Category Archives: promotingyourmusicprogram

Though the benefits of music education have been widely documented and study after study continues to affirm these benefits, funding and respect for music education continues to be on the ropes. A bit of savvy marketing could be all it takes to not only rescue our programs, or to preventatively inoculate our music programs against cuts, but to ensure that they thrive for generations to come. In this podcast, we’ll talk to the most fascinating music educators and people in the field about the things we can do to market music education in our own communities. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.

Note: this podcast was originally called Promoting Your Music Program. As of January 2015, the new name is Marketing Music Education.

MME Army Field Band twitter

United States Army Field Band


On this episode of the Marketing Music Education podcast, I speak with Colonel Jim R. Keene, Master Sergeant Jason Stephens, and Staff Sergeant Heidi Ackerman of The United States Army Field Band. We discuss the group’s mission, where they fit in among the Army’s many other music ensembles, handling stress and burnout, and much more. In particular, we talk about their use of social media (especially live streaming) to achieve their goals, and how YOU can use it to achieve your music program’s goals!

Colonel Jim R. Keene

Army Field Band COL Jim R KeeneColonel Jim R. Keene became the Commander of The United States Army Field Band in January 2015. Prior to this assignment, he served as Commander of the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, New York; Commandant of the Army School of Music at Norfolk, Virginia; and at The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” in Washington, DC, the U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Army Ground Forces Band in Atlanta, Georgia.

COL Keene has led numerous performances for international military and civilian leaders, dignitaries, and heads of state. During his time as Commander of the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, he led performances for the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, co-directed the music for A&E’s and the National Park Service’s “A New Birth of Freedom” special for the 150th commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg, and a one-hour music special holiday production by the West Point Band aired on Fox News, “A West Point Holiday.” COL Keene led The U.S. Army Chorus in performances at the interments of former Presidents Ronald Reagan in Simi Valley, California, and Gerald R. Ford in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has performed for seven U.S. presidents, at the 1996 Summer Olympic and Para-Olympic Games in Atlanta, the dedication of the National WWII Memorial, the one-year anniversary of 9/11 at the Pentagon, the “Kennedy Center Honors,” and the Military District of Washington’s production, “Spirit of America.” He has worked with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and Chorus and the National Symphony Orchestra, and has conducted the Dallas Wind Symphony, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic.

Prior to joining the Army, COL Keene served as Assistant Conductor of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Symphony, Orchestra Conductor at the SMU International Conservatory Summer Festival in Taos, New Mexico, and Music Director of the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera. He holds a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of New Mexico. He is a violinist, fiddler, pianist, accompanist, and songwriter, and is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Master Sergeant Jason Stephens

Army Field Band MSG Jason StephensMaster Sergeant Jason Stephens earned a Master of Arts degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of South Florida. He served in the 392nd Army Band. MSG Stephens has worked as a middle school band director, tuba player for Walt Disney World, and adjunct professor of Tuba at Troy State University. He currently serves as the Educational Activities Coordinator for The U.S. Army Field Band.

Staff Sergeant Heidi Ackerman

Army Field Band SSG Heidi AckermanStaff Sergeant Heidi Ackerman received a Master of Music degree from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. She debuted with the Phoenix Symphony in 2011 singing Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and enjoyed three seasons as a professional chorister with Arizona Opera. Before joining The U.S. Army Field Band, SSG Ackerman sang with the Cantos de Taos at the Taos Opera Institute, conducted church and community choirs, taught junior high music, and sang professionally throughout the greater Phoenix area.


Links & resources mentioned in this episode with the United States Army Field Band

U.S. Army All-American Bowl

US Army Field Band All American MarchingBand-NoBackground-207x300

Military Band Funding

“If we really had a manning crisis, from my perspective, we would really tell people to put down the tuba and pick up a wrench or a gun.”
— Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.


Congresswoman to Air Force: Put down the tuba, pick up a gun

Congresswoman calls for cuts to military music. by Anne Midgette

Politico: Gov’t Bands Face Chopping Block by College Marching

The Pentagon’s battle of the bands by Ellen Mitchell
Music in the military is a storied tradition, but some lawmakers say $437 million in yearly spending is too much.

U.S. HOUSE New National March: “The Stars and Stripes ForNever” by Daniel W. Boothe

NAfME Opposes McSally Amendment to Cut Military Band Funding


Continue Military Bands Funding via We the People

Continue Military Bands Funding via

MME Glenn Nierman twitter

NAfME President Glenn Nierman


Glenn Nierman is the current president of the National Association for Music Education. A blog post was published alleging that NAfME CEO Michael Butera made controversial comments about race and diversity at a recent event hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts. That’s when Dr. Nierman found himself near the eye of a public relations firestorm.

burn nafme card

Halftime Magazine has a great recap of the timeline of events here.

Dr. Nierman was kind enough to join me Friday afternoon to talk about the week’s turn of events, and what comes next for NAfME. Here’s what we discussed.

MME Glenn Nierman twitter

Questions for NAfME president Glenn Nierman

How are board members selected?

