The Finish Line is Near!

A Year-End Checklist for Music Teachers

  •  Reward administration and school staff with a BIG MUSICAL THANK-YOU presented by your students!  Invite them to the band or choir room (or MPR) for a mini concert with refreshments!
  • Reward parents and friends who have supported your program with a BIG MUSICAL THANK-YOU at the end of the year concert.
  • “Sign up for next year Give your students some solid reasons they should!  (Music trip, friendship, a place to belong, concerts, you will miss them, AND FUN!)
  • Clean and repair!  Do yourself a favor (or the colleague who follows you) & clean your classroom and repair your equipment! 
  • Inventory your supplies and equipment.  You’ll be glad you did when you start back again.  Toss what cannot be repaired and organize what can be kept.
  • Make time for some end-of-the-year merriment in the classroom!  After the final concert when the classroom days are winding down, have a fun day with Name That Tune, or Karaoke, Musical Charades, Music Trivia, or Drop the Needle.  Or show some musical movies to discuss – Mr. Holland’s Opus, Music of the Heart, The Sound of Music, School of Rock, Amadeus, the list goes on and on.
  • Offer a chance for students to solo or ensemble in front of the class.  You might be surprised to see who steps up to give it a go.  
  • Reflect on what worked and didn’t work this year!  It’s been a year of starts and stops.  Most music teachers are rebuilding their programs after a two-year unwanted hiatus of remote learning.  But you did it!  You’re finishing up and your students hung in there with you.  Now’s the time to review, then make plans for next year while everything is fresh in your memory. When you are ready to plan, we are ready to help. www.forummusicfestivals.com

Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!  You made it through another school year.  Time to recharge and take care of yourself so you’ll be ready to start again with another roomful of fresh faces!

8 Lesser Known (But Fabulous) So Cal Excursions

Southern California is chock full of tucked away gems that will intrigue students and adults alike– performance groups, STEAM groups, and history groups.  Let Forum Music Festivals find clever and unique options to add to your festival trip.

  •  Bowers Museum – This little museum boasts amazing exhibitions, an opportunity to perform, and an easy centralized location.  Student-friendly pricing for school tours is available.  School tours include interactive, docent guided tours.  Current and past exhibitions include “The Crown Jewels of the Walt Disney Archives,” Ancient Arts of China,” “Beethoven: The Late Great,” and many more exhibits from a range of topics.

  • Presidential Libraries – Southern California boasts two Presidential Libraries – the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda and the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.  Traveling exhibitions feature historical topics of interest in the modern day. A Presidential Library visit can be squeezed into a tour & travel weekend.  Permanent exhibits at the Reagan Library range from stepping aboard Air Force One or walking through a replica of the Oval Office.  The Nixon Library’s galleries feature topical subjects such as a Marine One presidential helicopter, and oral history recordings of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants. 

  • Soka University Performing Arts Center – Newly built in 2009, the beautiful 1,000 seat Soka Performing Arts Center features superb acoustics and a black box theatre. Events are scheduled as varied as the Pacific Symphony, Joshua Bell & Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, as well as many solo world-class artists.  The university is close to many group-friendly dining options.
  • Griffith Observatory – Dating back to 1935, the historic Griffith Observatory is located 1,134 feet above sea level in Los Angeles.   Among exhibits and shows to enthrall visitors are the Foucault pendulum, the Zeiss refracting telescope, and fascinating planetarium shows.  The views of Los Angeles are spectacular. The grounds and building are not to be missed.

  • The Grammy Museum – The Grammy Museum, in Downtown L.A., connects the dots between music’s history and the heritage of recorded music.  School tours can include workshops and classes.  Exhibits have included “Take Me Out to the Ball Game:  Popular Music and the National Pastime,” “This is Nat King Cole,” and “Face the Museum” merging photography and music to showcase legendary musicians.  Inhabiting 4 floors of exhibits, the museum includes artifacts, films, and interactive experiences.

  • Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is the 4th most-visited aquarium in the nation.  With more than 100 exhibits, the Aquarium displays about 12,000 animals representing the Pacific Ocean.  All ages may enjoy educational programs. The Aquarium’s animal encounters range from sharks & rays to Penguins to seals & sea lions & the beloved otters. 

  • Warner Bros Studio Tour offers tour options that include the Friends Fountain, an Interactive Sound Stage, set tours of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Friends”, and 100 years of storytelling. The Sony Studios Tour takes your group through soundstages that include “The Wizard of Oz,” “Men in Black”, or game shows such as “Jeopardy.” Dining options can be added.

  • Don’t forget the fabulous beaches! Your students would love an excursion to the beach.  Huntington Beach (Surf City USA) has volleyball courts, basketball courts, fire-rings for bonfires, and a mufti-use trail.  Picnic areas may be reserved.  Information about services and parking can be found here.

Southern California is home to thrilling theme parks, but discovering new options adds to a wonderful student trip in a very unique way. Forum Music Festivals is ready to start the ball rolling. Call us at 1-888-76-FORUM.

Last Minute Planning in a Pandemic Year

As we slowly creep into a new normal, music educators still seek performance options for young musicians.    

Never fear!  There’s still time!

Give us a call – With our experience and ideas, you can plan an outstanding experience that includes all the essentials – learning, fun, and performance!  After all, we’ve been developing terrific resources for 27 years.  A great festival trip to your choice destination is just a phone call away.

How about five tips to get you started?

  1.  What will your school administration allow? It’s an ever-evolving set of guidelines but by doing a little homework up front you’ll increase the likelihood of making a festival trip happen.  Start with this first step.
  2.  Be flexible.  You couldn’t start planning early.  So, give us a range of dates that will work in your schedule.  Friday festival dates fill up quickly, however we offer many Saturday morning options.  Have an open mind and let’s get started!
  3. Explore alternate activities.  Maybe this is the year to explore different activities because of social distancing. 
    For instance, most theme parks include outdoor rides, shows, and dining. Miniature golfing, going to a sporting event, or head to the beach for a group picnic. Enjoying a group meal outdoors might be just the thing to develop teamwork in your group.   Let’s team up to find the right activity for your group given the world in which we now inhabit.
  4. Don’t delay decision making.  Because time is not on your side, be prepared to make quick decisions so you don’t lose out. Making speedy decisions may not be in your comfort zone but collecting everyone’s opinions at this date may impede the possibility of making a festival trip happen.
  5. Explore safety protocols and concerns.  This may be the number one aspect that makes a trip sound more comfortable to administration and parents.  We can help you with your specific concerns.
  6.  

Best way to stay up on the news?  Sign up for our e-newsletter or include us in your Facebook posts.

You might be getting a late start, but you can still WOW your students with a fantastic and rewarding trip this year.  We’re only an email or phone call away and invite you contact us to get started. 

1-888-76-FORUM

www.forummusicfestivals.com

Making Practice Fun!

Learning any new skill is a challenge. Doing it in front of your friends and classmates is extra-challenging. The school music teacher has the work cut out for them.

Experienced music teachers know the frustration of unpracticed students in their ensembles. Encouraging at-home practice can be problematic since the teacher is unfamiliar with the student’s home support, other obligations (academics, chores, jobs), and their physical set up.

When I was a young piano student, my wonderful mother nagged me to practice. The day before my weekly lesson, though, filled me with dread as I was sure I hadn’t practiced enough to suit my teacher. I was learning to play the piano – what I wasn’t learning was how to practice for improvement.

When my own daughter started the flute with her band, she had a delightful teacher who approached practice differently from my own childhood experience. Key word here … FOCUS. Her teacher concentrated on improving specialized qualities of playing – intonation for a while. Then rhythm. On and on. But even more, she shared specific ideas for improvement. And she recognized that the whole picture had to include fun.

From these experiences and from adjudicator feedback, I share a couple of tips to motivate your students to practice:

Explain the difference between practice and rehearsal.

When you play a sport, you go to practice, then to the game and that’s it. Music study requires a bit more than just playing with the ensemble. Preparing for the rehearsal can be difficult for young musicians to grasp.

