My memory serves me well; I can vividly see the novel, distinguishing architecture of McCormick Place West as it proudly stands in the outskirts of Chicago. I remember taking that first step into the building and being hit with a wave of utter amazement. Words cannot begin to describe how I felt. As I looked to my left I saw row upon row of performance and warm up rooms, and to my right was a magnificent display of instruments, music, and vendors. At my feet was an enormous carpet with the Chicago cityscape, and above my head hung several hundred banners colored blue and green reading “The Midwest Clinic, Chicago 2009.”
For those not familiar with instrumental music and its programs and events, The Midwest Clinic is an “international band and orchestra conference” held annually in Chicago, Illinois. Approximately 40 groups are selected to perform each year, varying from middle and high school bands, college jazz ensembles, military bands, and international orchestras. The groups selected are virtually the best of the best and are chosen to perform and showcase their talents in order to better other programs and also the community.
Now, there is quite a bit of background information involving my trip to The Midwest Clinic. I play the flute. I love it more than anything in the entire world (even more than I love my boyfriend, but he does not know that) and I want to make some kind of career out of it. I am not just any old run-of-the-mill flute player, either; I am an Iowa All-State flute player and proud of it. I take private lessons from Dr. Christine Beard at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and over the past two years she has become not only my teacher, but my mentor and a close friend as well. About a year and a half ago, she invited me to play in an ensemble she directs; The Heartland Community Flute Choir. I graciously accepted and have been a dedicated member ever since. The ensemble was lucky enough to be one of the groups selected to perform at The Midwest Clinic, so naturally we accepted and packed our bags.
Our performance was spectacular; the acoustics of the performance hall were perfect and the resonance of every single note sent goose bumps down my spine. The sophisticated beauty of the ensemble stays in my memory to this very day; the sleekness of each musician clothed in all black while clutching that lustrous silver flute was enough to take anyone’s breath away. The simple elegance made everything go silent.
The entire trip opened my eyes to the world of music further than they had ever been before. I realized that there are so many opportunities in the world, and none of them even come close to what opportunities lay in my little hometown in Iowa. It inspired me. I saw elementary-age children playing violin better than anyone I had ever heard and I watched a United States military band perform Stars and Stripes Forever with perfection and finesse unknown to me before that day. I now strive to be a better musician every day because I crave that experience again. I can only hope that someday it will pay off. Until then, I will take pride and pleasure in playing my flute for my own enjoyment. The Midwest Clinic changed the way I look at music.
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