Midwest Clinic 2019

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone enjoyed the holidays and has found some joy during the month of January. In December, I challenged myself to update the blog once a month for six months. It’s almost the end of January, but I’ve made it! Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

I had the privilege of attending the Midwest Clinic last month for the first time ever. As a music educator who has been teaching over 25 years now, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I had never been to the biggest band and orchestra conference in the world. As a first-time attendee, I was really overwhelmed by the experience, but I would like to take a minute and reflect on what gleaned from my time at the clinic.

My first impression was the size and scope of the conference. It’s big. Bigger than I had anticipated. The exhibition hall alone was vast; it took me three run-throughs just to get my bearings! The number of attendees astonished me as well. The figure that I heard at the clinic was over 18,000 music educators in attendance.

Secondly, I was really pleased with the clinics themselves. The sessions in which I was able to participate were well run and full of useful information and pedagogy. That seems intuitive, but in my experience sometimes the clinic sessions at an unfamiliar conference leave are not what the organizers have advertised. That was definitively not the case at Midwest.
Finally, I was really bolstered by the number of friendly people who I was able to meet. While sometimes at national conferences there can be a sense of “cliquishness” among the attendees, at Midwest there was a sense of camaraderie that was really refreshing.

This business can be very solitary and isolating, especially if you are the sole music educator at one school or even in the district. In my methods class I always encourage students to reach out past the band or choir room to connect with other teachers in the building for this very reason. On a very basic level, fostering connections is at the heart of music education. As professional educators we need to connect with our colleagues; music and non-music alike to combat the feelings of separation that sometimes come with the job. For three days at Midwest, I felt like I was part of something much bigger than myself. That was a restorative feeling.

Midwest was a positive experience for me, one that I hope to repeat in the future. It’s a conference that I would recommend to any instrumental music educator. Chicago is cold in December, but the warmth and positive energy from your colleagues is worth the trip!

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