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Developing student leaders is an important part of almost every music program in the nation. Many programs send their students to Leadership camps and symposiums. In many of these student leadership camps, the focus is on defining what leadership is and what it looks like to your peers; however, these student leaders may not actually be taught how to refine their own student leadership skills. In other words, much time and effort is invested in teaching students (and in some cases directors) what leadership is and how to look like leaders, but due to a lack of time, or possibly understanding, little is accomplished in developing the leader so they can actually lead.

My friend and mentor, the incomparable Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, often says: “Leadership is not something you do. Leadership is something you are.” This is so true; however, an apple tree produces apples and a grapevine produces grapes, so a leader must produce leadership. If we are truly leaders, we will do things that a leader does!

What are some qualities most leaders possess? They are usually good communicators, they are energetic, they are influential with their peers, and they usually possess good performance skills. While all of these are great attributes, the one essential for a leader to produce the most influence comes when they can actually instruct/teach their peers. This moves the student leader beyond being just a role model – someone their peers may model themselves after – and moves them to being a real model – someone that is capable of not just showing, but is also capable of producing leadership by helping to move their peers through instruction to higher levels of excellence.

What does a REAL student leadership MODEL do?
They Motivate. They are their peers’ biggest cheerleaders.
They Observe. They work to understand better the needs of their peers and their program.
They Demonstrate. Through their actions and words, they demonstrate what their peers should strive to become. They demonstrate how to play, march, behave, respect, and ultimately how to be the best possible member of their program.
They Evaluate/Educate. They evaluate their peers’ strengths and weaknesses, and then help instruct/educate them to achieve excellence.
They Lead. In difficult times and in times of celebration, they are consistent leaders day in and day out! To quote Dr. Tim again, “They walk the talk!”

At Ooltewah, we have done this for almost my entire career. Most of our marching band staff is comprised of former students, who developed their instructional skills by being leaders in our band program. Fortunately, we have now developed our program to the point we have a Band Leadership class that meets during the school day and mentors two to three days a week in our middle school band programs. Many other programs use a student leadership Peer Teaching model as well, but maybe none as well as the great Marian Catholic Band Program and Mr. Greg Bimm. For decades, the student leaders at Marian have taught music sectionals, taught marching fundamentals, and helped to teach drill. These are student leaders who are producing leadership! Through trust from their director and being taught how to be a peer teacher, they have moved beyond defining their leadership abilities and now are refining their leadership skills. When student leaders (and directors – we must allow it) make this shift in responsibility, their impact is like a pebble being dropped in the water. The initial splash may not be very large, but the ripple effect of influence keeps going and going. The efforts of these initial student leaders BEING leaders and producing leadership inspire other students to strive for the same excellence and influence. At my school, we have not used a title for all of these student leaders. The focus of our program has been that a title is much less important than actually being a leader and producing quality leadership. While some positions may require a title, our ultimate goal should be to inspire and equip student leaders to lead.

This is why we developed the new Peer Teaching Division at the Music for All Summer Symposium. The purpose of this new track will be to provide student leaders with the tools necessary to become effective leaders and Peer Teachers in their programs. They will learn how to teach music and marching techniques from some of the best instructors in the band world, and should return to their music programs eager and ready to MODEL REAL LEADERSHIP in their programs.

The Peer Teaching Division Staff includes Mr. Jeremy Spicer – outstanding band director/music educator, owner of SASI the Leadership People, and a national adjudicator. Mr. John Howell – accomplished visual designer, instructor, and a national adjudicator of all of the marching arts. Miss Anna Rodriguez – vibrant young band director/music educator, outstanding drum major instructor, and inspiring leadership instructor. Division Chair – Mr. Joel Denton – band director/music educator, national leadership consultant, and a national adjudicator. We will also be joined each day with a special guest who is an expert on developing student musicians and inspiring them to lead. These guests will include Greg Bimm, Bobby Lambert, Gary Markham, David Starnes, and Jeff Young. All of our division staff has a focused desire to see students become outstanding and productive leaders in their music programs and in life.

