The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog

Check out the photos from Summer Symposium Day 1! (Day 3 for our awesome Leadership students!)


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Published in Stories

Cavaliers HL1 11

One of the coolest experiences we offer our campers at Summer Symposium every year is the corps-in-residence, and for the first time since 2008, we are excited to welcome back The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps to camp!

With the Drum Corps International season underway, we are very grateful for The Cavaliers to be able to stop at camp for a few days in the middle of their national tour. Starting on Wednesday, they will be working with the Marching Band, Color Guard, Percussion and Directors tracks. The corps’ staff will be holding clinics for each track, which will include numerous “show and tell” opportunities by the corps’ members that feature segments of their 2013 field production.

Speaking of their 2013 show, what’s it all about? The program is titled “Secret Society” (watch their announcement video here!) and takes a mysterious approach with the members starting the show dressed in hooded black robes. The musical sections include a great mix of both original and arranged compositions from contemporary composers Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino and John Mackey.

Of course one of the most exciting things the campers will be looking forward to is the DCI Central Indiana competition that will be occurring Friday night at Ball State’s Schuemann Stadium. Music for All has partnered up with DCI to allow all of the campers to attend the show as spectators. Six other DCI World Class corps will be joining The Cavaliers in what looks to be a fun evening of fantastic drum corps performances.

The fun doesn’t stop there, though! The highlight of the week for students in the Marching Band track occurs at the end of the DCI show when they will join The Cavaliers in an encore performance. Earlier in the week, the students will be learning a segment of music and drill from the corps’ show, and they will then perform alongside The Cavaliers on Friday night. Additionally, students from the Marching Percussion track (as well as instructors in the Percussion Specialist Academy) will join The Cavaliers’ drumline to play a cadence that will bring the drum majors from all corps onto the field for the awards ceremony. If you are in attendance at this show, these are two special performances you won’t want to miss!

We are once again very thankful for The Cavaliers to be our corps-in-residence, are excited to work with them, and can’t wait for them to provide life-changing experiences for our campers!



David Foth is very happy to return to Music for All as the Summer Events Intern after serving as the Fall Events Intern in 2012. Originally from the east coast, David grew up in Connecticut and attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he graduated from in 2012 with a degree in Sport Management. David has many years of experience as a performer in the marching arts activity, which includes time with his high school band, the UMass Minuteman Marching Band (formerly under the direction of Music for All Hall of Famer George N. Parks), the Connecticut Hurricanes Drum & Bugle Corps and the Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps.

Published in Stories
Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time to start packing for camp!

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It’s just about time to dust off the suitcases, grab some sunblock and start packing for camp!

Personally, I cannot survive without my lists. I cannot even begin to tell you how many lists I have made in preparation for camp. But one of the most important lists in my opinion is a packing list!

Not only do we use packing lists at Music for All to help make sure all event related supplies get loaded to the truck and make their way to camp, but I’m also an advocate of a packing list when I’m packing for myself to get to camp! By the time the night before camp rolls around, my brain is so full of my to-do lists, I HAVE to have that packing list to make sure everything makes it into my suitcase. How else would I make sure I remember to pack every MFA polo I own, my hair dryer and my phone charger?

So in celebration of my love of lists and the Music for All Summer Symposium, I am compiling yet another packing list. This time, it’s for you!

There are seven student tracks- and each track has some varying “needs” for what to bring.  So first I’ll give you the overall- what EVERYONE should bring list. And then I’ll give you additional lists for track specific items!

So here we go!

Summer Symposium Packing List

  • Comfortable Clothes for your whole camp stay (no time for laundry-so pack enough!)
  • Light jacket/ sweatshirt for cool weather
  • Backpack
  • Rain gear in case of inclement weather
  • Personal Toiletries
    •     Shampoo
    •     Conditioner   
    •     Soap
    •     Toothbrush
    •     Toothpaste
    •     Deodorant
  • Sunscreen (this is very important- DON’T FORGET IT)
  • Water bottle
  • Alarm Clock
  • Pens/ Pencils
  • Notebook
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Blanket (sheets, pillow and pillowcases are provided, but you may want a blanket as the dorm rooms are fairly cool in the evening)
  • An awesome attitude
  • Lip balm


Leadership Weekend Packing List
Leadership Weekend students will have several sessions outside- so make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • Comfortable clothes
  • Tennis Shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Notebook (there will be a lot of sessions in which you are encouraged to take notes- don’t forget this!)

