(To read students' testimonials, click here.)
These remarks were taken from papers written
for graduate credit offered by the University of Miami. The Midwest Clinic
gratefully acknowledges the authors of all the papers submitted through
Midwest revitalized me so much that I passed on the chance to retire
this year, deciding that I wasn’t done being a teacher.
I got a tremendous amount of information during the two days I
was at The Midwest Clinic. I was able to touch on every aspect of my
job: jazz, orchestra, band, and administration through the clinics and
concerts. I walked away with new literature ideas in all three music
genres I teach and lots of ideas to use in my teaching.
Despite its title, Midwest is truly an international event. As
far as I know, it’s the best one-stop source for face-to-face interaction
with musicians, educators, manufacturers of instruments and accessories,
publishers, and other supporting organizations.
Attending The 2009 Midwest Clinic was the highlight of my year,
professionally. Even as I write this, a week after returning home, I
am still in awe of the remarkable performances and fascinating clinics
The Midwest Clinic once more provided rejuvenation and inspiration.
Since discovering the Clinic eight or nine years ago, I try to attend
every year. Having missed last year, this year was important to me. I
came home motivated and ready for second semester!
I found myself constantly thinking, “I wish my students could hear
this,” or “…how am I going to show that to my students?” or “… I
wish I could do that as well as he does so that I could teach my students.” ….
I shared the details of the performances with my fifty middle school
jazz band students, and talk of attending The Midwest Clinic next year
as a group began. I was very pleased to be able to bring the excitement
of Midwest to my classroom.
I firmly believe that all great musicians, whether they are conductors
or performers, must have a firm concept and idea of what they want to
sound like. This can be achieved by listening to as many recordings as
possible, but there is nothing like hearing a live performance to remind
you of the sound you are striving to achieve. The Midwest Clinic is always
the perfect opportunity to reestablish this sound in my ears and head.
The Midwest Clinic gives practitioners the opportunity to learn
about and experience many methodologies in one place.
The first session I attended was a rehearsal lab. It was exactly
what I needed and I know I came out grinning. One session into the conference
and I already had good, concrete ideas to take back home and use with
When I attend a conference, I look for three things – reminders
of what I should be doing, affirmation of the many things I do right,
and some revelations – and this Clinic provided all three in abundance.
I have been attending The Midwest Clinic since the late 1980s.
In this time, I have never tired of the Clinic. Every year offers new
and unique experiences that help directors get re-calibrated and motivated.
Although I look for different events and details than I did years ago,
I feel Midwest offers the “seasoned” teacher as much as it
offers the “rookie” teacher. There is truly something for
everyone at Midwest.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the melodies and rhythms of different
countries and cultures.
The Midwest Clinic is a refreshing conference that allowed me
to learn and reflect on what I can do to better not only myself as
but my program. Being a music teacher involves many challenges
and the student population is always changing. This clinic gave me
for my never-ending search for excellence in my profession.
There are a great many benefits to attending a conference such
as this one. Educators are learning from educators, and all of
us are “in
it” for the same goals – it is great to see the support structure
of band directors include composers, editors, and retailers. Any one
of us could call on another for assistance. Having in hand the resources
to continue my program in a positive direction is well worth the time
away from school to attend the Midwest Clinic.
I find inspiration in the knowledge that I am not alone in my
desire to grow and stretch beyond the realm of comfort.
In general, my experience at the 61st Midwest Clinic was amazing,
educational, exciting, and thought-provoking. I have been able
to step out of my little town and see a new and different side to the
band program. Would I go again? You bet!
I attended a concert by what may have been the finest high school
ensemble I have ever had the opportunity to listen to. The level
of musicianship was outstanding, showing maturity far beyond the average
age of the students
performing in the group. The demand placed on the students was
high through the programming of quality literature, handled with the
I’m excited to go back to my school and try some of the new things
I discovered this year at the Midwest Clinic. I plan to share some of
what I’ve learned with my students, because I like them to know
that I am constantly learning new things, just like them.