The program is designed to ensure the language and verbiage being used is consistent with what is being used by directors and staffs across the nation. It is going to be a dynamic week of learning, and of BEING and DOING for all involved! I hope you and your students will join us!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 Indianapolis School Music Festival

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It’s March 8, 2017 at Broad Ripple Magnet High School. A spirited energy fills the air as 21 instrumental and choral ensembles line into the school, ready to perform at the Indianapolis School Music Festival. These ensembles from the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), six middle schools and five high schools, performed for evaluators and participated in clinics. This is the 2nd annual Indianapolis School Music Festival, which commences the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, and gives instrumental and choral ensembles from IPS the opportunity to perform for and learn from notable evaluators and clinicians.

Hosted by the Broad Ripple Magnet High School, principal W. Briant Williams expressed the importance of the relationship between IPS and Music for All, and how Broad Ripple Magnet High School can be the epicenter of these arts opportunities for these students. The participating ensembles have learned valuable lessons that not only improve the group as a whole, but the individual musicians and their directors as well.

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“One of the great things about the Indianapolis School Music Festival is that it gives the students who are in their formative years in their musical journey a chance to become part of a very important process, and be recognized and validated for the hard-work they do in the classroom,” states John Phillips clinician and evaluator.

Furthermore, for these ensembles that come from the inner-city areas of Indianapolis, this festival is the highlight of their year, with some of the ensemble directors expressing the importance of exposing their students to these types of festivals. These students are eager to learn so much from renowned clinicians who have traveled from all over to aide these students in their musical journeys. This is Northwest Community High School band director Christopher Abbey’s 15th year as an IPS band director, and the one thing that keeps bringing him and his ensemble back to the Indianapolis School Music Festival are the kids. “A lot of good kids at IPS get underserved and this is a good place to bring them,” said Abbey.

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With the success of last year’s festival, choral ensembles were introduced to participate this year. Six choral ensembles performed in front of evaluators and received a clinic immediately after. Clinics are a time when a clinician, the ensemble, and director can work together one-on-one, in order for the ensemble and director to better improve their skill-sets. Music for All Choir Coordinator and choral clinician Kim Mann was delighted to share her joy of choral singing with the young musicians and instructors. “The inclusion of choir in this year’s festival broadens the continued advocacy for music education supported by IPS, Music for All, and the Indiana Music Education Association,” said Mann.

The attitude of learning and working hard was ubiquitous. While working with Edison Middle School of the Arts Middle School Choir, clinician Jeff Vallier explained to them that taking their work to the next level was going to come with making mistakes. Aside from the hard work, the students, also had an enjoyable experience. Before each performance, and even during their clinics, there was nothing but enthusiastic attitudes. “We practice hard with our music and we just came here to have fun,” says Northwest Community High School Advanced Band senior saxophone player Jesus Franco. “We hope it goes well, but the most important thing is to have fun.”

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Instrumental and choral ensembles from the Indianapolis Public Schools will participate in Music for All’s 2nd annual Indianapolis School Music Festival at Broad Ripple Magnet High School March 8, 2017 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

After the success of the inaugural Indianapolis School Music Festival in 2016, that featured instrumental ensembles, choral music will be introduced for the 2017 Festival with six choral ensemble performances.

The 2017 Festival will include 22 instrumental and choral ensembles representing six middle schools, and five high schools from Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). The ensembles will be evaluated by renowned music educators provided by Music for All, and will receive educational feedback at clinics following their performances.

The Indianapolis School Music Festival strives to give every student the opportunity to showcase his or her musical talents. “We are delighted to continue and expand our commitment to IPS, providing even more opportunities to both students and teachers in Music for All’s programming,” says Eric Martin, President and CEO of Music for All. “The Indianapolis School Music Festival is intended to allow students the opportunity to grow and shine, and for IPS teachers and their students to receive critically important educational feedback. The Festival is a celebration and an opportunity for students, teachers, parents, and members of our community to hear and support scholastic music-making, observing firsthand the positive benefits that come from access and opportunity to engage in active music-making in our schools.”