Drum Major Institute Packing List
Make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • Twirling baton or mace if you wish to have instruction. Bring a stick or mace equivalent to 44” long
  • Appropriate conducting baton, if desired
  • Musical score for current or previous year, if available
  • Comfortable clothes (shorts & Tshirts- you will be outside for a majority of your time at camp)
  • Lace-up athletic shoes with proper arch support for all practices (NO SANDALS ALLOWED)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen

Marching Packing List
Make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • Your marching instrument (in good working condition, please mark your name, address and school marked on the case)
  • A fold-up music stand marked with your name, address and school. This is required of ALL marching band members
  • Any necessary supplies or accessories, such as reeds, neck straps, valve oil, etc
  • Comfortable clothes (shorts & Tshirts- you will be outside for a majority of your time at camp)
  • Lace-up athletic shoes with proper arch support for all practices
  • Athletic (or thick) socks
  • Khaki shorts for DCI show and Final Performances
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen

Jazz Packing List
Make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • Your instrument (please mark your name, address and school marked on the case)
  • Any necessary supplies or accessories, such as reeds, neck straps, valve oil, etc
  • Comfortable clothes (shorts, jeans & shirts- you will be in air conditioning for the majority of the day)
  • Performance Attire (blue jeans, white button down shirt, tie and black shoes)
  • Guitar and Bass students: You do NOT need amplifiers (they will be provided), but please bring a cable to connect your instrument to the amplifier- cables will NOT be available for you to use,  but the Muncie Music Center will be on campus should you need to purchase one
  • Jazz Drum Set: A drum set will be provided, but please bring your own sticks, brushes, a practice pad and cymbals (hi-hat, crash, ride)

Concert Band Packing List
Make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • Your instrument (please mark your name, address and school marked on the case)
  • A fold-up music stand marked with your name, address and school.
  • Any necessary supplies or accessories, such as reeds, neck straps, valve oil, etc
  • Comfortable clothes (shorts, jeans & shirts- you will be in air conditioning for the majority of the day)
  • Performance Attire (Girls- long black skirt (below the knee) or slacks with a white blouse and black shoes. Boys- black pants, white shirt, dark colored tie, black socks and black shoes)

Concert Percussion Packing List
Make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • Concert sticks
  • Keyboard mallets for orchestra bells
  • Xylophone, vibes, marimba and timpani mallets
  • Practice pad
  • Hand towel for a stand cover
  • A tuning key
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle with clip
  • Beater(s)
  • Woodblock
  • If you do not own any of the items listed above, please try to borrow them from your school. LABEL ALL PERSONAL ITEMS!
  • Performance Attire (Girls- long black skirt (below the knee) or slacks with a white blouse and black shoes. Boys- black pants, white shirt, dark colored tie, black socks and black shoes)

Marching Percussion Packing List
Make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • Your instrument & carrier marked with your name, address and school
  • Bring stadium hardware and carriers if possible
  • Sticks/ Mallets (extra pair if possible)
  • Tuning key- a high tension key if you own one
  • Practice pad
  • Hand towel for a stand cover
  • White stick tape
  • Lace-up athletic shoes
  • Sunglasses/hat
  • Backpack
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Khaki shorts for the DCI show and Final Performance

Orchestra Packing List
Make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • Your instrument
  • Bow, rosin, mute, music stand, shoulder rest (for violin and viola players)- clearly label your equipment with your name, address and school.
  • Extra strings
  • Cello/Bass Students: bring your rock stops
  • Comfortable clothes (shorts, jeans & shirts- you will be in air conditioning for the majority of the day)
  • Final Performance attire: Concert Black
  • Girls: long black skirt (below the knee) or slacks are acceptable, white blouse and black shoes
  • Boys: dark suit, white shirt, tie, black socks and black shoes

Color Guard Packing List
Make sure you follow this track specific packing list IN ADDITION to the full Summer Symposium packing list above.

