Student Features

Student Features

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Student Feature: Family Ties

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Hannah and Sarah

We love this story about two cousins who were marching in different bands at the Jacksonville Regional this past weekend. Both of their bands made finals and were able to meet up with each other during Break Ranks!

A big thanks to Sheri Byrd, Sarah's mom (Sarah is pictured left), who shared this photo with us and told us more about these cousins! 

"My daughter is on the left. Her name is Sarah Katherine Byrd and she is in eight grade and on the colorguard for James F Byrnes High School Rebel Regiment. This is her first year on colorguard and her second season marching. She is pictured with her cousin, Hannah Byrd, who is on the colorguard for Harrison High School. Hannah is a sophomore, and has marched with Harrison since she was in 6th grade.

This was taken after the finals performance when they had met up together to congratulate each other on the great performances. I have included a second picture where they had finally found each other amongst all the students on the field. They are cousins and have always gotten along well but Sarah Katherine's older sister was in guard and so the 3 of them have always bonded over guard. Because Hannah and Sarah Katherine have always been closer in age, this opportunity to compete and support each other, has given them a new closeness and made them appreciate the support they get from each other even more."

BreakRanksJacksonville Harrison and James F. Byrnes


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Student Feature: One Core. One Family

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Today's student feature guest blog is from Annette Kukunas! Annette has attended the Music for All Summer Symposium for a few years now, but was part of the inaugural class of the Bands of America Drum Major Institute last year! We are so thankful that Annette shared her thoughts about the experience with us and allowed us to share those thoughts with all of you!
My name is Annette Kukunas. Last fall, I entered my senior year and second year as sole drum major of my high school band in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had attended the Summer Symposium the year before and really had a positively life-changing experience. The minute I left camp I knew I wanted to come back the next year. During the year after my first Summer Symposium, I heard that the MFA camp would have a new drum major training curriculum. It was a difficult decision to put my faith in something that was completely new. Using what I had learned, I decided to have an open mind and take a chance with DMI. I was anxious about what the new camp would bring.

One of the first days at camp for Leadership Weekend last summer I saw Scott Lang at breakfast and stopped to say hello. He introduced me to Bobby Lambert, the Drum Major Institute coordinator, and made me feel more comfortable. Bobby explained that things would be a little different this year, but I responded confidently that I was interested in learning new things in new ways. However, looking back on this, I know that wasn't exactly truthful. I felt fairly confident in my leadership skills and my conducting, as I had spent two previous years conducting and in a leadership position. I was expecting to review most of what I already knew and maybe learn a few new tips.
At the first session of DMI, I knew I was completely wrong. We started conducting immediately (something I LOVED) and I was amazed by the talent of the staff before us. I could tell that this week would be something I would not forget. I thank Bobby and the rest of the DMI staff for starting new traditions and letting us be apart of that. Every veteran I talked to, except for one, agreed that we enjoyed what and how we learned this year more than last. Everyone else agreed it was hard to imagine a better camp.

photo 7AnnetteSaluteCROPPEDOn the first day I also noticed the necklaces that the staff and SWAGs wore. I couldn't help but wonder what they symbolized. When they were handed out to the squad leaders, I couldn't be more excited. The necklaces reminded me of something drum corps members wear and how connected they all are. I know that wherever I may be, if I ever see an arrow, it will remind me of the amazing week I had at DMI, and every person I meet that wears a similar necklace will have shared this week with me and is a part of our family. I can't put into words what I think every time I catch a glimpse of the piece of metal around my neck.
DMI has changed my outlook on so many things. I have not only become a better drum major, but more importantly, I have become a better person. I want to thank Bobby and the Drum Major Institute staff for providing 385 high school students with a positively life-changing experience that will not be forgotten. There are so many things I have taken back to my band. We now have a new tradition for training for our next drum major and we'll be sending them to the Bands of America Drum Major Institute. Hopefully in the next year or two, I will also be attending as a SWAG and will get to join in from a different perspective.
I am so confident that someday DMI will be revered by drum majors across the country and that the 386 students in the inaugural class will be envied for being able to create of the traditions that will still be present. Thank you for demanding excellence from every single one of us. I don't think I've ever felt closer to such a large group of virtual strangers. It's crazy to think that in only a week, Bobby and the DMI staff transformed us into such amazing people.
One Core. One Family.
Annette Kukunas
BOA Drum Major Institute 2013
Yellow 4, Squad 1


