Call of the Road: Travel with Your Chorus

“Travel changes lives of students…makes music a part of their lives forever!”  – – MENC Choral Forum member

Spring is right around the corner, and dangerous winter weather will soon be passing. Your students will be getting antsy come warmer weather, as they’ve worked hard all year. Sometimes, a big culminating choral event or activity seems like the right thing to do. Should you take your show on the road?

Many choral directors wrestle with the question of whether to travel with their school chorus. For some, it’s a moot point because their school or district doesn’t permit travel. In some cases, budget limitations have curtailed or completely eliminated school-sponsored trips. If your budget/school does allow for travel, here are some pros and cons to consider:

Travel Pros:

  • Broadens your students’ horizons.
  • Provides social bonding in a different way from classroom interactions.
  • Provides experiences for students (especially low-income or rural) that they might not get otherwise.
  • Can become a wonderful tradition for your group.

Travel Cons:

  • Liability, regardless of the age of the students (middle through high school).
  • Maturity level of students/ accountability issues.
  • Possible security risks with overseas excursions or air travel in the U.S.
  • Added burden on the director.

Here’s what some MENC choral educators say they like best about traveling with their groups:

  • I like getting away with the kids. It gives me a chance to learn about them in situations that I don’t see them in during school.
  • Trips are great for recruitment and retention.
  • I believe students learn more from traveling to a place than from reading or hearing about the place. Travel creates lifelong memories and offers different places and new audiences.
  • I find my students learn more about “life” connected with the arts by experiencing it through travel. One year ago, my group went to San Antonio, and I’ve never seen a group of seniors take on leadership qualities better than my seniors on that trip. They literally “took in” the quiet, shy students and made them feel important. I don’t think they would’ve had that opportunity in their “social circles” in place at school. And the beauty of it is that it has carried over to the upperclassmen for this year and the trip we will take next year. The place isn’t as important as the different environment/culture and the experience itself.

Some of these suggestions came from the MENC choral forum. Thanks to our members who posted them.

Don’t forget the travel tips in the August 2008 Teaching Music, “Music in Motion”.

Next week: Part 2

–Sue Rarus, January 28, 2009, © National Association for Music Education