Perks of using a Theme Park’s App 

Theme parks can be hard to navigate, whether it is your first visit or your hundredth. These days, most major theme parks have apps available that can make visiting easier than ever! We’ll walk you through the in’s and out’s of theme park apps so that you and your students are most prepared for your next visit.  

  1. View Menus and Mobile Order: Theme park apps will often have a full list of restaurants with their operating hours, menus, and sometimes even the option to mobile order food so you can skip the lines and maximize your time. For guests with dietary restrictions or preferences, checking the app is also a great way to ensure a restaurant has foods that will suit your needs before walking to the location.   
  1. View attraction wait times and entertainment schedules: Check out what attractions have the best wait times in current time so you can plan your way around the park. Most parks will also post their entertainment schedules so that you never miss a show, parade, or performance!  
  1. View park maps: Didn’t I just pass this gift shop? It’s easy to get lost in the crowds of a theme park- having your location enabled can allow your app to show where you are and even map out a path to where you want to go.   
  1. Plan your activities: With a theme park app, you are holding the full list of offerings, dining, entertainment and more in the palm of your hand! Use the app to plan out what your priorities are and when you want to go. Sometimes, apps can even suggest if there is a best time to visit an attraction or when a lower wait time is posted.  
  1. Learn and engage: For parks like SeaWorld or the San Diego Zoo, you can use your app to maximize the learning experience with fun facts about the exhibit and attractions you a viewing. Some apps may even offer engaging content like quizzes, blogs, or interactive games to help pass the time in queues.  
  1. Find help fast: Need first aid, lost and found, or maybe just the nearest bathroom after that 6-loop coaster? Search your app for guest services or other locations to get to where you need to be in lightening time.  

We hope these helpful tips and tricks will help you to maximize your next visit to one of the amazing entertainment offerings throughout California. Register today and download your theme park’s app to start planning!  

Festival Etiquette for Directors 101, Part II 

Good concert/festival behavior is learned, and it is the director’s responsibility to teach it. If not the music teacher, who will teach the students about acceptable festival etiquette? 

A good teacher of festival etiquette… 

  1. Acts professionally as a model to students. 
  1. Includes expectations for chaperones as well as students. 
  1. Teaches students about when to applaud as audience members. (When the conductor’s arms have come all the way down to his/her side). 
  1. Teaches stage deportment:  Practice how to enter the stage and behave before the first downbeat.   
  1. Go quietly to their location. 
  1. No conversation at this time. 
  1. Look at the audience during applause. 
  1. Show respect and attention to the director. 
  1. Understands that a warm-up is not a rehearsal.  Abide by the festival’s schedule and leave warm-up and enter the stage on time. If onstage tuning is needed, keep it brief.  Remember – by tuning on stage, you are pointing out your group’s difficult passages to the adjudicators.  
  1. Times his/her music.  Do not assume that going over your allotted time will be viewed positively by adjudicators or other schools.  By timing your music, you show consideration for the judges, the festival staff, and other schools who have time constraints with busing and other issues. 
  1. Acknowledges applause with a smile and a bow and an acknowledgement of his/her performers.  
  1. Has featured students or sections stand and face the audience during applause. 
  1. Utilizes positivity.    When your students leave the warm-up room, make sure they leave on an encouraging note.  
  1. Uses the power of words to inspire students to perform their very best.  

Festival Etiquette for Students 101, Part I 

We get it.  Students are just now getting back into performance venues after a covid hiatus.  What could be a better time than to review basic etiquette for young musicians who are performing AND listening to the festival performers.  Explain to your students that everyone has worked very hard to get to this event.  By practicing good festival etiquette, your students will reap the benefits during their performance AND help the other performers by being considerate audience members. 

A good festival participant… 

  1.  Visits the restroom before being seated. 
  1. Silences electronic devices before the performance.   This means, don’t answer your cell phone during a performance. 
  1. Never texts during a performance – the screen on your device lights up and creates a distraction.  
  1. Does not talk during the performances. 
  1. Is kind to all performers, whether inside the theatre or outside.  You are not rivals competing for a million-dollar prize.  You are supporters of every student’s musical journey, regardless of their ages or abilities. 
  1. Absolutely does not eat or drink inside the theatre. 
  1. Keeps feet off on the back of seats. 
  1. Learns when to applaud (and when not to applaud.) 
  1. Understands that a festival is not a sporting event.  Screaming, whistling, and shouting is unacceptable. 
  1. Never enters or exits the theatre while an ensemble is performing. 
  1. Remains seated during a group’s entire performance. 
  1.  Does not sing along during a performance (unless your choir is onstage performing). 
  1.  Enjoys the performances! 

