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Student Travel

  • ’But it’s a theme park…’ – Justifying a performance trip to the Walt Disney World Resort

    Todd Rogers | September 15, 2015

    It doesn’t look like much on paper, and if you have never been there with a student group, explaining that a trip to a theme park is educational can be quite a challenge. We know that the terms “fun” and “educational” are not mutually exclusive, but you may encounter an administrator, parent or school board member who sees your endeavor as a waste of resources. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if your plans are taking you to the Walt Disney World® Resort. Here’s what you should know to help you justify a performance trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth:

    First, it’s important to remember that every performance trip has educational value. Whether you choose some of the world’s most beloved theme parks in Central Florida, a regional park closer to home, or a trip which doesn’t include theme parks at all, your students will come away with life experiences that can’t be delivered in the classroom. Performing in a new, unfamiliar venue shows your students how to adapt to changes and deliver results. The experience fosters a sense of teamwork and camaraderie within your members.

    Taking your students “out of the bubble” of their day-to-day lives expands their horizons beyond what is familiar to them, encourages them to build stronger bonds with peers (and with you, their educator), and exposes them to a performance audience beyond the doting families to which they are accustomed. The responsibility of showing up on time, remembering black socks, and managing one’s own souvenir or meal money is a significant step toward the independence your students will need in their adult life.

    While nearly every destination – across the country or around the world – provides these learning experiences, there are certainly destinations which deliver a top-quality educational travel experience consistently. Topping my list: the Walt Disney World® Resort.

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  • Six Decades of School Music at Disney

    Mike Lawson | September 15, 2015

    The Magic of Disney is at the heart of the creation and ongoing growth and management of its Disney Performing Arts programs from coast to coast.

    If you have noticed a lot of attention being paid to Disney in SBO lately, well, it’s for good reason. This year, 2015, marks the 60th year that Disney has engaged an impossible-to-count number of school music programs in its parks to give students unprecedented performance opportunities in front of an equally impossible-to-count audience that must number in the hundreds of millions over six decades. Like so many millions before me, I too went to the parks with my high school music program, but this was unfortunately before so many exciting opportunities existed for students at the parks. It’s a great time to be a band student making a trip to a Disney park.

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  • UpFront Q&A: Andrew Yaracs

    SBO Staff | June 17, 2014

    A conversation with the author of Travel 101: A band director's guide for planning student travel

    Andrew Yaracs recently retired after a 39-year career as a music educator, band director, percussion arranger, and music instructor. During a prolific 15-year stint running the Butler Senior High School Golden Tornado Marching Band in Butler, Pennsylvania between 1997 and 2012, Yaracs boosted the ensemble and program into the national spotlight, in large part due to his determination that he would take the entire 350-member band on a trip every year. Alternating between major excursions and more economical ones, the Golden Tornado Marching Band represented the town of Butler, the high school, and their community at such notable events as the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade (in 2000 and 2007), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (in 1997 and 2002), and the Fort McDowell Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, Arizona (in 2004 and 2010), among others.

    Yaracs cites the genesis of this ambitious travel schedule as his time performing with and then managing a drum corps. “That experience of getting out there, performing in different venues and meeting new people taught me a lot about life and growing up,” he says. “That was something that I always felt was a great incentive. I marched and graduated from the high school that I later taught at. When I was in the band in late ‘60s, we only had 90 members in the band and all we did was go to football games and one or two local parades. I had always hoped that someday I would become a band director and thought that if I did, I would do something for those kids.”

    Drawing upon his vast and varied experiences on the road, Andrew Yaracs recently published Travel 101: A Band Director’s Guide for Planning Student Travel, a book chock full of anecdotes, sample forms and checklists, and advice and best practices. In this conversation with SBO, Yaracs speaks about his philosophy regarding band travel, fundraising, and some tips and tricks for having a successful and rewarding experience.

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  • Guest Editorial: Offbeat Travel Destinations

    Mike Lawson | June 17, 2014

    Maximizing the Educational Travel Experience for Your Performing Ensemble

    Traveling abroad is a highly educational experience, especially when it comes to influencing young people. It is imperative for younger generations to explore the world and to learn about different cultures so that they may grow up showing compassion for others.

    Many school music groups today are traveling to common destinations in Europe, such as London, Paris, and Vienna, which offer a long-standing musical heritage and can be very educational for students. However, there are many other destinations in South America, Africa, and Asia that are often overlooked, even though they can provide unique performance opportunities for the group, as well as a greater impact on the educational objectives for the tour. These locations offer unexpected surprises and can leave students with a new sense of cultural awareness and a truly unforgettable experience.

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