Category Archives: Newsletter

Newsletter (August 2016)

Join NIMCon!

Membership applications are currently being accepted for the 2016-17 school year. Click above to join NIMCon and become an active member. Every director should register; however, dues are only $75 PER SCHOOL DISTRICT. Membership dues should be mailed to Ellen Singer, NIMCon President  by September 15.  We are excited to hear from you!

Membership Meeting

The annual membership meeting will be on on Thursday, September 22 at 7:00 PM @ Lake Zurich MS North. Lou Malnati’s pizza dinner will be served at 6:15 PM. Dinner includes, salad, pizza (cheese, spinach, pepperoni, sausage), beverage and dessert. Please RSVP for dinner and/or the meeting.  Agenda items will include contest information, budget, by-law updates, and election of Board of Directors.

Welcome and congratulations!

Congratulations to Jen Lydigsen on her new job in St. Charles. Unfortunately for us, that means Jen will no longer have time to serve on the NIMCon board. We are sad to see you go, and wish you the best in your new position! Serving as Interim Secretary to finish out Jen’s term will be Margaret Delligatti from Northwood Jr. High in Highland Park. We welcome Margaret into the position and appreciate her willingness to jump in and serve the organization.

General Information

Photos by Claire Esker / 22nd Century Media (from
Photos by Claire Esker / 22nd Century Media (from

Remember, all of the information you need for NIMCon can be found here at Notable pages include: Rules & Procedures, Solo & Ensemble Contest, and Organization Contest. We received an outpouring of positive feedback after our first year from directors, parents, and students. Many of these testimonials have been posted on various pages of Thank you to everyone who put your trust in us and joined us last year. We are looking forward to an even more successful second contest season! Please continue to send us your feedback privately or publicly with a comment below.

Newsletter (April 2016)

It is hard to believe that a year ago, NIMCon was just an idea. The board of directors would like to thank all of the directors who put their confidence in a new organization, and shared their vision with us. We are thrilled with the positive feedback we have received, and we look forward to the future!

Thank you to all of the contest hosts for enabling us to have a successful first contest season. Your hard work is appreciated!

2017 Contest Dates

We will be putting together a rotation schedule for the following years and will have that ready for the fall meeting. Thank you for the feedback following contest.

Rubric Update

We will be continuing work on the rubric and comment sheets this summer. Please send your feedback to Elise Matusek (

Fall Membership Meeting

The fall membership meeting will be held on Thursday, September 22, 2016 @ Lake Zurich MS North at 7:00 PM. Please plan to attend. We will be sending out information about NIMCon to other directors in the area who are not yet members. If you have names of specific directors you would like us to contact, please send their names to Ellen Singer (

Newsletter (March 2016)

Organization Contest 2016

Plans are well under way for Woodland Middle School Music Department to host the first ever Northern Illinois Music Conference Organization Contest on March 11th & 12th.

Here are a few important notes as you prepare to visit us!

For Directors:

  • Remember to have 3 music scores with each measure numbered for the judges.
  • Please check information that was sent regarding maps for bussing, drop-off and parking.
  • Please share maps with parents so they know where to park as well.
  • Please review NIMCon rules with your students so we have a safe and successful weekend.
  • Please consider sharing the new rubrics with your students so they also know about our new format.
    • A note about our judging rubrics: the scoring is based on information from the National Standards for Music Performance. The point system was created based on the overall five point system, removing ‘5’ which is considered high school levels. This information will be shared with judges prior to our performances.

For Parents, Families, and Friends:

  • Please remind parents, families and friends that everyone is welcome to come hear any of the performance ensembles. There is a $1 admission fee for non-performers (but not bus drivers or chaperones).
  • Wiley’s Cafe will be open for the duration of our contest!

The WMS Music Department staff are excited to see you this weekend!

No Second-Level Contest this year

Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a host for a second level contest for this spring. We are already hard at work to find a location for next year. If anyone has any suggestions, please contact Ellen Singer at

Contest Dates for 2017

Please mark your calendars! These are tentative dates based on the January survey results. As soon as hosts are confirmed, we will send out the official dates. Thank you to those directors who participated in the survey. Your input is greatly appreciated!

  • Solo and Ensemble Contest @ February 25
  • Organization Contest @ March 10/11 or March 17/18
  • Jazz Contest @ March 16 (based on Organization being March 10/11)
  • Honors Festival @ April 22 or April 29

Board of Directors Meeting

The Board of Directors is meeting on Sunday, April 10th. We will be discussing ideas for next year, and have received all of your comments from the Solo and Ensemble Contest survey. We also plan to send out an Organization and Jazz band survey next week. If you have any other comments that you would like us to discuss at our meeting, please let us know by April 3rd. These ideas will help generate an agenda for the general Membership meeting in September.

Solo & Ensemble Contest Success!!!

Congratulations to all of the student performers and their teachers on a terrific day at Solo & Ensemble Contest! We received a lot of positive feedback about the student friendly format with longer performance times and the mini clinics. Twenty-one schools participated with nearly 1000 events taking place over the course of the day.