  • You are encourages to bring ALL THREE pieces of equipment: Flagpole, rifle and/or sabre
  • Multiple equipment students should bring their equipment in a simple equipment or flag bag- please mark each piece of equipment with your name, address and school
  • Most weapons are acceptable. Rifles must range from 36-39” and should be taped. White is the preferred color and straps are optional. Sabres vary based on experience, but most band supply company sabres are in range of 36-39”. Metal or plastic hilt will be accepted for use. All weapon students may want to bring an additional weapon to Symposium in case of any breakage.
  • It is REQUIRED that ALL students (including weapons) bring a flagpole (6 feet in height). Students should bring two solid colored silks(NOT show or performance flags) with the following size dimensions: 35’’x 50’’ (min) or 35’’x 60’’ (max). If you do not have two silks with these dimensions, please try and stay closer to 35”x 50”. One flag will be your primary practice flag for the week and the other will be available to use in case of inclement weather.
  • TWO 1” carriage bolts(found at local hardware store, 1-2” in length) to weight your flagpole. Your flagpole needs to be weighted, as students WILL BE tossing throughout the week. If your poles are already properly weighted, please bring extras if possible.
  • It is recommended that all students bring white and black electrical tape in case of any needed repairs.

Color Guard Appropriate Items (Please bring)

  • Athletic shorts
  • T-shirts/tops
  • Warm-up suits/outside dancewear
  • Hats/headbands/scarves
  • Small towel
  • Sunglasses and SUNSCREEN
  • Water bottle
  • 2 pairs of lace-up tennis shoes with proper arch support
  • Dance sneakers
  • Layers are recommended with the possibility of extreme weather
  • Sports bras/swimwear (ONLY allowed if worn under t-shirts)
  • Final Performances: bring dark (black, dark gray, dark blue) shorts, white top or t-shirt, and tennis shoes

Color Guard Inappropriate Items (Don't Bring)

  • Boxer/spandex/short shorts
  • Halter/tube Tops
  • Sports bras/swimwear (not unless worn under shirt)
  • Flip Flops/Sandals
  • Dance shoes (we are outside most of the week


Did I miss anything? If you have any recommendations of items that should not be forgotten, leave a comment. We will see everyone in just a few days for a week of postively life-changing experiences!






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.

Published in Stories

Mindi horiztonal

Mindi Abair is no stranger to being in the spotlight. She has performed with artists as diverse as American Idol winner Phillip Phillips, Aerosmith and Josh Groban. And this Tuesday, she will be blowing up the stage at Emens Auditorium at Ball State University as part of the Music for All Summer Symposium Concert Series.
Mindi started playing the saxophone as many do, in elementary school. Traveling with her father as he played sax in a band influenced her to pick it up on the day of instrument. It wasn’t an easy path from that fourth grade music class to playing on the American Idol stage with Phillip Phillips, but she always believed that if you love what you’re doing and you try hard, you will succeed.
Hear all about it from Mindi herself:
Mindi’s latest album, a collaboration with fellow saxophonists Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, hit #1 on the Best Sellers for Jazz before it was released on June 11. If you want some cool tunes to help you beat the heat, check it out.
See more of Mindi’s amazing performances on her YouTube channel:
Mindi Abair

Not only does Mindi have a passion for performance, but she also serves the musical community as President of the Los Angeles chapter of NARAS, the company that puts on the Grammys. According to her website, Mindi will “preside over all chapter meetings and guide the board's work with charities like MusiCares and educational music work with kids through the Grammy Foundation as well as advocacy efforts in Washington DC and decisions about the membership and governance of the Grammys.”

We are excited to have Mindi with us at the Summer Symposium! If you are a student or director enrolled in camp we will being seeing you for this concert on Tuesday evening! If you arn't enrolled in camp this year, don't worry, this concert is open to the public! Tickets are $15 for Adults (reserved balcony seating) and $5 for Students/Seniors. Children 10 and under are free. Click here for more information on tickets and how to order!


Rachel McFadden is currently the Participant Relations Coordinator at Music for All and is thrilled to get back to her band nerd roots after so many years of trying to "blend in." She has a degree in Communication Studies from Manchester University and has previously held such varied jobs as Copywriter, Arts and Crafts Director and Aeronaut. Summer Symposium is her favorite Music for All event.

