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Congratulations to all the performers! Here, we share some of their first reactions and continued thoughts to being invited to appear at The Midwest Clinic.

Midwest in the Time of Covid

Author: Darcy Vogt Williams,

You fantasize about the moment you get to share with your students that they were selected to perform at Midwest. You practice your speech in the car, trying to find the right words to conceal the big news until the last moment, hoping you can get the message out before you cry. You imagine the students' faces as they realize what you just said. You picture the band hall, a controlled chaos of cheers, tears, and hugs, high-fives, and any number of whoops and hollers.

What you don't picture is requesting that everyone mute themselves so random noises don't interrupt your Zoom.

But that was our announcement one April night, five weeks since I had seen my band in person, five weeks since we had actually made music together, five weeks since our school and our world closed.

There were silent cheers, parents (who ordinarily would not have been present for such an announcement during our 6th period band class) hugging their child while simultaneously wondering exactly what the excitement meant, and heads leaping joyously out of view. I hadn't anticipated how SAD I would be to tell our band family of their success. I was so lucky to perform at Midwest in 2015, and when I told my band sitting in our band hall, cake and punch hidden from view, the thrill of the news was tangible. In April of 2020, my kitchen was silent aside from my own quiet sobs, tears of frustration that our happiness was not collective, not magnified by the joy of the student sitting next to them. Of course I was happy. Of course the anticipation of such a magical performance; a trip that lives on in the memories of thousands of musicians from nearly 3/4 of a century of clinics; of course the reward of our efforts is exciting in and of itself.

I mourn the moment of glassy eyes and cheeks that hurt from grinning so darn hard that we missed confined to our homes.

But we persevere. We Zoom on... Oh, we Zoom. We will press on through Zoom sectionals and group chats and Google Classroom assignments and Flipgrid videos as we get notes under fingers and relationships established in the most unconventional family bonding any of us know. In this world and this year of the unknown, we press on with hope and the love of music to propel us to a concert we desperately hope to give.

Midwest in the Time of Covid

Author: Darcy Vogt Williams,

You fantasize about the moment you get to share with your students that they were selected to perform at Midwest. You practice your speech in the car, trying to find the right words to conceal the big news until the last moment, hoping you can get the message out before you cry. You imagine the students' faces as they realize what you just said. You picture the band hall, a controlled chaos of cheers, tears, and hugs, high-fives, and any number of whoops and hollers.

What you don't picture is requesting that everyone mute themselves so random noises don't interrupt your Zoom.

But that was our announcement one April night, five weeks since I had seen my band in person, five weeks since we had actually made music together, five weeks since our school and our world closed.

There were silent cheers, parents (who ordinarily would not have been present for such an announcement during our 6th period band class) hugging their child while simultaneously wondering exactly what the excitement meant, and heads leaping joyously out of view. I hadn't anticipated how SAD I would be to tell our band family of their success. I was so lucky to perform at Midwest in 2015, and when I told my band sitting in our band hall, cake and punch hidden from view, the thrill of the news was tangible. In April of 2020, my kitchen was silent aside from my own quiet sobs, tears of frustration that our happiness was not collective, not magnified by the joy of the student sitting next to them. Of course I was happy. Of course the anticipation of such a magical performance; a trip that lives on in the memories of thousands of musicians from nearly 3/4 of a century of clinics; of course the reward of our efforts is exciting in and of itself.

I mourn the moment of glassy eyes and cheeks that hurt from grinning so darn hard that we missed confined to our homes.

But we persevere. We Zoom on... Oh, we Zoom. We will press on through Zoom sectionals and group chats and Google Classroom assignments and Flipgrid videos as we get notes under fingers and relationships established in the most unconventional family bonding any of us know. In this world and this year of the unknown, we press on with hope and the love of music to propel us to a concert we desperately hope to give.

Ecstatic to be invited!

Author: Rob Parton,

I am so excited to present the University of North Texas TWO O'Clock lab band at the 2020 Midwest Clinic. We are so hopeful that the conference will even happen. This is my first year at UNT and the top three Lab Bands are as good as any other collegiate band! Really an amazing collection of talent.

Thrilled to be selected!

Author: Andres Aya,

In these trying times of COVID-19 it has been a blessing to share and uplift our community with the news of being selected to perform at The Midwest Clinic. It has been a truly positive experience and very validating for the students, staff, administration, parents, and school community. Looking forward to the positive things to come.

Excited

Author: Maria Coronado,

The Harlingen HS Band Staff was super excited to learn that we were selected to be one of the performing jazz groups at this years conference. We cannot wait to perform in this prestigious event and experience this amazing conference with our students.

La Cueva High School Jazz Band 1 First Reactions - Dash Haubrich, 2nd Alto Sax

Author: John Converse,

My reaction to finding out that our band made it into The Midwest Clinic was surprise and joy. I immediately told my parents who didn’t really know what I was talking about, but they were happy for me anyway. I think that our jazz band deserves this because we worked really hard last year. Anyway, I can’t even say how much fun it is that I play in a group that is good enough to even try to perform at Midwest, let alone make it in. I owe my peers as well as Mr Converse so much for this opportunity!

One Year Ago

Author: Scott Herman,

Just over a year ago Dennis Zeisler pulled me aside after a Music in the Parks Festival and introduced himself as being on the Midwest board. “You should seriously consider applying to Midwest, your band and orchestra should be heard.” I thanked him but shared my reservation with getting a group ready by December, but the bigger issue was that I was strongly considering retiring at the end of the 2020 school year. He continued to talk up the experience for both myself and especially my students so I agreed to give it consideration. After a lot of reflection this year, flip flopping seemingly every month on retirement, I decided late February to roll the dice and go for it. I ultimately chose to submit the strings, in part since the band had a fantastic experience performing at the NAfME All-Eastern Conference last spring. After scrambling to find an opening in one of our HS concert halls, we recorded the last week just before school closure. Who would have thought we would still be out!

Given the indecision regarding my retirement, hearing the tremendous sales pitch from Dennis, making a late decision to apply, and knowing the long history and prestige associated with Midwest, we are beyond thrilled and honored to receive the invitation!!! I’m also very humbled to have my name and school recognized alongside all those who have achieved the same distinction, both past and present. I hope we can live up to the expectations and standards set forth ahead of us, particularly given our current state.

Like most who have not seen our students for months, there is undoubtedly some anxiety about how we will get prepared. We have been doing remote instruction for the final quarter of the year but like all of us, we are desperately craving the personal interaction and music making we accomplish in a rehearsal. It appears this will extend through the summer so we have plans to continue the distance learning, but fingers are crossed that we may be able to have some reading sessions by August. There is no point in worrying further, as we are all in this together. Despite the setbacks, I like many, have discovered a lot of new resources and tools which I’m excited to infuse into the traditional classroom. When this clears, I hope my students return more enriched and more eager than ever to make music together. I believe that with all we have all endured, the experience of preparing for Midwest and ultimately performing will be more rewarding than ever.

On a more somber note, I was never able to share my story with Dennis. I was planning on telling him of my application at the Association of Concert Bands Convention in early March, an event he organized each year in Virginia Beach, VA. Like everything, the event was cancelled and sadly I just learned of his passing soon thereafter. I know he would have really been excited to hear of our application and later the invitation. I hope to dedicate a song in his memory.