Thursday, July 26, 2018

Educator Spotlight: Sarah McKoin

Written by

Director of Bands, Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, TX

One of Sarah McKoin’s goals is to make sure that music is observed as being “art for art’s sake.” Music education has a purpose, and Sarah prioritizes finding that purpose and relaying it to her students.

Growing up in Indiana and Michigan, Sarah always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Her career path formed around her passion for music. To kick off her journey toward becoming a music educator, Sarah attended Michigan State University for her Bachelor’s Degree. She later attended Wichita State for graduate school.

During her musical journey, she moved to Texas to teach high school band before studying at the University of Texas for her doctorate. Sarah held a high interest in discovering what made Texas schools so amazing. “The standards, and the curriculum, and the passion, and the way that they teach, it's not everybody, they, are really exemplary,” Sarah said. “There is some fine, fine, fine teaching going on in Texas. I'm inspired by it. I feel fortunate I get to be around those people.”

Sarah has since found a family in her Texas Tech band community, where she teaches her students to follow their passions.

When asked what her passion is, Sarah responded with, “My passion is teaching, and music, and people, I guess those three things. I love to teach. I love seeing kids get it. I love seeing students put themselves out there. I love when you have particularly special performances and the connection that goes with that, it's intangible. You don't get that in math class, or I never did. I love that. That makes getting up and going to work exciting. I like teaching, and people, and music. I love that.”

Fulfilling a passion is simply not enough. Sarah believes that there has to be ways to continuously seek and feed that passion. She encourages teachers to challenge themselves to hear new ensembles, set higher standards for their students, and find a balance with new experiences.

As a woman in music, Sarah says, “People often ask me, ‘What's it like being a woman conductor?' and I'm like, "I don't know. I've never been a man, so I don't really have an answer for that.” Everyone who has influenced Sarah are quite amazing musicians, who just so happen to be men. “Music doesn't really know a gender, and art doesn't really know a gender, and passion doesn't really know a gender.”

Sarah wants to create a platform for young musicians to understand the purpose of music. “I think sometimes I see students come in and it's very segregated between, "We did this, and we did this, and we did this, and we did this." Sarah thinks that this mindset causes students to lose sight of all that music has to offer. She believes music should be experienced as a special gift rather than “a goal-driven trophy”. Sarah says, “I think Bands of America does a great job with taking art and music and still having a competitive environment, but making it something that's an artistic experience.” The gap between high school and college does not have to be the cause of attrition in music.

Sarah concludes that once students develop an understanding of applying musical solutions to technical problems, they will have a much more mature way of thinking.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Student Success From Day One

Written by

Vandoren has been the preferred reed of professionals since 1905. However, during much of this time beginning students have often had to resort to inexpensive, lower quality reeds to save money. With Vandoren’s introduction of JUNO reeds in recent years, beginning students are finally able to enjoy that trademark, unparalleled Vandoren quality from their first note at an affordable student price.

Designed specifically for beginners, Vandoren JUNO reeds are designed with a special cut that provides young players with everything they need to hit the ground running – immediate response, easy articulation, and a warm, round sound right from the start. Instead of fighting against their reeds, JUNO allows kids to do what they want to do most – PLAY!

“My students have been very successful on JUNO reeds!  The ease of playing with these reeds allows students to focus on other concepts that we're building upon in rehearsal, without sacrificing quality of sound.” – Chris DiMassimo, beginning and Middle School Band Director

Vandoren is keenly aware of the musical needs of young musicians, and is extremely proud to offer a variety of products appropriate for each stage of their development. Most students who begin with JUNO will move to professional Vandoren reeds as they develop.

JUNO reeds are available for Bb and bass clarinets as well as alto and tenor saxophones.

If your students love music, encourage them to discover the world-class education available at Ball State University.

Recognized for its national leadership and innovative programming at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, Ball State’s School of Music prepares students for a wide range of careers. Students are challenged academically as well as musically, mentored by faculty while they develop their skills, deepen their artistry, and experience all the School of Music has to offer.

