Contact: Kevin Thays
Phone: 608-850-3566
Email: [email protected]


WAUNAKEE, Wis. (January 3, 2012) – Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) has kicked off the eighth year of Launchpad – the statewide alternative music competition for high school students in bands formed outside of the traditional music classroom.

Launchpad celebrates the reach of music education by providing another outlet for students to stretch the boundaries of their musical knowledge. “It’s amazing to see what these students can accomplish when they take what they’ve learned from a music teacher and apply it in their own way to making music – a special connection is made,” said Michael George, WSMA executive director.

As part of the application process, bands are asked to identify a music teacher who has influenced their musical development. Another way Launchpad celebrates the reach of music education is by recognizing these teachers and the positive, lifelong effect music instruction has on their students.

Here is how Launchpad works:

  • High school students who are in garage bands (i.e., rock, jazz, country, reggae, hip hop, etc.) outside of school are invited to submit an application (available through school music teachers and at, plus an audition recording with three songs (originals or covers) within the application period of January 2 – February 3, 2012. Bands can apply and submit recordings online through Broadjam via Note: At least one member of each band must be in a school music program and all members must be currently enrolled in a Wisconsin or WSMA member high school. In addition, one member from each band must identify a music teacher who has made a positive difference in their music education.  Each band that applies will receive free web hosting for a year and a Broadjam Primo MoB package that is a $200 value.
  • Recordings, which do not need to be professional, are reviewed by a committee and narrowed down to a maximum of 15 bands in each of four Wisconsin regions. Selected bands then compete in a concert extravaganza held at a school in their region. The regional events (March 23 – Madison area, hosted by Sun Prairie High School; March 30 – Green Bay area, hosted by Chilton High School; April 20 – Eau Claire area, hosted by Chippewa Falls Senior High School; May 11 – Milwaukee area, hosted by Wauwatosa East High School) are open to the public.
  • The top three finalists from each region, plus a “wild card” band selected from Launchpad entries through a worldwide voting system of listeners on, then compete June 9 in Madison for the prestigious Les Paul Launchpad Award. Along with that comes a professional recording session at Madison’s Blast House Studios and a 2012 Summerfest gig.
  • Courtesy of Yamaha Corporation of America, the winning band also gets to designate a Yamaha equipment prize package to their school! 

WSMA has a strong history of music programs and services (i.e., state solo and ensemble music festivals, state honors music project, state marching band championships, etc.) that help youth achieve excellence through music. The organization is headquartered in the Wisconsin Center for Music Education – first of its kind in the nation. Like the center, Launchpad is a pioneering initiative to help extend the reach of music education in Wisconsin.

“Launchpad fits our mission of providing leadership and support for school music programs to ensure all students have opportunities which encourage lifelong involvement in music,” said George.

Launchpad is funded primarily by corporate sponsorships (statewide sponsors include Charter Communications,Yamaha and the Nicholas Family Foundation) and in-kind giving from people who believe in the benefits of music education and all that music has to offer. The program is produced by Dennis Graham Associates.

For more information on Launchpad, including news about this year’s winning band, participation details, video footage of last year’s finals competition, all supporting sponsors, late-breaking news, etc., go to Also be sure to visit for more about WSMA.    

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Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA) is a service organization with more than 1,000 member public and private schools. Each year, more than 220,000 student participants take part in WSMA activities, including District and State Music Festivals, State Honors Music Project, State Marching Band Championships, Student

Composition Project, Launchpad and Concert Festivals. WSMA, also owner and operator of the Wisconsin Center for Music Education, is governed by a board of directors made up of superintendents, principals and other officers from all over our state. WSMA believes music is a basic human need and that all children have the right to experience all that music offers them.