And when I get back, I'm going to collapse...for a few days.
First I have to say, this is a definite work of art; packing perfection.
50.05 pounds baby! Yep! It all fit!
I am very proud of myself in not having to pay for another bag, but when I go to ASTA, I will be bringing an empty bag for sure!
This morning, I decided to listen Jason Heath, bass guru, and pay the A440 Violin shop of Chicago a visit. Jason always says in his podcast how great they are with basses. And boy did they deliver! I ubered out to the shop which was about a 20 minute ride and I walked right past it! I did an about face and found the small door with a buzzer. When I was let in, I stepped into a world of music! Check it out...
I got to try some very expensive cellos, violins and violas! What a treat! And the A440 shop hooked me up with a sweet new bass bow.
That's it on the left! I can't wait. I got to try a 5/8 bass as well, which helps me know how big I can go on bass. Then....the owner took me in the back and said he wanted to show me something...a bass I would definitely like and not mind it's size. Look at this:
WHAT IS THAT??? And guess when it was made??? 1750!!! Yep, Bach was just kicking the bucket when this thing got made! I didn't even ask how much it cost, but it was a pleasure to play. Longer string length than I'm used to, but a breeze to get around on the fingerboard.
Then I had the most AMAZING (need new adjectives for the next blog) Uber ride with a guy named William Flaxus. The four of us in his first uber pool ride had a party of a conversation all the way downtown. It really was a hoot. Here he is:
I really love Uber and Chicago! This has been an amazing trip and I'm so thankful to Scott Lang Leadership and World Projects for giving me this opportunity. You all will be seeing me again! Signing off...See you in Alaska!
Be sure to see my next blog on my trip to this year's American String Teacher's Association Conference. Atlanta here I come!
This is it folks...right here:
Pioneer High School Full Symphony Orchestra!
Hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, this group was the whole reason this crazy journey started for me from Alaska. I had heard some of their playing on Youtube because I make it a habit to study all of the past winners of the American String Teacher Association National Orchestra Festival. I became somewhat of a groupie for this orchestra. The sound that this group produces is amazing. When the first piece's sound hit, I thought, yep, that's what the ultimate high School can do. It was truly an experience. Here a few youtube videos to help you imagine...
To say that it was unbelievable is an understatement...actually, I'm running out of adjectives to describe it! As a teacher, I know I may never help students to produce that exact sound all by myself, but at least that is the goal and we can try to get close. That is the sound that I will carry in my head to strive for. A shout out to their teacher, Jonathan Glawe, who's an amazing (running out of adjectives!) conductor! If only, I can get that good.
I had an added treat to hear this group demonstrate later that day at a clinic on how to achieve correct intonation on string instruments. In non-musical terms, how to get kids to sound 'correct' to the listener. It was so much fun to see them up close (I was in the front row) that I forgot to take a picture!
Other highlights of the convention: I realized I have the perfect skill for conference going. Anyone of my students, or my mother when we are traveling, knows how fast I walk! At Midwest, that was an ASSET. Man, navigating around 17,000 people to get to the room you need next was exhausting. And then when you get to the room, the line is around the corner to get in! Right after Pioneer's intonation workshop, I caught the same sort of clinic, but for winds. That's was so cool about Midwest: the ability to have strings and winds side by side.
I caught this one clinic on how to get students to think, listen and move. I was surprised to see a full wind ensemble demonstrating. I'm thinking: how are THEY going to move when they have to keep the mouthes connected to their instrument. Well...they did and when the did, the sound was amazing. That was given by Travis Cross from UCLA. I found my next conducting workshop to go to....
Then the next REAL REASON I came here is to find out how Band people raise so much money. I wasn't disappointed. I caught David Vandewalker's clinic on thriving boosters. He defined a music teacher as a CEO of a people oriented small business with a music problem! I'm thinking: YESSSSSS!!!!!!!! I knew I was right about thinking like we had to be a business. Again, right after the class let out, I used my speed walking to get to the Exhibition hall to find the publisher that puts out his book and bought it!
Ummm....I went a little crazy there....
Heaven help me getting this all into my suitcase. Note to self: bring 2 suitcases. One full one and one empty one for all the stuff you need to haul back because Alaskans HATE to pay shipping!