Students also can perform with award-winning ensembles, develop recording engineering and songwriting skills, compose music for a variety of performers and media, or prepare to teach in today's music classrooms.

More than a dozen performance groups are open to Ball State students, including the 65-member Ball State Symphony Orchestra, the “Pride of Mid-America” Marching Band, and Ball State Basketball Band. Students can audition for a spot with the Ball State University Singers, or join the Statesmen or Women’s Chorus, open to any singer, no audition required.

The School of Music offers five majors and eight minors for undergraduates; two master’s degrees; a doctor of arts; an artist diploma; and an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, and doctoral secondary area of study in entrepreneurial music.

Take a virtual tour of the campus at Learn more by visiting or calling 765-285-5400.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Going Beyond the Grade

Written by

by Chris Gleason

Instrumental Music Educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

“OK class, today is practice chart turn in day.” Audible groans and murmurs came from the band. As I began collecting the monthly practice charts I noticed Spencer writing “20 minutes” in every box on the chart. I moved in on his position like a stealthy cougar ready to pounce. With a triumphant “A Ha!” I snatched his paper and told him to follow me into my office. I immediately picked up the phone and called his father. “Mr. Williams, I just witnessed your son filling out his practice chart and forging your signature.” With little hesitation, Mr. Williams responded, “No, I filled it out and signed it this morning.”

How could this be possible? The child was lying and so was the father! My first instinct was to dock both Spencer and his father 10 points for a committing a crime against musicianship. Instead, I took a long hard look at what I was doing to create an environment in which kids lied about practicing and parents covered it up.

After many years of making mistakes, reflecting, and reading, I have come to a few conclusions:

1) Grades tend to diminish students’ interest in whatever they’re learning.
2) Grades create a preference for the easiest possible task.
3) Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking.1

So how do we get students to stop focusing on the grade? How is assessment different than evaluation? What role does assessment play in my classroom?


The word “assessment” has been used in different ways throughout the years. Regardless of the exact definition, the word has become toxic in education. Visions of long standardized, multiple-choice tests flood the minds of students when the word is evoked. Similarly, educators think of testing that in most cases does not reflect what is most important in their classrooms. Tainted with the view that everything worthwhile can be measured and reduced to a number, educators pressed for data have to battle an inner war of both valuing assessment and discouraging it. We need to take back this term and use it for good in our classrooms. Assessment plays a critical and vital role in the education process.


Gathering Information: Assessment simply is a strategy for gathering data that is directly linked to your outcomes. The Assessment Process includes three steps (as seen in the figure below). The first step is to assess or gather information about learning. To be honest, as educators we are always assessing students. In fact, it is impossible not to assess learners just as it is impossible to stop assessing internal things such as hunger, mood, energy level, etc., or external things such as temperature and light. We are always taking the “pulse” of the class and individual students in an informal sense just as we are gathering in data about student performance, knowledge, and desires, beliefs, and connections. The key to the gathering stage is to consider what information is important since there is so much of it. It is very easy to get swallowed up by the data or to get lost in less-than-important facts and numbers. What educators need to ask themselves is “What question do I want answered?” and “Do I have a tool to capture or gather the information?”

Evaluation: The second step in the Assessment Process is evaluation. Evaluation is defined as the process of analyzing or interpreting the data. When analyzing or interpreting the data we often compare the results to a set standard, others or ourselves. As most researchers would tell you, one data point does not provide a tremendous amount valid data. Acquiring data over time can help to identify trends yielding a clearer picture of stability, growth or decline. The question is how to collect reliable data over time and deciding what to compare it to.
Act: The third step in the Assessment Process is to act. Based on the assessment and evaluation several possible actions could result including (but not limited to) grades, reflections, strategy modification, etc. It is important to note that assigning a grade is only one of the many actions that could take place. Moreover, assigning a grade or number may be the least significant action to affect student learning. For example, you finish rehearsing a technical passage with your clarinet section and ask, “Clarinets show using your hand a number between 1-5 as to how proficient you are playing that passage.” This “data” can help inform you and the student if a sectional (or some other strategy) is needed. It doesn’t mean that you should grab a grade book and jot down responses.