Music for All is excited to continue this flourishing partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools. “On behalf of Indianapolis Public Schools, the continuing partnership between our organization and Music for All is truly a valued relationship,” says David Newman, Fine Arts Coach of Indianapolis Public Schools. “The Indianapolis School Music Festival is yet another example of Music for All's commitment to providing stellar educational events for our students, with access to nationally known clinicians in a professional concert environment. Music for All provides our students a positively life-changing experience through this festival and clinic. We are truly blessed to have Music for All in our city, and so involved with and committed to our students' artistic achievement."

The Indianapolis School Music Festival is partnered with the Indiana Music Education Association (IMEA), a demonstration of their commitment to providing music opportunities to everyone in the Indianapolis community.

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Schedule of Performances

The Indianapolis School Music Festival is free of admission. Listed below are the scheduled instrumental and choral performances.

Instrumental Ensembles
Broad Ripple H.S., Poston Auditorium

Crispus Attucks Advanced Band 12:20 p.m.
Crispus Attucks Orchestra 12:40 p.m.
CFI Beginning Band 1:00 p.m.
Broad Ripple M.S. Intermediate Band 1:20 p.m.
Broad Ripple H.S. Intermediate Band 1:40 p.m.
CFI Intermediate Band 2:00 p.m.
Broad Ripple Advanced Band 2:20 p.m.
Harshman M.S. Band 2:40 p.m.
CFI Beginning Orchestra 3:00 p.m.
Edison Orchestra 3:20 p.m.
CFI Intermediate Orchestra 5:00 p.m.
Northwest Advanced Band 5:20 p.m.
Broad Ripple Orchestra 5:40 p.m.
CFI Advanced Orchestra 6:00 p.m.
Arsenal Tech Advanced Band 6:20 p.m.

Choral Ensembles
Broad Ripple H.S., Mini Auditorium

Broad Ripple M.S. Choir 1:40 p.m.
Broad Ripple Advanced Choir 2:20 p.m.
Arlington Advanced Choir 3:00 p.m.
Arsenal Tech Advanced Choir 3:40 p.m.
Arlington M.S. Choir 4:20 p.m.
Edison M.S. Choir 5:00 p.m.

The Indianapolis School Music Festival kicks off the 2017 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, which then continues through Saturday, March 11. The national festival will bring 59 outstanding school music ensembles and student musicians from throughout the U.S. to Indianapolis for concert performances and clinics at Butler University, Hilbert Circle Theatre, Warren Performing Arts Center, and Indiana Historical Society. Visit for a full schedule of Festival performances.

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I don’t remember a time that I didn’t love Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.

I remember watching the movie on repeat as a child with my mom. I knew all of the lyrics and would sing the songbook constantly! I would even say that the Sound of Music was a part of the start of my appreciation and love for music, and definitely the start of my appreciation for musical theatre.

So of course, when I found out that Music for All was partnering with Broadway Across America for a promotion for the Sound of Music tour – I was ecstatic.

There’s nothing that would stop me from attending the Indianapolis show, and now Music for All can benefit from my ticket purchase? Sign me up!

I hope that if you live in or near Indianapolis, and love music and theatre like I do, that you’ll join me and support Music for All by attending The Sound of Music, January 10-15, 2017 at the Old National Centre.

You can support Music for All by purchasing a ticket through using the passcode: MARIA.

$5 from your ticket will go directly to Music for All to help us work to ensure that every child across America has access and opportunity to active music-making in their school!

Don’t forget, tickets make excellent presents for this upcoming holiday season. Cross someone off your list and support music and arts education all at the same time! Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll even get to hear me singing along to “My Favorite Things.” 

Purchase tickets here.


Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and most people are dreaming about turkey, reuniting with family, and scoring great deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While eating and shopping to your heart’s content are exciting, it is good to remember that the true meaning of the holidays is spreading joy and giving, not only to your loved ones but to those in need. A great opportunity to do so is participating in #GivingTuesday, which takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year.

Created by New York’s 92nd Street Y and United Nations Foundation in 2012, #GivingTuesday is a global holiday that celebrates generosity and kindness by giving to nonprofit organizations all around the world. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday start off the buying season, #GivingTuesday starts off the giving season. #GivingTuesday is considered a social media celebration, thus many people post online about their favorite causes and advocate for people to give.

