Meet MTC Tour Director Martin BeckerJef Furr
Meet MTC Tour Director Martin Becker, a man for all seasons and one of our most accomplished Tour Directors!
Wide-ranging travel experience, creative thinking, and a drive to go beyond the call of duty make Marty one of MTC’s very best Tour Directors. Successful and talented in many areas, he is ready to cope with any contingency and a person whose behavior is always appropriate to every occasion. When problems arise on a trip, he has a knack for thinking outside the box…and the room. Marty’s extensive knowledge of destinations throughout the United States and Europe gives him the confidence to lead a group successfully. Music Travel Consultants is humbled and honored to have such a dedicated Tour Director as part of its team.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Marty holds a BME degree from Morehead State University and a Master of Arts in Music Education and Performance from Ball State University. Prior to moving to the Hoosier State, Marty spent 10 years teaching in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio. Once in Indiana, Marty started teaching at Marion (IN) High School, Marty moved after 8 years to Indiana’s northern lake district. After directing the Warsaw High School Music Department there for 17 years, he jumped into the collegiate ranks at Grace College for 15 years. That’s when he really got busy! He has directed the Wind Ensemble at Grace College since 2002, taught Music Education classes and supervised Grace’s student teachers. But that’s not all. A member of the Warsaw Morning Optimist Club, Marty directs the Optimist Singers. He plays trumpet with Elkhart, Indiana’s Truth in Jazz Big Band, and with Symphony of the Lakes and played in the pit at the Wagon Wheel. Marty directs the Lake Area Community Band, and in the summer of 2017, he took on the job of Program Chairman for the Grace College and Village at Winona “Festival of Music” Summer Concert Series. In addition to his playing and conducting, Marty gives private lessons, adjudicates contests for the Indiana State School Music Association and serves as Associate Conductor of the Indiana Ambassadors of Music Symphonic Band – a 20-year gig!
Many honors and awards have come Marty’s way in his 50-year teaching career. He’s a member of the Indiana Bandmasters Association, National Band Association, Indiana Music Educators Association, Phi Mu Alpha, Phi Beta Mu, and the International Trumpet Guild. Marty has twice been president of the Indiana State School Music Association and of the Indiana Bandmasters Association.
He has received the Indiana Music Educators “Distinguished Music Educator’s Award”. In 1994 he was awarded the Phi Beta Mu “Indiana Outstanding Bandmasters Award” at the All-State Band weekend. In 2002, the Ball State University Music Department presented him an “Outstanding Alumni” award. In 2009, he was elected to the “Indiana Band Director Hall of Fame.” He currently serves as Past-President of Gamma Chapter, Phi Beta Mu. In 2015 he was recognized by Peer Music Educators from Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana, and was awarded “Michiana Outstanding Music Educator” sponsored by Quinlan and Fabish Music Company. Plus, Marty was named the 2016 Warsaw Morning Optimist Club “Optimist of the Year”.
In the summer of 2016, Mr. Becker was the coordinator for the Winona Lake Festival of Music and organized the Bicentennial Celebration Concert which featured 1000 musicians. In August Mr. Becker was the guest conductor of the five hundred member InPact Band that performed at the Opening Ceremony for the Drum Corps International Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Martin and his wife Judy attend Warsaw Evangelical Presbyterian Church. They have two daughters Melissa and Carrie, and four Grandchildren-Madison, Matthew, Maxwell, and Hank.
Music Travel Consultants ran our popular MTC Tour Director questions by Marty. Enjoy!
How long have you been a Tour Director for Music Travel Consultants?
Marty: I have been a Tour Director for thirty years, first just doing 1 or 2 trips a year while I was still teaching band full time.
Do you have any background in music/music education?
Marty: I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio where I studied trumpet during high school with the faculty of the Cincinnati Conservatory. I received my Bachelor of Music from Morehead State University and received a Masters of Music Education from Ball State University.
I have been involved in Music Education for fifty years. I was a high school band director for thirty-five years and then taught College for fifteen years. I just recently retired from the college ranks. I have served music education as President of both the Indiana State School Music Association twice and the Indiana Band Masters Association.
