast, parents and family members participated in a session about their child’s experience at Symposium and what to expect upon returning home. This session also gave family the opportunity to participate in a special session with Fran Kick, Leadership Division Coordinator.

At 9 a.m., the final performances will begin! From 9:00 to 11:30 a.m., the Concert Band, Orchestra, Percussion and Jazz performances will run concurrently on campus. The Concert Band and Orchestra performances will take place in the Music Instruction Building – Sursa Hall. The Jazz performances will take place in Pruis Hall, starting at 10:00 a.m. These concerts provide students with the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned this week for friends and family.

At 11:30 a.m., the Community Day Picnic will take place on the Quad. Families will enjoy the opportunity to relax a bit and grab a bite to eat before afternoon performances. And, it looks like a gorgeous, sunny day so hopefully families will have a chance to soak up some sun!

Afternoon performances from the Color Guard, Marching Percussion, and Marching Band will take place, as will the Drum Major March Off. All these performances will take place in Scheumann Stadium.

Speaking of Scheumann Stadium, the DCI show was last night. What a great night! The show featured some of the world’s best drum and bugle corps - Blue Stars, Carolina Crown, The Cavaliers, Glassmen, Madison Scouts, Pioneer, Teal Sound and Troopers. Plus, there was a performance by the Center X Productions Summer Symposium Marching Band. The Marching Band Division students marched side-by-side with Carolina Crown, Summer Symposium artists-in-residence. Imagine being able to stand and rehearse shoulder-to-shoulder with the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps! What a great experience for these students.

Campus is buzzing with activity as parents and families are arriving on campus for final performances. I know the performances will be wonderful. It’s hard to believe the week is drawing to a close. Today will be a busy day so I may not have a chance to blog more until early next week, but check back then for an update and wrap up.

Until then,


ConcertBandThis morning when I woke up, I realized that it was the last full day of camp, excluding the Saturday performances, of course. My first thought was – there’s still so much I want to see!

I ended up visiting several tracks early on this morning, but before I get to that, let me fill you in on the concert band track. Last night, I was lucky enough to have a bit of time to stop by and hear the end of the “Oklahoma” Concert Band’s rehearsal.

The band is conducted by Dr. Joseph Missal, who is celebrating his 25th year as Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Missal also directs the graduate conducting program, teaches undergraduate conducting, and serves as Area Coordinator for the Wind and Percussion Division.

“Practice like you’re going to perform,” Dr. Missal instructed the students.

The band was getting ready to rehearse “Resonances I” by Ron Nelson. I noticed when looking over the shoulder of a student percussionist that the piece is divided into six parts – Unit I, II, III, IV, V and VI. After researching later, I learned that the six parts of this work are made up of “boxes of activity,” and the duration of each section is determined by the conductor. The title makes sense – each instrument has seemingly independent lines that explore different textures and eventually all come together in a cacophony of sound that ends with a mighty, percussive crash.

After the band finished the piece, the bell sets rang on for a moment in the suddenly quiet room. The band waited patiently for the sound to fade away.

“Our goal is to be the best we can be,” Dr. Missal said. “If it’s not about music, it’s not worth doing. I’m so proud of you, but I’m not done [working] with you yet. We’ll take this [music] to another level.”

I chatted briefly with Hunter, a percussionist, on my way out. I asked if he was having a good time this week. He told me it was his first time at camp, and he said it’s been a great experience. He also told me that was really happy with the pieces the band has been rehearsing, and I hope to be able to hear their repertoire in full tomorrow at the final performances.

The morning was a great time for me to visit student tracks. First, I stopped to see the Jazz students. I watched Rex Richardson take the band through rehearsal. Richardson is rated by musicians and critics as being “among the very best trumpet soloists in the world today,” (ITG Journal, Jan. 2011). He cleaned some specific sections and was working with the trombone section as I walked in.

It was fun to listen to Richardson work with Adam, the student playing Drum Set. He instructed Adam to play a drumbeat that was a total contrast to what the horns were doing. The horns were swinging, and Adam played an almost march-like beat. The contrast was a completely unique, interesting sound, and it worked so well! As Richardson put it, “I really like that. It’s kind of goofy, but it’s supposed to be.”

I’m constantly reminded of the musical maturity of these students. One student mentioned that he thought the ensemble needed to go back and work on measure 110 again. Richardson agreed. That kind of maturity is impressive – the fact that students can hear those issues and know how to solve them is amazing.

