this final part of this series, we'll discuss ways to keep the non-musical
parts of your experience authentic and truly memorable for your musicians.
Keep It Real
Full disclosure—this one is a personal pet peeve. It’s also part
of our human nature and our own comfort zones, because we are creatures of
habit who like to know what to expect.
You’re in a major city—perhaps New York or Chicago, maybe even
somewhere like Dallas or New Orleans. A place with a culture, history, and
ethnic mix all its own. Why on earth would you want to experience a
chain restaurant or attraction that has no innate connection to your location?
Or worse, that can be found close to home? (I cringe when I see touring
students walk into the “golden arches”
in Time Square.)
A perfect example: I once saw an itinerary for a group traveling to
Hawaii that included an “Aloha Italian Dinner”
the first night, “pizza and hula lessons” another
night, and a meal at a chain Italian restaurant on a third night. With the
incredible cultural mix that makes up Hawaii—Polynesian,
Japanese, etc.—this was a missed opportunity that could have been avoided by creative
guidance on the part of the travel planner.
In their defense: sometimes these types of places are the only ones
capable of handling large numbers of people, particularly for meals…and they do
an outstanding job of it at a very reasonable cost. And sometimes there are no
other options logistically—I have found myself in the same
predicament during my travel planning days. But whenever possible, consider
ways for your students to get a more authentic experience of that city.
Get creative. Ask your travel planner to identify the more unique
restaurants and sites, music related or not. Sometimes this means taking the
approach of splitting into smaller groups with chaperones and really learning
to explore (which would be a necessity if in a foreign country). Thanks to my
in-laws, I’m a huge fan of travel expert Rick Steves and his “Europe
Through The Back Door” philosophy of travel. Many of those basic
concepts could be applied stateside, and you may even find that the out of the
way places and activities have less cost (and more authenticity). Yes it has its challenges,
and yes it means more research and logistical pre-planning….but the
benefits can be truly unique and memorable.
A wise friend had a saying that is one of my favorites: “There is no
growth in a comfort zone, and no comfort in a growth zone.”
Get uncomfortable and grow!
It is my hope that
these ideas are helpful and thought-provoking as you map out your philosophy of
performance touring. They are certainly not meant to “ruffle feathers” but instead to
challenge us all to take a deeper look at the opportunities we provide our
musicians as they venture out on performance tours. Our students, and our field
of music education, certainly deserves no less than the best that we can