I was so mesmerized yesterday, that I didn't really take too many photos. Well, I have one more stop I'm going to squeeze in before I have to leave for the airport...stay tuned!
Imagine an exhibit hall like this...
Just massive. And I mean massive. But I developed a plan: the Midwest clinic gives you this bible of a program book. Literally 2 inches thick! I just ripped out the map page and voilà! I know where I'm going. Plus, I went through all of the vendors and marked the ones I wanted so I wouldn't get sucked into wandering...(it's still so hard!)
But in my travels in the exhibition hall, I met one of my favorite people (whom I've never met before)!
Jason Heath, host of the amazingly cool podcast Contrabass Conversations! If you love the bass, you have to go to his site at www.contrabassconversations.com. I am totally a fan and loved getting to talk with Jason in person! I know he was thinking: 'who is this lady up in Alaska???' Check it out!
I had a dizzing array of classes today that were, again, wonderful. I got to hear a wonderful string orchestra from Maryland and watch a panel of my favorite composers. If you heard our performance of It Takes One to Tango, then you will remember the composer Brian Balmages. Even if you don't, we love his music at East as well as Bob Phillips who was also on the panel. I also got to get into the band directors bag of fundraising tips from some great clinics on motivating students and the community. Lots of stuff to bring back there.
But the day wasn't done yet! By chance the Chicago Symphony was playing tonight and anyone and everyone from Midwest was there. I ran into Doug Droste, our All-State conductor from last year. Midwest is great for networking! I love that people are always shocked to see me when they remember where I came from...
But take a look at Symphony hall. You could literally hear a pin drop in this place:
The CSO played the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 with Nikolaj Znaider both conducting and playing the violin solo. It was an amazing concert!
But the best is left for tomorrow!! STAY TUNED!
That's how I would describe this first AMAZING day at the Midwest Clinic. With over 17,000 attendees from all 50 states as well as the world, this event is truly an experience. It is absolutely HUGE. But the wonderful thing is that everything is so well thought out; every detail, right down to where to put my coat. (Note to self: always bring cash for the coat check. It's $3 a day and YOU WANT THIS.)
I met up with the other 'Be our Guest at Midwest' winners this morning...check us out! We were picked out of 800 applicants.
I was absolutely all over the place for classes. The first thing I went to was how to teach Jazz improvisation using 1:1 etudes. This was a very cool pair of clinicians. The two guys have their own website on how to teach jazz theory and improvisation from beginning to advanced. If you are a musician, you have to check their website out: www.shedthemusic.com. I will be using their material very soon for sure.
I also took in two product show cases that were geared to helping Music Directors plan financially for their programs. Snap-Raise is a way to use social media to leverage global donations for programs and Con-Selmer Education is going to show me how to set up asset management for our program to help with financial planning for and growing our program. I am collecting contacts here as well information and fully plan to call on these people when I get home. I love meeting people who are the cutting edge in their fields nationally and picking their brains. It makes me remember that I really don't have to be isolated in Alaska if I don't want to be.
I caught a great clinic given by David Eccles of VanderCook College on the specialty of teaching adult string players and how to get beginning students from 0 to Grade 3 level playing in a year. This will be an invaluable resource for my string technique class at East. The goal has always been to get them into orchestra after a year, but now I have a great model as a resource
There were many more, but I particularly enjoyed Gregg Bissonette, drummer for Ringo Starr's All-Star Band and many more. I have a new appreciation for the drum set and intend on diving into the percussion world. Now, that we have a drum set in my classroom, look out! Seriously, there is so much to learn, but he made it look effortless and a lot of fun. Now I know what to look for in a well-rounded drum set player and will add this to our orchestra program as well as other percussion instruments.
The evening finished up with a special treat: William Harris Lee looked me up on Facebook and told me about his violin shop's Christmas party. Of course this was a bit daunting since I didn't know anyone but I got to meet a very special person:
Meet Stanly Kiernoziak! The man who made my viola! This was such a treat to meet him. He has made 50 violins, 320 violas and 110 cellos. Very cool guy and he was very happy to know I'm taking such good care of his art. I also had another treat:
I got to hear a killer swing band playing the music of the 1920's and 30's and even got some dancing in! Can't wait for tomorrow! BIG PLANS COMING UP! Stay tuned...