Overnight Trips- Terms and Tricks to Know

Photo by Joao Marcelo Martins

Planning an overnight trip can be daunting. Luckily, we have a team of experts happy to help ensure your planning process is as seamless as possible. Whether you’re considering your first overnight trip, or you are a seasoned veteran, we’ve compiled a helpful list of terms and tricks you should know: 

RFP or RFQ: This is where it all starts- a RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFQ (Request for Quote) is how you can submit your details and ideas for a trip to get the planning process started. Your request should include contact information, destination, trip dates, activities, and a rough estimate of participants.  If you have a budget in mind, please include this as well! 

Package: Your package is everything that the Forum team is handling for you- this includes your festival and any theme parks, shows, attractions, or dining experiences that you have asked us to arrange. Unless otherwise specified, your transportation costs are usually not included in this number and will be noted as a separate quote.  

Peak Season: This refers to the busiest times of the season. There are several factors that can play into the peak season- spring breaks, local conferences or events at your destination, and more can play into what is considered “Peak.”   

Tour Escort: Some groups do choose to include a tour escort in their package- this is an expert on the ground who can help guide your group from location to location, helping to check in at your attractions, share tips and tricks, and make sure your trip runs smoothly. 

Your Trip Assistant: We provide this automated texting service for all our overnight trips (unless you choose to opt out). Like a tour escort, this service will remind you of upcoming activities with addresses, entry time, bus loading times, and any other helpful information you may need to know beforehand. This service is completely complimentary for our overnight clients and is a great way to stay on track throughout your travels!  

Bus Hour Regulations: When planning your trip, we may refer to bus hour limitations which affect how far it is safe to travel within a day based on government regulations . In accordance to these laws, “No motor carrier of passengers shall permit or require any passenger-carrying CMV driver to drive more than 10 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty, or for any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty.” If you are ever unsure that your trip may violate these regulations, be sure to share your itinerary with your transportation provider or let us arrange your transportation so that we may communicate directly with bus providers to ensure a safe trip!  

Attrition: Some activities or hotels charge an attrition penalty if a group utilizes a smaller portion of services than originally contracted. We understand changes occur in student travel and will accommodate changes to your package to the best of our ability. When we provide pricing, it is based on current availability, fees & taxes based on the total number of participants (students, chaperones, & educators).  If that number changes, we may re-price your package to adjust prorated costs, etc. Please note that if the package is re-priced due to attrition, it will likely increase the per person price by just a few dollars. 

Rooming List: Your rooming list is the assignment of each traveling participant to a room. The rooming assignments are a vital way to confirm the number of participants on your trip and where they will be for an added level of security and accountability.  

CSTP: CSTP or Certified Student Travel Professional is a recognition that “provides credibility amongst student travel professionals and their clients.” We are proud to have several members of our staff honored with this recognition or working towards it to ensure that you are receiving the highest quality of service and stay up to date on travel trends and restrictions to ensure your trip is as smooth as possible.  

Complimentary: Whenever you see complimentary noted on your proposal, this means that the indicated experience comes at no cost to you! Your Trip Assistant (our automated texting service) is a great example. We are also pleased to continue to offer a complimentary director’s package, which will always include a recording of your group’s performance, single occupancy room and breakfast, and admission to all activities for the director. 

These are just a few of the most common terms that you may see when planning your trip, but please know that our staff is always here and happy to help with questions that you may have! We are here to make your planning process as easy as possible, and we hope you’re ready to get started with a quote today!

The Importance of Accurate Contact Information

For our returning directors, you may notice a change this year as you’re completing your stage set-up sheet: the addition of your cell phone number and an offsite emergency contact. We know it can be difficult to give out your personal cell with today’s landscape of spam calls and scammers becoming more and more frequent. We get it – some days it feels like we get more spam calls than anything else! However, have you considered how important this information is in crucial situations? Through our 29 years of hosting festivals, we’ve seen it all! Here are just a few examples of why these pieces of information can be crucial at a festival.