As I headed out, I took a look at my schedule and realized the Percussion Ensemble students were also rehearsing in the same building. I found them discussing cymbal crashes. It was very interesting to hear about how different types of cymbals affect the sound.

I learned that there are specific cymbals that fit different pieces of music. The discussion turned to how cymbals used to be classified by three weights – French, Viennese and Germanic. Different cymbals produce different sound characteristics, which I guess I always knew, but I hadn't really thought about it in depth before. I thought it was really helpful and unique that the students learned how the dimensions and thickness affect the sound. It really gives a true understanding of what is happening when they play, which is important.

It was starting to look a bit cloudy, but I was energized from the jazz and percussion sessions so I thought I’d brave the potential weather and wander over to see the color guard. I’m so glad I did – they were rehearsing on the quad for their final performance tomorrow, and they were phenomenal to watch!

Melanie Glazer, senior SWAG for the Color Guard Division, told me that Carolina Crown’s guard worked with the students earlier in the day. As I watched the guard students practice, Glazer told me that the first two days of the track, students worked on a routine that they then performed for each other and for directors on Wednesday evening. Then they worked on their final routine, which they’ll perform tomorrow.

Students have also experienced advance technique classes with Vincent Thomas, Associate Professor of Dance at Towson University in Maryland. Students worked in their individual sections as well (flag, rifle or sabre), and they also had leadership classes each day. Additionally, they had the opportunity to take elective classes and work on partner tricks, basic skills on another piece of equipment, or attend a session on how to audition for Drum Corps.

It was great to see the students out on the spacious quad rehearsing, and I know their performance tomorrow will be wonderful.

The Drum Corps International show is happening right now! I was out there earlier tonight and had a chance to see some corps as well as the Marching Band Track students. The Marching Band students performed the National Anthem, and they’ll also perform later tonight with Carolina Crown. The students have been rehearsing and performing with Carolina Crown throughout the week in preparation for the DCI Central Indiana show tonight at Scheumann Stadium.

I'm looking forward to the final concerts tomorrow!



Friday, June 24, 2011

Uncommon Time

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NickKendallI really didn’t think evening concerts could get any better than they have been already this week, but last night’s concert with Uncommon Time, featuring Time for Three’s Nick Kendall and Ranaan Meyer, and friends, blew me away.

Last night’s ensemble included Nick Kendall on violin, Ranaan Meyer on double bass, Josh Fobare on keyboards, and Matt Scarano on drums.

I had never heard of Time for Three before Summer Symposium, but I am now a huge fan. Time for Three blends jazz, funk, pop, country western and gypsy music and often quickly moves from these unique genres to a calm, deliberate classical sound. Not only are Nick and Ranaan very kind, they are incredible musicians and were a great resource to our Orchestra track students.

Music for All was very lucky to be able to have Nick and Ranaan as Artists-in-Residence at Symposium. They both worked with the Orchestra track students throughout the week.

Earlier in the week, students participated in a fiddle master class with Kendall and Meyer that helped them prepare for the unique experience of performing on stage during the evening concert.

After being at camp for 9 days, I was having a particularly long and tiring day. I went over to Emens to greet directors as they came in to watch the concert. While listening to the students and watching them do the wave, I started to get re-energized and really excited for the rest of the night.

I didn’t read up on Time for Three, and I didn’t watch any videos. I had no idea what to expect. Working for Music for All, most people assume that I’m a musician. While I play a little bit of piano, and was in choir in high school and college, I don’t classify myself as a musician, but rather more of a recreational music maker. I understand basic concepts of music, but I’m sure most of the students here at Summer Symposium could teach me a thing or two! What I liked the most about last night’s performance was that it showcases strings in a whole new and innovative way. It’s accessible and relatable to anybody, even if you don’t have an orchestra background or love of classical music. The pure talent of the performers transcends genres.

Sitting up in the balcony, I had a great vantage point of all the students down on the main floor. They were really enjoying the concert - cheering at appropriate times and just attentively listening through a lot of it.

I was enjoying the concert, and really not wanting it to end, when Nick Kendall said they would be playing their last piece with a few special guests. This was the piece that I had been waiting for all night!