Choice

Did each student select their own instrument? Is he/she comfortable with sticking with that choice? Since most directors face gaps in instrumentation, how about a “viola” day or “tuba” day where each student tries out an instrument other than his or her own? If the student realizes that he/she prefers a different instrument, it may improve the practice.

Talk it up.

Talk about practice in class every day. Assume that each student is practicing at home. (Yes, we realize this isn’t the case.)  Without pressure, ask students where and when they practice and if they will share practice tips to their fellow student musicians. Make it sound like everyone is doing it.

Sidestep frustration.

Music students are easily discouraged with their results. Be encouraging, but honest. It takes a long time to learn an instrument, just like math builds on earlier concepts and baseball starts with T-ball. Sure, gifted, and talented student musicians exist, but doesn’t everyone need to feel that they are making progress?

Set personal practice goals.

Ask students to write down a realistic musical goal for the week. For example, if a difficult passage is tripping up the student suggest they practice it ten times slowly in a row without making a mistake. If they make a mistake, start over. Most of us love playing or singing the parts that we do well while avoiding the tough parts. (I speak this from experience.)  Key word here is REALISTIC. A fine line exists between achieving realistic outcomes and making practice too discouraging to even begin.

Set up a custom practice schedule.

In class, have students write down a schedule that suits their life and timelines. Ideas to share…

  • Schedule a “practice-free” day every week. Choose your own practice-free day. Or set the practice-free day around other obligations. This offers a needed break AND promotes time management skills.
  • Break up the practice time. Instead of a 30-minute session (or more), break the time into smaller increments. Using a timer is simple and helpful.
  • Change the practice routine. Is right after school the best time? Or does getting up 15 minutes earlier to practice work better? How about after dinner when Mom and Dad can listen? So individual, but the keyword here is CONTROL. And the student has it.

Change the practice location.

Suggest they take their instrument to the bathroom, to the dining room, outside, or to the park. Changing things up often garners a new perspective on things.

Give students real-life tips for practice.

Suggestions could include…

  • Singing the part to themselves.
  • Playing a couple of measures, then once that unit is mastered, add a measure.
  • Pencil in trouble spots in class to concentrate on them at home.
  • Playing with a friend. Who in your ensemble who could practice with you? Join in on a joint practice session. Sociability during practice – what fun!
  • Offering “bonus” sheet music as a reward for learning ensemble music. It develops interest and rewards good practice.

A friendly competition as a great musical motivator.

  • 30-day Practice Tournament – Who can log the most practice in a 30-day period? (Yes, based on the honor system and the obvious results.)
  • Create a “streak” contest – who practiced the most days in a row?
  • Use text messages or classroom signs to reward musical accomplishments. (“Shout out to the clarinets for a great sectional!”) OR (“Hats off to Cindy who practiced 7 days in a row”)
  • Beat the teacher. Who can practice more than the teacher? The winning student teaches the class for a day.
  • Plan a celebration when all students have learned a piece of music.
  • Post a chart of Practice Champs. (Again, honor system and results)

Include performance opportunities.

Practicing without performing is monotonous. Plan performances throughout the school year. At Forum Festivals, we see the results from student engagement. Not every ensemble is world class, but every student is excited to show their stuff and wants to hear other groups. Using performance as a motivator gives students a reason to practice.

As the old joke says, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” (or fill in the venue). Practice, practice, practice!

Be positive about practice and have FUN making music.

You are teaching far more than music by developing life skills through music:  cooperation, civility, teamwork, and goal setting! At Forum Music Festivals, we celebrate music educators and music students at all levels and abilities! Take pride in your students’ accomplishments this year – remote learning hasn’t been easy for anyone, and your students hung in there!

We can’t wait to see you at a festival!

Becky Norman – Forum Music Festivals

Best Lines from 27 Years of Festivals

For 27 years, Forum Music Festivals has hosted thousands of student music ensembles and directors.  Over the years, students, judges, and directors have shared some insightful comments at festivals.  We’ve chuckled from some and learned from them all!  As we launch our 27th year, we extend our appreciation and gratitude to the music students and directors that have joined us over the years. Here’s the best lines we’ve heard from 27 years of producing festivals.

