The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

melissa thompson


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. 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


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Published in News
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DCI Fan: Thank You for Visiting!

Are you in high school band? Then we invite you to join us for an amazing week-long summer camp unlike anything else you can attend – America's Camp for high school band and orchestra students in all areas of instrumental music and marching band performance.

Late Fee Waiver – Use by June 1

Our gift to you: For responding to our link on, please download this certificate which will allow you to waive the Symposium Late Registration Fee if you register by June 1, 2015 ($65 late fee in effect after May 20).

Student Divisions include:

Marching Band, with Carolina Crown!
Not only will you work with Jeff Young and the amazing marching band staff, you'll rehearse and perform on field with the Carolina Crown, corps-in-residence, during Friday night's DCI Central Indiana. Learn more about the Marching Band Division.

Color Guard
Join Susie Harloff and the incredible, talented color guard staff for a week of learning and fun! For Flags, Rifles, Sabres at all levels, including a Master Class track for more advanced students. Learn more about the Color Guard Division.

Marching Percussion
Mike McIntosh has assembled an all-star percussion faculty, including Tom Aungst, caption head for Carolina Crown and DCI Hall of Fame member to lead the Marching Percussion track! Learn more about the Percussion Division.

Bands of America Drum Major Institute
Join division coordinator Bobby Lambert and the greatest team of drum major instructors on the planet! Come learn the CORE Teaching Principles: Character, Content, Communication and Chemistry. Learn more about the BOA Drum Major Institute.

Seeing is Believing!

Visit our video playlist to watch videos from last year's camp, including with the Marching Band and Carolina Crown and every student division.

More Student Divisions

Student Division also include Concert Band, Jazz, and Orchestra. See the menu on the left to find details on everything about camp!

Kick it off with the Leadership Weekend Experience with Fran Kick and the Leadership Team!

Directors' Academy, too

Professional development for High School and Middle School Band Directors, plus the Percussion Specialist Academy and Color Guard Instructor Academy.

Published in Summer Camp

On Saturday, close to 500 hundred students arrived at Ball State University to begin the Leadership Weekend Experience! Students began with an opening session featuring Fran Kick, moved on to break-out sessions and small group sessions and finished the evening with a rousing keynote from Dr. Tim. Following the keynote, students were treated to a surprise party to cap off an exciting day! 

Students received Leadership Weekend T-Shirts and markers and began signing each other's shirts while dancing to tunes spun by DJ Blitz (aka MFA Senior Marketing Coordinator Erin Fortune). By signing these T-shirts, students are commemorating their Leadership Weekend experience and creating lasting connections with fellow campers. 





















The Leadership Weekend Party is a long tradition at the Summer Symposium, and while the returning Leadership students likely remember the party from previous years, it was a complete surprise to first-year attendees. The SWAG Team and DTAs (Directors' Track Assistants) chaperoned the party, and even got in on some of the dancing! 





















At the end of the party, campers left to their dorms for the evening with new leadership skills, t-shirts full of signatures and inspiring notes and memories that the students will keep for a long time.

Published in Stories


Are you still debating whether or not you should attend the the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha in June? Here are the top 10 reasons why you should consider it!

10. Awesome Evening Concerts!

Each night after a day full of track intensive work (and fun!), the WHOLE camp comes together for an evening of inspiring music! Whether your favorite is an evening of jazz, virtuosic soloists or some of the world’s best drum corps, there will be at least one night you can’t wait to tell your friends back home about!

9. There’s something for everyone

Whether you are a jazz cat, guard diva, marching band buff, orchestra nut, concert band wiz, or drum guru, there’s a division and a place for you at the Music for All Summer Symposium.

8. Leadership is the theme

At the Music for All Summer Symposium we don’t believe that only drum majors or section leaders benefit from leadership. We believe that EVERY student benefits from leadership training and that’s why it is incorporated in EVERY division of the Summer Symposium. Anyone who is willing to pay attention, respond and get involved has the potential to positively lead others.

7. Learn from the best

Where else would you get to go to be instructed by so many of the top music educators and clinicians from across the country?

