One of the most rewarding parts of participating in school music programs is the opportunity to travel. Whether for an invited performance or competition or as a spectator, the memories will last a lifetime.
Just like taking a trip with family or friends, many elements need to be considered in planning and execution. Knowing your students, school, district and community is vital to ensure the best experiences for everyone involved.
Traveling provides enrichment for students in authentic performance practice as well as in real world cultural connections. Although today’s digital environment allows valuable virtual experiences, there simply is no substitute for just being there.
Travel can also improve recruitment and retention of students as well as reinforce the music program’s visibility in your school and community. Experiences for students are tangible and can be a rallying point for community
In choosing destinations for student travel, be sure to consider the cost/benefit ratio in your decision. For adjudicated events, be sure that the feedback and quality of experience for the students are top priorities.
Prepare students and parents in advance for the level of expectations and talk about the meaning and benefits of healthy competition. If attending a parade, concert presentation or other exhibition event, consider location, audience and the visibility of your ensemble along with cost for students.
Often, pairing the main event with recreational or sight-seeing opportunities can increase participation and add chances for students to bond and form lifelong friendships.
Making informed and careful choices regarding your destination and itinerary can significantly reduce obstacles and enhance the quality of experiences for directors and students.
After choosing a destination, create a timeline. Depending on the location, size of group and type of activity (major televised parades, for instance), you may need to plan for up to a year or more. Establish milestones in your planning to ensure that funding goals are met, communication with students and parents is frequent and clear, and all required forms and information are gathered.
Consider using a reputable tour company that has experience in student travel. Its staff can provide invaluable services and advice during the planning and travel.
Be sure to explore options for trip insurance. Note any deadlines regarding deposits and cancellations and clearly communicate those with your students and families.
Decide if the trip is optional or mandatory for students. Performances and competitions usually require a minimum distribution of parts or instruments. In the case of marching band, you may require every member.
If your program has a booster club, ask the group to help raise funds for student travel. Often, it has more freedom for collecting money than school system channels.
If funding is routed through the school system, be sure to know all the rules and regulations regarding fundraising before getting too far along in the process.
Consider provisions for students who are unable to contribute financially. The benefits of their participation are worthwhile to pursue.
Types of fundraisers vary dramatically but finding one or two that work best for your program and community would be better than constant solicitations. These could include business sponsorships, car shows, “taste of ” food events, silent auctions and many others.
When raising funds, be specific in your purpose. Telling the community why you are raising money and giving them a specific target will encourage more people to participate or donate.
With proper planning and careful consideration, student and professional travel can be an invaluable part of the complete music program experience. Now get out there and have fun!
This article originally appeared in the 2020N2 issue of Yamaha SupportED. To see more back issues, find out about Yamaha resources for music educators, or sign up to be notified when the next issue is available, click here.