Top Travel Destinations

SBO Staff • Travel/Festivals • June 21, 2013

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SBO readers weigh in on the latest trends in band and orchestra travel.

What’s your first choice when you think of the perfect destination for your school music group? In this recent SBO survey, readers made it clear that the top travel spot for school ensembles is an adjudicated festival. Nearly 60 percent of responding band and orchestra directors marked such festivals as the number one destination for indoor ensembles, with 34 percent agreeing that it is the best destination for marching bands, too.

Looking at broader trends, the results of this survey indicate that school music groups are likely to be traveling less far and spending less money in the coming years, which makes sense given rising costs of travel, as well as the economic challenges still facing many parts of the country. On the other hand, a healthy proportion of respondents (45 percent) declared that they’d be taking their bands “wherever they want, wherever that is,” which seems like a nod to a spirit of adventure that is undeterred by economic woes.

Read on for more insight into the latest trends in school music travel topics like budgets, participation, destinations, and more.

What is the best type of destination for your marching band?


“I like to include a workshop, festival for rating, and a theme park when we travel.”

Ken Steidle
Kankakee Valley High School
Wheatfield, Ind.

“I have found over the years that most of the festivals that are offered for marching bands are nothing more than marching on a track or parking lot. These performances have very little value. I prefer looking for a public performance – such as a theme park, public park, or museum – for them to show their abilities, and try to connect some sort of clinic session to it.”

James Mobley
Woodhaven High School
Brownstown, MI

What is the top type of travel destination for your indoor ensembles?


“Theme parks are great for us because they provide the students with a real ‘gig’ and can then have a little bit of fun afterwards. We recently performed at Disneyland and they treated my students like stars.”

Sarah Tochiki
Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School
Lihue, HI

When you plan a major trip, who among your students is eligible to participate?


“For my junior high groups, passing grades is a big factor in whether they can go or not because it is during the school year. For the high school kids, it is more about affordability because it is during the summer.”

Roger Munoz
Poteet Junior High School
Poteet, TX

When planning destinations for next year and beyond, are you:


“We try to take a big trip every three or four years and in between we do Disneyland or other theme parks.”

Lisa Butts
Hanford West High School
Hanford, Calif.

Looking forward I expect that my travel budget:


“Most of the travel we do is completely student-funded. We do not have a school budget for outside ‘trip’ travel. Our school only covers the basic bus to festivals.”

Samantha J Corrion
Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Schools
Pigeon, MI

Additional thoughts on travel destinations?

“The biggest issue is food when figuring out an overall budget because parents want the costs for travel to be all-inclusive.”

Mary Gunnell
Cram Kiddle School
Las Vegas, NV

“Flexible performance dates are essential due to the varying testing calendars.”

Kevin Woo
Cypress Woods High School
Cypress, TX

“Our international travel groups have continued to get smaller over time. Multiple factors contribute to this, including cost and availability. The rates of airlines and fuel have caused overall fees to go up. This, along with higher priced hotels, causes a dramatic increase in cost to students.

“Another factor in reduced numbers of participants in our international trips might have something to do with the increasing number of groups taking trips with students. At one time the students saw our group as one of the only possibilities for a trip overseas. Now there are numerous groups offering trips, and students have to make decisions.”

George Dragod
Stevens High School
Rapid City, SD

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