Today a dedicated group of leaders came together. Either through self-selection or by appointment, these students have been tasked with the mantle of leadership in their music programs back home.

My daughter is one of them. There’s a reason for that.

Every year, I load my minivan with as many music students as I can to attend the Music for All Summer Symposium. That’s because I know that Music for All brings together the best people—students, directors, teachers and clinicians—for a week every summer for an experience that is, for lack of a more perfect phrase, positively life-changing.

My first glimpse of it was as a Bands of America staff member, in my first real job after I graduated from college in 1995. I worked on staff long enough to know that:

  1. This organization was the real deal.
  2. If I ever had kids, I’d make sure they attended this camp.

Over twenty years later, Music for All is somehow even more real, more impactful, than it has ever been. I did have kids, and they’ve both attended the Music for All Summer Symposium multiple times.

Here’s why: music is the best medium I know to teach kids how to be amazing human beings. The Summer Symposium condenses the absolute best of that experience into one week every summer. The Leadership Experience crystallizes that even further, expecting more of these leaders, and preparing them to take on whatever life throws at them.

As Doug Droste pointed out to the leadership students tonight, “It’s actually an example of life.” The music classroom is a microcosm of the world we live in, and music prepares students to handle it with aplomb. Music students learn to work hard, dedicate themselves to hone their craft, develop teamwork, and perform in the service of one another and the community around them.

The Summer Symposium, specifically the Leadership Weekend Experience, challenges my students to be good, to do good. That’s why they keep coming back.

That’s why I keep coming back.