By Stephanie Carlson Curtis
The holiday season presented a special musical moment for 63 middle school students who performed at the world’s largest instrumental music education conference. The wind symphony was invited to play a 30-minute concert at the 67th Annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago in December.
“There is no invitation that is as prestigious or held in as high esteem,” said Wendy Higdon, Director of Bands and Unified Arts Department Chair at Creekside Middle School. “The Creekside band program, our school district and community got the chance to shine on the international stage.”
Ensembles submitted applications in March 2013 including audio and video of a live performance showing the conductor’s facial expressions, gestures and overall style along with letters of recommendation, photographs and a detailed entry form. Members of the Midwest Board of Directors evaluated the CD recordings in a blind screening to narrow the field, then reviewed other materials to make a final determination which resulted in an invitation to showcase Creekside’s musical talents.
Creekside’s wind symphony was one of four middle schools that participated in the Midwest Clinic along with adult professional organizations, high school, university and military orchestras from across the nation and around the world coming from as far away as Kagoshima City, Japan, and Bogotá, Colombia. These ensembles represented the best of the best in musical band and orchestra performance.
“It’s a great honor to be able to play at one of the most prestigious concerts,” said Adam Munshi, a seventh grade trombone player.
Chris Grifa, Co-Director of Bands, says parents and the community have pitched in to fund
the $54,000 trip for the students. “We are so appreciative of the support and encouragement that we have received from the community throughout this process. Our parents have been phenomenal in helping to take care of so many of the non-musical aspects related to this performance. That has been so important to us, as directors, so that we can keep our focus on the students and their musical preparation.”
“It definitely encourages us to try to better our skills in the future,” said seventh grader Jordan Walker who plays saxophone.
More than 17,000 people from all 50 states and over 30 countries attended the annual conference. Its purpose is to raise the standards and improve methods employed in music education, develop new teaching techniques and share information with colleagues that will strengthen education and the music profession as well as provide new ideas for band instructors in classrooms around the globe.
“Band directors come to The Midwest Clinic to be inspired and to bring back ideas to use in their own classrooms,” said Higdon. “We told the students that they have the opportunity to have an impact on other students by inspiring their teachers.”