This is the sixteenth installment of a new series that will highlight the Music for All staff members who work behind-the-scenes to make all of the positively life-changing experiences happen! Get to know each of our amazing staff members, as we learn more about who they are and what they do at Music for All. A new post will be featured every week!
Name/Job Title: Erin Fortune/Marketing Manager
Hometown: Yale, Michigan (if you could see me right now I’m holding up my hand map, and showing you it’s in the thumb!)
How long have you been with Music for All?
8 magical years on August 23rd!
What is your favorite event at Music for All and why?
This is tough. I truly do love all of our events and here’s why:
BOA Marching Season: I really love traveling all over the country. I get to see so many directors and students from all over, I get to hang out with our AMAZING event staff that volunteer their time with us on weekends, I get to spend a ton of time on the road with my work friends who are like another family to me. I love it. I’m in my element when I’m on the road with Music for All.
Festival: It’s such a classy event. Everyone is dressed up, and it’s polished and professional, and I love that. I love seeing students both making, but also enjoying music at a really high level.
Camp: It’s so much fun! Because of the length of camp, I have much more time to really get out there and see sessions, and interact with directors and students; and that’s awesome. We do A LOT of video at camp and that’s honestly one of my favorite parts of my job.
BOA Honor Band in the Rose Parade®: I’ve been lucky enough to be able to be one of the staff members who travels with this group, for both the 2013 and 2017 bands. In 2013 I went as an event coordinator helping our event team with logistics. In 2017 I got to do what I love, and did extensive interviews and video work. It’s such a cool trip because, hello California, but also to see the growth in students during that trip…to see them come together as one band, and form these friendships – it’s incredible. I hope I’m lucky enough to be able to go on the 2021 trip because it’s such a unique experience and I love every minute of it. Also, In & Out Burger.
What has been your favorite part of working at Music for All?
This is the easiest question anyone could ever ask me. It’s the relationships I’ve formed.
Music for All staff, past and present have become a second family to me. I love them in a way I have a very hard time explaining to people who don’t do this type of work.
I’ve also been able to meet other amazing people from all over the country who volunteer their time to join us in 23-hour days, to put on marching band competitions, or to go to band camp – simply because they believe in the mission. There are SO MANY of these people who I’ve become close to in the eight years I’ve been at Music for All. I again think of them as my extended family.
In addition to that, there are music educators who I’ve met from all across the country who have become my friends even outside of the work that we do through Music for All and BOA.
Then there are students and their parents that I end up forming special bonds with because of how often I see some of them, or because I worked with them on a particular project. Being here for the length of time I have been now there are students who I remember lining up as Drum Majors my first two years at Music for All and now they are college graduates or will soon be. As much as this makes me feel like I’m getting old, it’s a really cool thing to see. Some of them have even come to work at Music for All as interns and they too, have become great friends.
I don’t know if I could go anywhere else and have all of these deep connections with people that all happened through my work here. I love it, and that is part of what keeps me here when the days get long and the “work” seems never-ending.
Do you have a favorite memory of working an event with Music for All?
I have SO many memories. But here’s just two quick ones.
1. I have a photo at my desk, of my very first Super Regional championship with Music for All. It’s a photo of Laura Blake (our Director of Events), Me, Larry Harper, Jr (Seasonal Event Coordinator at that time), and Ashley Rogers (my very first intern!) and we have strips of field tape all over our pant legs. This was at St. Louis, and that year there was only one Texas band…and there weren’t Texas hash marks on the field. So in the short time between bands, we had to run our on the field (both times they performed) and lay down these hash marks, but do it really fast, hence the pre-cut tape that was prepped and ready on our legs. At this time, I didn’t even know what a hash mark was three months prior…so it’s a memory that makes me smile every time I see that photo.
2. I have a selfie collage currently on one of the cabinets on my desk that I see every day, of me with a few of the members of the 2017 BOA Honor Band in the Rose Parade. For this trip I worked on a special documentary project, and these members were chosen by video submission to be subjects for the project. During the trip, we chatted SO MUCH, as we talked every single day, sometimes multiple times a day about their experience and what was going on. I had such a great time, and every single one of them are amazing young adults. I can’t wait to see what they do in the future. It’s another little display in my office that reminds me of why I love my job when I’m having a tough day.
I also have a selfie collage in another place in my office, with event staff, Music for All full-time staff, band directors, clinicians, Eric Whitacre, John Mackey, etc. that I’ve met through Music for All. Selfies are kind of my thing. I used to get teased about it by my co-workers, but now people seek me out, for the selfies…so now I just embrace it as part of me.
What is your musical background?
Well I think I’ve fooled quite a few people over the years because I believe in the “fake it until you make it” adage…but I was never in band!
I was however, in choir. I LOVED choir… and went to a fairly small, rural school so my choir director, Ms. Oneil, was actually one of my general music teachers since Kindergarten through elementary school. From there, I of course chose choir as my elective and was with her from 6th grade until I graduated high school. Proud to say when I graduated I received an award for being the top vocal student of my class! I’d say I cherish that distinction more than any other I received that year. I’m 100% sure Ms. Oneil contributed to why I am so passionate about music and music education, and without her, I would certainly not be where I am right now.
I also played piano for a little while, though I didn’t practice as much as I should have (sorry, Mr. Willenburg!!) But I can still play a few things without music, so I’ve retained what I did learn!
And then I dabble in guitar once every three months haha, but struggle to nail the F chord. One day I’ll take lessons again.
One thing you couldn’t live without?
I’m sure this is cliché since you’re reading this profile about me on the Music for All website…but music! I can’t imagine my life without it.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I listen to a little bit of everything and it depends on what mood I’m in. But I MOST OFTEN listen to acoustic singer-songwriter type music. Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, Joshua Radin, Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Damien Rice-you get the idea. I also have a deep love for Jimmy Eat World and the Goo Goo Dolls that just never ends. And then of course the Hamilton, Come from Away, and Dear Evan Hansen original Broadway cast recordings are on repeat, constantly.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I karaoke as much as possible. It’s fun, it’s social, and singing is a release for me…so when someone asks me if I want to go, the answer is yes 9 times out of 10. I also like to travel, I specifically like to use any airline points I have to book trips to NYC to see Broadway shows.
What are you currently reading?
This year I have a goal to read at least 26 books. I’m also focusing on some professional development by reading on how to be a better manager. I’m in the middle of three different books right now. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, Bridging the Soft Skills Gap by Bruce Tulgan, and for fun I’m reading A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones Book #2!!)
Do you have a favorite quote?
I’m an unapologetic lover of inspirational quotes…so yes, yes I do.
This week’s quote is: “You can anything. But you can’t do everything.” That one is supposed to help me to remember to not take on too much because you can probably guess from everything else I’ve told you, I’m a little type A.
One of my all time favorite quotes is:
“It is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Dumbledore (I may also be a Harry Potter nerd… #SlytherinForLife)
What’s a show you’ve binge watched recently?
I’m currently binge-watching season three of Madame Secretary.
Favorite movie not many people have seen?
Earlier this year when I was recovering from tonsil surgery I rented the remake of Annie, with Quvenzhane Wallis, Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx. I became OBSESSED with that movie and had to buy it, I watched it five times that week, and then even ordered the DVD to put in my mom’s Mother’s Day gift box because I wanted her to see it too. I wouldn’t say it’s my all-time favorite movie, but I’m pretty into it right now