A student is left behind. In spite of buddy systems, chaperone counts, and your best efforts- it can happen! A student who may have been in the restroom doesn’t have a way to contact you. We once saw a group leave the festival before realizing a student was left behind. Without a cell phone number, our festival manager had no way to contact the director. Finally, the group turned the bus around to come back for the student left behind.

There is a medical emergency. Festival days are busy, and we know you can’t be everywhere at once. If you are directing multiple ensembles and there is a medical emergency with another student, it is crucial to have yours and an off-site emergency contact’s information to inform and ensure students (or directors) receive proper care.

Schedule changes/Transportation complications. Delays happen, and often we know it is out of your control. Perhaps your bus shows up late or drives to the wrong location. We know you have a million plates spinning in those scenarios, but if we do not hear from you and have no way to contact you, it can be hard to know how to proceed. Your group could be 5 minutes away, or 50 minutes away and without that context, we may have to shift your performance schedule around to accommodate other groups. Having cell information allows us to connect and make the best decision for everyone participating.

These are just a few of the typical scenarios we’ve seen through the years – but there are plenty! Please consider the ways in which having up-to-date contact information can benefit you and your students when the unforeseen becomes a reality. Keep in mind, your emergency contact and cell phone information will NEVER be given out to others or sold. The information you provide is confidential and will only be used in emergency circumstances. If you ever have questions, we’re just an email or call away at 888-763-6786. We look forward to working together for a stress-free festival season!

Student Travel Planning on a Budget 

What is more exciting for your music program than planning a trip together? 

A trip is a surefire way to recruit new students and keep experienced students.  Combining music education and fun is just not that difficult.  But most school music programs are mindful of budgetary concerns for students and their families. Let’s check out a couple of tips to get you started. 

  1. Find an experienced travel planner to help you from the get-go.  Of course, we’re going to say this, but it’s true that an experienced travel professional knows the best options to keep your budget in line, but also plan for the safest and most secure hotels, attractions, and areas for your group.  At Forum we have long-standing relationships with hotels and attractions that keep pricing low. 
  1. Plan early and often.  As the great Yogi Berra said, “It gets late early out there.”  Getting an early start on travel planning allows… 
  • more time to fundraise,  
  • better availability at hotels and attractions,  
  • better selection of your preferred dates, and 
  •  best rates for everything! 
  1. Be Flexible!  Maybe your budget just can’t include every little expensive excursion you’d like to include.  Fun doesn’t come in just one size.  Let us know and we’ll provide a flurry of great, value-conscious suggestions. Alternate activities can be surprisingly popular.   
  1. Team up!  Consider inviting another music teacher in your district to join in on your trip. You have not only doubled your base of support with a partner, but you can also share certain costs such as filling a larger bus or maximizing hotel rooms to reduce the per person costs. 
  1. Chowtime on the cheap!  Feeding a pack of hungry teenagers can be a daunting task.  See this short-list of mealtime winners: 
  • Offered at theme parks or touristy areas, meal vouchers are a great on-your-own option for students. 
  • Food courts at malls – most larger shopping centers feature a food court where students can buy what they like with their own money. 
  • College cafeterias.  Most Forum Festivals are held on college campuses.  Check out the options at their cafeteria since they are set up for low-budget, hungry college students. 
  • Box lunches and Pizza.  Plan ahead to deliver box lunches or pizza to a nearby park or open destination.  Our staff can help with setting this up.   

Planning early and planning ahead ensures a great shot at a successful trip because you’ll have a good picture of your costs.  We’re here to help.  Contact us at to get started or Request a Quote (website link) at no obligation.   

Not all classrooms have four walls.  Give it a go and start planning a great trip filled with musical memories! 

Fundraising 101

Fundraising is a crucial step in the planning process of your school year and the rewarding festivals and events your students will get to enjoy. There can be a lot of questions for fundraisers- where do you start? What do you consider? What ideas work best? Truth is, it all depends on your school and group – you’re the expert, but we’re here to help with a step-by-step guide! 

