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Mission Statement

The Midwest Clinic, International Band and Orchestra Conference strengthens instrumental music education through extensive professional development, inspirational musical experiences, and the cultivation of rewarding professional relationships.


To be the premiere global gathering for instrumental music educators, musicians, and industry professionals to gain knowledge, skills, and relationships that resonate across cultures and generations.

What We Do

In 1946, a group of 120 music directors came together at a Chicago YMCA to share their knowledge of music and develop new ways to teach it. This gathering quickly grew and expanded into one of the best music conferences in the country, and perhaps the best music, band, and orchestra clinics in the world. Expounding on the original goals of the first gathering of music educators, The Midwest Clinic now exists with the following goals:

  • Raising instrumental music education standards by advancing pedagogical methodologies
  • Developing innovative teaching techniques 
  • Assisting those interested in music education in their professional work 
  • Presenting the newest available repertoire for bands and orchestra
  • Holding clinics to better music education

CLINICS - Band and Orchestra clinics offer attendees the opportunity to receive specific and detailed information about a wide variety of subject matters. From the best way to tune your instrument to the next innovation in music performance and education, music clinics hosted by The Midwest Clinic offer guests an in-depth look into a topic of their choice. 

READING SESSIONS - This segment of The Midwest Clinic showcases live bands and orchestras performing highlights of the year’s new music pieces. Attendees can take notes during the music clinic about what they are hearing, and decide what may be best for their group in the upcoming year. 

REHEARSAL LABS – These informative sessions are a live rehearsal for attendees to observe and learn the best teaching practices currently in action. Be a part of the clinic’s “live group," interacting with techniques and strategies from around the world. Take what is learned from The Midwest Clinic and make it part of your repertoire.  

WORLD CLASS PERFORMANCES - The Midwest Clinic also showcases professional musicians, adult ensembles, colleges and university bands, high school and grade school students, orchestras, community bands, and jazz bands!  

History of The Midwest Clinic

The Midwest Clinic began on Dec. 7, 1946, when approximately 120 directors from the Chicago area assembled in a YMCA gymnasium on Chicago’s West Side for a six-hour clinic and new music reading session. In 1947, the event was expanded to two days and moved to the Hotel Sherman to take advantage of the larger music conference-compatible facilities and accommodations for out-of-town directors. Besides the two-day format, this second installment brought many new features, including a printed program, an additional band and a new name: The Midwest Clinic. The VanderCook School of Music, Neil A. Kjos Music Company and Lyons Band Instrument Company sponsored the music conference. For the next 25 years, the Hotel Sherman was home to The Midwest Clinic. In the 1950s, orchestras and jazz ensembles were introduced, and in 1962, The Midwest Clinic held its first official Orchestra Day.
In 1963, the music conference expanded to a four-and-a-half-day format. In 1973, The Midwest Clinic moved to the Hilton Chicago, where, with several nearby venues, it was held until 2008. In 1995, the Blackstone Hotel was used in addition to the Hilton for hosting clinic conference events. With the addition of this facility, The Midwest Clinic was able to present more clinics than ever in its history. In 1999, the Congress Plaza replaced the Blackstone Hotel as the second site of music conference events. The Blackstone Hotel and Merle Reskin Theatre were used as additional sites in 2008. In 2009, The Midwest Clinic moved to McCormick Place West, bringing all the music conference programs and exhibits under one roof.
In the earliest years of the "Midwest Clinic," the organizers – H.E. Nutt, Howard Lyons and Neil Kjos, Sr. – invited outstanding bands to perform, based upon the reputations of the organization and its director. In addition to giving a formal concert, the bands were also expected to provide a sight-reading session, with the selections being requested by audience members on the spur of the moment. Today, The Midwest Clinic continues to feature performances by outstanding organizations, but now every group that desires to perform at the international music conference must first apply to do so.
Over the years, the focus of The Midwest Clinic has remained on bringing international music directors into contact with not only the best published music, but also with new and established teaching techniques, and the latest products and services for the music educator.

Timeline: What Growth Has Meant to Our Organization

1946     First Band Clinic at Chicago Westside YMCA
1947     Mid-West Band Clinic moves to The Sherman House
1951     Mid-West National Band Clinic
1968     Mid-West National Band and Orchestra Clinic
1973     Mid-West National Band and Orchestra Clinic moves to Chicago Hilton and Towers
1986     Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic
1996     The Midwest Clinic, An International Band and Orchestra Conference
2009     The Midwest Clinic moves to McCormick Place West

Additional Historic Highlights for The Midwest Clinic:

1962 The Midwest Clinic Medal of Honor is created to recognize outstanding contributions to music education.
1988 College Night is instituted, bringing representatives of colleges and universities into contact with students and teachers
1989 The Teacher Resource Center is created.
1991 The Midwest Clinic Industry Award is created to recognize outstanding contributions to music education through the music industry.
1992 The Midwest Clinic International Award is created to recognize outstanding contributions to music education internationally.
1996 The Midwest Clinic commissions its first two pieces of music, in honor of its 50th anniversary.
2001 Orchestra events are expanded giving attendees an entire extra day of events.
2002 College Student and Beginning Teacher Track series of events added, providing a core curriculum specifically aimed at teachers at the beginning of their careers.
2004 Rehearsal labs are introduced as an annual feature.
2006 Clinics created specifically for high school students are added to the program as an annual feature.  Conference attendance breaks 17,000 people for the first time.
2012 Inaugural High School Institute Program and first Orchestra New Music Reading Session

This historical overview was adapted from The First Fifty Years, by Midwest Clinic Secretary Victor Zajec, and from additional commentary provided by Victor and Marilea Zajec.

The Midwest Clinic archive is housed at the University of Maryland. For information, please visit the archivepage.