Best Lines from Students:

  •  “Is this like a college theatre or something?  I could see myself here. “
  • “This festival is actually festive!
  • “I can’t wait to take our award back to school!”
  • “Do you happen to have an extra reed laying around?”  (Also, a spare guitar string.)
  • “I loved the excitement of the awards ceremony. I jumped out of my seat when our school was called.”
  • “We get to miss school, play music, and go to Disneyland? Best! Day! Ever!”

Best Lines from Adjudicators:

  • Choose music that plays to your students’ strengths.”  (Judges’ most frequent advice)
  • “Step away from the mouthpiece.”  (Judge advising saxophone players)
  • “Beautify the tone.”
  • “Look like the music! Where the body goes, the mind goes, and where the mind goes, the voice follows.”
  • “Posture is everything! “
  • “Conduct the band that is in front of you – not the one in your fantasy.”
  • Choral music can change the world!”

Best Lines from Directors:

  • “Thank you for providing such a light in a child’s life that is riddled with obstacles.”
  • “I’ll pray harder to the bus gods next year and maybe we’ll make it on time. See you then!”
  • “The entire clarinet section forgot their mouthpieces.  Can you help?”  (We did.)
  • “I really appreciate the extra mile Forum goes to support public schools’ music programs.”
  • “Thanks to everyone at Forum for making a special day for our kids and a terrific music celebration.”
  • “The venue is outstanding. If art has value, why do our kids have to perform in a lunchroom – EVER?”
  • “Your letter arrived at the perfect time, just as parents and students had formed a group to fight for our music program!!! We are now able to keep both our instrumental and choral program going!”

Taking registrations for the 2022 spring season! We’re performing and learning. You and your student musicians are invited to join us.

Thrilling Adventures…Close to Home

Did you know that awesome excursions are right here in your own backyard?  Or at least within a days’ travel?  Shorter trips still offer the features and feeling of a retreat, while keeping students closer to home.  Forum Music Festivals can be combined with a variety of appealing close to home travel for students.

Theme parks have re-opened – always a big hit for students.  Take a look at the many options for student groups.  Extra cleaning precautions ensure the safety of their guests, making theme parks among the safest places for student groups.

  • Musical performance opportunities and workshops.  Many parks offer space to perform or private workshops.
  • Outdoor attractions and activities. Which parks have plenty of outdoor rides versus indoor activities?  We can help with suggestions.
  • Great value for student groups.  Our theme park packages are an economical way to deliver adjudication, fun, and team spirit within your group.
  • Proactive about health and cleanliness  
    • Hand sanitation stations
    • Routine cleaning and sanitizing restrooms
    • Contactless payments in shops and dining locations.
    • Wiping down handrails and rides in an enhanced cleaning schedule.
  • Pre-ordered food options minimize standing in extra lines.  Theme Park meal vouchers are an easy way to feed the group.
  • Attendance monitoring.  Reservations may be required in some parks.   At Forum Festivals, when you purchase our festival package, your reservation is handled.
  • Virtual queues that emphasize social distancing or reducing wait times are becoming popular. 

Outdoor Experiences are also wonderful alternatives for student group outings.  Combine a Forum Festival with one of the following:

Theatre and Symphony performances go hand-in-hand with music education.  In California, this means that theatregoers must prove vaccination status.

  • Most theatres in California are now requiring proof of vaccination or possible proof of a negative COVID test, making indoor seating safer.
  • Masking is required in theatres.
  • Group seating, when possible, helps with social distancing inside the theatre.   

Creative alternatives for fun student festival outings could include:

  • Beach Day with Boxed Lunch – we can arrange box lunches to make it easy.
  • Step-on Guides on your bus will take your students on a guided tour of a new destination.  You select when the group can hop off the bus to explore a specific site.
  • Let’s book a Scavenger Hunt in a new city.  This is a great team-building activity.  For more details, contact us.
  • If a hotel stay is in your plans, schedule a trivia night.  Contact us for hotel rental space to host your own game night.
  • Let us book a night of bowling. Fun and competition while your students interact with each other.