  1. Determine how much your desired activities will cost. Whether it is a one-day festival or an overnight trip, having a clear goal will be critical in helping you determine what fundraisers will work best and when you need to start. Having a number in mind can also help to motivate and inspire. Who doesn’t love to watch as you fill your fundraising meter each week closer and closer to your goal?!  
  1. Get parents involved. Parents can bring experience and great ideas to the table for unique and engaging fundraisers. Getting parents involved early on can help the process be smooth and successful. You can even designate a fundraising committee with your most designated parents to take on the bulk of the planning process!  
  1. Know your deadlines. Work with your travel planner or provider to determine when invoices are due and how much will need to be collected. It’s always a good idea to add more time for straggling payments, deposit turnaround, and preparation.  
  1. Get your students’ involved with planning. Want your students to participate? Include them in the planning process! Enlist their suggestions and take their ideas into consideration. This applies for both the fundraisers themselves and the activity you’ve set. If you’re planning a trip that everyone is excited for, it will create enthusiasm and motivation. By that same philosophy, if you select fundraiser ideas that no one is inspired by, it may be harder to keep students’ involved with the process.  
  1. Get inspired! These days, fundraisers are so much more than going door-to-door and selling wrapping paper. For music groups especially, you have the edge of unique fundraising offers that no one else has! 99Pledges suggests giving music lessons, running a Practice-a-thon (think walk-a-thon but for rehearsing), or hosting a Battle of the Bands! In the age of crowdfunding, there s also the option to use platforms like to expand your efforts.  

Fundraising might not be the thing you look forward to at the start of every year, but with proper planning and the right support, you can feel confident and maybe even excited about the engaging fundraisers you have planned! Plus, we’re always in your corner ready to help with ideas and planning! Request a quote today to get started on step one!  

The Benefits of Booking Early 

At this time of year, travel planners are probably encouraging you to book your 2024 student trip now.  Take note – booking at the start of the school year definitely has benefits for your trip.   

With early planning… 

  1. Your current students get a glimmer of what’s ahead!  Excitement builds and motivates students! 
  1. More time for fundraising and more time for your students’ families to budget for the trip means higher participation. 
  1. Your travel planner has more leverage to book hotels, buses, and attractions at a lower rate.  Waiting till closer to your travel date makes fewer choices available and can increase your trip costs. 
  1. Your group has a better shot in reserving the attractions that you want.  For example, Disney Imagination Campus offers wonderful workshops and performances in the parks, but many of the popular dates fill up a year in advance. 
  1. Your performing group has more rehearsal time and more time to prepare. 
  1. You get your first choice date and destination. 

Start planning and talking up the trip with your students now!  You have everything to win and nothing to lose!  Give us a call at 1-888-763-6786 to discuss ideas and destinations.  Let’s get started on a memorable trip for your program!   

What to Know About Travel Insurance

There’s no doubt that considering travel insurance is a trend that has skyrocketed since the COVID-19 Pandemic, and with good reason! Forbes estimated that half of Americans lost between $500-$1500 in 2021 because of cancelled trips, so purchasing travel insurance for your group is definitely worth consideration. However, it can be hard to navigate the terminology in your coverage and understanding exactly which insurance is right for you. Rest assured that Forum is here to help!  

We are partnered with C&F Travel Insured International and can easily add insurance as an optional add-on for individual participants upon request for a seamless experience. Founded in 1994, they have incredible resources like this terminology guide as well.      

Let us ensure that your 2024 trip is covered for the unexpected! Please contact us for pricing and options. 

10 Celebrities Who Play Musical Instruments

Learning to play a musical instrument takes hard work, dedication, and lots of practice. It can be hard to keep students engaged in the early stages of learning to read music and stay committed. However, there is a long list of great musicians and even celebrities who have made that commitment to practice before them! Check out this list (original post from TheThing) of these talented celebrities who made that commitment in their school years! Maybe it can even inspire your students to keep the music playing!

  1. Steve Martin can play the banjo
  2. Clint Eastwood can play the piano
  3. Ryan Gosling can play the piano
  4. Bradley Cooper can play the guitar
  5. Robert Downey Jr. can play the violin
  6. Meryl Streep can play the violin
  7. Bruce Willis can play the harmonica
  8. Keanu Reeves can play the bass guitar
  9. Halle Berry can play the flute
  10. Julia Roberts can play the clarinet

Read the full, original post from here.

Did You Know?