As Uncommon Time started to play the beginning notes of “Ogden,” written by Ranaan Meyer and Josh Fobare, pianist; orchestra students started filling the stage one by one. After everyone was in place, the magic began with students playing fluid, powerful lines over a steady, hip-hop backbeat. The students’ playing combined with Uncommon Time was so powerful. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!

There was something extra special about this performance that really touched me. I’m still not quite sure what it was, or how to even describe it. During my short time with Music for All, there have been just a few moments that literally have taken my breath away. The first was at my first Grand National Championships during the video montage right before finale. This was the second.

I was overwhelmed with how incredibly proud I was to be part of an organization that provides these life-changing experiences to students. I can’t fully understand what it must have felt like for those students, to play with Uncommon Time on that stage in front of all their camp peers and many others. You could tell that they were connecting with the music, and therefore connecting with their audience. They were putting into use all of the lessons on movement they had received from Richard Clark earlier in the week.

As they played their last note, and the lights on stage went to black, the crowd erupted in applause that moved directly to the “Standing O” that Symposium students are known for giving to performers. Even the “adults” on the balcony joined in on this standing ovation. It was truly a remarkable performance.

As I left Emens Auditorium with one of my coworkers, I was beaming. We both could not stop saying, “wow, that was incredible.” That moment makes everything worth it. That moment is why we, at Music for All, are dedicated to these students, this camp and anyone who touches any of our programs. It is the reason why we all do what we do. I know for a fact that lives were touched last night – lives of the students who performed on stage, and for some in the audience. I know mine was.

I sincerely hope that all of the students at Summer Symposium get to experience many more moments like that one. I know I’m definitely looking forward to Saturday when we will get to see ALL of the tracks showcase what they’ve been doing at camp all week!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Communicating Through Music

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Uncommon_TimeYesterday, I visited the orchestra division. In their 10:10 a.m. session, the students participated in a fiddle master class with Time for Three's Nick Kendall and Ranaan Meyer. The orchestra track faculty worked with the students as well, and included conductor Richard Auldon Clark, Director of Instrumental Activities at Butler University and Artistic Director and Conductor of the Butler Symphony Orchestra.

When I walked in, a beautiful, cohesive string sound washed over me. The students were busy rehearsing a piece called "Ogden," written by Ranaan Meyer and Josh Fobare, pianist. Students played fluid, powerful lines over a steady, hip-hop backbeat - music that fits the mold of Time for Three's category-shattering style.

Time for Three blends jazz, funk, pop, country western and gypsy music and often quickly moves from these unique genres to a calm, deliberate classical sound. They transcend traditional classification, forming a musical blend all their own. The members - Zachary (Zach) De Pue, violin; Nicolas (Nick) Kendall, violin; and Ranaan Meyer, double bass -- carry a passion for improvisation, composing and arranging, all prime elements of the ensemble's playing. Two of the three members, Kendall and Meyer, are present on site at camp this week to work and perform with the students.

The orchestra ensemble was extremely cohesive after only a few days together. One major item the students were working on in yesterday's session was movement and communication.

"Can you communicate [with your audience] when you play?" Clark asked. "Don't be statues."

Clark told the students to watch Kendall and Meyer. As they played, they were moving constantly, communicating the emotions of the piece through their playing.

I couldn't help but think about one of my favorite quotes – "Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us."

This quote comes from Karl Paulnack, who delivered the 2004 Welcome Address to parents of incoming music students at the Boston Conservatory. The first time I read this welcome address, it really moved me, and it has become one of my favorite passages. As a musician myself, music has always held a special place in my heart. But, this address really helped me realize that it's so much more than that.

In his speech, Paulnack says, "If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at 2:00 a.m. someone is going to waltz into your emergency room, and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8:00 p.m. someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft."

If you're interested in reading the full transcript of Karl Paulnack's speech on this subject, you can find it here.

Watching the orchestra students learn how to communicate emotion through music really got me thinking about this concept and the emotional importance of music. It was very interesting to see the students engaged in learning this important life and music lesson.

After a full day of sessions, students saw Jon McLaughlin in concert last night. McLaughlin, an Indiana native, is known for experimenting with different genres and styles to create a sound that is completely unique. Born and raised in Anderson, Indiana, the singer/songwriter began taking classical piano lessons at an early age and is classically trained. His song "So Close" from the "Enchanted" soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award.

