How to Travel with a Music Ensemble, Part 4


Your Moment of Zen


Part 4 of the series

By Dan Schwartz


In this series, we have reviewed many different parts of planning a concert tour: finding the right opportunity, getting buy-in from your parents and community-at-large, building a trusted team to which you can delegate tasks, determining what can be done well in advance of the tour, and more. My final message to you this summer is simple:

Enjoy the experience. And make sure that everyone who has joined you is enjoying it as well.




Creating Great Experiences and Memories

“Things” happen on tour. There are snafus. Someone forgets his or her music. Or reeds. Or mouthpiece. Or instrument! A bus is late or lost. Traffic is worse than anyone could imagine. The restaurant isn’t ready to seat all of you. Students misbehave, and might need to be sent home early.

How you respond and react to these issues publically will have a great influence on the memories of the tour. Every traveler on a tour walks away with a signature memory. Indeed, one of the main reasons to take a young ensemble on tour in the first place is to create great experiences and great memories. But trips can also be high-stress and high-anxiety affairs. Everyone is out of their comfort zone. Everyone is away from home. For some of your students, it might be the first time they have even been away from home overnight without their family.

The director, the administrators, and the chaperones should know how to deal with stress and anxiety better than the students, and need to set a great example of highlighting the broad positives of the experience, rather than dwelling on the (hopefully) small negatives.


While I am all for people being held accountable for their actions—and mistakes—whether it is a student, the bus driver, and even a tour company you might have hired, be careful about where you might be tempted to “cause a scene.” Step back, breathe, find that quiet place, and move on with the tour. Find a place to deal with the problem in private, out of the spotlight.


Take Stock of What Worked

I’ve seen this go both directions, many times. An otherwise good tour gets a bad rap among its participants because of how small problems are handled, and a seemingly disastrous tour has everyone returning home happy because of how sensitive situations were shielded from public view.


Which situation do you think makes all of those stakeholders identified in earlier installments of this series feel better about the time and energy they invested in your venture? Which will make them more likely to support you on future tours or projects? Having the students come home talking about how great the tour was, or having them focus on “everything” that went wrong? Your actions will shape their attitudes no differently than how you comport yourself on the podium.




When everything is over, be sure to take stock of everything in the tour planning and execution process. Note what went well and smoothly, and what could use a change or improvement the next time around. Then you will be well on your way to choosing your next destination, your next opportunity, and putting together your team to execute your next concert tour.

Previous Installments:
Part 1: “Taking the Show on the Road: How to Travel with Your Music Ensemble

Part 2: “It Takes a Village: Your Next Steps to a Successful Tour

Part 3: “‘Later’ Always Comes…with a Vengeance

About the author:

Dan Schwartz has 17 years of experience in music travel and event management, having planned part of almost 2000 tours and produced over 50 festivals at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Vienna Konzerthaus and many others. He currently heads the Classic Performances division of Corporate Travel Service and can be reached at

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