We have been enriching students lives through performance for 27 years! We welcome returning groups and new groups every year! Whether you are brand new or a Forum Festivals veteran, here’s a quick list of the services we can provide your group during the festival and beyond. Did you know…

  • You can choose other activities instead of a theme park? We offer customized one-day and overnight trips along with festivals- let us help to mix up your festival day with a Broadway show or symphony, family-style meal at Buca di Beppo, and more!
  • You can enjoy ae theme park on a different date from the festival.
  • We have suggestions for public performances outside the festival. We’ll arrange a Disney Imagination Campus experience, Universal Studios, and many more opportunities to enhance your experience!
  • We can arrange a clinic for your group with a college clinician.
  • Dress code is not a factor in judging.
  • If you need a charter bus quote, we can assist. We will ensure your group is safe in good hands with only the most reputable companies.
  • We offer optional travel insurance through Travel Insured.
  • We do not have an approved music list.  You can select whatever music that is appropriate for your groups ability!
  • You receive recorded and written adjudication at the festival through AirDrop or you may select to have them emailed.

    If you have more questions, we’re always here to help! Send us an email or click here to get your group registered! We look forward to seeing your groups at our festivals.

    Updates to the Knott’s Chaperone Policy

    Knott’s has recently announced another change to their group chaperone policies moving forward. As of February 3, no wristbands will be required and the 1:10 chaperone ratio, although recommended, is not required moving forward.

    Knott’s will continue to request chaperone names and mobile numbers for student groups. The chaperone policy will only be implemented when deemed necessary by operational policies and security protocols.

    To learn more, visit Knott’s full Code of Conduct here.

    Conference Season Is Here!

    We’re so excited to be back representing Forum Music Festivals and Forum Educational Travel this conference season!

    We will be at the Arizona Music Educators Association (AMEA) Conference February 3-4, 2023 at the Mesa Convention Center. Be sure to stop by and say hello to Gary and Michelle Wampler at our booth!

    After that, you can find us at the CASMEC Conference February 16-18 in Fresno! Be sure to stop by our booth in the exhibit hall to say hi to Becky and Matt!

    These conferences are an excellent opportunity for both students and educators alike, offering networking opportunities, chances to see other ensembles, and experience enriching presentations. Be sure to follow us on Facebook for latest info on our whereabouts at both events. We look forward to seeing you there!

    Organizing a Student Trip 

    You want to share your love of music while inspiring your students.  But where do you begin?  At Forum Music Festivals, we’ve set up thousands of overnight trips for music students.  Travel embraces learning, fun, and unforgettable reminiscences all wrapped in one trip. We’ve got a few suggestions to share. 

    Photo by Amy Hirschi, courtesy of Unsplash
    •  Talk, Talk, Talk.  Start the conversation rolling with administration, parents, students, and other teachers who have taken trips with students.  Learn the ins and outs of district requirements.  And determine whether there is an interest in traveling among your music students.   
    • Where do students want to go?  A trip won’t happen if students aren’t excited about the destination.  Once a destination is defined, promote it everywhere!!  In the classroom, at booster meetings, in newsletters, on your voice mail!!  If you can wrap the destination into the content of other academic subjects, you’ll enhance your students’ experience PLUS another teacher may help you promote the trip.  
    • Find a tour operator or travel planner.  You are a newbie at this – you need an experienced tour operator with contacts, networking, and suggestions for a stress-free experience.  Collaboration is key – share what you want but be open to new ideas.  We would love to help you on some awesome trip ideas. or
    • How will we pay for the trip?  Give yourself and your students plenty of time to raise the funds for the trip.  Numerous fundraising ideas exist out there, but sometimes funding is available for the asking.  Perform for various community groups around town or new store openings.  Maybe your music students can “sing for their supper,” so to speak and use their talents to raise money.  Host a spaghetti dinner or a pancake breakfast with entertainment.  Host a silent auction with entertainment, of course.  Or just “fill the bucket” by passing around a bucket during football half time shows.   
    • Think it out.  Set deadlines for sign-ups.  Ask for “good faith” deposits from the families.  Plan, plan, plan, but allot some transfer time to get a group from Point A to Point B.  Your students will appreciate some downtime for shopping, eating, and just being together with their friends. 
    • Just have fun.  If you have fun, your happy, genial attitude tells your students that they can relax and have fun, too.  They are making memories here.  And so are you! 

    Keeping Music in Play at Your School

    Have you ever thought about the dizzying number of hats worn by music teachers?

    · Teacher of music (goes without saying)

    · Pep band organizer

    · Budget planner

    · Recruiter

    · Rehearsal or sectional leader

    · Booster club overseer

    · Accompanist

    · Show designer

    · Music librarian

    · Performer of gigs

    · Private instructor

    Let’s talk about one of the most important gigs – Music Department Publicist.

