The Midwest Clinic

Before we get to the point, just a slight disclaimer-I know the video quality is sub-par, and I’m trying to find a way as we speak to get it working so that my voice and my mouth actually move at the same time! Updates hopefully coming soon on this.

Anyway, enough with the randomness, on to the important stuff. The important stuff, today, is my visit to the Midwest Clinic, an international Music Education conference, which includes performances by high-quality ensembles ranging from junior high to professional levels, as well as thousands of exhibitors and many very interesting sessions over the course of the week.

The clinic lasted from Tuesday to Saturday, and was located at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue. I attended Wednesday and Thursday. Some highlights:

  • “The Journey Begins: Career Planning for the Young Music Educators” – Clinic by Scott Laird. Mr. Laird had great suggestions for older college students or those just out of college who were looking for jobs. He had good suggestions for networking and getting your name out there. I found the clinic didn’t as much apply to me as some others would, as I am not quite in the career stage yet.
  • “Organizing Your Band/Orchestra Program to Fit Your School and Your Life” – Clinic by Bill Laughlin. Mr. Laughlin made a fantastic presentation on staying organized as a band director, as well as some helpful tips and tricks for keeping the program running smoothly. I learned a lot about how I would keep my progam organized in the years to come as a band director.
  • “Beyond the Bag of Tricks: Helpful Strategies for Beginning Instrumental Music Teachers” – Clinic by Scott Bersaglia, Teresa Elliot, Brian Silvey. Interesting session that inculded tips and tricks for new music teachers for how to start a program and improve the overall sound of the band through rehearsal techniques.
  • Nequa Valley High School Chamber Symphony featuring John Hagstrom. Works included Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto, performed by Hagstrom, 4th trumpet player for the Chicago Symphony and Trumpet Professor at DePaul University.
  • New Trier Jazz Ensemble I featuring Wayne Bergeron and Jeff Coffin. Bergeron is the lead trumpet player for Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, and Coffin plays with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. the NT Jazz Ensemble has some of my good friends from my days with the Midwest Young Artists Big Band, so it was nice seeing them, as well.

I also had the pleasure of enjoying an evening downtown with some friends from UMiami, who were up for the conference as well. It was an enjoyable night, walking around the city looking for a place to eat, and then taking the “El” back to the Hilton (or in my case, home by way of Union Station).

I also bought my first ever baton! I hear most of you whispering in the back of your heads “whoopdy doo Andy…” but it was exciting for me. Many minutes have been spent conducting in front of a mirror since then.

All in all, Midwest was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to going again next year!

South Nine Jazz Ensemble

I had the opportunity last Wednesday to go to the Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club to enjoy some quality jazz played by the South Nine Jazz Ensemble. South Nine is made up of members of the Concert Jazz Band (CJB) here at UM, the top big band in the school. The band is made up of Augie Haas (trumpet/co-leader), Ryan Socrates (drums/co-leader), Steve Pardo (tenor Sax), David Palma (alto Sax), Jason Kush (bari-sax), Cisco Dimas (trumpet), Chad Bernstein (trombone), Joe Rehmer (bass), and Gabe Evens (piano). Garret Arrowwood and Mike Thomas were subbing for Chad Bernstein and Steve Pardo, respectively.

Unfortuantely, due to heavy traffic, I was only able to hear the last 20 minutes of the set, but what I heard was very impressive. The group played with a really good feel, and all the soloists were impressive. They played a few original compositions by Ryan Socrates, which were very impressive both in the actual composition and the style.

The group closed with a tune called “Chill,” a fun arrangement of the Dr. Mario theme and a jazz tune called “St. Thomas.” Here’s an excerpt of the South Nine Jazz Ensemble playing “Chill” at a different gig at Arturo’s, featuring Chad Bernstein on trombone:

The group is definitely talented, I’m looking forward to seeing them again! Check them out on the web at!

Maria Schneider Residency

I suppose this is what I get for sleeping until 3:45 pm on a Sunday… Theory in 3 hours plus and I can’t sleep…

Anyway, on to the topic of my late-night post.

This weekend, Maria Schneider, world renowned composer and arranger, completed a 3-day residency at UM. During her time here, she spoke with some jazz classes, had a session with the music business students in which she told them about her record label and the business aspect of her life, and, most importantly, put on a concert with the award-winning Miami Concert Jazz Band (CJB). The CJB spent the first month and a half of the semester preparing a repertoire of Maria’s music, and after a few days of rigorous rehearsing with the composer herself, put on what I’m told was an incredible concert this past Saturday, October 6th.

Unfortunately, due to a Marching Band commitment, I was not able to attend, although I was able to sit in on an open rehearsal with Maria and the CJB on Friday afternoon. Having played some of Maria’s music myself, It was truly an incredible experience hearing her opinions on how the music should be interpreted and played, as well as her stories about how the pieces came to be.

The CJB’s performance of Hang Gliding was particularly nostalgic, as I had the privilege to play this piece with the Midwest Young Artists Big Band during my Junior year (shout out to Nic Meyer, director, and all the members of that band–good times!). Maria rehearsed this piece with the CJB on Friday afternoon, and explained to them how it was written after her first trip to South America in which she had the opportunity to Hang Glide off of a cliff through the mountains. As the piece develops, the listener can hear the different stages of the journey, starting with tension, followed by an uplifting draft of wind, the beauty of the sky, and the excitement of the ever-speeding up trip before the safe landing on the ground thousands of feet below. It was a truly increidble experience listening to the so-familiar song in this new light. I would reccomend the piece to anyone, not just jazz enthusiasts, it’s on the album Allegresse.