Visit the 2011 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

Welcome to the 2011 Music for All Summer Symposium! I’m Kristin Conrad, Senior Marketing Coordinator at Music for All. I will be writing throughout the week to keep you informed about the activities your students will be participating in at this year’s Summer Symposium. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to be in two places at once, although I wish I could since the participants will be involved in so many different events and activities. But, I’ll do my best to keep you in the loop throughout the week and help provide a window to the Symposium experience. You’ll also see posts from other MFA staff members this week as they attend sessions and experience camp.

If you followed the Symposium blog last year, you may remember it was my second year. This is my third year at Symposium, and it’s great to be back. This year, we’re in a new location – Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Ball State University is a wonderful place to be, and we’re excited to spend the week on campus.

The MFA staff moved into our headquarters earlier this week, and we’ve been hard at work ever since. Team SWAG is also on site, working hard already to help provide a positively life-changing experience for your students. The heart and soul of the Summer Symposium, Team SWAG, is a volunteer group of dedicated college students, graduate students, band directors, and others interested in music education. These enthusiastic individuals spend the week helping fulfill the vast and varied logistical needs to ensure that the Summer Symposium runs smoothly and that all our participants have a positive experience. The Summer Symposium could not be held without Team SWAG.

Today, the morning started out in a flurry of activity as Leadership Weekend Registration opened at 8 a.m. in Park Hall. It was wonderful to see all the participants chatting and milling around the lobby while looking over the weekend schedules and materials.

After registration, it was time for the Leadership Weekend Experience Opening Session, in which participants had a chance to meet Norm Ruebling, Camp Director of the Music for All Summer Symposium; Eric Martin, Music for All’s CEO; Jamie Weaver, Camp Director of our wonderful volunteer SWAG Team; and Erin Bergland, head of our on-site nurses. Then Leadership Division Coordinator Fran Kick presented a session that provided helpful tips for the weekend (or week ahead for full week campers).

After Opening Session and some lunch, the weekend sessions began. I was lucky enough to have time this afternoon to attend one of Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser’s sessions. Admittedly, I was a bit tired and kind of hitting an afternoon wall around the time the session began. I’ve heard Dr. Lautzenheiser speak previously, but I’m still always amazed at how I feel when I leave his sessions. After his session, I was instantly re-energized and felt wonderful! That’s how powerful his message is – it truly motivates you to be a leader and in his words, “give up giving up.”

I took away several thoughts from this session, and I’m sure your students did as well. One idea that really struck me was, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” The room full of energetic students was instantly quiet after Dr. Lautzenheiser said this. It’s an interesting thought – what would you do?

Another point that really resonated for me was, “If it comes between being right and being kind, be kind.” It got me thinking about something Dr. Lautzenheiser said previously – “Maturity is the ability to understand how your behavior affects others.” You can always go back and be right, but you can’t go back and be kind after you’ve said something negative or hurtful that affects others. The students in the session were on the edge of their seats, attentively listening to tidbits like this, and it was clear they were thinking hard about how to apply these lessons to their own lives – just as I was.

Leadership Weekend continues tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing what happens next!