SBOSurvey: Travel Planning

SBO Staff • Travel/Festivals • October 19, 2006

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Traveling to an exciting destination in order to perform and/or compete can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both music students and their instructors. In addition to providing opportunities for growth as musicians and basic “tourist fun,” these trips allow children and young adults to gain a greater understanding of the world and their place in it. However, arranging a tour, regardless of scope, means wrestling with a number of logistics and sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry.

SBO surveyed over 1,500 of our readers to fi nd out how many music programs incorporate travel plans into their academic year and of what sort. We asked educators to describe the types of trips which they fi nd to be most successful and to offer advice and feedback on what perils to be on the lookout for when organizing student travel.

What do you feel are the biggest upsides to taking kids on trips to perform or compete abroad?

Students gain in their understanding of personal and unit responsibility. Looking out for others, treating all people with the utmost respect – from the person who holds the door to the person who owns the building. Seeing other cultures and having to react to various situations with calm and understanding is a valuable skill to acquire.

Kent Crawford
Maquoketa Community High
Maquoketa, Iowa

Students get a chance to see and experience things that you simply cannot get from a book, or even a video – you really need to be there, in person, to gain these experiences.

Adam Hollingsworth
Win-E-Mac School
Erskine, Minn.

First and foremost should be the quality of performance. Establish why you are traveling – is it just to go on rides and have a day in the park? Or is it about taking your music and your level of performance out there to share with people and places? Is it about taking your group and seeing how they “stack up” against other schools or adjudicators from other parts of the country or world? Trips to any destination offer tremendous opportunities to experience different places, people, cultures, traditions, languages, and lifestyles.

Allan Deitz
Walt Whitman High School
Huntington Station, NY

These types of performance opportunities really build confi dence. Travel also brings unity to our group through shared common experiences. Additionally, trips help us to adjust musically to various sound environments.

Kim Schaefer
Whitehorse High School
Montezuma Creek, Utah

How do you go about selecting appropriate destinations? It’s all about the amount of time we can be excused from school. This will affect how far we can travel. I want to make sure that when we get to our destination that we actually have time to do things. If it takes two days to get there and two to return and we only have five available days, total, that makes no sense. So I customize our destinations based on the amount of time we have available for the actual trip.

Carl Major
T.R. Miller High School
Brewton, Ala.

I have a very small window of open weekends that are available – sometimes as few as only one. I look for good festivals and attractive destinations with plenty for the students to do.

Charles Bartrug
Yukon High School
Yukon, Okla.

Factors such as cost, attractions for the kids, and opportunities for musical performance and education all play a big part in determining where we go.

Carl Sabatino
Whippany Park High School
Whippany, NJ

What do you feel are the biggest downsides, or the most diffi cult challenges, involved with student travel? It takes a tremendous amount of my time to fundraise, plan, and get my groups ready. It is also stressful to be responsible for that many students away from home and worrying about what they might do. I have also had some terrible experiences with tour companies who booked us for places that no longer existed or who missed the time of our booking by four hours or more and then didn’t have a representative available to deal with our problems.

Brad Jensen
Hudson High School
Hudson Iowa

Organizing the trip, lining up chaperones, and communicating with all involved parties is a major commitment. The other huge challenge is making sure the kids are well prepared for the performance. I usually line up extra rehearsals and sometimes bring in a clinician to work with the group prior to the trip.

David Miller
Valley Middle School
Apple Valley, Minn.

The biggest problem is trying to get an accurate count of who is going and getting the money on time. It’s always diffi cult to fi nd things that are fun, educational, and safe. Amusement parks are good, but what else can you plan for your students – museums, mall, athletic games, et cetera?

Tim Matlock
Tupelo High School
Tupelo Miss.

Any words of advice or additional comments you’d like to share with your fellow music educators? My school requires three or four non-music staff members to go on all out of state trips. I build in the cost of providing the free trips for the staff members and, since I normally have to manage the 80-member ensemble by myself (I don’t have an assistant!), it is wonderful to have the other teachers on the trip. The students enjoy getting to know them better and I love having the extra help!

Candi Granlund
Sycamore School
Indianapolis, Ind.

Travel should be planned on the calendar far in advance. The reason for travel should not be for “a trip,” but for the performance assessment. This sells better to administration, parents, and other teachers in the school. Always give plenty of fundraising opportunities for students with income problems. Try and fi nalize the itinerary as close as you can, even without a performance time. This will generate excitement and also inform parents of the trip outline, at least.


David C. Allison
Summit Parkway M.S.
Spring Valley H.S.
Columbia S.C.

Make music the focus of band trips. There are plenty of opportunities to travel to festivals that are focused on teaching students to become better musicians, as opposed to having them march in a parade or playing for passersby in a theme park. I see travel not as the goal, but as a means to increase students’ commitment to, and understanding of, music.

Richard Clark
Wellsboro Area High School
Wellsboro, Penn.

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