Summative: Start with your outcome as this is the destination. Ask yourself:

  1. What evidence is needed for me, the student, and others to conclude that the student has made it to the outcome? Does the assessment(s) that I have created really answer this question?
  2. How much choice or autonomy does the student have in determining how they will show understanding?
  3. What tool could be used to clearly communicate different levels of achievement? Also, do the students have input into creating this tool?

Diagnostic: Next, consider where your students are starting. Ask yourself:

  1. What knowledge, skills, or experiences do your students already possess? How could I find this information out?
  2. Where will you begin so that you are capturing the majority of your class? For those students who do not fit into this box, what strategies do you have to support them? How can you identify these students?
  3. How can you avoid the “curse of knowledge”? In other words, educators sometimes gloss over things that come easy to us. We need to have empathy for our new learners.

Formative: Great news! Every strategy you create for your classroom is already a formative assessment. The key is craft creative, varied, and rich strategies that lead to your outcome. Ask yourself:

  1. What strategies will be best suited for student self-assessment?
  2. What strategies will be best suited for peer assessment?
  3. What strategies will be best suited for teacher assessment?
  4. For all of the above - what strategies would best be saved or documents (formal) versus just observed or “taken in” (informal)?
  5. What tool could be used to clearly communicate different levels of achievement?


Courage is necessary when assessing students. The wise teacher knows that they will learn a lot about themselves and about education from their students. True authentic assessment means to take a look at what is working and what is not working. When a class does poorly on a task is this a reflection of the teacher, the class, or a bit of both? It takes courage to look at the “data” and evaluate what went wrong. Often times, if an entire class does poorly it is mostly a reflection of the educator picking too difficult a task or not sequencing and layering skills/knowledge to get to the benchmark. Teachers with an open mindset will learn from this, reevaluate, and try a new approach. Teachers with a closed mindset will blame the students and refuse to look at their own teaching as the potential problem.


• What and how we assess points to what we value. What we spend time and effort assessing ultimately tells our students what is most worthwhile about their experience in our classroom. We can speak about the importance of creativity, critical thinking, internal motivation, and process over product, but do these values shine when it comes to the assessment going on in your classroom? Do you assess what is easy to measure or what is actually most important? Do you utilize progressive teaching practices, but then run out of time for any meaningful feedback? Could your students explain your classroom assessment process to their parents?


I embrace the belief that teachers can de-emphasize grades, while building intrinsic motivation when we promote autonomy, mastery, and purpose. For example I have my students take ownership of quarterly reflections and individualized self-assessments that are based on rubrics created by the student and teacher. Parents rave over the quality and depth of the multifaceted report that includes both student and teacher comments. I engage students’ distinct and diverse interests and intelligences by using authentic summative projects that are presented in a video prior to performances (or as we call them, “informances”). I educate students about their brains and myelin. Instead of demanding practice charts, I teach the value and characteristics of deep practice. I also teach the value and necessity of mistakes, something too often stigmatized in our product-focused education system.

As Ken Robinson stated in his 2013 Ted Talk about the growth of the human mind, “Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” We need to harness the research and strategies to create schools that spark children’s imaginations. As music educators, let’s take back the term “assessment” and use it to help our students achieve and succeed.

[1] Kohn, A. (2011, November). The Case Against Grades. Educational Leadership.