I was so pleased when I saw a session offered at Midwest about
current technology for music labs. I learned not only about cutting-edge
technology for the music classroom, but also about how to better
configure my existing equipment to build an adequate lab until such
time as funds
are available to expand it.
To label the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass performance as
stunning would be woefully inadequate. Throughout the concert, several
musicians commented on music education and the life lessons learned
from their school band directors. Two and a half hours (and four encores)
later, the audience left astounded and appeased.
It was great being able to try different batons at the exhibits
and to not have to order them out of a catalogue. One could spend
hours going through all of the music, instruments, uniforms and other
As a professional clarinetist, I especially liked trying out
all of the new “gadgets” for reeds, mouthpieces, etc.
My 2007 Midwest Clinic experience was about filling in the gaps:
filling in my gaps in repertoire, teaching techniques, instrument
techniques, organizational elements, and conducting. All good educators
to learn to bring the best practices back to their classes and
to keep their enthusiasm at a high level that their students will find
What is inspiring about the Midwest Clinic is that it is a “one-stop
shop” for teachers searching for that certain technique not yet
tried, that perfect piece of music for the 2nd hour eighth-grade class,
or the new book or ligature that will help a student improve – not
to mention inspiration to keep reaching for their best teaching.
This year I was fortunate to be in a position where not only
was I looking for great and innovative ideas, I will be able to use
in my new teaching position. I feel this will make it more rewarding
for both myself and all of my students. The Midwest Clinic always
re-energizes with creative ideas, provides new techniques for improving
and continually develops the professional educator.
The Midwest Clinic capitalizes on the input of directors from
across the nation and returns a comprehensive package of ideas, applications
and products back to the music educator. Although many choose
that faces constant constraints in funding and even continued
program existence, the multitudes of eager, energetic musicians that
Midwest help satisfy that feeling of having made correct career
decisions in music education.
As a director of a small school with as-yet developed band
programs, I was grateful to see lists and performances of musically-relevant,
entertaining, easier material that I could apply to my groups
this semester rather
than “shoot-for” in five years… One of my most concrete
gains from this show was an excellent easy Latin chart, a copy of which
I purchased at the publisher’s booth immediately following the
show; I was so impressed by the fiery performance and knew immediately
that it would be a fantastic stylistic teaching tool for my students.
We have been working on it this semester, and it is a group favorite
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Concert was the finest
ensemble concert that I have ever attended. Their program contained
for brass and percussion and also included an organist. Throughout
I thought about the possibilities of performing a concert with
our brass choir at a local church using an organ. This performance
served as an
opportunity for me to experience music making at a level that
I rarely get to experience and also as a catalyst for some performance
I picked up some great pedagogical ideas for teaching woodwinds
(I am a trumpet player), and I felt validated that several ‘curriculum’-based
sessions I attended presented concepts that I am already using
in the classroom.
Before the session even started, I had gotten my money’s worth
by conversing with the gentleman sitting next to me. I didn’t
get a handout, so I asked if I could borrow his to get my notes
ready. We talked for 10 minutes about cymbal technique. He continued
points as the session progressed, one of the unwritten beauties
the willingness to share what you know.
Traversing the exhibit hall gave me a chance to look at new
percussion equipment for my band room. I spoke with several reps
the perfect triangle clips for my percussion section. I was
also looking for chorale
books to use for warm-ups… I had the opportunity to speak with
the composer and realized that this book was perfect for my program.
It was great to have him there to explain how the book was best
used in a band setting. I really got a lot out of my time in
the exhibit hall.
I found the college booths particularly helpful as I am seeking
to continue my education but was not really aware of the variety
of different programs available. The music publishers and stores
offered an enormous
selection of music. I was taken aback by the iPods and CD players
available to listen to the catalogue of music while looking through
These booths were set up in such a way to allow teachers to
browse without feeling pressured to purchase immediately any music
in which they may
have been interested.