Published in Stories

Today's guest post is from Fran Kick, professional speaker, author and division head of the Leadership Weekend Experience at the Music for All Summer Symposium presented by Yamaha.

family Day blog photo 1

Admittedly, a summer camp experience for some kids serves as a temporary separation from home and family. It's a chance to briefly be on your own and experience a taste of "dealing with the world" in a developmentally appropriate way. Having worked with a variety of summer camps – from Boy Scout camps to Girl Scout camps, collegiate camps to cabin camps, church camps to band camps – I can personally attest to Music for All having one of the finest music summer camp programs in the country!

Not just because of the spectacular staff, the high-calibre clinicians, the first-class concerts and super SWAG Team volunteers. But more uniquely than other camps, the welcoming and closing activities Music for All intentionally creates for parents. You see many camps are a "dump and run" proposition for both parents and kids. Yet Music for All understands their mission to reach beyond students and directors to parents and communities. For one week, we strive to create a kind of community that cares about everyone involved. Bringing parents in on both the beginning and ending of Symposium significantly ties together the experience for students and their families. Plus, it provides a bridge from home, to what we do at Ball State, to back home again – where ideally the lessons learned at camp are brought to life the rest of the year.

When more people in a student's life are "in on that process," the more impactful the inspiration and instruction they receive becomes – long term. That's why as a fellow parent (with a daughter who's also attending the 2013 Summer Symposium) I want to sincerely encourage every parent who can make the roadtrip to attend the first day and the last day of this year's camp experience. I promise both days will be inspiring. To see 1,000+ students, performers and teachers launch one of the largest summer camps in America is a sight to see. Plus, you'll get to have an exclusive sneak peek into "how we do what we do" following the opening session. Consider it a behind the scenes chance to find out how Music for All brings its mission to life.

drum circle 4 blogThen plan on coming back Saturday morning. We'll buy you breakfast, share a bit about how YOU can "be in on making the magic last longer back home," and share some constructive ideas on how students tend to decompress after such an intense camp experience. You'll get to see and hear final performances and concerts as well as participate in our family picnic – where anyone and everyone can take part in a drum-circle team-building leadership hands-on experience. (No previous drum skills required!)


Please do join us Monday and Saturday at the 2013 Music for All Summer Symposium so we can KICK IT IN!

Fran Kick

Read more about Parent and Family Activities

Download Flyer for Parent and Family Activities at Camp

Reserve your spot online


Published in Stories
Thursday, June 13, 2013

Directors' Academy: It's worth it!

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As an avid fan of the Music for All blog, (we know everyone currently reading is a subscriber. No? Well what are you waiting for?) you probably know all about the Directors’ Academy and what is has to offer.

But JUST in case you don’t know about the sessions offered at Summer Symposium FOR DIRECTORS- I’m going to tell you about it. (And even if you think you know, humor me and read this post? It helps my self-esteem when my work gets read; my ego thanks you in advance.)

First of all, the Summer Symposium really is an amazing opportunity. It brings you the absolute best to provide a comprehensive experience. It truly is a TOTAL experience, with something for every band director: high school and middle school, from the most experienced to the younger teacher at the start of his or her career. Music for All offers tools that will allow you to achieve peak performance for your ensembles and yourself. The Symposium is the place to get a head start on next year’s thinking. It’s a place to make connections, get new ideas and learn new strategies.

At the Music for All Summer Symposium Directors’ Academy, you get: SAM 9730
• Control of your own experience
• The Cavaliers in Residence
• Peer-to-Peer Networking
• Professional Development
• Dream Team Faculty
• Great Facilities
• One-on-one directors’ lounge: personal consultation with the masters
• Universal Pedagogy for Schools Small and Large, Suburban, Rural and Urban
• Nightly concerts
• An opportunity to play in the Directors’ Band
• And everyone’s favorite part: Director Socials in the evening!

Now I realize that everything I just told you is a very general overview and you are probably still reading this and thinking, “But WHAT will I really be learning in sessions at camp? Is it worth it?”

Well, I can tell you that we have directors from all different backgrounds and school sizes who come back to camp year after year. And if those directors were sitting across from you today they would all absolutely tell you it’s worth it.

But don’t take it from me- hear it from those directors themselves!


We know sometimes it’s hard to make a case for attending a workshop/convention/camp without first knowing exactly what sessions will be available. Maybe you are looking to brush up on new technology, talk with someone about your marching band show design, or just looking for a chance to play your instrument and hear new music coming out in the next year. Well, we understand that completely! Here's the full, tentative schedule of sessions for the 2013 Directors' Academy!