Chris Gleason is an instrumental music educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He is the 2017 Wisconsin Middle School Teacher of the Year and the first Wisconsin teacher to be named a finalist for National Teacher of the Year in 50 years. Chris is the recent recipient of the UW-LaCrosse Burt & Norma Altman Distinguished Alumni Award, 2017 GRAMMY Music Educator Award semifinalist, 2016 Michael G. George Distinguished Music Education Service Award and 2018 National LifeChanger of the Year Award nominee. Chris is also a Teacher Leadership and Engagement Specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

JCR 1622

More than 3,000 musicians from across the country participated in the 2018 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. Between March 14-17, these musicians graced Indianapolis’ finest concert halls with music varying from three national honor ensembles, concert band, orchestra, percussion, jazz, chamber, and for the first time this year, choir. These performances took place in Clowes Memorial Hall and Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University, Hilbert Circle Theatre, Warren Performing Arts Center, Indiana Historical Society, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, and the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center at the University of Indianapolis. Here’s the Festival by the numbers:

This year’s Festival had a total of 94 total ensembles which included:

  • 26 High School Concert Bands
  • 7 Orchestras
  • 7 Middle School Concert Bands
  • 10 Percussion Ensembles
  • 9 Chamber Ensembles
  • 12 Choirs
  • 19 instrumental and choral ensembles at the Indianapolis School Music Festival, with groups from Indianapolis Public Schools and Gary, IN
  • United Sound National Ensemble
  • 3 Honor Ensembles (Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America, and Jazz Band of America)

The total number of attendees was approximately 3,800. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 3,038 Students
  • 340 chaperones/ Ensemble Adults
  • 70 Directors
  • 48 Guest Directors
  • 31 Event Staff
  • 150 clinicians, evaluators, sponsors, and volunteers
  • 49 Hosts
  • 26 Visiting Directors
  • 5 Directors’ Academy
  • 13 total Family and Friends/6 Hotel Only
  • Special Guests from: PAS, VanderCook College, and Midwest Clinic,
  • Guest performers: United States Army Brass Quintet, Yamaha Performing Artists Rex Richardson and Sean Jones, The Oakwood Aeolians, Vandoren Emerging Artist winners

Invited concert bands, orchestras, choirs, percussion ensembles, and honor ensemble members participating in the 2018 Festival come from 32 states including:

Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Invited concert bands, orchestras, choirs, percussion ensembles, and honor ensemble members participating in the 2018 Festival come from 193 Schools.

Check out more photos from Festival here: 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

2018 Summer Symposium Scholarships Available

Written by

JCR 4397

Music for All’s efforts to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences include awarding a number of scholarships each year. Check out the criteria for one of our scholarships below and apply by May 20, 2018.


Instrumental Merit Scholarships

Instrumental Merit scholarships for members of honor ensembles are now available for eligible students enrolling in the Concert Band, Orchestra, Jazz Band, or Concert Percussion divisions of the Summer Symposium. 

National Honor Ensemble Instrumental Scholarship
$200 Scholarship

For members of the 2017 or 2018 national honor ensembles, including the Music for All Honor Ensembles and ensembles like the GRAMMY Jazz Band, ASTA’s National Honor Orchestra, or NAfME’s All-National Honor Ensembles. Applies to registration for the following divisions ONLY:

  • Concert Band
  • Jazz Band
  • Orchestra
  • Concert Immersion Track of the Percussion Division

All-State Instrumental Scholarship
$150 Scholarship

For members of 2017 or 2018 All-State Band or Orchestra. Applies to registration for the following divisions ONLY:

  • Concert Band
  • Jazz Band
  • Orchestra
  • Concert Immersion Track of the Percussion Division

All-City/District Instrumental Scholarship
$75 Scholarship

For members of 2017 or 2018 All-City or All-District Band or Orchestra. Applies to registration for the following divisions ONLY:

  • Concert Band
  • Jazz Band
  • Orchestra
  • Concert Immersion Track of the Percussion Division

How to register with an Instrumental Scholarship

To receive the Instrumental Scholarships for the eligible divisions, certification of honor ensemble membership must be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mailed to the Music for All office. Certification can include a letter of acceptance into honor ensemble, certificate of membership, or letter from your music director certifying membership.


L.J. Hancock Summer Symposium Scholarships

Honoring the life and work of L.J. Hancock (1952-2002), these scholarships benefit individual students with financial need who are interested in attending the Music for All Summer Symposium. It is the intent of The Music for All Foundation to provide scholarships of at least $100, but not more than $270. 

