Director of Bands, Liberty Junior High, in Richardson, TX
Chris Pineda understands the importance of music education in historically underserved student populations. He shares his thoughts on how schools like his can continue to improve their programs and community they serve.
Chris Pineda was the youngest of five kids in an active, athletic family. “All of my siblings were varsity athletes, and in fifth grade I raised my hand when they asked who wanted to join band, and I came home instituted with a tuba,” Pineda said. He was fortunate to have the ability to participate in sports and band all the way through high school which lead him to pursue a career in music.
Pineda was the first person in his family to attend college after receiving a full music scholarship from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX to study tuba performance. During his senior year at SMU, he was accepted to the Cincinnati Conservatory to obtain his Master’s in Performance. To reach the required number of credits to be a full-time student Pineda enrolled in a music education course with Lynn Jackson. Due to the class and teaching private lessons throughout his college career, Pineda realized he enjoyed teaching more than playing. He decided to decline the offer from Cincinnati and stay at SMU for his Master’s in Music Education.
After obtaining his master’s degree, Pineda received the job of Assistant Director at Liberty Junior High in Richardson, TX. During his second year at Liberty Junior High, he was named Head Director. “I was a second-year teacher with a first-year teacher as an assistant, so it was kind of like the blind leading the blind through those first couple of years,” Pineda said, “we worked really hard to develop the positive culture in the band program and in the community.”
Pineda believes the Liberty Junior High band program has become successful due to many factors. One of those factors is the support that has been provided through initiatives like the Dr. William P. Foster Project. Pineda says, “Most schools aren’t getting any richer, and I’m so glad to see there’s a proactive approach and people are joining forces because that’s just utilizing more resources.”
A partnership including The College Band Directors National Association, Music for All, and the National Band Association made the Dr. William P. Foster Project possible. This initiative recognizes quality programs serving historically underserved student populations. The Dr. William P. Foster Project also incorporates a mentor program including many peer consultants who are committed to connecting with individual teachers leading band programs in underserved schools and communities. It also provides music educators with successful teaching materials to reference.
“I find myself fortunate that in my position I did have mentors and guidance, and I had people to reach out to,” Pineda said, “But, there are a lot of teachers out there that might feel they’re on an island and need someone to support them.”
Along with mentors and support, Pineda also has had prior experience walking the halls of a historically disadvantaged populated school. “My parents didn’t have a lot of money, and joining the band program not only opened doors that were closed, it opened up doors that I didn’t know were there,” he said. Pineda is passionate about providing those same opportunities to his students who might be in a similar situation as he was. He had no idea what raising his hand in fifth grade to play the tuba would do for him, but it paid for college and led him to his future career in music education.
Music for All is proud to be a part of the Music Education Alliance, alongside the College Band Directors National Association and the National Band Association. Learn more about the Alliance and its William P. Foster Project at musicedalliance.org.
What is your hometown? City, State.
Where did you go to high school? Where did you go to college and when did you/will you graduate?
Lebanon High School & Indiana University (will graduate May 2018)
What is your major/degree?
Major: Arts Management
What is your musical background?
In high school I played bass clarinet in our Wind Ensemble and Tenor Sax for Marching Band and Jazz Band. I also participated in Musicals, Concert Choir, and Show Choir, and continued singing in college.
What has been your favorite part of this internship experience?
So far my favorite part of interning was getting to see the first ever Music for All National Choir. As someone who has loved singing their whole life it was amazing to be present for that concert and watching singers from across the country come together for their love of music.
What is an interesting fact about you?
I’ve been to the Czech Republic, Poland, and the Netherlands and will be travelling to Israel, Switzerland, and France this summer!
Who are your top three favorite artists?
Adele, Bruno Mars, and Eric Whitacre
One thing you couldn’t live without?
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy hanging out with my friends, getting to know people, going to performances, and trying new things.
What are you currently reading?
If You Really Loved Me by Jason Evert
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe
What's a show you've binge watched recently?
Favorite movie not many people have seen?
Zombeavers… It’s a terrible scary movie but my friends and I love to watch it!