Midwest comes at a perfect time in the school year, a time
when we’re tired from Marching Band season, basketball season has just
begun, we’ve just had winter concerts, and in two weeks we start
all over again – but we’re revitalized when we leave Chicago!!
Having the Midwest Clinic in Chicago is just another bonus
to the entire experience. Aside from hearing the fine music educators,
and researchers in the instrumental field, the cultural events
in Chicago are just one more reason to attend the convention. This
year, we spent
time in the Chicago Art Institute on Tuesday, and we spent
a lot of time with colleagues we rarely see (from Japan, Hawaii,
just talking about education over great food at local rib joints
and pizza places.
"Rejuvenation, encouragement, advice, and
mentoring are all words that come to mind when I think of the Midwest
Clinic. This was the second
Midwest that I have attended. Everything from the booths to clinicians
and performances created the energy I need to continue striving
for greatness with my band. The Midwest Clinic, I have come to realize,
is where I recharge
The Midwest Clinic is a wonderful place to meet
the best teachers in the world. This association is both enlightening and motivating.
Talking with these people
is the most important part, and what excites me and encourages me to come home
and be a better music teacher."
American Fork, Utah
"Once again, attendance at the Midwest Clinic has
proven to revitalize many teachers’ work
in the classroom. Relevant issues in curriculum, equipment, planning, motivation
and more were addressed. Musicianship and reinforcement of basic skills and
the symbiosis of both were constant themes of the week.
The performances at the Clinic are inspiring. It
is a thrill to see young people achieve such a high level of skill and maturity.
The works performed often inspire
an expansion of repertoire.
The convention hall experience at the Clinic is
a value to those who attend. New music and method books are there to be previewed.
There are not many times
or places a teacher can compare and contrast endless method books, instruments,
fundraising programs and equipment options."
"This year’s conference was the best
for me as a professional teacher. I learned a lot of information that I know
use in my classroom. The sessions
were very well organized; the lectures were informative and engaging. There
were a lot of hands-on and visual contributions, which is what I really like
The exhibits were great and also well organized. The music I heard from all
groups was spectacular on many different levels--no matter if it was a middle
college, or professional group, all of the music was great. The conference
was a great experience and such an inspiration for me as a teacher."
"Annual attendance at the Midwest Clinic stimulates and invigorates one’s
approach to teaching instrumental music in the public school setting in new
and varied ways. The Midwest Clinic is an opportunity not only to discover the
concepts, but to validate what we do each and every day. Every year that I
attend the Midwest Clinic, I feel rejuvenated, energized, and informed. So much
happens in such a short period of time that I am grateful that I keep a notebook
of the sessions."
"It’s that time of year again, the Midwest
Clinic in Chicago. I had the opportunity to attend many fantastic clinics and
performance, and to visit with
friends and colleagues that I have not seen for a while. It is a great time
to learn new techniques, to review forgotten techniques, to hear great literature,
and to see new/old products.
I love interactive workshops! It is one thing to
have concepts presented to you;
however, it is another to see it being applied.
Not only did I attend clinics but I attended some wonderful concerts. I have
always found it beneficial for performing ensembles at the Midwest to play a
variety of graded music—you always need to remember the elementary and
middle level ensembles.
I spent quite a few hours in the exhibits. I LOVE
having access to music (concert, solo/ensemble, jazz, methods) and to published
books and resources. It is nice
to be able to speak with music dealers, companies, and universities. The time
spent at exhibits will aid me throughout the year and provide me with information
and materials that I can use in my daily teaching and planning.
It was another FANTASTIC year at the Midwest Clinic
and I am already looking
forward to next year."
"I attended twenty-three sessions in all.
I came away from the conference refreshed, invigorated, inspired and proud
to be a part of the profession, and also determined
to feed and nourish my musical soul on a regular basis, to strive for balance,
and to remind myself often of the wonders of performance and learning through
attending conferences such as this."