So check out what sessions will be offered- there’s bound to be several that interest you!

You can also watch a collection of featured Directors’ sessions on the MusicforAlltv YouTube channel: 

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Don’t forget- if you are a Color Guard or Percussion Instructor, there are specialized tracks within the Directors’ Academy for you!

Read more about the Percussion Specialist Academy

Read more about the Color Guard Instructor Academy


So make sure you register today and I'll see you in Muncie in just a few weeks. Make sure you stop by headquarters and say hi and tell me about your camp experience!




Erin Fortune is the Marketing Coordinator 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.


Published in Stories

If you are a band director, orchestra director or percussion ensemble director who is considering applying for the 2014 Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha, don't forget that applications and audition recordings must be received by June 5, 2013.

We hope by now you know everything you need to know about why you should apply to be a part of the Music for All National Festival, but if you don't, here are some highlights to consider:
What IS the Music for All National Festival?
Vestavia Hills Copy
The MFA National Festival is an invigorating gathering of outstanding high school and middle school concert bands, orchestras and percussion ensembles from across America. Once invited, by recorded audition, the "competition" is completed – the Festival itself is non-competitive, with no rankings or ratings. Instead, the focus is on performing for peers and for the evaluator panel of esteemed conductors and clinicians.
What are the Highlights of the Music for All National Festival?
  • Recorded and Written evaluation: All who apply receive recorded and written evaluation from the listening panel, making the audition process itself an educational resource.

  • A national stage: High School and Middle Schools concert bands, orchestras and percussion ensembles from all over the country are invited to apply to be a part of the Festival.

  • Expanded opportunities for concert bands: The National Concert Band Festival will now include two stages (opportunities) for high school bands- "Featured Bands"" on the Honors Stage at Clowes and "Invited Bands" on the Festival Stage at the new Howard L. Schrott Center for the Performing Arts, both at Butler University. Read more about these NEW exciting opportunities here.
  • A non-competitive experience: without the worry of ratings or rankings, directors are free to explore and stretch themselves, and students can enjoy music-making without the pressure of competition.

  • Concert Performances and Clinics: Each ensemble performs a concert before a knowledgable audience, including the Festival evaluation panel, music educators and fellow band and orchestra members. Ensemble directors will receive recorded and written comments from evaluators and input on their conducting as well. Following the peformance, each ensemble will have a clinic providing even more educational opportunties.

  • Master Classes: All students participate in instrumental master classes, led by top applied faculty and professional musicians. 

  • Social Events for Students and Directors: The Festival social gives students the chance to relax, have fun and get to know students from other programs across the country. The director and evaluator reception and hospitality opportunities offer networking and informal interaction with colleagues, guest artists and icons of music education.

  • Gala Awards Banquet: The "black-tie-optional" banquet for students, directors, parents, staff and evaluators culminates the Festival with first-class standards that distinguish the Music for All National Festival. The formal banquet with over 2,000 guests is sure to be unforgettable for you, your students, parents and supporters.

  • Clowes-StageWorld-Class Venues and Facilities: Featured Bands perform at Clowes Memorial Hall and Invited Bands at the new Howard L. Schrott Center for the Performing Arts, both on the Butler University campus. Percussion ensembles perform at Warren Performing Arts Center and Orchestras at Hilbert Circle Theatre, home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
  • DVD & CD Package: Each student member and director gets a recording package of their concert, including professionaly-produced video on DVD and audio on CD.

  • Ensemble Hosts: Each invited ensemble will be assigned a "host" to help guide you through the Festival weekend and is committed to ensuring that you have the best possible experience before and during the Festival. Hosts are familiar with, and in most cases have had an ensemble perform at, the Festival.

  • Opportunities for Additional Ensembles: Many groups want to travel with all of the students in their school's band program and Music for All provides educational options to allow as many of your instrumental music students as possible to participate. Directors can choose to submit audition applications for multiple bands from one school for the Featured Band and/or Invited Band stages. Selected bands from both stages can choose to bring additional ensembles- concert bands, percussion ensembles, or orchestras- to participate in additional opportunities during the Festival.