As we inch towards a “new normal,” directors are re-building music programs, opening new doors for students, and deciding how music travel works in a post-quarantine world.  When your group is ready, we’re ready to help with support and assistance.  Close-to-home travel is a definite step in the direction of a well-rounded music education.  Let Forum Music Festivals help you get started.

Disney Imagination Campus Update

Dear Forum Friends,

Applications are now open for Disney Imagination Campus programs. This is the newly re-named program (formerly Disney Performing Arts) for performances in the park and performing arts workshops. They are also offer education workshops as well.

To apply, visit https://planears.disney.com to submit an application. To combine a workshop or performance in the park with a Forum Music Festival, you must submit your festival registration through Forum AND an application for the Disney Imagination Campus portion of your trip.

Tickets and “experience fees” must be purchased through Forum Music Festivals. For more details, contact us at office@forummusicfestivals.com.

Thank you. We’re so excited to welcome you and your students back for a great year of music!

COVID-19 Festival Policy

Updated 12/28/21

All destinations and suppliers have their own rules related to COVID-19. For example, you may be required to quarantine upon arrival in some locations. Some locations may require masks or social distancing, or they may require you to provide proof of vaccination or negative testing. While Forum Educational Travel will try to assist you in understanding these requirements, you are responsible for understanding these requirements and must not rely on any representations made by Forum Educational Travel. Should you be denied entry to any destination or attraction, Forum Educational Travel will not be responsible for any such denial, or any cost associated therewith.

All medical costs associated with a COVID-19 infection during the trip are the responsibility of each individual traveler.

Original Post

As we plan our Forum Festivals Spring 2022 season, we have developed guidelines for participants regarding our safety plans regarding COVID 19.

  • We will follow both CDC and State of California guidelines governing requirements surrounding the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Each festival venue may establish requirements relating to events and gatherings.  We will update our participants of those changes, accordingly.
  • Because circumstances change very rapidly, we will notify directors about any policy changes closer to each festival date.
  • Changes to our normal festival format may occur. As we get closer to the actual festival dates, we will have a better insight of changes at the festival.
  • For overnight travelers, our hotel partners are dedicated to the highest protocols. These protocols may include increased frequency of cleaning in public spaces, disinfecting surfaces in guest rooms, etc.  Charter bus companies have also implemented advanced sanitation protocols which include enhanced air filtration, hand sanitizers, and daily disinfection.
  • Revised itineraries may be necessary as sites and attractions update rules for social distancing, masks, etc.  We will continue to monitor how these updates may affect your trip.
  • The safety of our participants and staff members remains our primary concern.  If you have any questions about our COVID 19 Festival Policy, please don’t hesitate to email us directly.

We are working remotely, so email is still the quickest way to reach us. Our Facebook page and our e-newsletter provide timely updates, so we encourage you to sign up for those. As we navigate through extraordinary times, we appreciate your patience and support. As we await young musicians’ return to a Forum Festival, we envision that each festival will be great day of music! That’s our goal and our focus.

San Diego Dates Added to 2022 Season

So much to do. So much to see.

Forum Festivals has added San Diego dates to our 2022 festival schedule. Join us in San Diego for a morning festival with the remainder of the day or weekend to enjoy all the sights!

Fabulous weather aside, San Diego offers historic, cultural, and fun things to do! Check out the following options as you consider your festival trip to San Diego.

San Diego is a perfect first overnight for So Cal festival participants because it’s easy to get there and easy to enjoy.

Festival dates are posted on our website. Choose all-in-one-day packages or contact us for an overnight itinerary chock full of fun & education. They don’t call it the City in Motion for nothing! Join us this spring!

Growing Your Program

Rebuilding & Recruiting in School Music Programs

It’s time to consider the next steps to grow your program.  The world of remote learning was tough on everyone, but particularly on music teachers.  Student music programs that, by their very nature, are designed to teach a performance art had to test the boundaries of creativity and resourcefulness. As a student music festival company, we want to be part of the solution.

