Music for All is proud to partner with concert band festivals across the country to present “Affiliate Regional Concert Band Festivals.”

This new initiative is part of our ongoing support of the essential “core” of every band program: the concert band. Music for All will provide one National Concert Band Festival evaluator to participate, as well as student and teacher scholarships to the Music for All Summer Symposium.

We spoke with Chicagoland Invitational Concert Band Festival Coordinator, Scott Casagrande, about the event, and what it means to partner with Music for All.  Mr. Casagrande is the Director of Bands at John Hersey H.S., and an educational consultant for Music for All.

Scott Casagrande picWhy did you decide to host an Affiliate Regional Concert Band Festival?

It’s a win-win for everyone involved. MFA lends its considerable resources to our festival, improving the educational experience for every student and band program involved. Music for All fulfills their mission statement to support music education in any way they are able and they extend their “brand” to students and programs that might be unfamiliar with them.

How many groups are performing, are they all from around your area?

There are 39 bands and app. 2400 students participating in this year’s festival. Most are from the Chicago area, but some are coming from the St. Louis area, as well as the Quad Cities on the Iowa border. 

Have you presented something similar to this in the past? If so, how is hosting this festival different?

This is the 14th year of the Chicagoland Band Festival and the 2nd year that MFA has been directly involved. The format of the festival, when it was originally established, was based on the MFA National Concert Band Festival so the format of the festival really hasn’t changed. The biggest difference I have seen is more exposure due to publicity, as well as interest from band programs because of the respect that MFA demands in our band world.

How have your parents and students been engaged in helping plan and prepare for the festival?

Every student in the band program volunteers 3-4 hours of time and 90% of our families provide at least one parent to volunteer. Our festival steering committee has been meeting monthly since the beginning of the school year. 

Who will be evaluators for your festival?

Prof. John Casagrande
George Mason University, Emeritus

Mr. David Morrison
Prospect High School, Retired

Mr. Don Shupe
Libertyville High School, Retired

Mr. Dallas Niermeyer
John Hersey High School, retired

Dr. Michael Fansler
Western Illinois University

Mr. John Thomson
New Trier High School, Retired

Mr. Dan Farris
Northwestern University

Mr. Richard Floyd
University Inter-Scholastic League, TX, retired
Music for All Clinician

Dr. Barry Houser
University of Illinois

Prof. James Keene
University of Illinois, Emeritus

Mr. Gary Markham
Music Coordinator, Cobb County School District, GA, retired

Dr. Mallory Thompson
Northwestern University

What criteria did you use to select them? 

These are some of the most respected musicians and educators in the United States and the main reason that so many bands participate in our festival.

How much are tickets? Are there still more tickets available?  

Yes. Tickets are $8. 

Any special performances planned?

Elmhurst College Wind Ensemble 

What has been your past involvement with Music for All/ BOA?

Our Symphonic Band has participated in four National Concert Band Festivals and I have been personally involved with the National Concert Band Festival as a band host or participant in all but 2 years since it’s inception in 1992. I am currently an Educational Consultant for Music for All.

How many volunteers does it take to run a festival like this?  

We have about 200 student and volunteer positions that are filled over the course of the weekend.  

How did you recruit them?  

Blood, Sweat and Tears from the steering committee!

How long have you been teaching at John Hersey H.S.?  

This is my 15th year at Hersey and 25th year of teaching.

What is your favorite part of teaching?

Making music with students and providing “life-changing” opportunities…….. (to use a familiar phrase)

Proudest moment as an educator?  

Watching so many of my students continue to perform in college, as well as so many of them continuing on to be music educators.

Keys to a successful career in music education?  

To quote one of my heros, Mr. Ted Lega retired band director from Joliet Central HS:  “Perseverance and drive………”


The Chicagoland Invitational Concert Band Festival will be held on Saturday, April 12, at John Hersey H.S. in Arlington, IL. For more information please visit