Do you still feel like you don't have a complete picture of the Music for All National Festival? Watch the video below and hear from the directors and students from Vero Beach H.S. in Vero Beach, Flordia as they experienced the Music for All National Festival for the first time!
Don't miss this opportunity! The 2014 Festival will take place March 6-8 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Send your ensemble audition materials now!
Published in News
Thursday, May 09, 2013

Teacher Appreciation

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While I hope most teachers feel appreciated every day of the year, there’s nothing like a “holiday” to make us really think about why we appreciate someone. With this week being Teacher Appreciation Week I have been doing a lot of thinking about teachers in my life who have given so selflessly to their profession and have had a true passion for educating their students. I have been blessed with having so many remarkable teachers and mentors throughout my life. Grade school through college there have been several teachers who left their mark, but the one who I really want to thank today is my music teacher.

I went to a fairly small school, where my music teacher was with me from Kindergarten until I graduated High School. Thirteen years certainly helped grow a relationship with my teacher, Ms. O’Neil, but even if she had only been my teacher for one year I know she would have made an impact. Through the help of my music teacher, I realized my passion for music at a very young age. Her enthusiasm for music, and her confidence in me as a performer really shaped the way I viewed myself as a child. Throughout school I ALWAYS had a place where I felt I belonged and that was in music class, and then once I hit Junior High, in the choir room.

Ms. O'Neil gave (and is still giving at Yale Public Schools in Yale, Michigan) so tiresly to her students. I will never forget each year hearing about the choir seniors graduating and Ms. O'Neil sharing a beautiful inspiring story with that particular class and giving them a pearl and telling them how unique and special they were. Every year I watched that beautiful end of the year "ceremony" and I couldn't wait until I was a senior. And then that moment came.. and I was sitting in first hour choir, in a circle of the other Senior choir students and Ms. O'Neil and she told the story yet again that was so familiar to me.

It was the story about the man walking along the sand, and trying so hard to throw each starfish he came across that had washed up to the shore back into the ocean. Another man walks up to him and says, what are you doing? There are so many and you can't possibly throw each one back in, you will never make a difference. But the man keeps going, and throws yet another starfish back in and says "it made a difference to that one."

That story that Ms. O'Neil told every year really epitomises to me what she was always all about...and what so many teachers live for. She worked so hard all of the time, because she knew, even if it was just one student at a time...she could make a difference.

Well, I'm fairly certain that Ms. O'Neil has made a difference in so many lives of the students she has taught..not only teaching them about music, but helping each one of us to be a better person. I know I AM a better person from having known her. Ms. O'Neil if you are reading this, I still have and cherish that pearl you gave me on my last day in your class, and the last time I was home, I saw that my brother, who had graduated four years before me, still had his. Thank you for inspiring my passion for music...and for teaching me that I can make a difference, and even if it's just one starfish... I made a difference for that one.

Yesterday when I was thinking about writing this blog and sharing MY story about the special teacher in my life, I knew that there had to be others in the Music for All office who also had stories of teachers who inspired them. I was so happy to read about so many more amazing stories about inspiring teachers that I just had to share those as well.

TeacherAppreWeekWEDNESDAY 1“Mr. Philip Shepherd was my high school band director (1977-81). I went to an average sized high school (about 1,000 9-12, I think), in a smallish town (about 7,000) in Eastern Kentucky. What is amazing to me looking back is that he instilled in us not just a belief that we could accomplish anything but a real sense of connection at the deepest level to the music and to the highest level of music-making. He had high expectations and it never occurred to us that we weren't going to meet those expectations. I follow the careers of my fellow band mates from that time and see that they are contributing at the highest levels in their chosen professions and I have no doubt that part of that is due to having the privilege of being a student of Mr. Shepherd.”
- Debbie Laferty-Asbill, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

"Though I have had the pleasure of learning from and working with many remarkable educators in my lifetime, I'd specifically like to celebrate my high school band directors, Mr. Charles M. Smith and Dr. Terry Magee.  They are both selfless advocates of music education in our schools and deserve consistent recognition for their commitment to excellence. The time I spent as a student at Lafayette H.S. in Lexington, KY under their direction had a huge impact on who I am as a leader and professional today. I know that I am not the first or last person to acknowledge their efforts and want to personally thank them for being such valuable assets to the 'Pride of the Bluegrass!'"
- Molly Miller, Event Coordinator