While there are a multitude of fantastic organizations to donate to on #GivingTuesday, we ask that you consider donating to Music for All in order to help us finish the year strong. Your donation will positively impact our advocacy efforts, rural and urban school initiatives, and scholarship offerings. Through these programs, Music for All works to provide all students across America with access to participate in music, no matter their socioeconomic status.

Music powerfully impacts students. Research has shown that music education improves cognition and academic achievement, such as higher GPAs and higher graduation rates. Music also increases decision-making, collaboration, creativity, communication, critical thinking, and emotional awareness. Not only does music positively affect students, but also schools, communities, the economy, and society. That is why Music for All is so passionate about music education in America.

Thus, on this #GivingTuesday, please help us ensure that every child across America has access and opportunity to participate in active music making in his or her scholastic environment by making a gift to Music for All!

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We hope that everyone will be joining us on Thanksgiving day by watching the 2016 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! We cannot wait to watch and support all of the amazing marching bands that will be featured throughout the parade. We are especially excited this year to say that all of the high school bands that will be marching in the parade are in the Bands of America family! Congratulations to all of you on being selected for the Macy's 90th Thanskgiving Day Parade!

So make sure you tune in and join us in supporting these incredible ensembles as they perform for nearly 50 million television viewers nationwide! We know they will make us proud! The parade steps off at 9:00 AM on Thursday, November 24th. You can watch the parade live on NBC.

Below is a list of all of the marching bands you will see in the parade!

Cary Senior High School
Cary, North Carolina
Band Director: Matthew Minick

Grain Valley High School
Grain Valley, Missouri
Band Director: Reid Atkinson

Greendale High School
Greendale, Wisconsin
Band Director: Tom Reifenberg

Harrison High School
Kennesaw, Georgia
Band Director: Josh Ray

Hendrickson High School
Pflugerville, Texas
Band Director: Garth Gundersen

Joe E. Newsome High School
Lithia, Florida
Band Director: Michael Miller

Macy's Great American Marching Band
Students from schools across the country
Band Director: Dr. Rick Good

Na Koa Ali'l Hawaii All-State Marching Band
The State of Hawaii
Band Director: John Riggle

NYPD Marching Band
New York Police Department, New York, New York
Band Director: Lt. Tony Giorgio

Prospect High School 
Prospect, Illinois
Band Director: Chris Barnum

United States Military Academy Band
West Point, New York
Band Director: Major Sergeant Christopher Jones

The West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band
Morgantown, West Virginia
Band Director: Jay Drury


For great Macy's coverage (including a list of what these bands will be performing!) visit our friends at

For more information about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade visit

Written with assistance from Michael Reed.


November 12, 2016
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

The Bands of America Grand National Championships Finals in Lucas Oil Stadium was a grand ending to the beginning of BOA’s second 40 years. Once again, Yamaha presented the four days of events in Indianapolis, continuing a mission of music education support that is second to none. For the first time, in 2016, all BOA Championships were live-streamed online by, helping celebrate the most Championships BOA has ever held in the fall with 21 events.

The Grand National Championships is far from the end of Music for All’s yearlong season. The Music for All National Festival will be in Indianapolis, March 9-11, 2017. After schools let out for the summer, the Music for All Leadership Weekend Experience will be held at Ball State University June 24-25, 2017, followed at the same location by the Music for All Summer Symposium June 26-July 1. The Grand National Championships will return to Indianapolis November 8-11, 2017.

In the Indianapolis Marching Band Tournament, held on Wednesday night, November 9, Arsenal Technical HS captured 1st place in the Corps Style division, also winning honors for Best General Effect and Best Visual Performance. Emmerich Manual HS took 2nd place, and George Washington HS took the award for Best Musical Performance. Broad Ripple HS took 1st place in the Show Style division, also capturing honors for Best Music Performance and Best General Effect. Crispus Attucks Magnet HS took 2nd place while taking the award for Best Visual Performance.

In addition to the competition on the field among the Indianapolis Public Schools bands, the schools also vie for the coveted Spirit Award, which includes a $1,000.00 scholarship and is awarded to the school demonstrating the best enthusiasm and support for their band. Crispus Attucks Magnet H.S. was named the winner of the award.

