Planning your first school band trip?
You’ve worked hard to grow your band program—now, it’s time to show it off to the world! Your students are ready to march through the streets, fill a stadium of fans or compete at the highest level. It’s time to shine.
Then, reality sets in.
The prospect of being responsible for 40, 60, even 100 or more students on the road, for days at a time, can be downright daunting. Do not fear: With a good plan and the right partner you can have that amazing experience you desire, without adding one grey hair to your head.
First decision: Select a location.
Popular destinations such as New York or Orlando are always huge draws, and guaranteed to get even the most lackadaisical teenager out for a carwash fundraiser at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. Or perhaps it might be better to start off closer to home. Get your start by dipping your toes into something more affordable with which you are more familiar, within a four- to five-hour drive.
Next: Tackle trip activities.
Start by selecting performance-related opportunities. How about something so cool the kids will be proud enough to brag about it on Snap Chat—like the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye? An educational clinic is another way to go. Sometimes that fresh perspective from an outside source is just the boost students need to finally implement the critiques you’ve been telling them about for months. Fill in the public and educational opportunities with a service-type performance, to contribute to students’ college applications. Consider a retirement community, such as the U.S. Soldiers and Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., for a built-in and appreciative audience.
Once you’ve determined where you want to perform, mix in a healthy dose of fun and educational attractions to keep the students and school board happy. How about an aquatic show at the Shedd Aquarium followed by visits to the exhibits?
Now: It’s time to think about safety.
When you’re searching for a tour operator, look for one that holds a membership in the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA). SYTA members have been thoroughly vetted and have access to the most up-to-date student travel safety data. Along with your tour operator, you can plan for nighttime security to ensure students are always looked after.
Finally: Educational Tours recommends having a professional tour manager onsite during the trip.
Hammering the horn intro and perfecting percussion’s precision is priority No. 1. A band director should not be worried about calling the next destination site from the road to reconfirm reservations. Leave the mundane details to the experts, so you can focus on why you got into musical education in the first place—sharing the love of music.
Nothing will ever be like that first experience on the road with your band. Be sure to soak it up and enjoy the fruits of your hard work. You’ve built a program that is meant to be both seen and heard.
Photo courtesy of Cambridge High School Concert Choir.