It’s a University of Virginia’s College at Wise music tradition a decade in the making. Students travel to the Windy City for an in-depth, immersive experience in music education and performance each December.
UVA Wise Director of Bands Richard Galyean, who sponsors the annual educational trip, believes the experience is incredibly valuable for not only student education but also success in becoming a music teacher.
“In order for our students to know what greatness is, they must see for themselves what the very best music programs nationally are currently doing and hear from their directors how to get them there,” Galyean said. “It’s an example of how UVA Wise students are receiving an outstanding, practical and personalized education that will prepare them to be leaders within our community in the future.”
UVA Wise students and faculty joined nearly 18,000 music educators, performers and other students from 50 states and 40 countries at the 75th International Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois.
The conference is also known as the Midwest Clinic. In December 1946, the Clinic got its start when about 120 music directors from the Chicago area got together at the YMCA gymnasium on Chicago’s West Side for a six-hour clinic and new music reading session. Since then, it’s grown into a four-day international conference.
The clinic’s mission is to strengthen “international instrumental music education through extensive professional development opportunities, inspirational experiences and cultivation of rewarding professional relationships.”
Last month, Galyean, Instructor of Woodwinds Jenny Collins, and Marching Band Assistant Jason Bailey led a group of students to the Clinic, including sophomore music education major Dawson Mullins and senior music education majors Hayden Barker, Austin Farmer and Seth Boyd.
When Boyd, a senior music education major and clarinetist, first visited the clinic’s exhibits on the trip in December, he felt like a “kid in a candy shop.”
“My first Midwest experience was nothing short of breathtaking,” Boyd said. “I was able to attend one-of-a kind seminars that furthered my skills and gave me insight as a musician and future educator. The clinic was full of top-tier performing ensembles.”
Those ensembles included groups from around the world and featured performances from middle schools, adult community groups and professional and military ensembles.
“Being exposed to such disciplined and talented groups really sets the bar high for the spring semester,” Boyd said. “I was also very thankful for the UVA Wise faculty that made this possible for us. It speaks highly of their commitment to music education here in Southwestern Virginia.”
At the Midwest Clinic, UVA Wise students also took part in classes designed for a wide range of music careers alongside professionals including music teachers of all levels, arts administrators, music students and musicians. Those classes provided students a chance to learn “pedagogy from the very best in their fields” and best practices for recruiting and retention.
The clinic also provided the opportunity for students to meet with acclaimed composers, music industry representatives and other music career professionals.
“Midwest was where I learned not only what is possible, but also what it takes to build a nationally known music program. It is a place where we can meet and converse with our heroes, as well as interact with our most successful colleagues,” UVA Wise Woodwinds Instructor Collins says of her memories attending the event as a young band director. “I am so grateful that here at UVA Wise we were able to give this experience to our students while they are still in college!”