Meet Music Travel Consultants Tour Director Amber Russell

Amber celebrating Mickey and Minnie’s 90th birthday at Magic Kingdom.

Meet Music Travel Consultants Tour Director Amber Russell

Rest assured, if the unpredictable happens, your Tour Director has the tools available to tackle the unpredictable and get the trip back on track. When it comes to tour directing, Amber Russell is the perfect blend of fun, professionalism, and knowledge. Amber Russell’s personality, resourcefulness, attention to detail, fast thinking, and her work ethic make up the package of the ideal Music Travel Consultants Tour Director.

Amber taking in the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (left), hanging with her beloved dog, Chloe (center), and enjoying the view from the One World Observatory in New York City (right).

Amber Russell is a former band kid and longtime fan of the marching arts. Amber graduated from Center Grove High School in 2000 and has been volunteering for Bands Of America in field operations since the 2000 marching band season. When explaining her joy for working on the field, she mentioned that she enjoys spending a large chunk of the fall with Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser as they take marching bands and front ensembles on the field.

Amber has really picked up the travel bug and enjoys experiencing new things. When at home, Amber loves spending time with her dog, Chloe, and her pack of two nieces and one nephew (Dagney, Alba, and Midas).

Music Travel Consultants ran our popular MTC Tour Director questions by Amber. Enjoy!

How long have you been a Tour Director for Music Travel Consultants?
Amber Russell: I went on my first training trip in June of 2016.

Do you have any background in music/music education?
Amber Russell: I was a band kid at Center Grove HS in Greenwood, IN. I currently work as a Respiratory Therapist on the south side of Indianapolis.

Amber the field at BOA Grand Nationals with Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser.
Amber the field at BOA Grand Nationals with Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser.

How did you get started tour directing?
Amber Russell: I have been a long time Bands Of America volunteer and started to get to know people in the MTC office as well as other tour directors. One day I asked what it would take to start tour directing, I was on my first training trip a few months later!

How many total trips have you tour directed?
Amber Russell: I have tour directed 12 trips as I type this. I take off for trip 13 tomorrow afternoon and have several lined up after that!

What is the hardest part of being a successful MTC Tour Director?
Amber Russell: Staying on top of all of the details! There is always something happening in the background and staying one step ahead of all of it in a positive way can be a challenge sometimes. Organization and thinking two steps ahead is always key!

What is the largest group you have tour directed for?
Amber Russell: Somewhere in the 250 – 300 range. I was lucky enough to travel with the amazing Sue Guindon and Andrew Moran to take The Avon Marching Black and Gold to the Bands Of America regional in Canton, OH. I also had the opportunity to take the Western Band and Choir to Disney for New Year’s Eve with Chuck Kubly and Bryan Munoz. Both were large and fun groups!

“Amber is always on top of the details and stays a step ahead to ensure each group has a smooth, enjoyable trip. Her friendly and upbeat personality allows her to quickly connect with the travelers and directors; many who comment “she’s one of us!” We are lucky to have Amber on the MTC team!”

Natalie Mince, Music Travel Consultants Director of Trip Development

Is there something you wish travelers knew before the trip departs?
Amber Russell: You will be tired! Those overnight bus trips can take it out of you and then we are off and running, our itineraries are usually packed. There isn’t much in life like being on a bus all night and then running around Disney or New York City all day!

What’s your proudest moment or a time when you were there made a difference/impact?
Amber Russell: I do have one moment that really sticks out to me. There was a young sibling of a high school student that traveled with us to Disney with Western HS, it was his first trip to Disney that he would have remembered and he sat behind me on the bus the entire trip. We would chat about things he wanted to see or do each morning and he would tell me what he did that day in the evening. Several months after the trip was over I was told that he was ready to go back to Disney and he wanted me on the bus. Any time I have someone tell me they had fun or a great experience it is a proud moment for me!

With Bands Of America announcers Chuck Henson and John Pollard in the announcers booth at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.
With Bands Of America announcers Chuck Henson and John Pollard in the announcers booth at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

What is your favorite place to travel/visit with and without groups?
Amber Russell: Hands down Disney! With or without a group. I have really taken to just soaking up wherever I am. I have recently had the chance to visit Savannah, GA and loved every second of that. I made time last fall to enjoy a day in San Francisco after a BOA Regional and soaked up that time too. I just returned from NYC and loved that. Each destination has something new and different to enjoy.

What does it take to be a successful MTC Tour Director?
Amber Russell: Being organized, there is always a detail to be double checked. Being personable, you never know who you will meet on a trip. I once had a former co-worker along on a trip as a chaperone. Be in constant communication, as directors and passengers need to know what is happening.

Amber at Christmas with her nieces and nephew (left), after a BOA regional win in 1999 with the Center Grove Trojan Band (center), and with her beloved dog, Chloe (right).
Amber at Christmas with her nieces and nephew (left), after a BOA regional win in 1999 with the Center Grove Trojan Band (center), and with her beloved dog, Chloe (right).

What are the benefits of having an MTC Tour Director at your side?
Amber Russell: We shoulder the logistical worries, they can relax! We make sure that the hotel is ready to go when everyone is exhausted after being on a bus all night. We make sure those drivers are ready for us at the end of a day or where the bus is, while in a big city. We make sure everyone has meal money when they are supposed to. A traveler recently told me it was so nice to have me there because she didn’t have to think and she could just enjoy the time with her daughter, that is huge when in NYC.

Any advice or things you want to share with groups considering performance travel?
Amber Russell: Do it! Your group will have a unique experience and come away with lessons that go far beyond what performing can teach. So many life lessons are taught when traveling with a group.

Do you think you have what it takes to wear the cape and be an MTC Tour Director like Amber?

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