Rodney Dorsey’s method of teaching includes building connections and meaningful relationships with his students, and being able to recognize music and people individually to see how they are bridged together.
Born and raised in Gainesville, FL, Rodney knew from a young age that he wanted to go into the education field. He realized the importance of teaching after witnessing the impact his mother, a Family and Consumer Science teacher, had on her students. Rodney then found his talent in music and began to play the clarinet.
“I think there was a subconscious message that teaching was important. I thought I wanted to play clarinet and I made a shift to teaching. I thought I wanted to be a band director and majored in Music Ed.”
He received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Florida State University. Following his graduation, Rodney began his first teaching job in Tallahassee at Rickards High School. Being so close to Florida State, he was able to expose his students to quality music-making, while still having a close, personal connection to his alma mater.
After teaching at Rickards for three years, Rodney received his Master’s degree in Conducting at Northwestern University. After graduation, he continued his teaching career in Georgia and in Florida.
Rodney eventually went back to Northwestern for his Doctorate in Conducting, and then taught at DePaul University in Chicago for five years. After another teaching opportunity in Michigan, he eventually ended up as the Director of Bands at the University of Oregon where he currently teaches.
He is passionate about the bridge between people and music, and when music transcends the group or instrument. Rodney is also very adamant about building connections with his students.
“I just don't think it works well if they are just a nameless face. There's a limit, but I think students in our classes need to know we care about them and care about what they do beyond band or orchestra.” He urges his students to listen to a variety of music, and pays great attention to the verbal and non-verbal cues of his students: “not just what they play, but what they’re saying to you.”
Rodney’s hope is for people to see past the music. “I think competition does this to us because we worry about the things that are objective, the things that are clearly definable, observable, quantifiable. Are the fronts of notes together? Are the backs of notes together? I think we forget to ask what does the music say or what does the music have the potential to say? It's that thing of a great musician, they're a great musician and they just happen to play trombone.”
Rodney attributes his successes to the support of his parents and uses that by being a role model that influences and supports his students.
Music for All is pleased to welcome Norman Lasiter as the newest addition to its staff. Lasiter joins the Music for All team as Office Manager and Executive Assistant, serving the organization’s executive leadership.
Lasiter has an extensive performing and arts administration background. He is a professional singer and entertainer with numerous credits in professional and community musical theater. He has also recorded and produced solo albums as a cabaret artist with Music Director, Christopher Marlowe, and recorded an original holiday song with Grammy-winning recording producer, Mike Berniker, recorded and distributed by Sony Music. Mr. Lasiter worked for more than a decade in various roles at Sony Music Entertainment Inc. as a paralegal in litigation/law, telecommunications, and human resources departments. For over 15 years, he also owned a custom art framing shop/gallery.
“We’re delighted to have Norman Lasiter join the Music for All team," said Eric Martin, President and CEO of Music for All. "Relying on broad background and passion for music and music making, Norman will contribute meaningfully to our organization and delivery of its mission.”
As Office Manager and Executive Assistant, Lasiter will assist and support Music for All’s Executive Leadership team and overall office administrative functions.
“I’m excited to have another “product” of band and scholastic music education join the team and bring his many years of performance, administration and entrepreneurial experience and drive to the cause of Music for All.”
In addition to his performance experience and credits, Lasiter earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music) from Butler University and did graduate study at The University of Tennessee. A native of Greenwood, IN, he was a proud member and President of the Greenwood Marching Woodmen under then director of Bands, Herman Knoll. Currently, a retired Senior Vice President – Hal Leonard Corporation, Knoll is a member of the Music for All Board of Directors.
Andrea Brown is an example of how music, and the connections created from the passion for music, can change a person’s life in ways they never expected.
Brown was from a very small rural town in west Tennessee and was one of two horn players. In eighth grade she was invited to join the high school band and it sparked her love for music. “It was definitely in eighth grade when I was marching with the high school band that I knew I wanted to be in music. I can’t remember if I wanted to be a conductor or a performer, but I knew music is what I wanted to do,” Brown said.
