Planning your first marching band tripTodd Overbeck
Congratulations! If you are reading this, you are not only a Music Director, you are a Music Director with passion and are ready to show your students new life-changing educational experiences and take your student’s performance to the next level!
Planning a music performance trip for the first time can seem overwhelming and stressful. But planned out over time, it can be something magical and positively impact students and others for the rest of their lives.
It is not rocket science. It isn’t rocket science. In fact, planning a performance trip is a lot like planning a wedding, without as many cake and dress choices. People flip out about wedding planning all the time. The first thing to remember is that if done right, and with the right tools, a successful wedding is attainable. People do it every day. You have months to plan just for a few hours on the event. And you are not alone. Family and friends are there to support you. Your significant other should be helping. And, if needed, the shining beacon of hope is the Wedding Planner. Yes, there are some things out of your control, like Uncle Larry falling on top of the wedding cake, but we will cover the wild cards in a minute. If done right, and with the proper support, everything should work out as planned.
Step 1: Don’t do it alone. Assemble a team. Life is a challenge by itself. Cramming another task in your daily routine can be hard…especially if you are just starting your career. Look around you and use the tools available: Find responsible parents (hopefully they are easy to find) that are willing to help. If your staff consists of more than just you, ask the assistant(s) for help. People love to feel needed, and when they know that education is involved, they will want to help even more. You will need trusted chaperones on your trip to keep track of students. Cementing those trusted connections early in the process allows you to move forward confidently.
Step 2: Choose a destination. If this is your first trip, be a little conservative. Don’t try to plan a 12 day trip to Italy. Instead, suggest a 1 – 3 day trip to a popular nearby destination. This first trip needs to be successful and leave everyone with a positive attitude. This should be a relationship building trip. Make connections with the students and chaperones and parents and soon they’ll be harassing you to take them to Italy.
Step 3: Focus on the basics. Make the trip easy. Make the trip fun. But most of all, make the trip educational for your young musicians. Don’t try to squeeze the blood out of the rock by planning too many events. The goal is to have your students returning with an energized passion for music and your team saying, “Hey, that wasn’t bad at all…that was actually fun. We should do that again soon.”
Step 4: When the destination is fixed and most of the planning is complete, introduce the trip to the group with a ‘Kick-off Meeting.’ Invite the parents, build enthusiasm and share details. Establish clear lines of communication and address all questions.
Step 5: Find an easy and convenient way for your students and parents to sign-up and make payments for the trip. Keep accurate lists of all traveling, and be sure you have reserved enough bus seats, hotel rooms and, if applicable, airline seats. Stay on top of critical deadlines (hotel room cancellation dates, airline ticketing dates, etc.). Collect personal information if flying, and keep track of activities, tickets, entertainment, instrument rental and rehearsal facilities needed. And, make sure travelers don’t fall behind in receiving invoices or making payments.
Step 6: Make sure your students are prepared for the trip, musically. Be sure they are comfortable packing clothes for three days and traveling by bus (and/or airline). Remind them of your expectations and those of the school and their parents.
Step 7: Pack your own suitcase, and lead the trip!
Hopefully, this information is helpful. If planning a trip is overwhelming and stressful and if you don’t want to handle all the Uncle Larry’s during the trip, please contact Music Travel Consultants for answers to questions and for advice. The most important thing to remember is, the trip should focus on safely providing each student with the best music and educational experience possible. If that happens, the trip is totally worth it!