    Doesn’t seem obvious and isn’t something you learned in college, right? But consider this – student musicians deserve just as much recognition as student athletes, student scientists, and student thespians. You and your musical colleagues owe it to your students to keep music in the forefront of the minds of parents, the community, and administration. Sad to say, music education is regarded as fluff in many districts. Decision makers don’t always see the value in arts education of developing the whole person. As the music teacher at your school, the tools at your disposal will keep the melody playing.

    Some things to think about:

    · Use the LED display outside school to announce auditions, recognize graduating senior musicians, or post the school concert calendar

    · Your ensemble should perform at school at every possible opportunity – singing happy birthday to teachers, staff, or administrators, caroling the classrooms at Holidays, performing during lunch breaks or assemblies. Back to School Night or Open House is a great way to show off your students’ developing skills.

    · Use the P.A. system at school to feature drum major announcements, important solo/ensemble results, or other highpoints of musical competitions and festivals.

    Of course, if you put your ensemble front and center, you must strive for excellence. Students want to be part of something outstanding. Producing a solid result in your ensemble will give your school community bragging rights about their music programs. Siblings of your current students will choose to join in on the musical magic. Travel to your local elementary or middle schools to give them a taste of musical prowess so they can join in the fun.

    Local papers and other avenues of communication are always looking for community tidbits. Press releases about festival results or prospective travel, fundraising needs, or student achievements and awards are always appropriate.

    Opportunities abound for introducing younger students to music. Have a before or after school “instrument petting zoo” where prospective musicians can touch and try out various instruments or learn a simple song. Your current students can be the “zookeepers” and demonstrate instruments or answer questions. Give your current students some talking points so they can exude the energy and excitement that comes from being part of an ensemble.

    Plan a trip. Music students traditionally travel, both close to home and far away. Nothing sells your program like taking the show on the road. The community can join in with a farewell dinner or a welcome home party. At Forum Festivals, we assist music groups to plan the best trip for their budget, their skills, and their interests. And we witness the results year after year when returning groups arrive with increased growth and musical proficiency.

    Make it fun! Smile and be welcoming! Choose a day a week where students can congregate in your classroom at lunch or other break times. One orchestra teacher had a “donut day” where her current students brought in a friend to meet her and check out the instruments. Both left with a donut in hand. *

    There’s a common thread here – positivity! Your attitude and effort will go a very long way to ensure that music is an equal opportunity elective in your school. Be a cheerleader for your music students! It’s worth the effort and your program will only benefit by the added admiration and respect.

    *Maria Stefanova Mar –

    An Easy Overnight Festival Trip Awaits…in San Diego 

    Did you know that Forum Music Festivals produces festival in the San Diego area?  San Diego offers sunshine, beaches, and fantastic sightseeing opportunities.  But another benefit to exploring America’s Finest City is how easy it is to navigate an overnight trip with your students.   

    Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight at SeaWorld San Diego

    A vibrant city filled with musical and cultural options, in San Diego you will find plenty to attract your students of any grade level.  Check out this sample student itinerary. 

    • Day 1 – 
    •  Travel Day.  Check in to 3-diamond hotel in San Diego, then visit Old Town State Park, the heart of historic San Diego and California’s first settlement.  You’ll find museums, shops, and excellent restaurants here.  Enjoy a Mexican dinner at Café Coyote. 
    • Day 2 –  
    • After a hot breakfast at the hotel, transfer to one of the many college campuses for a music clinic with a college instructor.  Include a possible campus tour and let your students imagine the promising next step in their educational careers. 
    • Transfer to Liberty Public Market in the Point Loma neighborhood for shopping among artisans and lunch.   
    • In the early evening, head to the marina to board a City Experience Dinner Cruise of the San Diego Bay. Cruise ends at 10 PM, then head back to the hotel for the evening. 
    • Day 3 –  
    • Hot breakfast at the hotel is served, then transfer to Forum Music Festivals, where you will receive expert adjudication and feedback on your performance.  Awards are held at the venue, then off you go to SeaWorld San Diego for a full day with amazing animals, educational adventures, rides, shows, and exhibits.  Top off the day with a group dinner at Buca di Beppo, the Corvette Diner, or one of the scrumptious restaurants in Little Italy. 
    • Day 4 –  
    • Following breakfast, head to the Embarcadero to board the USS Midway, the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century.  Boasting flight simulators, climb-in aircraft, self-guided audio tours and spectacular views of the downtown skyline, the USS Midway also offers performance opportunities on deck for your ensembles. Following your tour, grab some lunch or early dinner, board the bus, and head for home.   

