Part 4: It's Not Where....It's WHY. Performance Tour Philosophy.

In 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 disclosurethis one is a personal pet peeve. Its also part of our human nature and our own comfort zones, because we are creatures of habit who like to know what to expect.


Youre in a major cityperhaps 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 HawaiiPolynesian, 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 mealsand they do an outstanding job of it at a very reasonable cost. And sometimes there are no other options logisticallyI 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, Im 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!


In Conclusion


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 provide them!

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