How can NAfME’s current policies be adjusted to encourage increased diversity?

What was the selection process for the new CEO? Why was interim leadership not appointed?

What kind of experience does new CEO Michael Blakeslee have with diversity?

Where do the issues with diversity in music education begin? Are we not recruiting diverse students into music ed to begin with?

What would you tell people about what happened this week and what comes next?

How can music educators nationwide help increase diversity?


Ready to discuss?

So were we. Check out this Blab roundtable featuring Matthew Stultz of Together We Can, Olin Hannum of the AMusEd podcast, Bruce Faske of the Get Some Grit podcast, and via chat, Scott Lang of Scott Lang Leadership.


About NAfME President Glenn Nierman

glenn nierman NAfMEGlenn E. Nierman, NAfME President for 2014-2016, is currently a member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music faculty. He teaches graduate classes in research and curriculum development, as well as a non-major popular music guitar class. His public school teaching experience includes work with middle school general music and choir, as well as high school band and orchestra. Glenn, a Past President of NAfME’s North Central Division and a Past President of the Nebraska Music Educators Association (NMEA), also served his state as the Chairperson of College/University Affairs and Chairperson of the Coalition for Music Education, the advocacy arm of NMEA. In these positions, he organized the state’s first Music Mentor Program for beginning music educators and helped to draft legislation debated before the Nebraska Legislature’s Education Committee to promote the need for standards in the arts.

Dr. Nierman has authored many journal articles, made numerous presentations at NAFME Conferences, and given addresses at World Congresses of the International Society of Music Education (ISME) around the world. He has authored chapters in NAFME’s Benchmarks in Action and Spotlight on Assessment publications. Honors and awards include recognition for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching and receipt of the Steinhart Distinguished Endowed Professorship in Music Education. He holds a B.M. in Music Education from Washburn University (Kansas), and M.M. and D.M.E. degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Read Glenn Nierman’s resume.

Thanks to fellow podcaster Jason Heath for the recent shoutout on his blog! Find his podcast at

Now you can support the show on Patreon! Learn how it works here:

MME blab diversity

NAfME & Diversity: Let’s talk about it


There has been a stunning turn of events in the world of music education this week, and they concern diversity. The National Association for Music Education has replaced their CEO after allegations of possibly racist statements made at a NEA event.

Join me tomorrow, May 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time as I host my first Blab to discuss what happened, why, and where we go from here.

MME blab diversity

If you can’t be there in person, leave me a 90-second voicemail here, or share an mp3 file with me. You can also leave me your thoughts here in the comments or on social media, and I’ll be glad to read them.

Jeff Grogan, 2017 MFA Honor Orchestra of America conductor

Jeff Grogan

Photo credit Fred Stucker

Read the full article about Jeff Grogan I wrote for the Music for All Orchestra America Newsletter here. Learn more about the Orchestra America National Festival here, and how students can apply to work with Jeff Grogan as a member of the 2017 Honor Orchestra of America here.

Don’t forget: subscribe here on Google Playhere on iTunes, or here on Stitcher to get each episode as soon as it’s available!

Jeff Grogan serves as conductor and artistic director of the InterSchool Orchestras of New York as well as the Greater Newark Youth Orchestras and music director and conductor of the New Jersey Youth Symphony. He is in his sixth season as the education and community engagement conductor for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, where he leads the NJSO in a variety of concerts each season.

In addition, he spends a large portion of each season working with school music programs, festivals, and conducting All State Orchestras throughout the country. Prior to his appointment with the NJSO, Grogan was director of orchestras and associate professor at the Ithaca College School of Music. Grogan was previously on faculty at the University of Michigan and Baylor University. He taught public school in the Desoto (Texas) Independent School District. Grogan is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and the University of Michigan.


Resources from my conversation with Jeff Grogan

InterSchool Orchestras of New York

Greater Newark Youth Orchestras

New Jersey Youth Symphony

Orchestra You at the New Jersey Symphony

NPR’s coverage of Orchestra You

Get Some Grit podcast with Bruce Faske:
Episode 16 – Spring Break? Or Spring Repair?

John Gallagher NYSSMA

Dr. John Gallagher of NYSSMA


I first found Dr. John Gallagher and NYSSMA on Twitter a couple of years ago. They linked to something called a “Swiss cheese” press release. I clicked the link and found not only a treasure trove of templates for public relations—all tailored specifically for music education programs—but tumbled down a deep rabbit hole of online resources all designed to help you market music education right in your own community.

I’m so glad John was able to join me on the podcast! Here are a few of the topics we touch on in this episode:

  • What is a “Swiss Cheese” news release?
  • What’s the best way to advocate for your program?
  • The importance of engaging your community
  • How to get your music program covered by local news outlets
  • Lessons from failed attempts to organize a booster group
  • The legality of using students’ images to promote your music program
  • Great advice from a retired superintendent to battle burnout
  • A few “out-of-the-box” fundraiser ideas
  • The one thing that John says will improve your music program


John Gallagher NYSSMA perform


Resources from this episode

NYSSMA Swiss cheese news releases

NYSSMA on Twitter

Email Dr. Gallagher

Why Music? PSAs for Music in Our Schools Month from NAfME

Continue reading

MFA Middle School Band Camp


MFA MS band campIn this episode, I speak with Greg Scapillato and Keith Ozsvath. They’re the coordinators of the brand new MFA middle school track at the 2016 Music For All Summer Symposium.