As we all re-start, here are some tips for building or re-building a school music program.

  • Don’t be afraid to start small.  Make it matter to the students and watch it grow.
  • Be visible to the students who will feed into your program. 
    • Visit your feeder school to introduce yourself to those students. 
    • Take your musicians to perform for the younger students.
  • Invite the younger students to join you at the high school. Your students can teach a pep song to play at football games.  Assume that they are part of your program, so they will assume that too.
  • Plan some experiences just for the upper-level students.
    • (A Forum Festival trip?)  The younger students will have something to work towards as they build their skills.
  • Guest conduct at your feeder school
    • Remember an encouraging word!
  • Swap places with the feeder school director for a day (if admin agrees)
  • Gather statistics for school counselors about the advantages for music kids.
    • Higher GPA overall for music students
    • Successful alumni who performed in the band/orchestra/choir program
    • Quality colleges that pursue students from your music program
    • Access and visibility to college-level professors at music festivals
    • Better attendance and lower drop-out rates among music students
  • Open the band or choir room doors before school, at lunch, and after school.
    • This is the place for your students. Make it their home away from home – a safe haven and their “special place.”  New students & friends welcome!
  • Enlist the support of the whole community
    • Enlist the local newspaper as your group performs at a student music festival or other events.
    • Perform at local events, store openings, concert halls.
    • Invite community leaders to your concerts. (A boost for fundraising, too.)
  • Music students must perform
    • The word is out – the band or choir is going somewhere!  Building your program will be the result!
  • More recruitment tips are available through the following links:

At Forum Festivals, we welcome music students from throughout the country.  These music programs are moving and growing and making things happen.  It is time for all of that to happen again. Contact us for details.

You must promote your music program and students.  It may well be that no one else will.

Forum Festivals & Disney Imagination Campus!

Graphic for Disney Imagination Campus

At Forum Music Festivals, we’re delighted to highlight Disney Imagination Campus. Our friends at Disney have re-imagined their iconic workshops and performance opportunities. These beloved Disney programs mesh perfectly with your Forum Festivals weekend – fun, learning, and enthusiasm!

The popular vocal & instrumental Soundtrack Session workshops & performances are back and even better! Young dancers or musical theatre students may choose Dance Disney and Disney Broadway Magic workshops. Or showcase your Marching Band with the enduring tradition of a march down Main Street.

New to Disney’s impressive workshops are…

Designed for students of every ability and interest., creativity and imagination should be part of each student’s educational experience!

Can we coordinate your Forum Music Festival with your Disney Imagination Campus event? Absolutely! Let’s partner to bring the excitement of a festival with the magic of Disney. We’re raring to go! Let’s get started with an eye for spring 2022.

Look for pricing & applications to come in the next few weeks. Applications are accepted starting August 2, 2021. Programs commence in January 2022. Head over to www.disneycampus.com for more details. Or better yet, sign up for our e-newsletter and Facebook page here so you don’t miss a thing. Contact us here for an “At-a-Glance flyer” for your administration or booster clubs, Request DisneyCampusFlyer in the comments.

Linking a festival with an Imagination Campus package means that Forum Festivals coordinates your schedule. Request a quote with lodging, festival, workshops, and more! . Or give us a call at 1-888-76-FORUM. We’d love to hear from you.

Imagination. Learning. Inspiration. – the best educational experience for your students!

Traveling Green

10 Ideas for Sustainable Student Travel

As we wait for a green light to student travel, let’s consider the impact our travel has on our students, the destination, and the planet. Our teens live in a world where reducing their footprint on our planet is incredibly critical.    To promote sustainable travel, meet your students’ ideas with your own tips.  Together, you can incorporate these ideas into the fun of planning your next trip.

Go lightly! 

Ask students to assemble a packing list that includes only the essentials.  By packing light, you avoid burning resources with heavy baggage.

Explore public transportation

Feel adventurous?  If your group is small enough, you can do it!  Trust that your entire group can fit on one bus, subway, or train, but chat up a Plan B if your group gets split.  Until the next bus or subway comes along, a couple of chaperones can stay with students. Then you can all meet up at the next stop.  Is public transpo the answer for the entire trip? Maybe not, but in many destinations, it’s an easier way to get around.

