I left New Hampshire on Friday night, cats in tow on the way to my parents house. It was time for my yearly trek to the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, with stops in RI (to drop of the cats at their island home), and in Indiana for some time with my sister and her family. I have made a variation of this trip every year since 2006, with a one year pause a few years back. For the three-hour trip from NH to RI, I thought I would try to get myself focused for the upcoming conference. Why is the Midwest Clinic so important? Why do so many people, from all over the world, make the journey to Chicago (In December… Yes, warm sunny Chicago in December) for this conference? And more importantly, what did I hope to get out of this experience year in and year out, and are my expectations met?
When I arrived in RI, I got a message from composer Mark Connor, who has an excellent band podcast: Everything Band. He asked me to jump in on a Midwest Clinic preview podcast. I joined Mark and composer John Pasternak to talk some Midwest. You should check out the podcast! It was a great and informative conversation about what we thought were good sessions and concerts. What we thought… The opinions of three of the how many thousands of people going to Midwest. And there was so much more to the released podcast that talked about the true importance of Midwest, and some not released conversations that should even more (Thank you Mark for not releasing some of the things I said. Three hours in a car and my filter was definitely shut down for the night.)
The great conversation kept in my mind as I drove to Indiana for my pre Midwest visit with my sister and her family. As I drove, and drove, and drove, and listened to the insanely diverse musical selection on my IPod, I began to melt the podcast conversation in to one word that has been weighing heavily on me lately. Change.
We all change. We are all constantly changing, yet some of us tend to resist this change, or ignore that it happens. But there is also this constant pressure to just change for the sake of change, which isn’t good and I will mildly touch on towards the end of my ramblings here. But change is constant and whether you want to admit it or not, you are not the same person you were yesterday. Your life experiences, good and bad, change you, and if you resist it, you are stunting your growth, and the growth of those you teach (If you are a teacher.)
So why do you go to Midwest? What do you hope to get out of the days of insanity that makes up the Midwest Clinic? I hope the reason you go is change. I hope you go to Midwest to learn, and to be better at what you do. Open your eyes and ears to the things around you while you are in Chicago. Take these few days among peers to learn from them, and bounce ideas off of them. Will you walk away from the conference with new ideas?
So here is the questions you need to ask yourself as you head to Midwest. What will you learn? How will you change? Who will you meet that will change the way you do things?
And if you want, stop by the National Band Association Booth Thursday between 1:00 – 2:00pm or Friday between 12:00 – 1:00pm, if you are one of the five people who reads this, and say hi. That is the only time I can guarantee where I will be while I am in Chicago.
I said I would talk about change just for the sake of change. It is one of the few things that truly depresses me anymore, and very common in education. Change needs to have purpose and direction. Change should happen organically and not be forced. Change is important, but not to be force-fed to those who have a hard time with it. Find a way to help the process of change in a positive way. Everyone is always changing. Everything is always changing!
Midwest is a time to help us find new direction and to help us change for the better. If you go to Midwest to justify or to self ego stroke, you are missing out on something truly special. Are you afraid to let the change happen? I hope you don’t think you don’t need to change or grow any more!
Oh, and look up from your cell phone every once in a while. You are missing a lot of fun and interesting things!
Thank you to my talented niece Alessia for this drawing.