6. Create life-long friends

At camp you will be with over 1,000 other students from all across the country. You will not only have the opportunity to make friends within your own track, but you will make friends with other students in your dorm, your swags, and faculty! These are relationships that can last you a lifetime; just think of the instagram followers you will have when you get home!

5. Take music & performance skills to the next level

This IS the Music for All Summer Symposium, so first and foremost you will be getting top-notch performance instruction from our outstanding faculty!

4. Get energized for next school year

There is no doubt about it that you will take things that you learn at Music for All Summer Symposium back to your own band, orchestra or guard program back home, not only music or performance skills, but attitude, energy, and a new outlook. Imagine how much stronger of a performer and leader you’ll be and how it could positively impact your school ensemble!

3. Get the away from home “college experience”

You’re probably already thinking leaving home to go to college and into the broader world in the next 1-4 years. Heading away from home can be pretty nerve wrecking. Going to a week long summer camp on a college campus is a great way of getting the experience of being away from home, navigating around a campus and having a roommate! It’s a week of learning about yourself in a new environment.

2. It’s more fun than a summer job!

This one is pretty self-explanatory. What would you rather do? Come to camp, make music and hang out with awesome people or go to work everyday? (p.s. you have the rest of your life to work, spend this summer at camp!) Plus, we know that a large percentage of Fortune 500 CEOs participated in their school music programs, so think of it as an investment in your future!

1. Surrounded by students from across the country who are different – but also JUST LIKE YOU!

At school you probably are in a band with anywhere from 50-350 students (give or take) who have similar interests as you, and maybe half who are as PASSIONATE about music making as you are. Can you imagine being in one place, where the focus is music making and you are surrounded by over 1,000 people who are just as passionate as you are about band, orchestra or guard? Well, you can stop dreaming because that place exists, and it’s in Muncie, Indiana at Ball State University this June.

So what are you waiting for? If these reasons didn't convince you that the Symposium is the right place for you, check out our videos on YouTube from last year's camp as well as the extended online coverage!

Ready to dive in and have the best summer of your life? Register for the MFA Summer Symposium here!

Published in Stories


As a brass player myself, I love playing with other brass players in small ensembles. It is in those small ensembles where you are able to fully expereince the versatility of brass instruments. This is exactly why I am very excited for the Atlantic Brass Quintet’s (ABQ) performance at the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha in June. I’ve been listening to their recordings all morning and can’t wait to hear them fill up Emens Auditorium with some outstanding music!

The Atlantic Brass Quintet will be performing Tuesday evening (June 24) at the Symposium. The ABQ is a group of five virtuosic musicians from across the country who have played together for many years. From Brazil to Carnegie Hall to the White House, the Quintet has performed across the globe since its founding in 1985. The group performs a wide variety of music, from Monteverdi to Stravinsky and jazz standards to brass street music. Listen below to their most recent album, “Crossover,” just released this year:


The Atlantic Brass Quintet began in 1985 in Boston as a competition brass quintet, winning awards across the world for their performances. Current tuba player John Manning was a founding member of the Quintet. Since 1985, the group has been comprised of some of the country’s foremost brass players. Currently the group includes founding member John Manning (tuba), Tim Albright (trombone), Seth Orgel (horn), Andrew Sorg (trumpet) and Tom Bergeron (trumpet).

The Quintet has been the resident brass quintet of Boston University, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and the Boston Conservatory. Over the past 30 years of music making, the group has become known for their emphasis on music from across the world. The regularly perform ethnic music from the streets of Brazil, Cuba, the Balkans, and New Orleans. In 2012, the Atlantic Brass Quintet partnered with kerPlunk Dance to present a unique dance and brass piece entitled “Music in Motion.” You can watch selections of the piece in the video below:


I think The Boston Globe put it best of the Atlantic Brass Quintet: “They kick butt.” I'm looking forward most to hearing one of my favorite pieces, Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, which also happens to be an audience favorite for the group. For anyone thinking about attending the Symposium, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Atlantic Brass Quintet live! I certainly can’t wait to see what the group comes up with for their performance at the Summer Symposium!

Click here to learn more and to register for the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha, held June 23-28, 2014 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Published in Stories
Monday, April 21, 2014

Why Kids Need Camp?