Download Application


The Tang Family Scholarship Fund

Created by Anthony and Megan Tang and is open to any student that will be attending the Music for All Summer Symposium. The scholarship selection committee will provide three full residential scholarships to high school and/or middle school students based upon an essay and director recommendation.

Download Application


Indianapolis Public Schools Summer Symposium Scholarships

Each year the generosity of individual and corporate donors allows Music for All to extend the opportunity to attend Music for All's Summer Symposium to IPS students through full scholarships. Recipients are chosen by the staff and faculty of IPS Instrumental Music Programs. Contact David Newman, Indianapolis Public Schools, for more information. 

Learn More


Mark Williams Memorial Scholarship for Collegiates

The Mark Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund for Educators was created in honor of Mark Williams (1955-2008) to celebrate his life and work as a great educator, composer, and a beloved friend. The scholarship fund benefits music educators who are interested in attending the Music for All Summer Symposium but, due to financial hardship, cannot afford to pay the tuition and fees needed to attend this annual summer music camp. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. It is the intent of the Music for All Foundation to provide a full-tuition scholarship, plus a travel stipend of up to $500, to ONE collegiate interested in attending the Directors’Academy. Our hope is the scholarship program will help to ensure that the Summer Symposium is financially accessible for all participants.

Download Application


Mark Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund for Educators

The Music for All Foundation is grateful to the family of Mark Williams (1955-2008), educator, composer and beloved friend, for their generous gift to endow five scholarships each year for the Music for All Summer Symposium. The scholarships were created to honor Mark's life and legacy and to provide a positively life-changing opportunity to educators who demonstrate financial need and wish to attend the Symposium to gain valuable professional development experiences. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. It is the intent of the Music for All Foundation to provide a full-tuition scholarship, plus a travel stipend up to $500, to FOUR directors interested in attending the Directors’ Academy. Only director’s at Title I schools (schools with an enrolled population of 40% or more students on free and reduced lunch) will be considered. Our hope is the scholarship program will help to ensure that the Summer Symposium is financially accessible for all participants.

Download Application


All application materials are due May 20.


We look forward to seeing you at camp!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

2017 Grand Nationals Finals Review

Written by

Written with assistance from Michael Reed

November 11, 2017
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

The Bands of America Grand National Championships Finals was once again held in the inviting confines of Lucas Oil Stadium over four days; November 8-11. Yamaha continued the company’s support of music education by sponsoring the events, as it has continuously done for decades. Finals capped off an exciting season that witnessed 20 Regional Championships held throughout the United States

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 the weekend of March 15-17, 2018. After schools let out for the summer, the Music for All Leadership Weekend Experience will be held at Ball State University, June 23-24, 2018, followed at the same location by the Music for All Summer Symposium, June 25-30. The Grand National Championships will return to Indianapolis November 7-10, 2018.

In the Indianapolis Marching Band Tournament, held on Wednesday night, November 8, Arsenal Technical H.S. captured 1st place in the Corps Style division, winning the Best Music, Best Visual, and Best General Effect awards. George Washington H.S. finished in 2nd place. The Show Style division was won by Broad Ripple H.S., which also took Best Music, and Best Visual. Crispus Attucks H.S. took 2nd place and the award for Best General Effect. Crispus Attucks also won the tournament’s Spirit Award, which includes a $1,000.00 scholarship and is awarded to the school demonstrating the best enthusiasm and support for their band. This is the fourth year the band won that honor.

IMG 1830IMG 1830

Sadly, this is the last year that Broad Ripple H.S. will exist. The school is one of three high schools in the Indianapolis Public School system to be closed as the district reconfigures itself within four remaining high schools. Music for All has pledged $1,000 to each of the four high schools that will be forming new bands in 2018.