After 100 bands competed in Prelims on Thursday and Friday, the following 36 bands (listed in performance order) advanced into Semi-Finals: North Hardin HS (KY), Adair County HS (KY), Williamstown HS (KY), Archbishop Alter HS (OH), Milton-Union HS (OH), Reeths-Puffer HS (MI), Lockport Township HS (IL), Ayala HS (CA), Green Hope HS (NC), O'Fallon Township HS (IL), Ronald Reagan HS (TX), James F. Byrnes HS (SC), Wando HS (SC), Claudia Taylor Johnson HS (TX), Marian Catholic HS (IL), Avon HS (IN), Owasso HS (OK), Castle HS (IN), William Mason HS (OH), Union HS (OK), Bellevue West HS (NE), Dobyns-Bennett HS (TN), Leander HS (TX), Franklin HS (TN), Cedar Park HS (TX), Center Grove HS (IN), Carmel HS (IN), Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (MI), ), Homestead HS (IN), Lawrence Township HS (IN), Tarpon Springs HS (FL), Vista Murrieta HS (CA), James Bowie HS (TX), Fort Mill HS (SC), Clovis West HS (CA), and Columbus North HS (IN).

After the performances of all Semi-Finals bands and the exhibition of the Ohio State University Marching Band, caption highest achievement awards and caption placement awards were presented to the top bands in each of the four competitive Semi-Finals classes.

In Class AAAA, 1st place Avon HS took Outstanding Music Performance and Outstanding General Effect, and 3rd place William Mason HS took Outstanding Visual Performance. In between was 2nd place Carmel HS. In Class AAA, 1st place Leander HS took all three caption awards, sharing Outstanding General Effect with 2nd place Cedar Park HS. Castle HS finished in 3rd place. In Class AA, 1st place Tarpon Springs HS took all three caption awards, followed by 2nd place Marian Catholic HS and 3rd place North Hardin HS. In Class A, 1st place Adair County HS took all three caption awards, followed by 2nd place Williamstown HS and 3rd place Archbishop Alter HS.

The Finalist bands were randomly announced as being Carmel HS, Leander HS, Avon HS, Claudia Taylor Johnson HS, Cedar Park HS, Tarpon Springs HS, Marian Catholic HS, Homestead HS, Wando HS, William Mason HS, Ronald Reagan HS, Dobyns-Bennett HS, and Castle HS. For the first time in BOA Grand Nationals history, there were 13 bands in Finals due to a tie for 12th place in Semifinals.

Representatives from each band drew for their performing position in Finals in two blocks; the 7th-12th place bands followed by the 1st-6th place bands. (Prior to 2016, all Finalist bands drew for position in one block.) Finals performances concluded with an exhibition performance by Class A Champion Adair County HS, as Class Champions present an exhibition in Finals if they aren’t in the top-12.

Other special awards included Tom Hannum receiving the George N. Parks Leadership Award. The Yamaha Scholarship was awarded to Sarah Watt of Bentonville HS (AR), the Fred J. Miller Family Scholarship went to Olivia Klein of Norton HS (OH), and the Fred J. Miller Memorial Scholarship went to Lesly Hinojosa of Roma HS (TX). The Al Castronovo Espirit de Corps Award was presented to the Vista Murrieta HS (CA). Ronald Reagan HS (TX) received an invitation to perform at the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Avon HS was awarded both the Outstanding Music Performance and Outstanding Visual Performance Awards, and Carmel HS took the award for Outstanding General Effect. Because Carmel won GE, they were declared the 2017 BOA Grand Nationals National Champion when it was announced that both Carmel and Avon tied with the highest score, being that General Effect is used to break any ties in any of Finals placements.


Carmel HS, 1st place: 97:45

One could be forgiven for wondering why Carmel was so small at the beginning of “Adagio-Presto.” Suddenly, the band appeared to double in size in this production that had no particular theme, celebrating music for music’s sake. Reflecting the show title, brass on one side of the field moved in slow curvilinear forms while brass on the other side moved at an accelerated tempo, resolving in a huge glorious show-ending statement.