Why should students and directors attend the Music for All Summer Symposium this June? Check out the infographic from MFA Summer Symposium Marching Band Division Coordinator, Jeff Young of Dynamic Marching, and see the ways that camp can be life changing!
Published in Stories
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Parent/Booster Institute

The Music for All Parent/Booster Institute

Join Us in 2016

2016 Music for All Summer Symposium
Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
June 27 - July 2, 2016 • Leadership Weekend June 25-26

Who should attend?

Everyone responsible for and/or interested in the success of your program and music education in your school and community, including Booster officers, executive committees and committee and fundraising/program chairs; teachers, instructors, boosters looking to help make their organization stronger; music education students looking to learn more. Small or large programs, strong or weak, urban, suburban or rural, developing, emerging or new programs…we promise value and valuable information for everyone.

More about the Parent/Booster Institute:

Parent-Booster1For more than 35 years, the Music for All Summer Symposium has provided a safe and exhilarating environment for learning and personal growth.  It’s the perfect setting for booster programs, officers and parents to learn and be inspired to pursue success.  It’s America’s Camp, and now, once again, its opening its arms and extending support to an essential element of successful music programs, - the parent/booster. A great deal of information, networking and planning opportunities will be packed in to a one-day learning commitment from you.  

When  – Friday, June 26, 2015 (Plan to arrive by 8:30 a.m. or choose to come a day earlier to network, experience the evening concert and portions of the student camp. Sessions will end at 5:00 p.m. Pricing includes meals, concerts and activities through end of the student Symposium – 3:00 p.m. Saturday)

Where – Ball State University, Muncie, IN (part of the June 22-27, 2015 Music for All Summer Symposium for students, teachers and instructors)

How Much –  $119/person (pricing includes tuition, the Booster Institute Work (and resource) Book, four meals - from lunch on Friday through Family Day Picnic on Saturday, admission to the Thursday evening feature concert, and special Director Viewing seating to Friday’s DCI-Central Indiana show, featuring the 2013 DCI World Champion Carolina Crown - MFA’s Summer Symposium Corps in Residence.  Programs that register four or more persons can use the Group Discount Rate of $99/person.  Housing is not included.  Dormitory or local hotel housing is available at an additional cost.

Your students deserve the best, - from themselves, their teachers and instructors, their school and community, and most importantly, – from you.  See you in Muncie, for the extraordinary student-focused environment that is the Music for All Summer Symposium!

Download Flyer


Published in Summer Camp

The marching band track of the 2014 Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha, has the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps in residence this summer! This unique opportunity allows students to rehearse and perform with the Carolina Crown in a Drum Corps International show. Marching next to these outstanding performers, the students attain an unforgettable experience. Check out this video from 2012 of the Summer Symposium marching band students performing with the Carolina Crown at Ball State University.

Not only do these students receive an incredible opportunity to march with the Carolina Crown, but they also learn important fundamentals involved in creating a high level performance. This includes creating balanced sound at all dynamic levels, developing a uniform marching look, cleaning drill, adding visual effect and fostering the student leadership necessary for a successful marching band. To see what the students and members of the Carolina Crown had to say about their experience together, check out this great video produced by Drum Corps International.

You don't want to miss out on this incredible experience! So SAVE THE DATES for the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha: June 23-28, 2014 and for the Leadership Weekend Experience: June 21-23.



Published in Stories


The Music for All Summer Symposium brings students from all over the nation to participate in a weeklong band camp for band and orchestra students. One division of the Summer Symposium is the Color Guard. Developed for students who love to perform and want to perform at a high-level, students work with some of the best educators in the world in a curriculum that includes advance extensive and intensive color guard instruction and technique.

Not only does this program provide an amazing experience because of the quality curriculum but also because of the energetic and dedicated instructors that make the camp fun. Displaying their love of performance during the 2013 Summer Symposium, the color guard faculty put together a flash mob in the unique "scramble light" intersection on the Ball State campus.

The next Summer Symposium is June 23-28, 2014 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Learn more: Color Guard at the MFA Summer Symposium 

Do you have a favorite flash mob featuring a band or color guard video? Share it with us in the comments!