"One of my main objectives in coming to the
Midwest Clinic was to immerse myself in music technology sessions. Thankfully,
I was able to spend many hours in the
Computer Resource Center. This training area was exactly what I was looking for.
Following the explanation side of the session, you could try out the actual software
next door in the lab, which I found useful. The exhibits always offer many great
ideas and choices for teachers. I looked through some publishers’ material
for new works for string orchestra in particular. I am inspired to attend the
Midwest Clinic again, perhaps for the band portion of the week next year, as
I do teach Concert Band as well as String Orchestra."
"Compared to most other workshops attended
for credit, the Midwest Clinic is the best! It is so wonderful to be able to
attend a clinic that has everything a
director could want, including fantastic music resources, practical clinic
sessions, inspiring performances, and the opportunity to meet the composers whose
"The 2003 Midwest Clinic offered a plethora
of opportunities to learn and grow as a music teacher. I always encourage anyone
who can attend the Midwest Clinic
because of the vast amount of learning and growing which takes place. I found
this year’s clinic to be one of the most fruitful of any I’ve attended
because I am already implementing so many new ideas I picked up. I feel that
my bands will be better because of the concepts and refreshers presented."
--John M. P.
"I came away from the Midwest Clinic feeling
renewed and refreshed, having picked up not only a number of pieces to check
my band, but dozens of tips and
tricks of the trade that will help me do my hob here at home. It really is
the best clinic of its type anywhere!"
"The Midwest Clinic was an amazing experience
and extremely rewarding for me as a first year band teacher and first time
attendee. I had heard from friends that
this convention is gigantic and one of the biggest in the country. I truly
had no idea how large it really was until I arrived there and checked in. The
Clinic was one of the most rewarding and educational conventions I have ever
been to. I am glad I went and I benefited from the convention in many ways.
I look forward to attending in the future and hope to continue to attend throughout
my music education career."
La Mesa, California
"The 2000 Midwest Clinic had special interest
to this middle school band director. It enlightened my spirit and uplifted
my soul, gave me new ideas and
to try on my thirsty seventh and eighth grade learners and ways to make music
more alive for the sixth grade instrumentalists."
"The highlights of Midwest each year are the
outstanding concerts. It is with out a doubt the best collection of bands in
the world and this year was
is a showcase of new music and attending these concerts is a great way to hear
"The Midwest Clinic is essential to my well
being as a band director. When the frustrations of all the non-musical aspects
of teaching threaten to overwhelm
me I can count on the experience of the Midwest and the city of Chicago at
the holidays to brighten my outlook and spirit. Over the years I have used the
to talk to the composers of pieces we were working on, research the proper
instrument or equipment to purchase, select literature from the latest publications,
with colleagues, and of course to listen to quality music performed to near
"It was most inspiring to listen to Dr. Fennell
discuss how he was prepared
his high school years for his career in music. Fennell’s achievements
as founder of the Eastman Ensemble and his contributions to the wind ensemble
in the United States will have a phenomenal impact on music education for centuries
Las Vegas, Nevada
"It was my pleasure to attend The Midwest
Clinic December 20-23, 2000. Currently in my eleventh year of teaching junior
high band, it was my first opportunity
to attend this outstanding band and orchestra conference. Through the sessions
I attended at the clinic, I came away rejuvenated with many new ideas and model
sounds to bring back to my school and students."
"I have attended the Midwest band clinic for
twenty-three years. It is the focal point of my entire school year. A perfect
time to regroup after the Holiday
concert. I can’t imagine trying to get through a school year without charging
my battery at this annual December event. This is a perfect time to network with
other directors, composers, publishers, and manufacturers. Anything that is new
in music or equipment can be seen here before it is in wide use….I plan
to attend the Midwest every year. I can’t imagine staying current with
new trends without this experience. I have already started making plans for
next year. The majority of the directors at the convention are teaching at
school level. It is a real advantage to a middle school director to attend
the Midwest convention."