"Even after many years of education and hundreds of teachers, the most impactful remains my elementary music teacher, Mrs. Mason. After looking forward to music class each week in third grade, I was entranced by Mrs. Mason’s piano playing and begged my parents to buy a piano. Mrs. Mason’s passion for music was contagious, and after starting lessons, I was hooked. Her compassion for students and high standards of success both propelled my interest in music and improved my work ethic in subjects beyond music. After succumbing to cancer while I was in high school, her legacy of inspiring young students through music for over 40 years solidified my belief in music education and music in our schools. Because music remains a cornerstone of who I am, Mrs. Mason’s legacy lives on."
- Seth Williams, Development Coordinator

TeacherAppreWeekTHURSDAY“I am blessed to have crossed paths with a number of amazing, inspiring educators, from a cross country coach who kindled my love for my sport and a physics teacher whose “Socratic Method” of teaching helped me discover how much of an investigative thinker I am at heart, to a college professor who taught me as much about broadcast media as he did about persevering through life’s challenges through faith. It certainly takes a special kind of heart to fill the role of a teacher, and I feel so thankful for all the people in our nation who double as amazing educators and amazing human beings.

Undoubtedly, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if it wasn’t for a certain color guard instructor of mine. When I met him, I felt like a very little person trying to break into the very big world of drum corps. Under his leadership, I learned how to focus my energy, refine my skills, and after five spectacular seasons have blossomed into an extremely confident performer and person. What impacted me the most is that he continually challenged me to challenge myself, showing he was confident in me and my talents and never letting me think otherwise. It really is true that when you hold someone to higher standards, they WILL go beyond their original expectations of themselves to achieve them. A heartfelt thanks to Ryan Miller, as well as to all our other teachers who set out on a daily basis to change the lives of students!“
- Carolyn Tobin, Marketing Intern

"Thank you Frank Herzog! My 8th grade history teacher who inspired and rewarded intellectual curiosity. The quote posted on our classroom wall: "in this room, ignorance is not bliss" "
- Nancy Carlson, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

For every story of an inspiring teacher we have here in the Music for All office, we know there are millions more out there in the world. So share it with us. Çomment with a story here on this post. Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter. Send that amazing teacher a note, to tell them just how much they meant to you. Spend a few minutes thinking about what an incredible job they did. Just celebrate these wonderful teachers in some way.

To all of the teachers who personally touched MY life. Thank you.

To all of the teachers who touched the lives of my coworkers and made them the extraordinary people they are today. Thank you.

To all of the very special band and orchestra directors I have had the pleasure of getting to know through my work at Music for All. Thank you.

To all of the music teachers of all of the students our organization has ever touched. Thank you.

And to all teachers out there in the world, the ones I know and the ones I don’t have the pleasure of knowing: Music, Math, Science, English, History, Art, Health, Physical Education, Technology…  no matter what you teach, you are appreciated. Thank you for sharing your passion and for being there each day for your students.

Thank you, from the bottoms of our hearts, for giving all that you can to your students, for working late, for spending your extra money on something for your classroom because your school budget doesn’t cover it, for being someone your students can talk to, rely on and learn from. You really do make a difference. You really do shape and mold young people to be the best they can possibly be.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week.





Erin Fortune is the Marketing Coordinator 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.


Published in Stories

Today's guest post is from CJ Longabaugh, Assistant Director of Bands at Blue Valley West High School in Kansas. CJ was a part of the Collegiate/Young Teacher division of the Music for All Summer Symposium the summer before his very first teaching job! Our many thanks to CJ for sharing some thoughts on his experience and why he recommends others to take part in the Summer Symposium as well! 