I made it! The first thing I see is this and I'm thinking yes!!!
Then the second thing I see is this....
NO!!!! The traffic in Chicago is unbelievable! I don't miss this in Alaska...
I spent the day resting and my official events kicked off with a meet and great with the folks that made this trip possible: Scott Lang, Scott Lang Leadership and World Projects of California. I am so thankful to them for giving me this opportunity. The hotel alone has been an incredible mix of people, sights and sounds. I'm staying at one of THREE hotels for the conference! This is going to be huge.
Scott gave us a history tour last night around the Hilton Chicago because this is where the Midwest Clinic started...in this very ball room. Check it out...
Things kick off this
Nice, right? And the Midwest clinic hasn't officially started until you stand in front of the Christmas Tree:
Stay tuned folks. I'm off to an hour of visiting the exhibition booths to start my day off. They are playing a scavenger hunt, where people are trying to visit at least 50 booths...not sure I'll make that, but I will give it a try!
Well, it’s almost time to go and of course I have picked out all of the clinics I want to attend at this year’s Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois.
Thanks to the Midwest Clinic app, you can not only build your own schedule, get a bar code for express check in, but you can also down load all the handouts that are available to the attendees. Now that I’ve been going to a lot of these conferences, you start to see a pattern on how they are organized.
Some of the clinics I’m looking forward to? They include score study for the busy conductor, teaching Jazz improvisation, Financial Planning for the Music Educator, Beginning strings for the older learner, Guide to happier Tuba section and great sounds from clarinets and saxophones from day one. Doc Severinsen will also be performing...(for those younger readers, he used to be the band leader for Johnny Carson of the Tonight show for 30 years until 1992).
But what I most look forward to is the networking with people doing great things in the field of music and music education. I love being in Alaska, but one has to work to avoid being isolated in what we do. Even though I work with 3 other music teachers at my job, I am the only string teacher. And that can be isolating at times. I love being with other string teachers from all over the country and now at this Conference, will be band directors as well. They are a wealth of knowledge and an amazing resource.
Stay tuned! The fun starts Tuesday!
I always have a system when I go to a conference…there’s only one problem right now. It hasn’t started yet. It’s a big problem when your avocation is your vocation. Finding the boundaries between work and family life is hard when you love what you do. I love learning things that make my students more successful. And at the same time, I enjoy becoming a better teacher myself, so the cycle continues.
Whenever I go to a conference, I always start off my printing out the master list of presentations and presenters. This is truly the hard part because there are always two or three things at the same time that I want to see. Most conferences are now moving to an app based experience. The only problem is…the Midwest one is not out yet. They have told me that it’s coming out right after Thanksgiving. Yes, you know where I will be on Black Friday and it’s not shopping…
The conference apps are a great way to navigate the conference. It will allow you to create your own schedule; which is dangerous for me because I always double or triple book myself and then decide right down to the minute before they start. (Sometimes I split the difference and go to two in the same hour.) The apps also contain all of the conference handouts which I always download all of them (yes, and the IT guy at my school is always scolding me for my data usage…) and save them for later reference. This is really key because you can’t get to everything and I can upload them to Evernote for quick digital access later on all of my devices. People also add their contacts, so I contact people later when I need their expertise.
The app also allows you to ‘hang your hat’ at the conference and let everyone know you are there. It’s a great way to meet people you know who are there that you didn’t know were coming or connect with someone you just met. You can also have background chats or live comments on a presenter while they are talking which can be interesting. I’m a part of a String Teacher group on Facebook that has 7,000 members and I was thinking of organizing a meeting to finally ‘meet’ the people that I talk to in the group. Stay tuned on that…
Well, expect a post on Black Friday if the app pops up in the app store on my phone. I’m clearing out room on my devices as we speak! Look out Midwest. Here I come!
All, I'll be blogging about my trip to Chicago here! I'll keep you all posted on this amazing opportunity! But for now....
Prepping, prepping, prepping and then eventually packing. Where to start? What to take? I'll keep you updated on some of the great clinics being presented at the Midwest Clinic. I've already printed out the schedule...now just have to choose what to go to!