JCR 1516

After 100 bands competed in Prelims on Thursday and Friday, the following 37 bands (listed in performance order) advanced into Semi-Finals: Adair County H.S. (KY), Jenison H.S. (MI), DeSoto Central H.S. (MS), Central Hardin H.S. (KY), Norton H.S. (OH), Beechwood H.S. (KY), Archbishop Alter H.S. (OH), Franklin H.S. (TN), Prosper H.S. (TX), James F. Byrnes H.S. (SC), Bassett H.S. (VA), Union H.S. (OK), Broken Arrow H.S. (OK), Marian Catholic H.S. (IL), The Woodlands H.S. (TX), Owasso H.S. (TN), Round Rock H.S. (TX), Marcus H.S. (TX), Avon H.S. (IN), Castle H.S. (IN), O’Fallon Township H.S. (IL), Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (MI), Blue Springs H.S., (MO), Center Grove H.S. (IN), Carmel H.S. (IN), Centerville H.S. (OH), Flower Mound H.S. (TX), North Hardin H.S. (KY), Homestead H.S. (IN), Walton H.S. (GA), Dobyns-Bennett H.S. (TN), Winston Churchill H.S. (TX), Lawrence Township H.S. (IN), William Mason H.S. (OH), Fort Mill H.S. (SC), Fishers H.S. (IN), and Mililani H.S. (HI).

Semi-Finalists included the top 11 bands from both Prelims days, plus the next eight high scores regardless of performance day. The other seven bands were due to the requirement that the top two bands from each class will advance into Semi-Finals from Prelims if those bands hadn’t already advanced on score alone.

IMG 1796
FishersHS JCR 6294
WaltonHS JCR 4348
JamesFByrnesHS 2
IMG 5563 copy

After the performances of all Semi-Finals bands and the exhibition of the University of Alabama 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 Carmel H.S. took Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect, and 2nd place Broken Arrow H.S. took Outstanding Music Performance. In 3rd place was Avon H.S. In Class AAA, 1st place Castle H.S. took all three caption awards, followed by 2nd place Dobyns-Bennett H.S., and 3rd place Fort Mill H.S. 1st place Marian Catholic H.S. took all three caption awards for Class AA, followed by 2nd place North Hardin H.S. and 3rd place Bassett H.S. In Class A, 1st place Adair County H.S. took Outstanding Music Performance and Outstanding General Effect outright, and tied 2nd place Norton H.S. for Outstanding Visual Performance. Beechwood H.S. placed 3rd in the class.

The Finalist bands were randomly announced as being The Woodlands H.S., Carmel H.S., Marcus H.S., Broken Arrow H.S., Avon H.S., Flower Mound H.S., Castle H.S., Blue Springs H.S., Marian Catholic H.S., Round Rock H.S., Union H.S., and Dobyns-Bennett H.S. .

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. After Miami University Marching Band opened the Finals festivities with a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the Class A Champion Adair County H.S. (KY) band performed an exhibition of its “Ex Machina” production, which explored the wonders and dangers of artificial intelligence.

In Finals, Carmel H.S. was awarded the Outstanding Visual Performance and Outstanding General Effect awards outright, and shared the Outstanding Music Performance Award with Broken Arrow H.S. The Al Castronovo Memorial Espirit de Corps Award went to Hawaii’s Mililani H.S., and Flower Mound H.S. received the invitation to the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Among special awards was the presentation of the George N. Parks Leadership Award to Marisa Weinstein of Warsaw Middle School (MN). The Yamaha Scholarship was awarded to Claire Wilcox of O'Fallon Township High School (IL). Alexis Kilgore of Ooltewah High School (TN) received the Fred J. Miller Family Scholarship, and the Fred J. Miller Memorial Scholarship was bestowed upon Matthew Waggoner of Castle High (IN).

Carmel H.S. , 1st place: 97:500
One could sense drifting off to a higher plane of consciousness during “Serenity,” a show that explored relaxation from Amicability to Zen. Billowing clouds on the flags and a plethora of Tibetan singing meditation bowls melted away anxieties amongst the raked Zen gardens, gently swinging swings, and stacked rock balancing. Breathing in deep, relaxing, and focusing has never been done with such musical sensitivity.

