Director's Choice has developed a special continuing education opportunity for up and coming music educators to experience the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. This opportunity is actually the brain child of our Director of Performance Alan Hanna born from his conversations with some of our music educator friends and clients. As a former music educator himself, Alan has a deep passion for the development of music educators and sustainment and advancement of music education in our schools. I sat down with Alan to really understand from an educator's perspective, what attendance at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago has to offer a developing music directors and their programs.
Alan: The idea behind Midwest Success was actually brought to us by a colleague of mine Robert Myers, Director of Fine Arts at Red Oak ISD. He thought it would be a great idea if we could figure out a way to help get a lot of our younger Texas educators to Chicago to attend The Midwest Clinic. So, we kind of kicked it around a little bit, and this is what we came up with.
Stephanie: Why is the Midwest Clinic a great opportunity for a young band or orchestra director?
Alan: Well, The Midwest Clinic is a really special clinic. It was designed to showcase composers and music, but it's become much more than that. There's so many great world class educators, composers, musicians that are featured at the clinic. You get to see the best of the best ensembles, orchestras, and bands. It is really a neat convention. It's a lot different than the convention we have here in Texas, which is TMEA, or TBA. It seems more intimate to me than TMEA just because... I don't know, there's just something about being in Chicago with that group of people that makes it much more close knit. And you're getting to rub elbows with a lot of really cool musicians, educators, and composers.
Stephanie: Talk to us a little bit about this Midwest development trip including some of elements of it.
Alan: Well, first of all, we are a tour travel company, so we do have some buying power when we're buying in numbers, so we're able to get better rates on our airfare because we're sending a group from an airport. We also are able to get a block of rooms at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place right there at the convention center. Plus, we are able to offer participants a payment plan.
Stephanie: So, personally this would be very exciting for a young music educator and their career, but what benefit will they bring back to their administrator, school, or program?
Alan: Well, I can't speak to everybody, but as a young music educator, probably one of the biggest things that I brought back was a better understanding of the new music, and some older music. After the Midwest Clinic,I knew what the hot new pieces are. There's lots of great clinics that cover all aspects of teaching that you can bring back to your classroom, give you new ideas or bring back some old ideas that you had that you hadn't been using in a while. It refreshes you to get going for the next year.
Stephanie: So, what if I'm interested in my ensemble someday be able to actually apply to perform at the Midwest Clinic? Will attending now help me with that?
Alan: If you're a middle school band, or a middle school orchestra, whatever your genre and classification is, you need to go there and see what those other groups are doing if you're thinking about doing that yourself.
The other thing is, Midwest has a clinic for people who are submitting, where you can go and you get the ins and outs and how to do it and basically the whole packet on the steps and the processes on which you use to apply to perform at the Midwest Clinic.
Stephanie: More than going to clinics, or watching performing ensembles, Midwest Success is bringing a large group of Texas music educators together to share this Midwest experience. Talk about the benefit of community and camaraderie being part of this Midwest Success trip.
Alan: Well, you know, any time you get to spend time with your colleagues away from the classroom, away from your home, I think it's a learning environment. I think that's another reason why TMEA and TBA are great. You get to go, and you get to hang out with your friends after the clinic and talk about the clinics, and it really gives more depth in learning.
You can talk to your colleagues or people that you meet there about your individual problems, and they may offer solutions, or may say "Yeah, I have that same problem." And you put your heads together, you build friendships, relationships with people maybe not in your area or in your state sometimes.
Stephanie: So, Midwest Success is a really unusual project for a for profit travel company. Why are we doing this?
Alan: The main thing is, is that we want to support music education. Director's Choice was founded on the fact that we are music educators, and we want to do this for music educators. We wanted to provide quality for them. And so, it's a kind of a way to help support those music educators, a way to give back to them. You know, obviously we're doing this for no profit. We just wanted to offer the opportunity for these directors from Texas to get to go, that might not otherwise go to the Midwest Clinic.
Stephanie: To add value and impact, we are offering a special, exclusive dinner program for our Midwest Success participants. Talk a little bit about what's in the works, and why this will be a real draw.
Alan: As a bonus part of this travel package, we are planning one sit-down dinner with some speakers. We thought that we would get some educators who have taken their groups to Midwest to share about the experience. We've kicked around ideas, some people, I'm not gonna share those people yet, hang on they'll come. One of the reasons we don't know yet is because we want to make sure that we don't double-book anybody that may be performing at the clinic. We'll know a whole lot more about that in June, but we do want to do a dinner with special guest speakers exclusively for those directors on this Midwest Success Trip with us.
Midwest Success is a special continuing education opportunity for up and coming music educators to experience the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. The Director’s Choice Midwest Clinic Professional Development Tour offers an affordable group travel package for music educators to attend the Midwest clinic, including an exclusive Midwest Success dinner or luncheon featuring insider tips from successful Midwest Clinic directors.
The goal for professional development tour is to not only expose music educators to all the Midwest Clinic has to offer, but to inspire them to reflect on their own programs, and bring home a new passion and vision to their schools and communities.
Sign up deadline for Midwest Success is May 1, 2019