Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Midwest Clinic 2022

I am sitting in Midway Airport in Chicago waiting for my flight to arrive, reflecting on the events of the last 3 days at the 2022 Midwest Clinic in Chicago Illinois. This is always a special event for band and orchestra directors to gather, recharge, and reconnect right before the holidays. People often remark that it's an odd time to hold a conference, but it always seems to feel right. Chicago during the holidays is beautiful (and cold) but the friendships that are rekindled and made at this conference are well worth braving the cold weather.

This year, I was particularly pleased that three of us from the NCSSM Music Discipline could be at the clinic. It was great to see Carolina Perez and Jim Kirkpatrick, NCSSM Music Instructors, in their element with many other fantastic band directors. I'm truly blessed to work with them on a daily basis. Additionally, the opportunity to reconnect with pillars of Music Education like Philip Riggs and Sally Wagner is truly a blessing in my life. 

As for me, the primary purpose of my trip was to present as part of a panel of contributors to the new GIA publication entitled "Rehearsing the High School Orchestra," by Sandy Goldie. I was privileged to contribute a chapter to this book that takes a close look at a number of elements of high school orchestra teaching and features contributions by 8 prominent high school orchestra directors. Those categories include warm up exercises, left hand development, right hand development, articulation, developing musicianship, repertoire selection, community building, rehearsal philosophy, and others. In our session, each contributing author presented their perspective on one element of the book. I was pleased to give a brief overview of my thoughts on Rehearsal Philosophy. We had a great audience for the presentation and I think our ideas were well received.

Other highlights for me included a wonderful performance by the Walton High School Orchestra from Cobb County, Georgia under the direction of Perry Holbrook and Sarah Grimes. I had the privilege of spending a day with the orchestras at Walton a few weeks ago, offering some suggestions to this wonderful performing ensemble. I felt a lot of pride in their performance even as a one-day guest in their classroom. The performance was magnificent.

I saw several other orchestras perform and they were truly all fantastic. One of the great benefits of attending the Midwest Clinic is attending these concert performances to ensure that your perspective on superior musical performance is measured by the very best in the country. Performing at Midwest Clinic is really one of the highest honors a high school band or orchestra can achieve. The audition process is rigorous and all directors who have this opportunity know that they are in the national spotlight when they perform at the Midwest Clinic.

Another highlight was attending the panel discussion by contributing authors for the new GIA publication, "Inspiring a Love of Music," by Scott Rush and Frank Battisti. This is another collaborative publication which highlights the ideas of several prominent music educators around the country. Again, I was honored to participate in this publication. While I was not involved in the panel discussion at the Midwest Clinic, I was in attendance and thrilled to hear the thoughts of so many fine music educators. Most prominent in my mind (and probably all others in attendance) were the ideas and remarks of distinguished music professor, Dr Frank Battisti. It was such an honor to hear him articulate his thoughts about the purpose of music in our lives, and students' lives, and in the world we live in. He was so inspiring and clearly a wealth of knowledge. His remarks alone were worth the trip to Chicago!

There were many other marvelous sessions as well. I attended Margaret Selby's brilliant session on middle school orchestra recruiting and retention, a fantastic new music performance session with the Chicago land educators Orchestra performing, and several others. All were fantastic!

But now, with bad weather coming into the Midwest, it is time to get out of here. It has been a wonderful couple of days and I'm so sad to miss the Wednesday sessions and performances. I was particularly looking forward to the Johns Creek High School Orchestra performance today under the direction of my dear friend Young Kim. I am certain they will be spectacular. Young is a master at pulling the very best technically and musically from his students. I always enjoy seeing him conduct and hearing the exceptional results of his brilliant rehearsal technique.

For now, goodbye to Chicago and the Midwest Clinic. I truly look forward to the next time! Now back to Durham and Christmas Eve gigs!


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