IMG 6591

Broken Arrow H.S. , 2nd place: 96.925
“Age of Discovery: The Return to Xeno” introduced a large fleet of interplanetary pedal cart rovers that transported guard members and wind players around the distant planet, allowing the intrepid explorers to explore and then escape when the space aliens became disagreeable. How the winds played their instruments, while piloting the carts demonstrated a level of training far beyond that of the average earthling civilian.

IMG 6596

Avon H.S. , 3rd place: 96.475
“Test4ment” utilized David Maslanka’s staggeringly difficult “Symphony No. 4” and was based on a speech given to the band members each year by the band’s retiring director. His admonishment to note what holds up the bricks in a wall was reflected in the various brick elements of the costumes, the entire lesson leading to the realization that no wall/band could stand without the contribution of each and every brick/band member.

IMG 6905 by Emily

Marcus H.S. , 4th place: 95.700
The opening set full of googly eyes coldly stared into the souls of the audience as “PrODDigy” lived up to the capitalized middle letters of the title. Referencing the virtuoso violinist Paganini, set to Rachmaninoff’s musical tribute, huge neon fluorescent violin bridges and strings—plus green violin f-holes—visually vibrated throughout, forcibly turning the audience’s own peepers into additional ¬¬googly eyes.

MarcusHS 2

Flower Mound H.S. , 5th place: 95.625
“Fractured Moments” explored the work of architect Antoni Gaudi. Whites and grays gave way to the fractured ceramics and stained glass of his most extravagant creations, imbuing the band’s jackets with the colors of his wildest palettes. With cracked pieces of color appearing atop the members’ heads, the field came alive with the breathing, heaving intensity of Gaudi’s most eccentric and cherished works.

IMG 6657

Dobyns-Bennett H.S. , 6th place: 92.725
Colorful aqua vines entwined amongst the vivid orange flowers of “Paradisum,” sprouting a fantasy garden of earthly delights. Like seeds scattered in the wind, the metallic repartee in the background of “Pines of Rome” was carried across the field like a summer derecho windstorm, embedding the chaff of the windswept music into the curlicues of the drill forms and making both the visual sets and music shimmer in the light.

Dobyns Bennett 2

The Woodlands H.S. , 7th place: 91.825
“In the Garden of Cosmic Speculation” was inspired by the maniacal setting of the same name in Scotland, which itself was inspired by cosmology, the science of the origin and development of the universe. Like waking up from an overdose of cough syrup to find everyone around you pulsating with the music of the spheres, the show explored the mysticism of the garden that is at once of the Big Bang and also eons yet to unravel.

TheWoodlandsHS JCR 4540

Castle H.S. , 8th place: 91.200
“Fly to Paradise” was an emotional tribute to band member Sophie Rinehart, who lost her life on the road home from last year’s Grand Nationals. The titles of the selections tell you everything you need to know about this loving production; “One Day I’ll Fly Away,” “The Hands of Fate,” “Benedictus,” “I’m Alive,” and “Fly to Paradise.” There was hardly a dry eye in the stadium as angel wings appeared and embraced the hearts of all.

IMG 6503

Blue Springs H.S. , 9th place: 91.175
“Burtonized” was inspired by the quirky feature films of director Tim Burton, filled with visual references to twisted Burton classics as diverse as “Edward Scissorhands,” “Beetlejuice,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Dark and creepy, but with a heavy infusion of quirky levity, the audience walked a figurative emotional balance beam alongside the gymnastic band member who was poised upon a real one.

IMG 3347

Union H.S. , 10th place: 91.025
“This Bitter Earth” was subtitled, “Five Ritual Celebrations in the Future, in the Past,” and explored the sometimes beneficial, often dangerous, always theatrical mixing of machine and nature. Red was the color of the day, appearing just about everywhere in the sets, the costumes, and many of the tribal headdresses. Ramps and stairs leading up to a huge variety of small and large stages elevated the members and the music.

