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Unveiling the World Through

International Music Student Travel

H. Robert Dittmer, West Bend

A

As the song goes, there is nothing like

“April in Paris,” or London or Rome for

that matter. The fact is that international student travel is exciting no matter what time of year you are able to travel with your music performing group!

My international student travel experi- ences began as a horn player in my high school band’s first European tour in 1972. During that 21-day sojourn in six coun- tries, we performed as a concert band and marching band in historic venues both in concert and in competitions. If playing in a historic Vienna concert hall in front of internationally renowned adjudicators wasn’t memorable enough, then marching a field show in competition on cobblestone pavement in front of Vienna City Hall certainly would not be forgotten. Of equal importance was the maturing process that took place by spending 21 days in foreign nations performing with my band member friends in Europe.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

~ Miriam Beard

The first step to an international travel ex- perience often begins with local, regional and national performing experiences. Starting with smaller scale overnight trips builds those “travel chops.” It is important to learn how to secure transportation and accommodations, identify and train good chaperones and develop a code of student conduct and expectations.

All student travel should be built around an educationally sound philosophy. A clearly defined and communicated mission for your tours is essential in developing student interest and parental trust and sup- port. Though having a travel program pays dividends in the recruiting and retention of music students and adds a degree of pres- tige, a more sound mission will center on students growing musically and personally

“Choosing a tour company is of utmost importance to your tour’s success.”

though worthwhile performances as well as educational and cultural experiences.

Perhaps a trip to Florida revolving around a Disney World performance or music festival would be of initial interest to your students. That type of experience would provide the opportunity for your students to perform in unfamiliar settings, keep the travel time (and potential days of school missed) relatively brief and control costs. Though not heavy on cultural attractions, a Florida trip is easy to arrange and will still give your students the chance to perform in motivational venues and have great bonding experiences. Further, there are many U.S. cities that have cultural performances, major parades and music festivals. Some of the most popular in- clude New York City, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Los Angeles. Many of these destinations also allow for great touring of historical sites as well as attending professional music and theater performances. After considering all of the options, you may want to consider a paper ballot or online survey of your students to help determine a destination for which they would be enthusiastic.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

~ Lao Tzu

The West Bend High School Marching Band participates in the Dublin Saint Patrick’s Day Parade - March 17, 2008.

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