Music for All National Festival presented by YAMAHA
Middle School National Music Festival
Concert bands and percussion ensembles

Application Information

2009 marked the premiere of the Middle School National Music Festival, part of the Music for All National Festival, presented by Yamaha. In 2007 and 2008, Music for All invited several middle school concert bands to participate in the Music for All National Festival as honor bands. In 2009 the Festival featured a middle school stage for invited concert bands, percussion ensembles and orchestras, selected by recorded audition and application.

"The Music for All National Festival is unique in that no other music festival can provide such a life-changing experience for students and directors alike through so many different rewarding music-education activities at one non-competitive event," says Mr. Richard Crain, coordinator of the National Concert Band Festival and on the Midwest Clinic board of directors. "Having worked at the festival for all of its 17 years, I have been privileged to observe many excited bands and conductors leave their concerts with a special feeling of pride and accomplishment and a renewed desire to improve and excel."

Middle school ensembles attending the Music for All National Festival can expect an exhilarating and educationally rewarding experience! Students have the opportunity to participate in a master class with a noted professional performer on the instrument they play and also have the opportunity to listen to other middle school and high school bands, orchestras and percussion ensembles from all over the nation perform. Ensembles will be evaluated in a non-competitive environment, receive a post-concert clinic, a student social and dance, opening session and Gala Awards Banquet for the middle school participants. Directors who have participated in the Festival tell us how they have been inspired by the experience to take their bands to a new level of excellence.

"The inclusion of middle school ensembles into the Music for All weekend is a tremendous incentive, providing a new musical challenge without the pressure of trying to achieve a 'rating,'" says Mr. Ray Cramer, MFA Festival evaluator and Midwest Clinic board member. "A performance at this national event would validate to students, parents and school administrators the importance of musical achievement through goal setting and the motivation to excellence."

Each ensemble performs as part of a four-band block, and each ensemble has assigned audience time, creating a positive environment for students as performers and listeners. Since the competition is completed when the bands are selected through a recorded audition for a panel of renowned music educators, the bands can concentrate on giving their best performance in a non-competitive atmosphere.

The Waller Junior High School band was one of four bands invited to perform at the debut Middle School National Music Festival in 2009. "This experience was not only beneficial to my students but myself as well," says director Greg McCutcheon. "Being a young director and inexperienced as far as invitational events [like the Midwest Clinic] go, I feel that I have grown up and can be ready for any challenge now. As for my students, this is something they will never forget. About half of my band had never been outside of Texas prior to this event. This was the first time several of them had ever flown on a plane. Staying in a hotel of such caliber as the Omni really opened my students' eyes and let them see things they never saw before.

"I think the most positive aspect of the festival was the actual performance," says McCutcheon. "To be on that stage at such a venue was an honor and a privilege that my students really enjoyed. I also think the opening session was extremely important and well done. This experience plays such an integral role in a student's musical life. They really worked their tails off and performed well. I think after my students attended this event, many of them realized how much they really do enjoy band, as well as why they enjoy band!" Bailey Middle School, TX, performed as an honor invited band at the Festival. Bruce Dinkins is director of bands at James Bowie High School in Austin, Texas, which Bailey feeds into. "From my experience of the students from that program who came to me as freshmen in my program, I can tell you there was a marked difference in musical maturity and professionalism," says Dinkins. "They have a sense of understanding why they were doing what they were doing. Having sat through the opening session motivational workshop, that's just the beginning for a young kid who's in seventh or eighth grade. They are so impressionable at that time in their lives. I feel that by experiencing the Music for All National Festival, the seeds of excellence are planted earlier."