CJ LongabaughAccepting my first teaching position was probably one of the scariest moments of my life. I immediately began questioning my ability to understand the logistics of the position, effectively managing parents and administration, and successfully teaching students so they have the most musical experiences in high school band. Reflecting on my first years of teaching at Blue Valley West High School, I can honestly say with complete confidence that attending the MFA Summer Symposium has set me up to be the most successful first year teacher I could be for several reasons. Below are some things that I gained by attending the symposium just months before I began teaching.
I connected with students. In June 2011 I drove a school van of high school students to the MFA Summer Symposium. Surrounding myself with our leadership team before band camp allowed me to connect with students on so many levels. I was able to learn their about personalities and strengths while showing them how passionate I am with helping them actualize their potential as musicians and leaders. Before band camp even started, I knew 13 students that trusted me as their teacher, and that helped me build strong relationships with all of my students.
I learned from the best. Music for All hires the best band directors in the country to conduct clinics and sessions that cover a wide variety of topics: fundamental techniques, conducting clinics, marching show production and design, instrument-specific pedagogy, round table discussions, one-on-one sessions, the list goes on! These expert teachers give insight to the real world of education in the public schools. I specifically remember sitting down with David McGrath in a “one-on-one” session to discuss teaching the “second” band. David gave me more advice and resources in one hour than I ever received in college. Before stepping into my first real classroom, I was able to pick the brain of an extremely successful band teacher who understands how to effectively teach in the modern day band room. His advice allowed me to enjoy the successes I had in the first years of teaching.
I networked. I was fortunate to meet so many young, enthusiastic music teachers from all around the country while at the Summer Symposium. After the symposium ended, several of us became “friended”  through many different types of social media. I am able to keep tabs on other band teachers that are going through the same things I am at Blue Valley West. It’s great to hear about new music, performance opportunities, and teaching methods just from reading the newsfeed. The “band director” friends I follow are my current and future colleagues. I could possibly work with one of these colleagues in the future…or maybe one of them helps me get a new job. Either way, networking allows you to build relationships in the intimate music community.
The summer before you begin teaching is the perfect opportunity to set yourself to make the most out of your first year. You are able to connect with your future students, work with the best music educators in the country, and network on a national level with other terrific music educators.


As CJ explains, the Collegiate/ Young Teacher division is a great way to start your career and set yourself up for success! The best part is that you get to participate in the Director's Track, but at a discounted price! If you want to read more about this incredible value, check out the Collegiate/Young Teacher division page on the Music for All website.

Published in Stories

Today's guest post is from Nicole Presley, a Music for All Summer Symposium SWAG (if you do not know what a SWAG is, read more here) and former Summer Symposium student division participant. Thank you Nicole for sharing your story with us!


It’s funny how even though I’m still a full-time student sitting in class for hours upon hours for thirty weeks of the year, attempting to learn as much as I can, I learn the most during ten days at the end of June. I don’t sit in a classroom for those ten days. I don’t have a textbook to read. Sometimes I can’t even take notes. But I know for a fact that it’s for those ten days at the Music for All Summer Symposium that I learn the most.


NicolePhoto1For four out of the past five summers I’ve attended the Summer Symposium; once as a camper and three times as a SWAG. Between the campers, the Music for All staff, the clinicians, and the other SWAGS, I feel as though I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the most beautiful people that walk this earth.


When I’m talking about camp I find myself saying things like, “It’s just the best.” If you’ve been to the Symposium, you know: sometimes it’s hard to put a finger on just what makes it so overwhelmingly great. I’ve come to realize that the people are what make it “the best.” I learn so much more than just music from the people I interact with at camp.


In December of 2011, I was coming back from a four month long study abroad trip in Spain and once I was back in the States my connecting flight home was cancelled. I would have been stranded in the airport overnight if it hadn’t been for a SWAG who came to save me even though it was a school night and she was already in her pajamas.


Last summer at camp I was a little sick and lost my voice almost completely for the majority of the week. Every day there was one camper who, no matter how terrible I sounded or how hard I was to understand, would say, “You’re sounding much better today, Nicole,” with a sympathetic smile on his face.


The SWAG Team shouted “Happy Birthday” at me on my birthday, sending me into silent fits of laughter (it’s really hard to laugh when you have no voice!) at seven o’clock in the morning.


On the last day of camp last summer, one of the SWAGs who has been SWAGging for so much longer than me, who I admire incredibly, told me how proud he was of me and the person I was becoming.


From them I’ve learned that friendship means going far out of your way to help someone in a time of need, no matter how big or how small; that a smile and a little understanding can go a long way; that laughter really is the best medicine; and that being a mentor means letting someone know that they’re doing at least a little bit of the right thing. They’ve taught me that I want to be more like them.



Sometimes in my head I hear George Parks saying: “Raise your hand as high as you can. Now raise it two inches higher. That’s what wrong with your lives!"


When it comes down to it, I think that’s one of the biggest things that I try to take away from the Symposium each year. I hear it said in sessions with clinicians and I see it carried out in the actions of the people around me.


Give as much as you can give, and then give more.


-Nicole Presley


Published in Stories