How did you get started tour directing?
Marty: Music Travel Consultants has always been the Tour Company of choice for my own bands. I think I got started by assisting on a couple of trips as a preview of future travel for my own ensembles.
How many total trips have you tour directed?
Marty: I can only give a guesstimate but around 130. I have been very active since retiring in 2002.
What is the hardest part of being a successful MTC Tour Director?
Marty: Just trying to please all the travelers all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to make some of the adults realize that it’s a “group trip” not an individual vacation. Sometimes you feel like your “spinning many plates” at once and the challenge is to keep them spinning. The behind the scenes work that is done ensures the group and its leaders a worry-free travel experience.
What is the largest group you have tour directed for?
Marty: I have traveled with several groups of over three hundred.
Is there something you wish travelers knew before the trip departs?
Marty: Being on time and having some knowledge of the destination they are going to visit. I also always try and stress the importance of eating healthy, hydration and getting as much rest at night as they can. I always feel bad when a student is missing some great sight-seeing experience because they are sleeping on the bus.
What’s your proudest moment or a time when you were there made a difference/impact?
Marty: I have had several over the years, but I guess what has been most gratifying to me is having the students, chaperones, and directors make memories that will last a lifetime. Since I have had lots of experience as a music educator, I have on many occasions been able to offer musical advice, especially to younger directors.
One comment that stands out for me was when I received a letter from a director whose young daughter was on a band trip. She commented that she wished that I could come on their family vacations with them. She said that on the band trip I had made it possible for her dad to just to be her dad since I had taken such good care of the band. That was very cool!
Another time was my suggestion to a group who had been disappointed with the performance being canceled and I suggested they do an impromptu concert at the Kentucky, Tennessee Welcome Center for people traveling. This was a Sunday morning and I counted over 200 travelers who stopped to hear the choir sing their hearts out! Great memory for me as well as the group!
What is your favorite place to travel/visit with and without groups?
Marty: I would say it would be New York City. There is so much to see and do, never a dull moment. Just experiencing the hustle and bustle of this city is exciting. But adding a visit to Central Park, Times Square, a Broadway Show, Radio City Music Hall, visiting the 911 Memorial/Museum, a dinner cruise to visit Lady Liberty, and much more. It never gets old and is always a hit with everyone who visits the Big Apple.
I have also enjoyed many trips to Europe, Hawaii, California, Toronto, Washington D.C., Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta, and Orlando. Disney World and Disneyland are always great times!
Without groups, my wife and I like to travel to places we’ve never visited before. We have enjoyed Alaska, San Francisco and just recently a trip to the East Coast, visiting Cape Cod, Boston, and Vermont.
What does it take to be a successful MTC Tour Director?
Marty: Being prepared, flexible, a good communicator and having a cheerful outlook. Being able to implement “plan B” at a moment’s notice when it becomes necessary. This is a rarity with the outstanding MTC operations preparation and planning ahead of time!
What are the benefits of having an MTC Tour Director at your side?
Marty: Taking the stress and pressure off of the director, whose focus should be on the students and the performance, is my goal on every trip I am assigned. The MTC tour director is there to make this happen by taking charge of those untimely emergencies that can occur with a motor coach breakdown, being late to an event or venue, when the weather becomes a factor. Assuring the director, parents, and students that safety and their wellbeing is always being considered in all decisions.
Any advice or things you want to share with groups considering performance travel?
Marty: I guess allowing plenty of lead time allowing Music Travel Consultants to acquire the best performance opportunities, events, meals, accommodations, and consider the budget that best fits the group.
Giving plenty of thought as to what type of performance best meets your individual situation. Do you want a parade experience, marching competition, concert venue, adjudicated event, etc.. Whatever you want, Music Travel Consultants have the expertise and experience to provide the best trip for your ensemble.
Do you think you have what it takes to wear the cape and be an MTC Tour Director like Martin “Marty’ Becker?
Contact Music Travel Consultants to start planning your trip.