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Booking Clinics - what you need to know

What Teachers Need to Know About Booking Clinics

What Are Clinicians?

Clinicians are professional musicians, masters at their instrument. Most are professional instructors with their own music studios. They can help identify issues with technique, give great advice on how to warm up and practice properly, and identify musical literacy issues. They can help bring together your section, creating a new understanding of material and musical notation specific to the instrument. They help reinforce instrumental knowledge, inspire and encourage practice.

What Are Clinics?

There are basically two types of clinics:

  1. Technique Building:  The clinician will demonstrate proper technique, posture, introducewarm ups, note positions, notation, and help by correcting current bad habits, and suggesting ways to build better new habits. This may include coverage of the music, but the main focus of a Technique Building clinic is learning how to play the instrument(s) properly.

  1. Note Crunching: There is an upcoming concert/festival and need help to pull things together.

An Ideal clinic will have both technique building and musical elements covered, and each clinic is unique in what it needs. One hour is a short time for covering a lot of materials.  Most clinicians agree 1.5 hours is a good amount of time, depending on the amount of music that needs to be learned.

If your budget allows, a 1.5 hour to 2 hour clinic on percussion is recommended. Percussion has an extensive instrument list, and more time allows for more in depth exploration of snare drum, bass drum, and mallet instruments. If your section is not already organized on parts, this is essential to your success in Festivals and I will help you organize. 

Expectations, Realistic Expectations

Set out realistic expectations. Identify some problem areas you want covered in a small hand out to clinicians. Having a plan of attack will help the clinician get through some of your problem spots. Understand that sometimes the problems are many, and only a few items can be addressed in a single hour.

If you have a one hour clinic, you can expect:

  • Technique basics

  • A short warm up

  • Practice strategies

  • Identifying problem areas and working through as much music as possible

  • Identifying equipment failure

  • Working to better their sound, balance, blend and fluency on material they are familiar with

  • Fixing technical or literacy issues, or identifying which of these it may be

  • A positive impact from individual attention

  • Inspiration through hearing a professional sound

It is unreasonable to expect: 

  • 4 - 10 pieces to become polished in an hour. Depending on the group, one to two pieces in an hour is a lot.  Pick sections you want focus on instead

  • Instrument repair (although this might be necessary)

  • Extensive repertoire exploration

  • Percussion sections to have their parts assigned (this takes a lot of time, most of an hour)
  • Every problem fixed or addressed, especially if they were not identified or too numerous to cover in the time allotted

Set Goals

Look at your band section by section. Do low brass need long tone help or tone identification strategies? Do your trombones need help with fast passages? Do your flutes need tuning help? Do your clarinets need to learn to better articulate? Do percussionists need to learn how to play a roll? Set your expectations realistically, then trust your clinicians. They are professionals in their instrument. They will give you their best and get the best they can out of your students!

If you have one section that is especially weak, consider having two clinicians in and splitting them up, or booking two hours if you can afford it.

Pick specific musical points which are the biggest issues to each section.

Technique builders will ALWAYS help the students achieve in the long run. Technique translates to better sound production, speed, articulation, and all those musical things they will need in current and future music.

Allocating space for your clinic rooms ahead of time saves time. Each clinician needs their own room. The Band Room is best for percussion.

Consider having a full rehearsal after your clinic to see the immediate progress!  It's helpful to have clinicians sit in during part of a rehearsal as well. The clinicians can read through music and show the students how wonderful it should sound!

Why Clinics Help So Much

Improving technique and comprehension will allow for more growth in your students throughout the year. A professional can identify the major problems with each student and help them find ways to fix them. Being inspired by someone who makes a living at performing on an instrument is invaluable.

The individual and small group attention will make students feel more accountable, and give them a better understand their role in the bigger picture. Clinicians help them to understand blend, tuning, and how each of them add up to making the section great!

Practice is the only way these techniques will become habits. Taking things they learned in clinics and putting that on playing tests is a great way to help them stay accountable and progressing.