We’ll talk about how Keith and Greg met and where their careers have taken them. We discuss the challenges they face as middle school band directors, like recruiting, retention and burnout. They also share why they saw a need for a camp like the MFA middle school camp, as well as their approach to designing the event from scratch.

To learn more, listen in. Then click here to sign up to get more information as it’s available, and check out this feature article here.

Band Directors Facebook Group


About this week’s guests

keith ozsvath headshotKeith Ozsvath
is passionate about teaching music, professional development, and integrating technology. He joined the music faculty at Rotolo Middle School in Batavia, Illinois, in 2000 and teaches the 8th Grade Band, Jazz Ensemble, and the Symphonic Band. Mr. Ozsvath is an active adjudicator and clinician in the Chicago area. He is a member of the American School Band Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, been recognized twice by “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” and is an Eagle Scout. He has been an Illinois Summer Youth Music conductor at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Additionally, he has presented sessions at the National Middle School Association Conference, Illinois Music Educators All-State Conference, and at VanderCook College of Music. Keith currently teaches two VanderCook MECA classes: Tech Tools for the Music Educator and an online class, You Made This! Website Design & Creation for Music Educators. Mr. Ozsvath also authors a blog,, which provides practical teaching ideas for music educators.


greg scapillato sq cropGreg Scapillato teaches band in Northbrook District 28 (IL), conducting the Wind Ensemble and teaching lessons grades 4-8. Mr. Scapillato strives to create meaningful musical experiences for students in his care. While teaching the Beginning Band, he introduced a demonstration concert designed to improve parent investment and engagement. The NBJH Wind Ensemble, under Mr. Scapillato’s direction, has benefitted from special performance opportunities, including joint concerts with professional ensembles and service-based performances such as the local Veterans’ Day Ceremony. Mr. Scapillato also initiated a biennial alumni concert to connect students to those with a life-long love of music performance. In addition to music-related pursuits, Mr. Scapillato enjoys developing his expertise with technology and its integration to accelerate student learning. Success is not a solo adventure: Mr. Scapillato is grateful for supportive colleagues, friends, and family. He calls Arlington Heights, Illinois, home with his wife, son, and an incorrigible Golden Retriever.

More with Richard Crain of Midwest Clinic


In this episode of the Marketing Music Education podcast, I continue my talk with Richard Crain of the Midwest Clinic. We discuss why marching band is so big in Texas and why it’s so important for band directors to continue to hone their craft, plus the biggest lessons he’s learned over the course of his teaching career.

This is the second of two episodes with Richard Crain; find the first half of our conversation here! Continue reading

MME Richard Crain twitter

Richard Crain of the Midwest Clinic


In this episode of the Marketing Music Education podcast, I talk with Richard Crain of the Midwest Clinic. He gives us an overview of the event, including who should attend and what to expect. We discuss the importance of professional development for music educators, especially as it relates to burnout and teacher turnover. We discuss his experience with volunteers, fundraising, and what he feels the most important discipline in the entire curriculum might be (hint: it’s music!)

This is the first of two episodes with Richard Crain; be sure to tune in next time for more! Continue reading

MME Eric Martin 2

Eric Martin, CEO of Music for All: Part 2


This episode of the Marketing Music Education podcast is the second half of my conversation with Eric Martin of Music for All. Listen to part 1 here.

In the second installment, we discuss Music for All’s ticket pricing, and how Eric and his team strive to deliver a “‘Disney-like’ experience on a Mickey Mouse budget.” We cover how local music programs can implement ideas from Music for All and other sources, and how to tell if you’re stealing an idea, or just researching it. We discuss Eric’s leadership style and talk about who’s influenced him. We delve into funding for music education, including fundraising and sponsorship, and go deeper into the importance of music education advocacy at the local level. Finally, Eric shares the advice he’d give the parent of a potential incoming music student, the advice he’d give your music program, and the very best way he knows how to market music education. Continue reading

Eric Martin MFA MME

Eric Martin, CEO of Music for All: Part 1


In this episode of the Marketing Music Education podcast, I sat down with Eric Martin of Music for All. He’s one of my favorite people to talk to, and we covered a lot: enough for two episodes! Listen to the second episode here.

In this first installment, we talk about his experience as an African-American band student in a recently desegregated school, his love of the marching arts, his background as an aviation lawyer and how he got into event production. We also discuss the importance of music education and the power of music—and live events—in our society, and why Sarah Palin is a role model of his. We also touch on burnout and its effects not just on music educators, but on nonprofit staffers like those at Music for All and like the parent volunteers that power music programs like yours. Continue reading