Walk On!

If your hotel is near your sites, walking saves money, is healthy, and makes the planet greener.  Before you go, decide whether your group can handle short walking trips. Talk to your travel planner about the proximity of sites to your hotel.

BYOWB

That is, bring your own water bottles. Clearly, buying disposable beverage bottles is a problem for a green-loving group. Ponder other ways to reduce plastic use.

  • Bring reusable bags for shopping and laundry.
  • Sidestep one-use straws when eating out.
  • Avoid plastic utensils, if possible. 
  • Leave recyclable trash in the proper container. 

Note: Plastic takes between 100 and 400 years to break down in a landfill. 

RIP Hotel Toiletries

Once considered a luxury, these cute little bottles often go half-used before being tossed and ultimately living in a landfillBring soap and shampoo in reusable bottles.  To avoid plastic waste, bring your own.  Many hotel brands are cutting these items to reduce their clutter footprint. 

Tip:  If you must use the hotel toiletries, take the balance to finish off the shampoo and to re-use the container for your next trip.

Power Down

Turn off lights, TV, and electronics to conserve energy.  Close the drapes to keep out the heat or insulate from the cold.

Go paperless. 

Technology, (with which your students are quite familiar), is an obvious starting place.  Encourage electronic notetaking.  When corresponding with parents, use email or text message – far more effective than the bottom of the backpack notice. 

Re-use towels and bedding! 

Most hotels encourage this – hang the Do Not Disturb sign on your hotel door or use the folded sign the hotel provides.  For just a few nights, this is a no-brainer and minimizes water and energy used to launder towels and sheets. Easy, but key way to promote sustainable travel.

Enlist your travel planner! 

At Forum Festivals, we can suggest many green travel ideas.  We’re happy to inquire about the hotel’s recycling policies.  We can book local eateries that are walkable from the hotel.  As we design your itinerary, we’ll explore transportation options that can save you money AND save the planet.  

Enjoy the green journey! 

Students will likely be one step ahead of you, but when you incorporate sustainable travel in your planning as a challenge as well as a fun, educational experience, it will add to the journey.  We’d love to help!

Bon voyages!

Just a Note About Appreciation

Well, 2020 is over and there’s probably no one on Planet Earth that wants to re-visit that year.  As we dust off those cobwebs, I can’t help but start 2021 with a spark of hope and a bucketful of admiration.

Although we missed you in 2020, there’s no doubt that music teachers have really stepped up to the plate to show grace, flexibility, and creativity for their students.  Pretty sure that none of you went to college or conservatory to learn how to teach via Zoom or to teach a socially distant performance group.  As a business that supports music education, we admire all of you out there who are making music happen in your students’ homes and schools.  You are heroes!

Essential workers – how familiar that term is to us now.  Having spent months in quarantine depending on those who make our society plug along, let’s give a round of applause to those who fall under that huge umbrella of work deemed essential.  Of course, this includes health care, but it also includes those in retail grocery chains, agriculture, childcare, plumbers, mechanics, transportation, first responders, and the list goes on and on.  Can we ever say thank you enough to those who keep us going? 

Finally, we must admit that we all have a much more expanded appreciation for time – time by ourselves, time with those we love, and time spent discovering new talents and re-visiting old interests.  For music teachers (and those of us in that world), that can also mean the simple pleasure of practicing and enjoying music.  We look forward to the time when we can welcome you and your wonderful students back to a Forum Festival to enjoy, support, and encourage young musicians.

So, What’s Happening with Forum Festivals?

2021 is finally here and it is only natural that questions arise about what is going on with Forum Music Festivals.

We are here and we will be ready to go when you are.  However, let’s be realistic about the possibility that 2021 might not look like the Forum Festivals of previous years. Right now, California is in a dark place with ever-rising COVID 19 infections and deaths.  As of this date, we are less than 60 days from what would normally be the first festival of our 26th festival season.  Truthfully, that’s probably not going to happen.  But we are holding out hope that we will be able to welcome groups late May or June.  We simply must wait and see.