Cristina Talucci is a marketing media and administrative assistant for the fall season at Music for All. Graduating from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business through the marketing, entrepreneurship, and Kelley Honors programs in 2012, Cristina has always been heavily involved in nonprofit. She has previously interned at the Monroe County Humane Association and the Institute of International Education and was president of Phi Chi Theta, Zeta Eta. She played flute in all of the North Plainfield High School bands and the Indiana University Concert Band and participated in the North Plainfield High School Winter Guard.

Published in Stories

Today's guest post is from our 2012 Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster Award Winner - PJ Littleton from Franklin, Tennessee. Learn more about the Parent/Booster Award here.


Everything I ever needed to know, I learned at Band Camp.

"Let me leave you with this piece of advice: Set your goals high because it is very likely that you will achieve them. Make sure that whatever you aspire to do with your life (and it won't be marching band) that it is noble and worthy of the time and investment that you will make in it. If you compromise this, I promise you that in the end you will feel empty and disappointed for not challenging yourself to be all that your potential would have allowed. Don't let this happen.  You are better than this. Give your life away for something good!"

I sat restlessly fidgeting in my seat in the Creative Arts Center Concert Hall at West Virginia University while these words were being spoken from the dimly lit stage by then Director of Bands, the legendary Don Wilcox. I just wanted to get outside, learn drill, play my horn. Hey, it was the first day of Band Camp. This was no time for a long lecture. Let's get on the field and do this!

Our "Chief" knew better.

Funny how thirty-four years later I have long since forgotten my dots in the drill, but these wise words still resonate deep within my core and have helped guide and shape me as a man, as a husband and as a father. This is just one of many lessons I learned while buzzing my pursed lips behind a mouthpiece.

Today you can find me in Franklin, Tennessee, straddling myself between two bands, The Hillsboro Middle School Band and The Franklin High School Band where I respectively serve as Band Booster President and VP of Fundraising. These days have become the days of my life as I aim to apply everything I learned from being in the band so long ago, now for the betterment of not only my two band kids but for the other 339 kids that I love.

Honestly, I'm tired. Really tired. I am sitting in the back row of the balcony of the fabulous restored Franklin Theatre right now, my face aglow from my iPad, listening to FHS alum and daughter of Vince Gill, Jenny Gill perform for a Franklin Football fundraising music event called "Punt, Pass and Pick.” Jenny just spoke of how much it meant to her attending Franklin High where she kept so busy with cheerleading et al that she was able to stay out of trouble and make great memories of her time in school. Some of our current Franklin Band set the tone tonight, kicking off the evening lining the aisles with spirited Rebel music to energize the crowd as they so ably do!

It's been mentioned more than once between songs how laudable it is that our Franklin parents care enough about their children to go to such great lengths to provide the very best experiences for them. We have been able to establish an inspirational and cooperative culture that will nourish not only the football program tonight but the equally admired (and respected) band program as well. This is a rare and wonderful thing--we are so blessed that we can boast of this.

The 45 graduated seniors from last season's BOA Jacksonville Regional Champions and Grand Nationals semi-finalist Franklin Band collectively received in excess of $5.6 million dollars in scholarship funds. This is an average of $125,000 per musician scholar! I contend that they too may have learned a few things at Band Camp as they now embark on the next season of their young lives.

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Core Value #1 at The Franklin Band is Community -- "The community in which we live and our own community within Franklin High School shape who we are and in return, we shape it." I witnessed community at its finest tonight as I sat next to a fellow band booster executive board member as he shared band challenges and victories with a football booster standing behind him, listening with mutual appreciation, admiration and respect.

These are some of the things that I learned about life at Band Camp and this is indeed all I ever needed to know. And you know Mr. Wilcox, as it turns out, it was all about marching band for me after all!

"The only ones among you that will really be happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." -- Albert Schweitzer


- PJ Littleton


We thank PJ for his perspective, the Franklin community is lucky to have such a great advocate! To learn more about PJ, read his 2012 Parent/Booster award story. Know an amazing advocate of your music program? Learn more about the Patrick John Hughes Parent/Booster award and how to nominate someone here.

Published in Stories
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