IMG 6013

Marian Catholic H.S. , 11th place: 89.800
Marian Catholic made Finals for the 34th consecutive year with “Paradise Found.” Artificial and mechanical elements fought off nature and serenity, with dials and cogs dominating trees and other natural wonders. Though the planet turned gray and ashen from air pollution and oil spills, nature had the final say as vines overgrew the machines, with the new life of leaves and butterflies filling the planet with hope.

IMG 5900

Round Rock H.S. , 12th place: 89.625
“Errand Into the Maze” utilized the music of Revueltas’ “Sensemaya” to convey the story of Ariadne and the Minotaur, a menacing tale in Greek mythology about a granddaughter of Zeus and the monstrous half man, half bull creature that ate humans to survive. Prior to being slain, the Minotaur was not only confined to a labyrinth controlled by Ariadne, but also added a new element to the tale by proving it could spin a mean rifle.

IMG 6255

See the list of all Grand National Finals results, as well as all 2017 BOA Championship awards results.

For almost four decades, Michael Boo has covered a large variety of pageantry events. He is the Staff Writer for Drum Corps International and has written for BOA and WGI for much of the existence of the two organizations. Michael Reed writes and blogs for WGI Indoor Marching Percussion and Color Guard events.


We hope that everyone will be joining us on Thanksgiving day by watching the 2017 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 91st Annual Macy's Thanksgiving 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 23rd. You can watch the parade live on NBC. The telecast will air from 9:00 AM to 12 Noon in all time zones.

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

Colony High School Marching Band
Palmer, Alaska

Davis High School Marching Band
Kaysville, Utah

Nation Ford High School Marching Band
Fort Mill, South Carolina

Ohio University Marching 110
Athens, Ohio

Prairie View A&M University Marching Storm
Prairie View, Texas

Rockford High School Marching Band
Rockford, Michigan

Rosemount High School Marching Band
Rosemount, Minnesota

Trumbull High School Golden Eagle Marching Band
Trumbull, Connecticut

The United States Air Force Band
Washington, DC

West Harrison High School Marching Band
Gulfport, Mississippi

Macy's Great American Marching Band

NYPD Marching Band
New York

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

The 2017 Bands of America Grand National Championships kicked off Wednesday evening, November 8 with a festive celebration of music, pageantry, and friendship as the annual Indianapolis Marching Band Tournament graced the Lucas Oil Stadium field. The event was especially momentous for Arlington, Broad Ripple Magnet, and Northwest High Schools in the final competition for those bands due to school closure.

The coveted Spirit Award ensures audience participation plays a major role at this event with a $1,000 scholarship given to the school with the most enthusiastic boosters. Crispus Attucks H.S. brought a huge group of people and won the award for the fourth consecutive year. Music for All CEO Eric Martin also announced a $1,000 pledge to each of the four remaining IPS bands to support music education in those schools.

IMG 1830

Arsenal Technical H.S. won for the third time in a row in the Corps-style Division, creating a cinematic spectacle with selections from action and thriller movies. George Washington Community H.S. finished second, shaking the building with music from the soundtrack of blockbuster motion picture Godzilla.

IMG 1895

Broad Ripple Magnet H.S. took the Show-style crown for the third straight year by playing hits of Beyoncé, featuring a talented vocalist and a dance line with moves that would make the Superstar proud. Runner-up Crispus Attucks H.S. showcased their eye-catching majorette line with a tribute to legendary rapper Tupac Shakur.

JCR 1516

The limber dancers of Arlington H.S. contorted into positions the human body should not be able to do, while Northwest Community H.S. gave a rousing final performance of “Goodbye” with an array of tunes about saying farewell. Two special exhibition performances from our Aloha State neighbors, Mililani H.S. and Maui H.S., provided even more excitement, plus an exciting show by the Marian University to close the evening.

IMG 1887IMG 1887

IMG 1980

Please join us as we celebrate the achievements of the best and brightest of America’s future. To the winners in life who took the field, we salute you all. Go for it! Break ranks!

Check out the awards photos from the 2017 Bands of America Utah Regional Championship!

High resolution awards photos (as well as additional action photos of each band) can be viewed and purchased on the Jolesch Enterprises website: