McCracken Middle School Symphonic Band

Skokie, Illinois

The Village of Skokie is located just 16 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.  Home to approximately 60,000 residents, Skokie covers 10.2 square miles of land.  Superior municipal services, together with the nationally acclaimed Skokie Park District, the superb Skokie Public Library, the preeminent Northshore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park and outstanding school districts make Skokie an excellent place to live.  The Village is a recipient of the Governor’s Hometown Award and has received “All America City” finalist distinction from the National Civic League.

Skokie School District 73.5

Skokie School District 73.5 is home to approximately 1100 kindergarten through 8th grade students.  We have three schools: Elizabeth Meyer School (pre-kindergarten and kindergarten), John Middleton School (grades 1 through 5) and Oliver McCracken Middle School (grades 6 through 8).  Our students have ancestral origins from all over the world.  Nearly half of our students are bilingual, speaking nearly 40 languages.  Our students are more diverse, economically, racially, religiously, linguistically and socially, than most schools in the surrounding suburbs.  Our community embraces and celebrates this diversity and appreciates the opportunity children and families have to interact and form friendships with such a wide spectrum of people.

McCracken Middle School serves a population of about 375 students.  Recognized as a National School of Excellence by the Blue Ribbon School Program in 2001, McCracken students achieve not only academic success, but have a tradition of excelling in the fine arts.

McCracken Middle School Symphonic Band

Currently, 202 students in grades four through eight participate in the Symphonic Band, Concert Band, 5th Grade Band, Beginning Band and various chamber ensembles.  The McCracken Middle School Symphonic Band, among the elite of middle school bands in Illinois, has performed at several prestigious events in recent years including three performances at the MENC North-Central Conference (2001, 2005, and 2011), several performances at the IMEA All-State Conference, and performances at the 2006 and 2013 Midwest Clinic.  The Symphonic Band has made 16 appearances at the University of Illinois Superstate Concert Band Festival, being selected as the honor band in 2000, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2013, and 2015.  The Symphonic Band has also received 50 consecutive superior ratings at the Illinois Grade School Music Association District Organization Contest and has been selected as an “honors” ensemble at all thirteen IGSMA State Festivals it has participated in.

The Symphonic Band has also performed at the USBands Concert Series at Chicago’s Symphony Center, IMEA Music Education Day at the Capitol, Plainfield Concert Band Festival, the Midwest Music Festival, Skokie Festival of Cultures, AYSO Opening Ceremonies, and WBBM News Radio 780 30th anniversary promotion.  In the spring of 2001, the band was highlighted in WLS-TV’s (Chicago’s ABC affiliate) feature “Someone You Should Know.”  Four times in recent years, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen and the Village Board of Trustees have passed resolutions honoring our students’ outstanding achievements in instrumental music.

The success of our band program is due to the hard work of the administration, the parents, the community, the educators, and most importantly, our students.

My Sessions

Conducting Mini-Symposium


A conducting feedback session with six workshop attendees conducting a combined side-by-side band of the McCracken Middle School Symphonic Band and Director’s Band. Repertoire options include: Byzantine Dances – Carol Brittin Chambers (Excelcia Music) Rippling Watercolors – Brian Balmages (FJH Music) Halcyon Hearts – Katahj Copley (Katahj Copley Music) Andromeda – David Gillingham (C Alan Publications)

Clinic Session