Every year I make the trek to snowy Minnesota. It seems like with the cold and the snow and the driving, I should probably dread this trip. I mean why would anyone go to Minnesota at this time a year? Well, the truth is, this trip to Redwing is one of my favorite trips of the year.
The number one reason I love going to Redwing Minnesota is to see the great teachers and meet the new, eager students at the instrument repair school of Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical. Every year I get to attend the advisory committee meeting and give my input as a member. I get to hear the forward thinking ideas and extreme creativity of Lucas, John and Greg, three really great instructors with wonderful ideas. It's not often I get to see people so comfortable and fluid at what they do. It's always inspiring.
Each year I also have the pleasure of meeting the students and having some time to share my ideas with them. This year is extra special, in that the guys asked me if I would be willing to talk to the students for an entire day. I'm really excited about this! Can you imagine over 45 people who are willing to geek out on instrument repair for an entire day? Yeah, it sounds like a party to me!
This year I'm going to stay in Redwing over the weekend and attend the NAPBIRT conference. One of the guest speakers is Mark Schmedinghoff, a band instrument repair instructor from Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, Iowa. Mark will be speaking about low clarinets and baritone saxophones. Ken Skitch of Heid Music will be giving clinics about pad installation and soldering. NAPBIRT clinics are always a wonderful meeting of the minds, and Mark and Ken are two wonderful minds. Of course, we all get as much from the coffee breaks and morning chats as we do from the clinics. Long live NAPBIRT!
After a day of talking to the students, a day of advisory committee meeting, and a day as a student, I will be taking some time to go down to the river to spot some bald eagles and maybe take a leisurely stroll on the ice. If you're in Redwing, look me up! No doubt I'll be enjoying Redwing’s tiny yet vibrant downtown late into the evenings.