Skip to main content

John Whitwell

Has Attended the Midwest Clinic:  I first attended the Midwest Clinic in 1975. I had taught the previous 10 years at Northwest Jackson (MI), but was unable to attend the Midwest due to winter concerts and budget limitations. The Ann Arbor Huron High School Orchestra was performing at the Midwest my first year as the new band director, so I was able to attend the Midwest for the first time as a chaperone. I am proud to say I have not missed a Midwest Clinic since first attending in 1975.

Joined the Board of Directors in:  1997

A Life in Music: My life in music started in 1951, when at the age of eight my family moved from Tennessee to River Rouge, Michigan, and we attended the first parade I had ever seen. The magnificent River Rouge High School Band, Mac E. Carr, Director, was leading that parade, and my life was forever changed. I started the trombone in the fifth grade and studied privately with Mr. Carr through the end of my ninth grade year when my family moved to the nearby community of Wyandotte. Mr. Carr introduced his students to such artists as Bill Bell, Leonard B. Smith, and many more. The River Rouge Band Room was a magical place for me, and Mac Carr remains the most influential person in my career. As an undergraduate student, I attended Abilene Christian University where I studied with band director Douglas Fry. My graduate work was done at the University of Michigan where Elizabeth Green, William D. Revelli, and H. Robert Reynolds were major influences. After teaching for 16 years in the public schools of Michigan, I became the director of bands at my alma mater, Abilene Christian University, then moved to Stephen F. Austin State University, and finally to Michigan State University, from where I retired in 2006. I have been richly blessed to have experienced so many wonderful teachers, students, and colleagues.

Favorite Midwest Moments:  My favorite Midwest moments include the 1980 performance of my Ann Arbor Huron Band in a shared concert with the Ann Arbor Pioneer Band conducted by Myles Mazur. This event will forever be among the greatest personal and musical joys of my career. It was at the 1980 Midwest Clinic that I first met Richard Crain, who was there to conduct his Spring (TX) Band. Other Midwest memories were seeing the icons of our profession as they presented clinics, guest conducted, or just getting off an elevator. These included Leonard Falcone, Harry Begian, Barbara Buehlman, Mark Kelly, Elizabeth Green, William D. Revelli, H. Robert Reynolds, Frederick Fennell, Arnald Gabriel, John Paynter, John Bourgeois, Mark Hindsley, Donald McGinnis, Karel Husa, and many, many more. Since becoming a member of the Board of Directors, I have thoroughly enjoyed this great honor and the opportunity of working with the other board members, who are among the greatest group of artist performers and teachers with whom I have ever been affiliated. They represent the very finest experience, passion, and selfless dedication to music education.

Hopes for Midwest Clinic Attendees: My hope for Midwest Clinic attendees is that they will always have the same joy I experience in meeting colleagues and friends at the Midwest; in viewing the Midwest as the "light" at the end of the fall tunnel, in being inspired by the clinics and concerts, and in returning to our students in January with a renewed zeal for sharing what we have learned.

<< Back to Board of Directors