Brown is the first college graduate in her family. She graduated high school and went to school at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. While there, she played horn, sang in the chamber choir, played piano in the jazz ensemble, and played in multiple quintets. She spent a couple summers at Brevard Music Center, which eventually lead her to attend graduate school to study horn performance. While studying horn, she realized she wanted to conduct, so she picked up an additional master’s degree in music education with a conducting emphasis.
After teaching at a few different schools, including her alma mater Austin Peay, she received her doctorate in conducting and is currently the Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Michigan.
“Looking at where I started, one would probably not guess that I would be doing what I’m doing today. I have to say that my high school band director got me started with that. He was a person that everyone thought so highly of in our region, in our state and he worked with my parents to get me to the Mid West Clinic when I was a junior in high school and it was life changing,” said Brown. She attributes her success to the many connections she cultivated throughout her life. “I think making human connections has been incredibly important to my career because it’s allowed me to experience aspects I never thought as an eighth grader, thinking I want to be a music teacher at some point, “ said Brown.
It is Brown’s mission to make connections with and inspire students, especially women. “I didn’t have an female conductors growing up or through my middle school, high school, college days. There were a few icons I knew of and I am very fortunate to call them friends now, but there weren’t any in my immediate area,” she said. Brown understands the small percentage of women represented, especially at the collegiate level. It is important to Brown to do whatever she can to even out the playing field.
Brown said, “I think what drives me is the interaction with people making music. I’m very fortunate that most of my career has been with students at a college level. That’s definitely the group that I match better with and I think what really keeps the spark fueled and fired.” She continues to use her experiences to impact those around her the same way many passionate directors, teachers, and professors did for her.
In January, Jack Ireland, an eighth grade Indianapolis Public School student, was assigned to work on a community project for an organization he cares about. As a passionate musician himself, Jack decided to get involved with Music for All and raise money for our cause. We answered some of Jack’s questions, and when he visited our office to gather more information and materials for his assignment, we learned more about his impressive project: a benefit concert at his school for Music for All.
When we asked Jack why he chose Music for All, he told us that he enjoys music and it is a large part of his life. He wants to help provide other people with the opportunity to participate in music, too. Unfortunately, he knows that music can be the first on the chopping block when it comes to budget cuts. He wanted to make people aware of the issue and raise money for our organization.
Members from the Music for All Advancement team were able to attend his benefit concert, which took place Thursday March 1, 2018 at CFI School 2. We were very impressed with the concert and all of Jack’s hard work! In the lobby, there was a display of informational posters and materials about Music for All that Jack had assembled, and the concert featured three rock bands, including Jack’s own band, Facing Daylight. The bands that performed were assembled through ASH ROCK, a program of Sam Ash Music. Through this program, registered students are assembled into bands as closely as possible by age and ability level. The groups learn and play rock classics spanning from the early days of the genre to contemporary songs of today, and most bands go on to write and record their own original future rock classics.
Jack had a goal of raising $500, but with donations online and at the benefit, Jack has raised $1,000 for Music for All! Jack and his mom, Joanna, came into the office on March 21, 2018 to present the check to us. All of the staff here at Music for All are extremely impressed, and will showcase Jack’s large presentation check in the front of the office for a month to celebrate his incredible work. Thank you, Jack, for leading by example and being an advocate for scholastic music education! You rock!
Summer Camargo was on of the many students who traveled to Indianapolis, IN for the 2018 Music for All National Festival. She wrote about her experience both years she attended and we are happy to share it!
Being in the 2018 Jazz Band of America was so amazing! I really enjoyed last year’s experience and this year. At the 2017 Music for All National Festival I had the incredible opportunity to work with a prolific arranger and composer, Mike Tomaro. This year, Jeff Rupert was such a pleasure to work with. He is so encouraging and positive. Both directors chose memorable, amazing charts for the band to perform.
Playing with Andy Martin last year was a privilege, and this year Yamaha performing artist, Sean Jones, was awesome! I was especially looking forward to working with him because he is one of my favorite trumpet players. Not only was he the guest artist, but he also was a master teacher and gave us lots of feedback during rehearsals.