His classical training mixes in a unique style to provide piano melodies within a pop/rock framework. McLaughlin's performance got me thinking about the orchestra session. His lyrics and the energy he puts in to his performances really communicate to the audience. Again, the idea of communication through music popped into my head – that seemed to be the common theme of my day!

McLaughlin performed several of his standard, popular songs, including "Industry," "Beating My Heart," "Beautiful Disaster," and "Indiana," a track which surely resonated with his hometown audience.

McLaughlin has a new album coming out in September, and our campers had a truly special opportunity last night. McLaughlin and his band performed two completely new, never-heard-before tracks from his upcoming album.

After the concert, McLaughlin graciously stayed to meet all students and fans, pausing to shake hands and sign autographs with anyone who asked.

More exciting sessions and concerts will happen today and in the final days of Symposium. I hope to get out on campus today to visit several other student divisions and tell you more about what's happening on campus.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Orpheus and The Volunteers

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Day_4_76Hi, everyone! I'm Erin, the Participant Relations Coordinator at Music for All. With my position I don't normally get the chance to blog, but the Marketing department has graciously let me guest blog today about my experience at Tuesday's evening concert.

First of all, this is my first year at Music for All's Summer Symposium. I started with the organization last August so while I've been with MFA for a little while, I'm still a newbie at camp! Part of my job is building relationships with future participants, and telling them about our programs. I can tell anyone why they should attend our camps and about the people who will be there instructing them. But, while reading through literature and watching videos on the website can tell you a little bit about camp and what it's all about, it's not the same as seeing it happen. As corny as I know it sounds, the energy on campus is incredible and inspiring. I know that for myself, being here at camp and seeing it first hand has helped me understand why people LOVE Summer Symposium.

I love walking into Emens Auditorium after a long day at camp and seeing all of the students doing the wave and various cheers. No matter what time you woke up in the morning, or how long your day has been, you can't help but smile when you see, hear and feel the energy in the room and know how much fun the students are having. Most of the students have been up since early morning, playing all day, marching, learning tosses, etc., yet they are still full of energy and waiting for the evening concert entertainment to begin.

Tuesday night definitely did not disappoint.

Orpheus, the first band of the night, is a SchoolJam USA finalist. SchoolJam USA is a battle of the bands contest for 13-19 year olds sponsored by NAMM. You can find more information about this program here.

As Orpheus played some covers and a few originals, the students danced and sang along through the whole set. Swags, nurses and staff couldn't resist dancing along as well!

My favorite part of the opening act was when one of the members of Orpheus told the crowd how he was a camper himself just two years ago, sitting in an evening concert.

"I looked over to my friend Mariah and said wouldn't it be awesome if one day, I could be up there on that stage?" he said. He told the audience he didn't really believe it would happen, but here he is - so don't ever think that you can't do something.

What would you do if you couldn't fail? Believe in yourself. Everyone hears these things all the time - I know I do. But, proof of statements just like these was up on that stage last night. These students just graduated high school a couple of weeks ago, and now they are on stage, with a crowd of over 700 rocking out to their music. At one point during the performance, I leaned over to a fellow staff member, commenting on how cool it was that we had Orpheus here since they are the same age or just slightly older than the majority of our campers. They are completely relatable. I truly hope that at least a few students looked up at the stage last night and thought to themselves, "yeah, I could do that."

Orpheus was great; everyone was pumped up, including me. I wasn't sure what to expect from the next performance, and then The Volunteers, who are part of the U.S. Army Field Band, came out.

The Volunteers had an incredible amount of energy and were fantastic players. They did a combination of newer, popular songs like Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," and some older favorites like "Barracuda."

I didn't think it was possible for the students to get more pumped up than they already were, but The Volunteers definitely caused that to happen!

After The Volunteers finished their last song, they walked off stage to the sound of students chanting "USA, USA, USA." It was pretty incredible to hear that. The Volunteers came back out for an encore and sang "Don't Stop Believin'," by Journey and "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5.

After the encores, students continued the "USA, USA, USA" chant that progressed to a standing ovation.

The Volunteers expressed to the students how awesome it was that they were here at camp. They said to work hard, and don't stop playing music.

I definitely left Emens feeling much more energized than when I went in. It was great seeing the students have so much fun at the evening concert, even after a very long day in their sessions.

There is definitely a lot more in store for the upcoming evening concerts this week, and I personally can't wait!