Friday, January 31, 2014

Student Feature: Journey to the Cavaliers

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Today's blog is a guest post from Luke Stoner, who was a member of the 2013 Bands of America Honor Band in the Tournament of Roses® Parade, as well as a Music for All Summer Symposium participant in the marching band track. We appreciate Luke sharing his story with us, and hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


I remember thinking towards the end of my eighth grade year that I didn’t want to be in band anymore – quite frankly, high school band intimidated me – I didn’t think I could handle marching and playing at the same time, not to mention the challenging music played in my high school’s Wind Ensemble. Many years later, I now find myself as a member of Music for All’s Honor Band in the 2013 Tournament of Roses, a participant in the Summer Symposium camp, a member of Ohio’s All-State and District Honor Bands, and of all things, a member of The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. I couldn’t have accomplished this on my own – I owe my success to the incredible support and education from my band director, as well as the opportunities given to me by Music for All.

My first “musical revelation,” I should say, would be when my band director showed us videos of drum corps, something I didn’t even know had existed at the time. We watched several shows, but the one that really stuck out to me was The Cavalier’s 2002 program, “Frameworks.” I was simply astounded at how clean the drill was, as well as how perfect the music was performed. It was from this moment that I wanted to be a part of something amazing.

A few months later, I saw that Music for All (I had recognized the name because of the competitions that my band attends) had released information about auditioning for an honor band – specifically, a band that marched in the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California. I was interested, so I auditioned for the band, and I had made it! I was officially a member of the Bands of America Honor Band in the 2013 Tournament of Roses. I could describe the experience in its entirety, but it would go on far too long – rest assured, it was one of the most amazing experiences I could’ve asked for.


After I returned, since it was my junior year of high school, I began thinking more about drum corps, and decided that I needed to work on my skills with playing a baritone. I decided to attend Music for All’s Summer Symposium on the marching track to accomplish this. The instruction I received was great, and I felt that I was a much better player towards the end of camp. But there came a twist – towards the end of camp, staff from The Cavaliers, the corps in residence for the camp, was impressed by my work, and told me to audition for a spot at the corps – I was in shock.


As soon as I returned home, I looked up some etudes online, submitted an audition tape, and my dream had come true – I was a member of the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. I left the very next week, flying into Kansas City, Missouri, to meet up with the rest of the corps. My time with the corps, as well as my time with Music for All, was eye opening. Every performance I was at, there was a life I was changing – someone who, like myself, wants to be in one of these programs. It’s through all of these experiences I’ve had that I realize the importance of music education in people’s lives, and that there truly should be “music for all.”



- Luke

Luke Stoner
La Salle High School
Cincinnati, OH
2013 Member of the BOA Honor Band in the Tournament of Roses® Parade
2013 Member of the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps


All of us at Music for All love hearing from students, directors and parents about their stories involving band and music education! Every once in awhile, someone sends us a great message on Facebook, gives us a call, sends a letter, or shares a photo with us, just because. Words cannot express how much we love hearing from all of you! Today's Student Feature is one of those photos and a story that was shared with us by Sara from the Cary Senior Marching Band!

Green Hope Hearts

 This past fall at the first ever BOA Winston-Salem Super Regional, The Cary Senior H.S Marching Band was attending along with our down the street rivals, The Green Hope H.S Marching band. During the award ceremony for prelims, when either of our band's names were called for caption awards, clapping didn't seem to be enough to show our respect to our fellow high-schoolers, musicians, and friends. At one point, a member in our band stood up when Green Hope's name was called and made his hands into a heart, and quickly the rest of our band followed. As the award ceremony progressed, suddenly there were hundreds of hearts in the air when either of our names were called. While both of our bands were able to move on to finals, that wasn't the point. The hearts and support we both gave and received is something I'll never forget. It perfectly showcased what marching band is really about, the love of performing, musicianship, unity, and the experiences you get along the way.

- Sara Mears

Sara is absolutely right- THIS is what band is all about. THIS is what Music for All is all about. The experience, the music education community coming together. What a fantastic story and an awesome photo, thanks for sharing Sara!

Have a story or a photo you want to share with our community of music education advocates? We'd love for you to share! Send us a message on Facebook, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or just fill out this "Share Your Story" form!



Erin Fortune is the Marketing Coordinator focusing on digital marketing at Music for All, and has been working with Music for All for nearly three years, first in the Participant Relations department and now in marketing. She is a graduate from the Music Industry Management program at Ferris State University in Michigan and is a former Percussive Arts Society Intern and a Yamaha Corporation of America, Band and Orchestral Division Intern.

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