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.  www.forummusicfestivals.com or www.forumtravel.org
  • 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 – http://www.musicteachingandparenting.com/four-tricks-to-recruit-even-more/

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: office@forummusicfestivals.com or info@forumtravel.org (Becky)
· Michelle@forummusicfestivals.com or Michelle@forumtravel.org