June is one of my favorite times of the year because it's when we host the Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) Celebration at the Music for All Summer Symposium at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  

This year's YYPA winners were among the most inspiring and promising artists we have ever worked with. They were humble, open-minded and rose to the occasion in every professional workshop, rehearsal and especially during their performances in front of a cheering crowd of almost 2,000 music students and teachers at the symposium. The talent, enthusiasm and camaraderie showcased at the Summer Symposium were remarkable!

I was still riding high from this spectacular week when I headed to the International Trombone Festival (ITF) in July. There, I ran into three musicians who are connected by a unique thread. Michael Dease teaches at Michigan State University and is a brilliant, celebrated soloist and collaborator. Altin Sencalar just finished his graduate work in performance and is touring with his combo. David Mosko is in his third year at Rutgers University and won first place in the ITF solo jazz competition.

All three are brilliant trombone players, and all three won the YYPA title early in their careers. It was heartwarming to see them together and hear how their careers are flourishing!

Michael (2004 YYPA winner), Altin (2017) and David (2019) share something with all YYPA winners throughout the program's 31-year history. These "gifted" musicians all had teachers who were brave enough to hand them to other educators who could provide higher-level instruction when their students needed it the most. I applaud this act, which takes humility and a deep sense of caring and commitment for what is best for the student.

This issue includes some wonderful articles, including:

Navigating Moral and Legal Obligations — How do music educators navigate the troubled water of dealing with students in distress?

Denis DiBlasio: Jazz Saxophonist, Music Educator and Storyteller — A life in jazz and teaching has meant improvisation, invention and reinvention for Denis DiBlasio.

3 Improvisation Impediments and How to Fix Them — Jazz has helped Denis DiBlasio not to worry about failing.

Q&A with Rapper J. Dash — Songwriter, producer, rapper and multi-instrumentalist J. Dash has a genuine passion and commitment to help young people realize success through the arts.

Use Creativity to Make Rehearsals More Meaningful — Capture your students' attention by creating a consistent classroom routine as well as applying some sparks of ingenuity.

Letter to Myself: Kevin Ford — Yamaha Master Educator Kevin Ford offers one simple piece of advice to his younger self: Be patient!

Setting up Jazz Figures on the Drum Set — Beginning jazz drummers should try GRAMMY®-nominated percussionist Sammy K's simple and systematic approach.

Case Study: Peers Support Peers at a United Sound Chapter in Missouri — Parkway Central Middle School's band program harnesses the power of music to give students with special needs a sense of belonging.

Using Food to Teach Rhythm to Special Needs StudentsUnited Sound helps its students learn music by using images of food in place of notes.

How to Start a United Sound Chapter — Music educators can apply to be a chapter of United Sound, a turnkey program that partners music students with special needs students.