Many thanks to Lake Forest Country Day School for their hard work in hosting – it was great!

Directors, please take a moment to fill out the survey at

Now it’s time to get geared up for Organization & Jazz Contests.

Newsletter (February 2016)

Hello NIMCon Members,

It’s contest season and here is everything you need to know. If we forget anything, please, leave a comment below.

Solo & Ensemble Contest

Solo & Ensemble Contest is just around the corner! All around Northern Illinois students are working hard toward perfecting their music. What an awesome thing to contemplate. Music making is happening everywhere!

Contest is on February 20 at Lake Forest Country Day School. Thank you to LFCDS directors for their hard work in hosting contest this year.

Below are a handful of reminders about the big day.

Remember to Practice Your Scales / Rudiments!

As a membership, we value the idea that instrumental soloists need to learn the scale that makes up their piece. With that in mind, you probably noticed that the rubric for soloists includes a score of 1-3 points for the student’s performance of a scale. As a friendly reminder, be sure you are preparing students to perform a scale that makes sense for their piece.

Because this may be a new process for everyone participating in NIMCon, here are the details for each instrument type.

Winds & Strings will play a scale in the key of the solo being played. The scale should be up and down and at least one octave. Tempo and note length are at the soloist’s discretion. Beginning students may play the scale in split octaves, that is, a beginning clarinet player may play CDEFGA (drop the octave) BCB (back up the octave AGFEDC. Similar accommodations might be made for other instruments.

Percussionists (mallet players) will play a scale from the Scales for Mallet Players sheet.

Percussionists (snare drum) will play snare drum rudiments. Students should prepare all designated rudiments based on their years of experience.

Percussionists (drum set) will play drum set patterns. Students should prepare all designated patterns based on their years of experience.

Instrumental Ensembles & Vocal Performers do not need to play / sing scales.

S&E includes Short Clinics

Performance time slots have been expanded to 10 minutes to allow for a short clinic where the judge can work with the student. Please, prepare your students so they expect a short clinic where the judge may ask them to play various sections again as well as try different things.

S&E Scoring Rubrics

To provide meaningful feedback for students, performances will be evaluated based on the scoring rubrics below. Along with the rubric system comes a scoring system where students score up to the division rating. If you haven’t already seen the scoring rubric sheets, we encourage you to check them out below.

Rubric scoring sheets allow our judges to select areas of solid playing / singing, or areas that need work. Ample space is provided in each box to make a comment, a note, a rhythm, a dynamic, etc. Judges will receive a sample scoring sheet with their contest information. Several of our hired judges have already expressed excitement about our scoring rubrics!

Best of all, the scoring rubrics are based on the 2014 Music Standards from the National Association for Music Education.

Special thanks to Elise Matusek and Carolyn Awe for the research, writing, rewriting, and reformatting of the new rubric sheets. As we proceed through this first contest season in the new format, please don’t hesitate to forward any thoughts, comments, and suggestions regarding rubrics.

Organization & Jazz Contests

March contests will be here before we know it. Thank you to the directors at Woodland MS in Gurnee for hosting Organization Contest (Mar 11-12) and Nippersink MS in Richmond for hosting Jazz Contest (Mar 17).

Stay tuned for more information. Be sure to visit the event pages as they are updated.

Organization Contest includes a Short Clinic

Performance time slots have been lengthened slightly to allow for a short clinic where the judge can work with the ensemble. All ensembles should make every effort to enter and perform promptly to maximize their time for the clinic.

Please, prepare your students so they expect a short clinic where the judge may ask them to play various sections again as well as try different things.

Organization Contest Rubrics

Ensembles will be evaluated based on the following rubrics.


If you are judging for us, thank you! Be sure to visit the various event pages and Judges page for all information.

Contest Rules & Procedures

As always, you can view the Contest Rules & Procedures at any time.

Newsletter (January 2016)

Solo & Ensemble Contest

Members, you should have received a first draft of the Solo & Ensemble schedule. If not, please contact Jennifer Lydigsen ( asap and we’ll be sure to get it to you.

If you see any major conflicts, please contact Jennifer. As always, try to resolve any conflicts within your school and be sure to  email Jennifer the changes. Also, please let us know if you have any students that have dropped.

Organization Contest

Stay tuned, performance times will be sent out sometime next week.

Second Level Contest (update)

Unfortunately, we were unable to secure an auditorium in either a professional venue or a high school for this year. We would still like to offer a second level “State” contest for those who are interested. If you are willing to host at your school, please contact Ellen Singer ( as soon as possible. The board of directors has already begun looking for a location for next year. Suggestions are welcome.

Looking Ahead to Next Year (2016-17)

Can you Host?

Please, contact Ellen Singer ( if you would like to host any contest for 2016-17 (as well as 2017-18).  We will take requests first, and then we will make up a rotation for the following years. If you have any special requests, please contact Ellen Singer.

Survey: What Dates are Best for You?

We would like to set dates for next year’s contest. Please take a quick survey and let us know what dates you would prefer. Please complete the survey by January 27th.

