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Staying Connected Midwest Clinic 2020

compiled by editors | December 2020 January 2021

    In any normal year, December means Chicago, cold, and the Midwest Clinic. Nearly 75 years after a small reading session of new music blossomed into an annual tradition, the Midwest Clinic remains essential for everyone who cares about instrumental music. With an in-person gathering impossible, the Midwest has reimagined a virtual convention for its global audience.

    One of the key decisions was to make the content for the entire convention available on demand. Beginning at midnight ET on December 16, participants can view all Day 1 content. Day 2 material will be available at midnight on the 17th, and Day 3 at midnight on the 18th. Beginning December 19th, all content will be available to view on-demand. Convention participants will no longer have to choose between outstanding events scheduled at the same time. For more details and a full list of events, visit

Clinic Highlights:
    •    Listen to performances by top professional groups including Wynton Marsalis, the Canadian Brass, and the Hiroshima Wind Orchestra.
    •    Industry leaders will present fifteen hours of product showcases.
    •    Clinics and panels will be available on dozens of topics.
    •    Watch some outstanding past performances that will return to the archives at the end of January.
    •    Visit a virtual exhibit hall with over 100 companies represented.

Some of the 2020 Clinicians
Hope: The Musical Imperative Project with a panel that includes Paula Crider, Tim Lautzenheiser, Larry Livingston, and more.
What Makes a Great Conductor, H. Robert Reynolds
Solving Remote-Teaching Issues in Underserved Populations with José Diaz, Jennifer Theilacker, Harvey Lockhart, and Madeleine Mollinedo
Middle School Band: What a Year It Has Been by Darcy Williams
Getting to the Art of the Matter by Richard Floyd
How Do We Confront Racism in the Orchestra Classroom? by Soo Han, Abby Alwin, Frank Diaz, Audrey Melzer, and Jennifer Murray
Connecting the Dots: Taking the Mystery Out of Improvisation with Jeff Coffin
Simple Solutions for Virtual Performances by Jason Schayot
Building a Solid Jazz Program by Cynthia Plank
Interviews with Arturo Sandoval and Frank Alkyer by Dick Dunscomb
Teaching Jazz Ensemble Experiences Remotely by Roosevelt Griffin III
Innovative Middle School/High School Teaching by Kim Bain

Musical Performances from the Archives
Frederick Fennell, Kofu Youth Wind Ensemble
Sandra Dackow, Hershey Symphony Festival Strings
Alfred L. Watkins, Lassiter High School Symphonic Band
Erin Cole, Tapp Middle School Symphonic Band
David Effron, Indiana University
Charles T. Menghini, VanderCook College of Music Symphonic Band
Gabriel Musella, Spring High School Wind Ensemble
Rob Parton’s Jazz Tech Big Band
José Antonio Diaz, MacArthur High School
Jerry Junkin, Dallas Wind Symphony
Mark Davis Scatterday, Eastman Wind Ensemble
Bruce Dinkins and Edward S. Lisk, Irmo High School Symphonic Winds
Colonel Lowell E. Graham, US Air Force Band

* * *
A Message from Richard Crain, President of the Midwest Clinic

    On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff, welcome to the Midwest Clinic, unfortunately not in Chicago, but nevertheless we are Staying Connected! We profoundly regret the 2020 invited ensembles will not be able to perform this year, but we look forward, however, to these groups being in Chicago for the 75th Anniversary Midwest Clinic, December 15-18, 2021.
    To our colleagues in instrumental music, thank you for embracing the many challenges you are facing and for your immeasurable dedication to music education. Above all, thank you for making a positive difference in the lives of your students, your schools and in your communities. We are grateful for your loyalty to the mission of The Midwest Clinic. 

* * *
Because The Instrumentalist was also founded in 1946, we recently looked through a number of past issues for our anniversary feature. We found some inspiring quotes from some of the people who will make this year’s Midwest one to remember.

The Canadian Brass (Featured Performer, will also appear live at the 2021 Convention)
    “In addition to Dixieland and jazz as part of our heritage, all of us grew up in American band programs, starting in fourth grade beginning band, junior high band, high school band, and marching band. In a sense we are good examples of the successful end result of all the training we had in band programs while growing up. Some people have remarked after seeing our show, ‘it’s quite obvious that you guys have been in marching bands because you’re not afraid to do a little choreography while playing.’” (The Instrumentalist, April 1985)

Darcy Williams (Clinic: Middle School Band)
    Set clear expectations. Your students want to please you, and if they know what you expect from them, most of the time they will do it. Beginners especially want you to love them, and when you show them exactly what to do, beginners will try their best to do that. Some students will struggle, but their struggles might have nothing to do with band. Keeping that in mind helps you shape how you teach. (The Instrumentalist, May 2019)

Richard Floyd (Clinic: Getting to the Art of the Matter)
    Never forget that you will always be a student. Explore new frontiers, embrace fresh ideas and seek opportunities to collaborate with master teachers. Be on the look out for occasions to observe and be engaged with the finest teachers and conductors within you sphere. The great golf teacher Harvey Penick said it best: ‘If you want to be a better golfer, don’t have lunch with lousy players.’” (The Instrumentalist, August 2015)

Kim Bain (Clinic: Innovative Middle School/High School Teaching)
    As rehearsals progress, I try to go from known to unknown and back to known. That is the shape of the rehearsal. I start with something they feel confident about before introducing new ideas and material. To close out rehearsal, we play something they feel more comfortable with to leave on a solid note…. I try to use humor to keep students interested and engaged. At the same time, for rehearsals to be productive, it has to be my show. The danger about humor is that sometimes students want to jump in there with you.” (The Instrumentalist, November 2015)

Chip DeStefano, McCracken Middle School (Performing Group)
    “High-quality music played well is the single best motivating factor for students, particularly young students. It’s also self-perpetuating. Once you start to get in that cycle, it feeds upon itself. Music can be graded in terms of technical difficulty or musical difficulty. I look for music where the musical difficulty equals or exceeds the technical difficulty…. A piece that is a grade 2 technically but a grade 5 musically can be played by both beginners and an advanced group.” (The Instrumentalist, August 2012)

Alfred Watkins, Lassiter High School
(Performing Group)
    “Musical rehearsals must be fun. When I was a young director, John Paynter told me that students come to us with different perceptions of fun. He said some students enjoy reading War and Peace, and some enjoy a walk in the park. He said it was our job as conductors to help students perceive fun the way we perceive it.” (The Instrumentalist, December 2017)

Wynton Marsalis (Featured Performer)
    “Branford wanted to go to an all-boys Catholic school, and his mother didn’t want him to go alone so she said: ‘Wynton why don’t you do your eighth grade year there?’ Wynton auditioned for the band but he didn’t make the big group – they put him in the second band…. There was a kid about the same age, studying with the same man who later taught Wynton. The kid could really play rings around Wynton, whose ego was bruised by this. So then my son got serious and said to me, ‘Oh, man, I really need a teacher.’” (Ellis Marsalis on his son, Wynton, The Instrumentalist, November 1984)