    Other options?  They are limitless… 

    • The Museum of Making Music, in nearby Carlsbad, offers scheduled educational programs sponsored by NAMM.    
    • The San Diego Symphony in historic Copley Hall presents a range of concerts including traditional classical repertoire as well as a pop series featuring famous guest artists. 
    • Exposing your students to Broadway is easy in San Diego – theatres abound featuring musicals at the La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe in Balboa Park, and the Balboa and Civic Theatres.  

    San Diego offers all of this and so much more.  Let’s customize a festival package that features the interests and budget of your student group.   

    From beaches and bays to culture and cuisine, you’ll find it in San Diego.   

    Spooky, Strange, Eerie, and Mysterious Music

    It’s the middle of October and you know what that means.  Halloween is right around the corner.  Here’s some spooky music to impress your students and teach them about why music can be spooky! And maybe you’ll have some of these pieces in your repertoire that they can sight read or sight sing a few tunes.

    1.  Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky.  Adapted from a Russian folktale, the music paints the picture of a witches’ gathering on Bald Mountain on St. John’s Eve.  Used to effect in Disney’s Fantasia, the fiery percussion and eerie strings help create the frightful atmosphere of the piece.  Mussorgsky was only a teenager when he was inspired.  Check out the clip from Fantasia
    2. Funeral March of a Marionette by Charles Gounod tells the musical story of two marionettes who get into a duel.  When one dies, his friends carry him off, but stop for a brief drink and tell stories of their lost friend, thereby creating the fanciful nature of the piece.  Used famously in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, it also appears in Disney’s Fantasia.  Great opening for woodwinds!
    3.  In the Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg.  Peer Gynt, a Norwegian adventurer and rascal, finds himself in the Hall of the Mountain King captured by trolls.  When he refuses to marry the king’s daughter and become a troll himself, he barely makes it out.  Great example of how tempo and dynamics create suspense in music.  Check out this version.
    4. Toccato and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.  Your students will definitely recognize this piece within its first few measures.  Composed in a minor key, it is recognizable in so many horror movies throughout generations.  Does the organ create a sense of foreboding? Musical scholars are still unsure whether it was originally written for the organ and some even question whether Bach wrote it at all due to its unusual dynamics which are distinctly un-Bach-like – unsolved musical mysteries.
    5. Jaws by John Williams.  Two notes and fear strikes!  Hypnotic and primitive, it is so closely aligned with sharks that just those two notes, at whatever dynamic, takes the listener to whatever lurks in the deep. 
    6. Verdi’s Requiem – “Dies Irae” – Day of Wrath.  Terrifying, powerful, and vigorous, your singers will definitely be moved by this recognizable work by Giuseppe Verdi.  When Verdi composed the piece, female singers were not allowed to perform in the Catholic Church, but Verdi always intended to include them.  Hear this version by the Metropolitan Opera.
    7. Double Trouble by John Williams.  The music of Harry Potter is timeless and magical.  Double Trouble is performed at Hogwart’s Opening Feast in The Prisoner of Azkaban.  Lyrics taken from Shakespeare’s MacBeth and the line, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” from a Ray Bradbury fantasy novel of the same name.

    Your students will probably share some of their suggested music for the holidays.  Great to have a chance for fun in the classroom. 

    Keep Calm and Recruit Boys for Choir

    For over 20 years, Forum Music Festivals has welcomed a 90-voice boys’ choir to perform at festival.  Are they pledges to the Vienna Boys Choir?  Nope, they are from a public middle school where their teacher made singing a very cool thing to do.  At this school, singing in the Boys’ Choir is a tradition.  And by the reception they get at festivals, school assemblies, and community events, the boys continue to enrich the legacy.  Take it from me, when a boys’ choir sings at festival, it is usually a showstopper!

    Choral directors are always in search of male singers for their choirs.  As you plan on recruiting boys for your middle school choral program, consider the following ideas.