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
The following comments were taken from papers written by members of the New Trier
High School Jazz Ensemble I, following their performance at the 2002 Midwest
"Playing at the Midwest Clinic for people
who appreciate the music you are making gave our performance a completely different
feeling. Our group didn’t
feel nervous when the audience had that attitude, mainly because we were
trying to impress anyone. The impression had already been made and the musical
experience was more pure because of it. That is to say, the performance is
more about the music than the musicians. My experience performing at the
has had enough impact on me that I now see my future differently. I now will
play my instrument after college, just to never stop having such intensely
"The whole performance and the days prior
and after were kind of a blur, so I still need to let it hit rock bottom before
I can truly appreciate what
experience it was."
"The day after the concert, many of the members
of Jazz Ensemble commented on the great amount of fun they had performing at
the Midwest. I think we should
all strive to treat every concert like a Midwest concert. If we were to always
perform with the same musical intensity that we displayed at that concert,
would create a higher overall level of performance...and it would be more fun—which
is the reason everyone starts playing an instrument in the first place...to
"Knowing that the majority of the audience
were directors from around the world allowed me to really enjoy the performance
more than any other in which
participated. I knew that I would have to seriously play to impress them and
compliments would not be handed out socially. I took this into account and
felt very good after the performance when directors I didn’t know went
out of their way to tell me I did a good job. I never felt more special in
"In so many words, the Midwest convention
showed me what it was like to be a professional
"The Midwest was really different for me because
we were playing for such a
huge audience, many of whom were musicians, so that factor also made the
experience truly exhilarating."
"The Midwest was probably one of the most
memorable experiences in my life. The time we spent preparing for the Midwest
was an experience itself. Riding
bus back from the Midwest Clinic, I felt I accomplished something I didn’t
even expect to accomplish. Of course it was a hard and long road to get to
where we ended up, but it was well worth it."
These remarks were taken from journals written
by members of the Edgewood Junior High School 8th Grade Concert Band following
appearance at the 2002
Clinic. The group’s director, James D., writes: "The assignment
was made due to Indiana Public Law 221, which requires all areas of the curriculum
to incorporate reading and writing. The students in my 8th grade concert
band were all given a journal and told to chronicle their experiences, feelings,
and observations from the time of the making of the CD for application to
to the rehearsals, pre-concerts, and the trip itself."
"It’s the day after the Midwest trip.
I’m so sleepy and need
to get rest. I look back and think it was the best school trip ever! I hope all
future band outings are this great. Even through all the hard work, and extreme
stress, it was the best accomplishment I’ve ever done. I have finally
seen how great we really are."
"We just found out that we were invited to
the Midwest Clinic. This is a huge
We just came back from summer break and when we got back, we saw the Midwest
magazine and we were on the front cover! This thing is a real big deal. I’ll
be real busy until December.
Tonight was our Winter Concert. I think we did
very well. Dr. Cramer, Dr. May, and Mr. Murphy were here. They have been a huge
support for our band and Mr.
I love Chicago! This place is so cool it just blows
your mind. They have just about everything. We just got done with the concert.
We performed the best
we ever did. The concert was great even though the practice made me want
because I was so nervous."
"Tonight was our last rehearsal before Chicago.
It was hard to believe that it
was finally time. As we were running through the songs I was really listening
to how good we really were. I think some of the parents were surprised at
how far along we came. It was kind of sad, but tomorrow is the big day.
I wasn’t too nervous because our last two
rehearsals went really well. After we performed the concert, it was really sad.
After all the work that
we put into it, it was over. I really thought we did good though."