Participant Relations Coordinator

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

George N. Parks Drum Major Academy

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The George N. Parks Drum Major Academy students were hard at work today. I decided to spend part of the afternoon observing what they were up to so I headed over to Burris School.

DMA is for any band member who wishes to improve and develop his or her leadership, communication, conducting and marching skills and become a stronger asset to his or her band program. Students learn marching fundamentals, command basics, teaching techniques, conducting patterns, how to command the block, and baton and mace technique.

I started outside Burris School and watched instructor Frederick Omega Pye work on marching fundamentals with a group of students. They were working on stationary drill movements when I arrived, but rather than just emphasizing the movements themselves, Pye stressed leadership skills as well.

"You have to look like you're leading so people will follow you," Pye said. He encouraged the students as he instructed and corrected them.

Pye is a senior staff member, celebrating his 28th season with the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy. In his biography, he says "it is with a heavy heart that I continue on with George's mission - to develop the finest student Drum Majors across the country."

A second group of Drum Major Academy students walked up the path to head into the Burris School for an indoor session. I followed to watch Chris Cansler's session with the students. Cansler is the Director of Bands and Fine Arts Department Chair at Guyer High School in Denton, Texas.

In this session, students had the opportunity to improve their conducting by observing video of themselves. Students were given tips on how to improve their form and style during this evaluation.

I heard Cansler say "Starred Thought, 90% of your conducting problems can be corrected by beginning with and maintaining the appropriate starting position." Sadly, we lost George Parks unexpectedly within the past year. His students, staff and colleagues know that his "Starred Thoughts" were, and still are, important parts of his teachings – too important to be lost with his passing. It was nice to hear his staff carrying on this tradition.

As I watched students soaking up the instruction and thoughts on how to improve, it was overwhelmingly clear to me that even in George's absence the Drum Major Academy will continue to thrive due to the heart and dedication he inspired in his staff.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Students on SupportMusic Coalition Call

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Two Music for All students participated in a live SupportMusic Coalition conference call today during MFA's Summer Symposium. NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, is one of Music for All's corporate sponsors. The NAMM Foundation seeks to strengthen music education in schools and communities nationwide through its SupportMusic Coalition. Joey, a 5-year MFA Summer Symposium participant in the Marching Band track, and Andrew, a 3-year MFA Summer Symposium participant in the Drum Major Academy, joined MFA Staff, NAMM Staff and other NAMM members on the call today.

Both of the participants commented about the leadership opportunities they've gained from participating in Music for All programs.

"After the first year at camp, I changed and improved and then when I went back home, I was able to change and improve my own program because of all the new skills I learned," said Andrew.

Not only did both of the participants share their excitement about meeting friends from around the globe when attending MFA programs, but they both shared that their experiences have been positively life-changing.

"With music, I've found that I can do anything," said Joey who plans to become a music educator.

Several other guests were on the call, including another student, Kaitlyn Lee, who has been a strong advocate for music and arts education in her school district in Washington state. Her efforts have saved music programs in her community.

Remember that each and every one of us can be an advocate for music and arts education. Help educate your community to support arts education. For advocacy tools and resources, click here.

After the call, the SupportMusic Facebook page received a comment from one of their Facebook friends: "It WAS a great call! Hearing students talking about why they play music - and its emotional power in their lives - was really inspiring. Young musicians = the best evidence @ why music education in the schools is so important."

What an amazing testament to Music for All and music education!




Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Symposium Music Playlist

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Have you been enjoying the mix CDs played prior to different Symposium events? If so, check out the playlists below to see what you've been listening to:

Dog Days are Over by Florence & The Machine
Me & The Moon (Clock Opera Remix) by The Drums
Sweet Disposition (RAC Remix) by Temper Trap
Tighten Up by The Black Keys
Stars Come Out by Calvin Harris
What you Know by Two Door Cinema
Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun
If I Ever Feel Better by Phoenix
Miracles by Norwegian Recycling
White Knuckles by OK GO
Animal by Miike Snow
Kids by MGMT
When You Were Young by The Killers
Typical by Mute Math
Rolling in the Deep by Adele
Sleepyhead by Passion Pit
Something Good Can Work by Two Door Cinema
One More Time by Daft Punk