[google-drive-embed url=”” title=”Register for Organization Contest” icon=”” width=”100%” height=”4000″ style=”embed”]

Contest Registration (2015)

It’s been a great start to the year and now it’s time to register for contest!

Recent News

The NIMCon Board has been working diligently to get all of the pieces in place for our great organization. Starting a new organization has been amazing. We’ve filed with the State for non-profit status, are working on insurance, creating rubrics, ordering medals, maintaining the website, and much more. All of this while planning great events for our members!

Contest Registration

Please read all instructions carefully when signing up and completing forms. Contact us if you have any questions. All rules and procedures can be found at Contest Rules & Procedures.

Register for Solo & Ensemble Contest!
Register for Organization Contest

Once you have registered for Organization Contest and/or Solo & Ensemble Contest please print out and return the Contest Fees Sheet to Laura Blanchard, NIMCon Treasurer, postmarked by December 1st.

We’re looking forward to our inaugural year for NIMCon. Help us make it great!

Newsletter (August 2015)

Join NIMCon Now!

Membership applications are currently being accepted for the 2015-16 school year. Click here to join and become an active member of this new organization. Every director should register; however, dues are only $75 PER SCHOOL DISTRICT. Dues checks should be mailed to Laura Blanchard, NIMCon Treasurer by September 15th. We are excited to hear from you!

Membership Meeting

The annual membership meeting will take place on Thursday, September 17 at 7:00 PM at Lake Zurich MS North. Lou Malnati’s pizza dinner will be served at 6:15 PM. Dinner includes, salad, pizza (cheese, veggie, pepperoni, sausage), beverage and dessert. Please click here to RSVP for dinner and/or the meeting. Agenda items will include contest information, budget, and rubrics for both Solo and Ensemble Contest and Organization Contest.

General Information

Please read the By-laws and Contest Rules and Procedures that were voted on at the June meeting (read the minutes). We are excited to have clinics at all of our contests this year. The Rubric committee is finalizing their report for the September meeting. If you have any suggestions for rubrics, please send them to Elise Matusek, NIMCon Vice-President at Thank you to everyone who attended the meeting and gave us your ideas. Please continue to send us your feedback!

Newsletter (June 2015)

Membership Continues to Grow

Twenty-seven directors from 15 different schools have already joined NIMCon! Thank you for your commitment to this new professional conference. To those considering membership, take a moment to view the schools that have already joined. We hope you will add your name to the list, and be sure to spread the word to directors who may have missed our emails this spring. NIMCon is open to ALL music directors in the State of Illinois.

NIMCon Board of Directors

Congratulations to the following directors who were elected to the NIMCon Board of Directors on June 1st.

June 1st Meeting

We had 31 directors in attendance at our June 1st meeting. We are thrilled with the dialogue that has taken place, and are excited to begin our first contest season! Read the June 1st Meeting Minutes. At the meeting, members voted on Bylaws as well as Contest Rules & Procedures.

We are forming a committee to work on our rubrics this summer. These rubrics will serve as guidelines for directors and judges for solo and ensemble contest. Please contact Elise Matusek, Vice-President, at if you are interested in serving on this committee.

Contest Dates

We are planning to offer Organization Contest on March 11 and 12. As soon as we have a site confirmed, we will post it on the website. We hope this helps those of you who needed a March contest date. We are also continuing our research for a venue for a “second-level” contest to be held in April or the first weekend in May. If you have any ideas, including a name for this contest, please contact us!

Next Meeting

The Annual membership meeting will take place on Thursday, September 17th at 7:00 PM at Lake Zurich MS North. More information will be available in August.

Are you ready to join NIMCon?

Included in this Newsletter:

  1. Membership information
  2. Draft of bylaws
  3. Draft of Contest Rules and Procedures
  4. Agenda for meeting on June 1st
  5. Contest dates/hosts

Are you ready to join NIMCon? If so, please fill out the online membership form. Dues will be collected in September, so you only need to provide your information. Filling out this form now entitles you to vote on bylaws and officers at the June 1st meeting! Can’t make the meeting? Any member who cannot make it to the meeting will be allowed to vote electronically. More information for online voting is coming soon.

Please share your thoughts! We have drafted Bylaws as well as Contest Rules and Procedures. We value your opinion and want to give everyone a chance to be heard. Feel free to comment anytime (contact us), and bring your ideas and questions to the meeting as well.

Agenda for June 1st General Meeting:

  1. Membership
  2. Discussion and voting on Bylaws, Contest Rules and Procedures (including fees)
  3. Contest dates/hosts
  4. Voting on officers
  5. Set date for fall meeting

(more information can be found at the meeting event page)

Contest Dates / Hosts:

Solo & Ensemble Contest will be held on Saturday Feb. 20th at Lake Forest Country Day School in Lake Forest. We are looking for a second site, preferably on Saturday, Feb. 27th.

Organization Contest will be held on TBA at Lake Zurich MS. We are looking for one more site on either the same or a different weekend.

Join NIMCon!