"The concert was at 4:15 in the International
Ballroom. Of course, we were all nervous (except Brooks, he never gets nervous)
and I was sure that if I missed
even one note, I’d be embarrassed for life. "Air For Band" brought
the audience to applause. The finale had them on their feet and we had even
a few people personally tell us what they thought. I don’t think I’ve
ever done anything musically in my life that has made me nearly as proud
as I was when the whole band stood up and the clapping commenced. Now I see
those people meant when they told us we belonged there, we did. And suddenly,
band means everything in the world to me."
"When I heard that we were going to get to
go to Chicago, I was very excited. We will be playing with bands from all over
the world. I can’t wait to
go. I’ll get to miss some school.
This Wednesday, we leave for Chicago. I can’t wait to see all the cool
things; Sears Tower, ESPN Zone, Navy Pier, Lake Michigan, the hotels, Giordano’s
and Blast. I can’t wait much longer."
"Five days away, only five days away. The
band became closer because we will see each other more often because we’re
in band and jazz band. Some of us have even become friends with people we wouldn’t
even talk to if it wasn’t
"Last spring when I was in 7th grade, our
concert band tried out for the Midwest Clinic in Chicago for the winter when
we would be 8th graders. Later
DeCaro told us we made it. He kept telling us what an honor it was to perform
there. It would be way better than any other contest, competition, or clinic.
The Midwest Clinic is the best there is.
We did it! We did excellent! Everyone comes up and congratulates us when
we walk down the halls of the Hilton. It’s so fancy."
"Two days before we leave to go to Chicago.
I can’t wait. Mr. DeCaro
is going easier on us it seems. I think it’s because there is not much
more he can do. It is up to us. I hope I don’t screw up in Chicago.
Last night I didn’t sleep much. I got to the school at about 6:15
a.m. I’m surprised at how calm Mr. DeCaro is. Usually before a concert
or contest he is really stressed out.
Well, we are riding high from last night’s
performance. We stayed up until about 2:00 a.m."
The Moorhead Sixth Grade Orchestra performed in the Grand Ballroom on Tuesday
afternoon, December 18 at 1:30. As part of their assignment for school, each
orchestra member kept a journal of the trip to Chicago. What follows is the journal
entry where students were prompted to write a letter to a friend describing the
orchestra's experience at the Midwest Clinic.
"I am writing to you to tell you how our
concert day in Chicago went. I got up early Tuesday morning and our orchestra
went to the Whitney Young High School
and gave a very good rehearsal concert. After that we went back to our hotel
and had about an hour to just relax before we would have to leave for the
Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Hotel. When we got to the Hilton, I had butterflies
in my stomach from being nervous, but I was still very excited. The Grand
was just beautiful, and when I walked in I felt like a million bucks. When
started our rehearsal in the Grand Ballroom it was just as Mr. Cole had said:
you could hear a beautiful ring on every cutoff. After the rehearsal we waited
outside the ballroom and I was ready to share my emotions with the crowd
of people that was coming in.
When we started playing, I was so proud! My emotions during our first piece "March
Heroic" were awesome. I felt so happy to have the first song under our belt,
and in my opinion, if I had been coming to this concert and heard that song for
the first time, I would have felt really happy. I think the piece that went the
best was the "Torch Burns Bright." When I started playing that song
I got tears in my eyes. It was the last song of the concert. I got this rush
through my body. I was kind of like, "Oh no, this is the last song!" You
just felt that you didn’t want the concert to ever end, yet it went
by so, so, fast! When we played the last note of our last song I got a huge
of happiness and proudness. We were done and it felt great! We had been working
so hard for
almost nine months.
It was worth it—I know one thing for sure
though. We were living a dream that I’m sure every other orchestra member
in the past has dreamed of— playing
at Midwest. It was awesome. I wanted to pinch myself to make sure that I was
really there. Usually when we practice together, we have good songs and there
are always songs that need work. It was a really neat feeling to know that
everything was going our way! We didn't mess up in the concert and no one even
broke a string—it
was magical, a dream come true. I don't think I will ever be able to explain
the feelings I had when we played at Midwest."