I arrived with my colleagues in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. We travelled to our hotel via train to check in, drop out bags and catch the shuttle out to the Midwest Clinic for registration. I was excited to be back in Chicago for Midwest, I had attended previously in 2011. The clinic provides many opportunities to learn valuable teaching strategies and methodologies, connect with friends from across the country, and enjoy one of my favorite cities in America in one of the very few trips I’ve taken in the last 24 months that doesn’t involve a race of some sort. (I was lucky enough to find a 5k in town last time I attended the clinic, not so lucky this year.)
We arrived at the McCormick Center and made our way to registration. In the couple hundred feet from the top of the escalator to the registration desk we ran into 3 friends who were band directors in Mississippi and I almost ran into a friend I marched drum corps with in 2005 & 2006 and haven’t seen since! After registration we shuttled back to the hotel and walked around the block to take in our first Chicago meal, Giordano’s Pizza. If you’ve never had the opportunity to truly enjoy authentic Chicago deep dish pizza please take a moment to add it to your bucket list, you’ll thank me once you get the chance to check it off.
Thursday morning I awoke early to meet a friend at Millennium Park for a 6:30 run. I arrive at the giant bean as we agreed a few minutes early and too the time to stretch while I waited for him to make it. Once my watch reached 7:00 I decided to start my run without him. I went out of the back of the park towards Lake Michigan where there is a lake front running and fitness trail. The lake was frozen over and the sun was starting to rise over the water & ice. It was an incredible sight. Even more incredible was after stopping to take a picture my friend came running around a corner in the opposite direction. He had left his hotel and went the wrong direction to meet me and figured I would be gone by the time he realized it. We ran together for almost 4 miles running down to Navy Pier & back towards Michigan Ave before splitting off to head back to our separate hotels.
After a shower and Dunkin Doughnuts coffee I met with Matt & we shuttled down to the clinic for morning sessions. I started by attending an incredible clinic that centered around ways to integrate the use of a smart board into the band classroom. (A challenge I have been facing for the past 18 weeks!) the clinician shared do me of resources and tips and ideas. Next up was a panel discussion about the use of Smart Music in middle and high school band programs. Smart Music is a practice aid software for students to use. I was lucky enough to become versed in the software at a former job and am trying to expose my new students to it as often as possible.
After lunch I attended two back to back clinics focused on Pyware software and writing drill for marching band. I squeezed in time afterwards to walk through the exhibit hall and visit with vendors to earn about new products and programs to help aid the effectiveness of a quality music education in the lives of youth. Then it was back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
Matt & I took a cab downtown to eat at Ed Debevic’s. I ate here earlier this summer after I attended a Chicago White Sox game. The staff is rude and regularly yell and insult the customers. You’re greeted by disgust and constantly rushed to eat your food and get out. It’s a wonderful place to be.
After a delicious burger and a way too big Oreo milkshake we walked several blocks across town and found a movie theatre where we sat down to watch American Hustle. Which I loved. Like any mob/gangster/druggie movie based in the 70s it has it’s moments that are more difficult to follow, but a great cast and a great storyline made it worth every dollar to see it.
We walked back across the river late into the night and back into the hotel. I was lucky enough to get a few short hours of sleep before having to start the second day of the Clinic.