More often than not, when you ask someone what makes Music for All special, they talk about the people, and we couldn’t agree more. “People” is one of Music for All’s core values and we are incredibly fortunate to have many committed supporters of our mission to create, provide, and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. We hope that our new Donor Spotlight series will introduce you to some of these incredible advocates of Music for All as they share their stories of Music for All’s impact on them and why there were compelled to pay it forward to ensure that others feel that impact as well.
How did you become involved with Music for All?
I was a participant as a drum major my senior year of high school. It was the first year in our school’s history that our band performed at BOA events. We performed at the St. Louis Super Regional and Atlanta Super Regional that fall. I got reengaged with MFA during the Fall of 2015 as the assistant band director of a program that participated in fall events. In Summer of 2016 I became a SWAG for Summer Symposium and have enjoyed that role each summer since. In March 2017, I attended my first National Festival with our Wind Ensemble students. After building relationships with many of the amazing MFA staff, I began helping on the Events and Participant Relations teams, now regularly assisting at Fall events, Festival, Tournament of Roses, and Summer Symposium. I also enjoy serving on the Advocacy in Action committee, as I get to have amazing conversations about the trend-setters in the music education profession. There is an incredible amount of creativity among music educators!
What attracted you to the cause?
Hands down, the mission and the people. There is an amazing ‘energy’ around everyone at a MFA event. Every person affiliated with MFA is mission minded and focused on the experience. I have taken much of the “vibe” from a MFA event and used it to guide my work as I create experiences for students and families at the school level.
What is your favorite Music for All memory?
There are too many to describe…but if I had to pick one, I’d say watching nervous campers become confident in their leadership over the week at Summer Symposium is always the best. Many kids “find themselves” at camp…because they get to BE themselves.
What impact has music education had on your life?
Music education has impacted almost every aspect of my life. My mom took me to my first trumpet lesson on February 1, 1996. I still remember the room upstairs in the music store. That lesson teacher inspired me from day 1 to love the process of making music. My junior high and high school band directors taught me the value of supporting and defending music education. I married my high school sweetheart, who I met through band. College revealed the network we have in our country to amplify music education. I learned a lot about the value of music education on our society through my work with my collegiate chapter of Phi Mu Alpha, Sinfonia and NAfME Collegiate. Now, as a school administrator, I find myself using many skills learned in my music classes and coursework – leadership, patience, attention to the smallest details, teamwork, listening, communication with varied stakeholders…the list goes on and on – in my daily work with the full school population and supporting teachers and parents.
What does Music for All’s mission mean to you?
The word that I take from the mission is ‘experience’. Everything in life is an experience and I want to ensure that my interactions with others, as well as the experience they are having holistically, are enjoyable and positive, for them. My personal gratification comes from observing others enjoy the experience.
What compelled you to be a donor?
My wife and I value donating, both financially and through service, with organizations that are meaningful to us. MFA is at the top of our list. Our donations to MFA became amplified when we saw we could make a difference in a child’s experience at summer camp. Our focus started with helping get kids to camp, as we feel Summer Symposium is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences that could change the entire trajectory for a student.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that Music for All does?
I feel the most important work that MFA does is when it is centered on the student experience. Without students, we don’t have music classes. Without music classes, we don’t have music directors. And, without those students, MFA would no longer be needed in the capacity it serves. MFA does a lot of things REALLY well, but when the students and their experiences are front and center, I see MFA staff and programming reach new heights.
What do you wish people knew about Music for All?
I wish people FULLY understood that MFA is working, relentlessly, to better diversify its programming by adding more opportunities for all types of music education while working to reach those communities that have a higher need for advocacy and support.
Do you have an anecdote/story about Music for All or a Music for All event that really moved you?
After working on Event staff at the Bowling Green, OH Regional in Fall 2018, a few of us headed to Waffle House to get a late night snack. There was a teenage boy in a band shirt sitting at the table next to us and we began a conversation with him and his parents about the regional. The kid, Max, was a sophomore and that regional was his first MFA event – he loved every second of it. I told them about Summer Symposium and percussion track. Fast forward to summer…While working registration at the percussion track table, Max’s mom says, “You may not remember us, but we met you at Waffle House in Bowling Green and you told us about this camp.” I had one of those, “is this really happening?” moments as we registered Max for camp. Max enjoyed the ‘best week of the summer’ as he honed his snare drum skills and grew his leadership skills. It was awesome seeing Max, a nervous 10th grader at Waffle House, enjoy every second of camp that summer. Max is now a section leader for his high school program. I guess the anecdote is – Informing people of the opportunities MFA provides is often times the tipping point for them to have the experience. People can’t experience what they don’t know about. But, once they know, if it matters to them, they will make it a reality in their life.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating?
Do it. When we donate to MFA, we give based on the trust and knowledge that our donation is going to support music students and advocacy across our nation.