An hour or two is not a permanent solution, it's part of the bigger educational picture. Learning from an expert is a great way to help get those students inspired, and back on track! Band teachers, you're busy! We understand that you do your best, and we are here to help you identify strengths, weaknesses and instrumental repairs that maybe you just haven't been able to get to yet. Suggesting students take lessons is a great way for them to maintain accountability, and to constantly be pushed to progress.

How to Book Clinicians

The best bang for your buck will be to book a clinian by looking them up and calling them or emailing them directly.  Direct to clinician saves you extra booking fees and you know that the rate you are billed is the rate the clinician is getting.  Build relationships with clinicians and professional musicians as you meet them. They'd be happy to come in and help your group! Hourly fees usually start at $60.00 - $65.00. Payment is expected at the end of the clinic.

If you are looking to schedule a large group and are not sure how to do that yourself, you can contact Celene for suggestions. Agencies will have a booking fee, as it does take time to book clinicians. Some have a one time fee, some have several fees.  Be sure to ask about all the booking policies.

All working clinicians should have a current Police Check (vulnerable sectors), and many will have Commercial Liability Insurance, although some will not have both. 

Another option for you if you don't want to book yourself:

When to Book a Clinic

September and October are great for start up clinics with your new students. Get them playing with the right advice off the hop. Clinicians will make sure you're using the right fingering charts and give you advice on what reeds or supplies you might need. Any time you book a clinic you will be investing in your students getting to the next level in their learning.

Before and After school are popular options for times. September, November, December, January and February are peak season for clinics. It will be easier to get clinicians in during school hours and before school as many have their own studios with students after school.

Friday after school tends to see a drop in student population and commitment, so it is not the best day of the week.  

Consider a Pizza Party afterward to entice them to stay after school. This reward helps as incentive and for team building after the clinic is done!

Consider having a full rehearsal after your clinic to see the immediate progress!  It's helpful to have clinicians sit in during part of a rehearsal as well. The clinicians can read through music and show the students how it should sound.

You can book a clinic any time of year, and you will see notable improvement in your students' technique.

Book at least a month in advance, ideally upto three months in advance for out of town or longer clinics.


Where to Book Your Band Clinic

Often clinics are held at schools, but there are many out of town retreat locations available. Here are a few popular ones to consider.

Camp Caroline  is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Calgary. They have some percussion equipment including Bass Drum, Xylophone, 3 tympani, and bells. You still need to bring your own snare drum and stand, mallets, beaters, sticks and auxiliary instruments. They have music stands.

River's Edge Camp is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Calgary, and has some great facilities. They have a set of 4 tympani and a bass drum. They have a large stock of Manhassett music stands. They cater well to food allergies and have space for two simultaneous rehearsals. 

Camp Chestermere is only a few minutes outside Calgary and has built a brand new lodge with several new spaces. They do not have any stands or percussion equipment, but ample space and conveniently located.

Camp Horizon near Bragg Creek (about 45 minutes from Calgary) in the heart of Kaninaskis country is an Easter Seals camp and has some unique activities you won't find anywhere else including their above ground obstacle course.  Their main hall is great for rehearsals and has several break out rooms for other clinics.  They have been expanding, so check to see what their faclities are like.

Camp Kindle is great for smaller groups. It is located in a beautiful mountain valley near the town of Water Valley, AB approximately 1 hour from Calgary. It is a facility for Kids Cancer Care summer camps, and supports a great cause when rented.  Their music hall is a fantastic rehearsal space.

Kamp Kiwanis  located 30kms West of Calgary is another facility that is now being used more frequently for band camps. They have one larger main hall and break out buildings.

Pioneer Lodge offers different outdoor activities than the other camps including horse back riding.  It has plenty of break-out rooms for clinics.


I wish you the best of luck in booking your clinics, wherever they may be! Music is an experience that students will never forget.  It's challenging and rewarding in many ways. My Junior High band teacher, Pat MacFarlane, started me on this path. You never know how influential you may be!

Questions? Contact Celene by clicking here for more information! 

~Celene Yohemas