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My First Clinician Gig!

It’s been a minute! I’ve been busy coordinating our state-wide middle school clinics, and this past week, I was invited to BE the clinician myself!

How my day timestamps:

4:30 a.m. - Alarm goes off. Hits snooze, and temporarily regret life decisions.

4:45 a.m.- Finally roll out of bed. Get prepped and ready to go.

5:30 a.m. - Leave home to travel to clinic location. Coffee in hand. Jamz in car.

8:30 a.m.- Arrive at location. Figure out where I’m supposed to be.

9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.- Conduct clinic. Try not to get run out of town with my crazy antics.

12:45 p.m.-Start my 3 hour drive. Eat all of the things at Chipotle.

4:00 p.m. -Arrive home. Because I’m crazy, I decided that we would hang cabinets in our laundry                          room. (I got real grumpy and hangry after this, guys. Don’t overdo it.)

9:00 p.m. -Pass out from exhaustion

And yes, I had to get up incredibly early. Not really how one envisions spending a day out of school!

Aforementioned laundry room cabinets. My husband is the best. Especially since I started renovating our laundry room on a random day off from school without first consulting him. I just sent him a text saying "hey, don't come in through the garage."

This was my first experience acting as a clinician. Since I’m in the unique position of organizing other clinics all across our state, I thought it’d be interesting to share what I learned as a first-timer.

Being the clinician is hard work!

I know you have to  be "on" during your regular classes at school, too, but I totally underestimated the power of the small breaks I get during the day via class changes, bell work , independent practice, etc.

Plan breaks in the schedule for your clinicians.

My site host planned group performances every hour or so, and it was really nice to have a few minutes to sit down and listen to other schools. As a site host for two upcoming clinics, I’m now thinking about strategically planning team building activities or games every 45 minutes to an hour to break things up, and give our hard-working clinicians some down time.

Choose appropriate repertoire for the situation.

The choirs I worked with were non-auditioned, so I purposefully chose repertoire that I hoped would be approachable for a variety of school settings, and ideally something that directors might consider using in their own concert programming. For this SSA clinic, I selected:

1. Trouble, Fly            arr. Particia McKernon Runkle

2. Soran Bushi         arr. Wendy B. Stuart

3. Sisi Ni Moja           arr. Jacob Narverud

I knew that Trouble, Fly and Sisi Ni Moja would work well, and I picked Soran Bushi with the intention of pushing the kids “out of their bubble.” This piece is in Japanese,  and layers 3-4 main melodies on top of each other to create harmonic patterns. During rehearsal, I really tried to discuss the story behind the piece to get the girls engaged. We also moved and walked to the music to feel the rhythmic drive.

As tired as I was after only a half-day clinic, I really felt like it needed to be longer.

By the time we all got settled, we had a maximum rehearsal time of 3 hours. There were so many details in each piece that I would have really loved to discuss with the students, but didn’t feel there was enough time to cover.

Other choirs in our state are doing good things!

Each choir that attended came from such different backgrounds different than my own situation. But, I could really tell that each director had such a great heart for her own students, and really cared that these kids had the best music education that they could provide. Fun fact: I learned that there is a two part version of Eric Whitaker’s Seal Lullaby. Did you know that? Like, what?!?

I feel more appreciative of my own program and school.

I’m very fortunate to have the facilities, support, and students that I work with every day. I was speaking with another director, who was telling me that they were only allowed to take one field trip a semester. ONE!

Maybe we should provide snacks for our clinicians?

I would appreciate snacks...Just sayin’!


It’s stressful to drive a long way to a place you’ve never been.

So, as a site host, this makes me want to make sure I provide directions, maps, images, etc. to make everything as transparent as possible so visiting directors feel comfortable navigating to my location.

Have you ever been a clinician, or hosted an event? What would you add to this list?

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