Performing in Clowes Memorial Hall was just as spectacular as last year. It is such a unique opportunity to play in front of such a large, supportive crowd and the acoustics in the hall are incredible! Some other fun things we did this year included having our own jam session the day after the performance. We also attended the Honor Band of America performance, which was new for us this year.
Another special part of this year’s experience was that my school’s concert band, Dillard Center for the Arts Wind Orchestra, was invited to perform as a featured band! I really enjoyed having my friends from school in Indianapolis with me, performing with them, and hearing them cheer for me at the Jazz Band of America concert. I was also one of the three kids selected to represent my school at the Gala Awards banquet on Saturday evening.
I grew very close to the band members this year, just like last year. After spending so much time together during rehearsals and meal times, it would be almost impossible not to form lasting friendships! I still keep in touch with the members I met last year, and I am sure I will keep I touch with this year’s members. All in all, the memories I have made at Music for All will be ones I will treasure and never forget.
Our Staff Story this week focuses on the incredible connection between James Stephens, Director of Advocacy and Education Resources, and Cam Stasa, Director of Participant Relations and Special Projects, at Music for All.
Cam Stasa has a long history with Music for All. She performed in the first “Marching Bands of America” event in 1976, and was Drum Major when she marched again in Summer Nationals in 1979.
Stasa continued her involvement when she joined the Bands of America staff in 1989 as the Director of Operations. She was serving as the Director of Band Relations when she first encountered James Stephens.
“Everyone knows Cam Stasa and everyone has a story of how they are connected to her. My story begins when I was in high school and she told me ‘Oh my gosh we are so glad you are here!’ at the 1994 Bands of America Grand Nationals.’” Stephens, a senior Drum Major at Bellbrook High School at the time, remembers Stasa as the nice woman who spoke to him as she lined him and fellow drum majors up to take the field. It was this year that Bellbrook H.S. was named the Class A Grand National Champions.
On the bus ride home Stephens remembers how grateful he felt for his Bellbrook H.S. directors and their willingness to take a group of students to compete at BOA. He also remembers reflecting on the day at Grand Nationals and thinking, “Who are these Bands of America people who have given so much of their time, energy, and talent to create a space, a national stage, where we get to do what we just did?” He never expected that he would later come to know several of those people on a much deeper level, specifically the woman who excitedly welcomed him, and many others, on the field at Grand Nationals in 1994. He also never imagined he would work alongside them one day.
“I have known Cam for 27 years,” Stephens said, “Actually my whole family has known her for a long time.” Due to Stephens’s siblings’ involvement in the Bands of America program, Stasa has become an important figure in all of their lives.
While in college Stephens volunteered at BOA events and eventually started bringing his own students once he became a director. This was when he started to see Cam more frequently and began cultivating his relationship with her. He then continued his involvement when he agreed to become a faculty member at the Music for All Summer Symposium. In 2014, Stephens filled the position of Director of Advocacy and Education Resources at Music for All. He now works closely with Stasa everyday and has an office just down the hall from hers. Stephens said, “Music for All is a family and Cam is part of my personal family as well”. Stephens even named Stasa the godmother of his one-year-old son.
When asked about how she feels about her impact on a young boy from Bellbrook High School, Stasa said, “It is very overwhelming to realize the impact we have had on individuals, and music education in the entire world. For every life we have touched through our events, that experience remains with each individual. It is immensely gratifying to hear stories from people who participated years ago. The connecting point never ends.” She also stated, “It’s family, it’s generational, and it keeps going. There is a large number of young people who we impacted in their career who have gone on to become directors and now they want to participate with us.”
The connections and impact on others is what keeps the organization of Music for All growing and evolving. “Our mission at Music for All is to create positively life-changing experiences and we are, that is just fact, “ Stasa said. She then explained how the organization is only in its 40’s and has many more years to go. “There will be a whole new generation of people sitting in this office who I assume are going to be as dedicated and as driven, and who have had their own experience with us,” said Stasa. It is Stasa’s and Stephens’ hope that all students who attend Music for All and Bands of America events receive a similar positive experience that they both received as students.
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.