Everlasting Light by The Black Keys
Cosmic Love by Florence & The Machine
The Compromise by The Format
Love Lost (Keljet Remix) by Temper Trap
Buddy Holly by Weezer
Fancy Footwork by Chromeo
On Melancholy Hill by Gorillaz
Dancing with the DJ by The Knocks
Capital (Orignial Mix) by Christoph Andersson
Whoa Oh! (Me Vs. Everyone) by Forever the Sickest Kids
Lisztomania by Phoenix
Daylight by Matt and Kim
Sweep the Leg by No More Kings
Ambling Alp by Yeasayer
Odessa by Caribou

President_Jo_Ann_M._GoraVisit the 2011 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

Today was the first full day of the 2011 Music for All Summer Symposium. It was a rainy morning, but that certainly didn't dampen the mood of the excited students, parents and directors checking in at registration this morning. I stopped by early on during registration to see how things were going, and it was great to see all the excited, smiling faces as campers received materials and leafed through schedules.

Before I knew it, it was time to head over to the Opening Session at Emens Auditorium. The energy was contagious as students rocked out to the walk-in music, and soon Orpheus, SchoolJam USA Finalists, took the stage. They performed SKA music – a melting pot of Punk, Jazz and Reggae.

After this fantastic performance, students were introduced to Norm Ruebling (Camp Director), Jamie Weaver (Camp Director of the SWAG Team), David Starnes (Educational Consultant for Music for All and Camp Director), Gary Markham (Senior Educational Consultant for Music for All and Camp Director), Jo Ann M. Gora (Ball State University President), Fran Kick (Leadership Division Coordinator), the Camp Medical Team, and Eric Martin (CEO of Music for All). Team SWAG also contributed some helpful tips about staying energized, hydrated, well-rested and sunscreened up for the week!

After the Opening Session, students began their classes. It was so nice to see campus milling with activity today. After classes tonight, students will attend the Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) concert. The YYPA program is designed to provide early career recognition for outstanding young musicians in the United States. Hundreds of applicants ages 16- 21 apply annually and undergo a rigorous, taped audition process for a panel of national celebrity musicians. Yamaha's competition for outstanding young musicians culminates in finalist performances and a selection of one winner at this evening's concert.

As I watched students arrive on campus today, I remembered my own time spent at music camps when I was a student. I play French horn, and I had some of the best musical experiences of my life at music camps. I hope that your students feel the same way, and I look forward to spending time this week observing their sessions.



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Taylor University Challenge Course

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Visit the 2011 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

Hello, my name is Ashley Strahan, and I am the Marketing Assistant at Music for All. I am guest blogging today about my first-hand experience with the leadership weekend experience.

Today brought students closer to the end of Leadership Weekend Experience, but I believe it was the most important day of the weekend. Today, students were able to reflect on their experiences and put what they've learned to use, whether they participated in small group activities or were at the Taylor University "Escape to Reality" challenge course.

The challenge course allowed students to work in small groups in an outdoor setting to build trust, communication and teamwork through various activities and initiatives.

I followed a group out into the woods to watch their first challenge to test their communication and cooperation skills. The fictional setting: The treacherous Colorado River. The Story: An adventurous group of students set out on a white water rafting trip. The raft accidentally tips and knocks three members out into the river. The Challenge: To rescue the members without getting off the raft before it is too late. I watched as a group of about 10 students crowded around a barrel, careful to not overstep the boundaries laid out for them. The students used a pulley system with ropes in order to retrieve logs (the members that fell off the raft) and place them in a barrel (the raft). The group demonstrated good use of communication, cooperation and teamwork in order to defeat the challenge. At the end, the group talked about using patience with others in order to achieve the same goal. They talked about applying what they learned in a musical setting and also shared that their strategy was to give and take. Sometimes you have to give in order for others to take, and sometimes you have to take when others give.

I found myself relating to the students and reflecting on my time here at Music for All and our staff. In order for Music for All to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences, we communicate, cooperate and work together as a team. Just like the pulley-system, we know when to pull and when to let go – we know when to follow and when to take the lead.

Not only did the students participate in small group activities, they also were able to take part in a high ropes course, 20-35 feet above ground level. I watched as students flew down the zip line, participated in the "flying squirrel," and completed an obstacle course up in the trees. The high ropes course taught the importance of support, encouragement and trust and, once again, teamwork.

Leadership Weekend Experience is a time for students to grow and learn about what it takes to become a leader not only in musical settings, but also in life. The lessons learned throughout this weekend will continue to be useful down the road when they enter college and the workforce.