Avon HS, 2nd place: 97.45

Kinetic sculptures inspired by Burning Man Festival enhanced the Americana music of “Go Forth,” based on the Walt Whitman poem, “Pioneer, O Pioneer,” which was heard throughout. The program explored the restlessness and adventurousness of youth—as well as the ongoing desire to explore the unknown—by employing the inviting wide-open expanses of the western United States as a thematic motif for manifest destiny.

William Mason HS, 3rd place: 96.55

The music of Samuel Barber and multitudes of giant rolling bubbles helped William Mason achieve its first GN placement in the top-3 with “World Out of Balance.” The bubbles rolled around the field like giant tumbleweeds, each swallowing up a member of the band. The juxtaposition of Barber’s music with a continual visual so wacky, and yet so captivating, allowed this show to roll over the audience as well as the marchers.

Tarpon Springs HS, 4th place: 95.70

“Pandora” studied the ancient Greek story of the first woman on earth, who unleashed all the troubles of the world through her curiosity and subsequent opening of a container full of various miseries. She inadvertently let everything escape the box except Hope, which popped out of the box at the end bedazzled with a giant white peacock-like silk, suggesting there was still a chance of she and all humanity becoming free.

Cedar Park HS, 5th place: 95.30

Eerily spooky and impishly fun, “All Hallows’ Eve” (“Halloween”) delighted with its wry mischievousness, pitting smiling Jack-o’-lanterns (the treats) counter to their more sinister twins (the tricks), each taking turns popping up and just as quickly disappearing. Maneuvering amidst the sticky threads of a giant spider web, flying bats had their way until the sun arose, demonstrating everyone survived the night.

Leander HS, 6th place: 94.65

“The Fourth Dimension” explored the fascinating mathematical field of Euclidean geometry, enhanced by cube props and sets, with many of the flags emblazoned with images of cubes. Rotating 3-D cubes manipulated by the guard and the winds revealed new shapes when viewed from the changing perspective of different angles, the morphing of the shapes further reflected in the continual morphing of the sonic landscape.

Ronald Reagan HS, 7th place: 91.85

“One Love” explored the need to love and embrace the diversity in the world, celebrating how the inclusion of others from all different walks of life adds value to our existence. Shocking to the eyes and brain was when the dresses worn by the massive guard all changed from either pink or blue to yellow in the blink of an eye. The show ended with the band forming a giant hand on the field, reflecting the hands imprinted upon the flags.

Wando HS, 8th place: 91.50

Cataclysmic has never been as much fun as the opener of “Gorgon” suggested in the cerebral production of “Therefore,” which encouraged us to question everything, but only after thinking about it to the nth degree. From “Violence of the Mind” to the reassuring strains of “How Great Thou Art,” the thoughts and words of famous philosophers through the millennia were intimidating, challenging, and ultimately encouraging.

Claudia Taylor Johnson HS, 9th place: 91.30

One could be forgiven for thinking that if a dance had ever been created, there was a good chance it had been snuck into “flashDANCE” somewhere. The show was all about dance, the dancers controlled by a DJ overlooking the dance floor from his platform. Hints of dances of long-ago centuries led into the jazz era of flappers, to the refined artistry of prim ballerinas and throbbing head banging to the latest pop hits.

Castle HS, 10th place: 91:05

In mythology, Sirens were stunning female creatures who lured sailors to their demise upon jagged rocks with the beauty of their irresistible voices. “A Siren’s Song” explored the interplay between such a creature and her unsuspecting prey, the sailor quickly learning that resistance was futile as he reluctantly-yet-willingly joined the Siren in a flute duet prior to being led by the hand to the destiny of the unforgiving rocks.

Homestead HS, 11th place: 91.00

“A Time to Turn” was based on the lesson of Ecclesiastes 3, which inspired the folk song, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” LED lights on tree sets changed colors as the show progressed through the times and seasons of life. These included the vibrant summer celebration of tender love, the caring autumn contemplation of mutual embracing, the harsh wintery chill of sorrowful weeping, and the festive spring jubilee of ecstatic dancing.