    •  Develop an All-Boys Chorus.  In an all-boy group, boys concentrate on singing without feeling shy about singing in front of girls.  Single gender instruction also allows you more time to focus on the changing voices of male middle school singers.
    • Simply, invite them.  Use your existing boy singers to reach out to incoming sixth graders.  A video of your current boys’ choir entices both students and parents. A sincere invitation really appeals to the student who is looking for a place to belong. 
    • Enlist your current singers to perform for the school or sing for the daily announcements.  A brief performance at Back to School Night or Open House encourages parents to encourage their sons to give it a try.
    • Encourage your boys to enlist their friends to join.  Maybe an after-school visit to the choir room will show potential recruits that they can have a lot of fun singing with their peers.
    • Get to know the boys in your school.  Attend sporting events and enlist the help of coaches.  Have your choir perform the National Anthem at sporting events.  Being visible and showing how much fun it is to sing speaks louder than any recruitment poster could.
    • Be funny, reassuring, and create a “Safe Zone.”  Maybe an All are Welcome pitch – No Auditions.  I saw one choir at festival where each boy wore a shirt that said, “Real Men Sing!”
    • Enlist faculty members. I’ll bet there are some other teachers who would be willing to get together and sing at an assembly.  Even if they don’t sound fabulous, students will love it!

    Once you have them in choir, keep the momentum going.

    • Most boys enjoy competition.  Is there an in-class game that you can incorporate to make boys feel successful? 
      • Sing it Charades – put the name of a singer on a card, then have students act them out or sing a song of that singer.
      • Name that Tune.  Divide the choir into teams.  Play a tune without words and have them guess.  Keep score and the winning team gets a prize.
      • Rounds – Divide the choir into two teams.  Teach everyone the same round and have them compete for adjudication (maybe the principal?)  Winning teams get a prize.
      • Musical Pictionary.  Divide into teams.  Use a white board or paper.  The “artist” gets a word that describes musical notation, then draws a picture for his team to guess it.
      • Copy rhythms during warmup.  You sing or clap a rhythm, and they must follow.  Make it controlled silliness while incorporating a little rhythm lesson.
      • Start a reward chart and let the weekly winner conduct warm-ups.  You can reward for behavior, attendance, or whatever you wish to encourage.
    • Select songs that they can sing well and that appeal to them.  For example, the musical theatre genre has tons of literature that interests boys – “Newsies,” “Hamilton”, “Aladdin,” “Oliver,” “Lion King,” – the list is endless.  Keep in mind, though, that you are conducting the choir in front of you, and you must consider their actual range and changing voices.
    • Be good.  Middle School students want to be part of something that is excellent. Help them sound great! Work on matching pitch, no matter where they are in their changing voices.
    • Introduce varying cultures and languages in your music choices.
    • Teaching a boys’ choir is different from teaching a girls’ choir, particularly in middle school.   They may move more, so give them time to stand and shake off their restlessness.  Goofy behavior will crop up during class time.  Ignore it, laugh about it, or stop to explain why it’s inappropriate – your choice, but be prepared to deal with it. Use humor while encouraging proper conduct.
    • Introduce male role models that sing– take them to a college concert of doo-wop, collegiate a cappella, or vocal jazz.  If your high school ‘s choral program has strong male singers, invite them to your classroom for an exchange concert between the high school and middle school singers.

    It absolutely must be fun!!!   Include festivals and travel.  Let them show off a bit.  To quote the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.”  You are building musical memories to last a lifetime.

    We’d love to help.  Include Forum Music Festivals in your program and showcase your boys!  Adjudicators love supplying positive feedback and encouragement.  And they will get to hear and see other choirs perform (maybe even some boys’ choirs.) Contact us at 1-888-76-FORUM (763-6786) and let’s get started on the journey together!

    We have moved!

    Times are rapidly changing, but we want you to know that we are still here for you! Our operations have moved from our “old” office to new remote digs! Phone number is the same, email is the same, faces are the same, but with renewed inspiration! If you need to mail anything to us, please use our PO Box.

    · Mailing address: PO Box 3662, Fullerton, CA. 92834

    Thank you to those who have completed our recent survey about the plans for your music programs. If you haven’t completed that yet, there’s still time! Click here to access the survey. This information will help us as we plan for 2021 and beyond!

    If we haven’t thanked you enough, we’re at it again! We extend our heartfelt thanks to all of you for your patience and good wishes during this very stressful and unfamiliar time. We count many of you as time-honored friends as well as partners in music education. Take care and we’ll see you again soon!

    · Phone numbers: 1-888-76-FORUM (toll free)
    ·Email: or (Becky)
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