Woodridge, Illinois-based organization Midwest Clinic has announced that its international band and orchestra conference, which it canceled back in June, will be held virtually this year from December 16 to 18. Registration is open now.
Midwest Clinic Executive Director Kelly Bryan commented on the decision to first cancel the event, normally held at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
“We had to make the call about canceling our event back in June because we had so many people that were already making plans about travel,” Bryan said. “We had performing ensembles coming from all over the country, actually all over the world. We had groups from Japan that were trying to make it work. It didn’t make sense for us to keep walking down that path.”
At that time, Midwest Clinic knew it wanted to rebound with a virtual event, but it first had some work to do. Bryan studied how it played out as other organizations hosted virtual events and researched a range of different platforms before settling on one.
“And then there was the challenge of taking a very well established, over 70-year-old vision of what this event is and then trying to pivot into something that we could do virtually,” she said. “We are a board-run organization, and so getting 18 people all on the same page was definitely a challenge.”
The virtual Midwest Clinic will offer never-before-seen footage of performances from previous iterations of the event, culled from decades of archives. “There [are] a lot of these performances that people have never seen or they haven’t seen in decades,” Bryan said. “Basically it’s almost like taking them out of the Disney vault if you will.”
The virtual version of Midwest Clinic will also feature educational features presented by what it calls “titans” of the music education industry. “Not everybody has been confirmed, but a lot of them are iconic clinicians that have presented at the Midwest Clinic in the past — people [who] are authorities on various different aspects of music education from pedagogy to recruitment to conducting to various different instrumentation, like low brass, high brass, strings, jazz,” she said. These 30- to 90-minute presentations and discussions will be intermixed with the archival performances. “So it’s going to be like a variety show experience sampling of the Midwest Clinic.”
The virtual event also allows attendees to complete professional development hours. “[As] an attendee watches these clinics or these educational features and performances, the system is going to be tracking their viewership and then they can apply to receive a certificate of hours completed for licensure purposes,” Bryan said.
Additionally, the virtual event offers live chats with educators and industry partners. “Chats are going to be scheduled over the three days that we’re holding events,” she said. “So they are going to happen in real time, and they’ll cover topics that are relevant to educators right now. So it could be anything from handling recruitment and retention during COVID to planning a trips for the future, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of students.”
Finally, the event will have a virtual exhibit hall. “We’re pretty excited about this,” she said. “The exhibit area is broken down into different categories, so apparel, marching arts, string accessories, colleges and universities, summer program programs and festivals, things like that. In each of those categories, our exhibitors will have what would be essentially a virtual booth.” In these booths, exhibitors can post YouTube videos and their websites, have their guest book signed and more.