Marian Catholic HS, 12th place: 90:05

Completing the band’s 33-year unbroken string of being a Grand Nationals finalist, “Unbroken” explored the Japanese art of kintsugi (repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted with precious metals) as a metaphor for healing after suffering tragic loss. Out of the chaos of disaster, life moves forward, reflected by the final commentary: “The world breaks everyone. Afterward, everyone is strong in the broken places.”

Dobyns-Bennett HS, 13th place: 89.45

“Echoes of Hope” served elegant old wine in sparkling new bottles by reinventing the music of Richard Wagner, allowing us to hear the master’s work from a novel perspective. Commencing with an unorthodox saxophone octet treatment of “Pilgrims’ Chorus,” the relatively abstract production Wagner-fied a couple contemporary works that one might suspect had been written under a pseudonym by a latter-day Wagner.

The marching band community was shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Castle High School’s Sophie Rinehart, who, along with her father and grandmother, lost her life in an auto accident on the way home from Indianapolis. All in attendance at Grand Nationals were uplifted by her ethereal voice, which will serve as a haunting reminder that life is fragile, must continually be cherished, and is a gift that can evaporate in a heartbeat. Debbie Laferty Asbill perfectly captured the essence of our collective grief with the following reflections on Sophie’s life, complete with a video from what no one could have suspected would be her last performance.

See the list of all Grand National Finals results, as well as all 2016 BOA Championship awards results.



Band people often talk about their “band family.” In the days following the 2016 Bands of America Grand Nationals it became clear that “family” extends beyond one’s own band and school to all of us who are alumni, band parents, and boosters.

Just hours after Sophie Rinehart’s standout feature performance with the Castle Marching Knights of Newburgh, Indiana in their first BOA Grand Nationals Finals appearance, her life was taken in a tragic car crash, along with her father and grandmother. Her older sister was injured.

Sophie’s vocal solo and flute duet during Castle’s 2016 show had moved audiences all fall. Grand Nationals was no exception. It seemed everyone, from the 100 participating bands and their supporters to those watching online and fans in the stands, was talking about “the singer with Castle.”

When news spread online Sunday that Sophie had passed away just hours after her Finals performance and celebrating Castle’s 10th place accomplishment with her fellow band members, the band world expressed its shock and sadness.

Condolences began pouring in from band parents, students, teachers, and fans from the Grand National bands and fans from across the country and around the world. Sophie’s vocal solo performance was of Sara Bareilles’ Gravity; Sara herself sent an email offering condolences to the Castle band.

Personally, after sharing the sad news and Music for All staff’s own sadness on the Bands of America Facebook page on Sunday, I was riveted to my computer screen the rest of that evening, finding some small comfort in the thousands of shares and comments from band programs nationwide. #weareallcastle became a way to share the pain and honor Sophie, her family, the Castle band, and the Newburgh community.

Bands of America interviewed many band directors and students during Grand Nationals. When we asked Castle band director Tom Dean to select a student representative for us to interview, he brought Sophie to the set. To honor her memory, and share her special gifts with the world, we are offering this video with portions of that interview and her final performance.

Special thanks to Tresona Multimedia for helping us to secure the rights to allow us to include a portion of the performance, and to Hansen Multimedia for donating the production of this video.

We remember Sophie and her unforgettable performance in Lucas Oil Stadium.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My day shadowing the Marketing Department

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Hello, my name is Madi Dornseif and I am a senior at Homestead H.S. in Fort Wayne, IN! I’m in the color guard and winter guard at Homestead, and I’m hoping to pursue a degree in Marketing. On October 19, I had the experience to job shadow Music for All in the Marketing Department. I quickly realized there is so much that goes into for preparing each show. I was able to sit by Lucy, one of the Marketing Coordinators, and see what she does on a busy day before a Super Regional Competition like making press kits, scheduling, and seeing what she does on the media side of Music for All. I even got to sit in a meeting with the Marketing Manager Erin Fortune, for the St. Louis Super Regional; it was very interesting to see all of the planning that goes it. Getting the experience really helped me with figuring out what I want to pursue as a career, hopefully someday I will be working with Music for All.

Check out the awards photos from the 2016 Bands of America Regional Championship at Plano, TX

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