Meanwhile, a couple of things for you to know for the future…

  • Safety is our main concern for teachers, students as well as our staff.  We are taking steps to create a safe and healthy situation for groups to perform, once we’re all back together.
  • Money is going to be tight, so we will encourage groups to enjoy Forum Festivals on a local level with budget-friendly, yet fun alternatives for students.
  • Festivals may look a little different. We’ll follow CDC and State guidelines to keep gathering to a minimum, so we’ll pay attention when scheduling awards ceremonies.
  • Forum Music Festivals has always offered a “comments only” choice as well as a rated festival.  We understand that your ensembles may not had much classroom or rehearsal time this past year, so this may be a good option for your students.  Recruitment and retention, though, is also important. The opportunity to perform for adjudication and enjoy some camaraderie is a huge part of that.

Teachers and students want to travel when districts give them the green light.  We are hearing that from you, and we will be here when that day happens.  Our 2022 festival dates will be posted on our website very soon.  Please keep in touch (office@forummusicfestivals.com) and know that we are wishing the very best to you and your students as we all begin the journey of moving forward.

Great News from A Friend!

A familiar face (and voice) from Forum Music Festivals shares some very exciting news, particularly for students of Big Band Drumming! Matt Johnson, longtime announcer at Forum, has published a new book. Check out details below – you’ll want to have this important resource in your educational tool box!

DRUMMER/MUSIC EDUCATOR MATT JOHNSON ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF BIG BAND LOOPS VOLUME 1 – AN INSTRUCTIONAL PLAY-ALONG BOOK FOR DRUMMERS 

Drummer and music educator Matt Johnson announces the release of his new instructional play-along book for drummers, Big Band Loops Volume 1, containing 13 fully-orchestrated big band play-along tracks by renown composer and arranger Tom Kubis and over 30 chart-specific practice loops with performance insights designed by Johnson for drummers with novice to advanced jazz drumming experience.

Big Band Loops Volume 1 will help any drummer expand their ‘fill’ and ‘setup’ vocabulary while they simultaneously practice solid timekeeping with the aid of recorded looped big band figures and full-song play-along tracks,” says Johnson, an accomplished studio drummer and the Instructor of Drum Set Studies at Fullerton College since 1993. “The book also provides drummers with the thrill of playing in a big band outside of the classroom or live performance setting, which makes it a very timely and effective teaching solution during this unprecedented era of remote learning.”

The downloadable eBook – available at www.drummermattjohnson.com/loops –  includes full drum set charts, notated loop examples, instructional text and high-quality sound files for every featured practice loop and song, providing a totally immersive play-along experience.

Johnson tapped his longtime friend Tom Kubis to provide the music for this fun and practical instructional play-along book. Since the 1970s, Kubis’ arrangements have been a popular staple in the music libraries of the top high school, college and university jazz programs, as well as professional big bands around the world, and have been featured on hundreds of CDs.

Adapting the Kubis library for a play-along experience felt natural to Johnson, the original drummer in the Tom Kubis Big Band. “Tom’s music is so fun to play and his charts are so well prepared that I have been using them for years when teaching my college and private students the fundamentals of big band drumming.” This book puts into writing those time-tested concepts and techniques for learning the traditional responsibilities of a big band drummer while reinforcing all-around fundamentally-sound drumming skills. 

Beyond his expertise in the big band arena, Johnson is versed in all forms of jazz, pop and world drumming styles. A founding member of the Tony Guerrero Quintet, they currently tours with Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning actress/comedienne Jane Lynch. He is an artist/clinician for Mapex Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Aquarian Drumheads, Roland US and Vic Firth Drumsticks. 

Big Band Loops Volume 1 by Matt Johnson, with music by Tom Kubis, is available as an eBook download for $35 at www.drummermattjohnson.com/loops

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

Music During Covid-19

During times of duress and difficulty, people all across the world have always turned to music for calm and support.   Current times are no different. Music’s transformational power to convey emotion and reach out to others is felt everywhere. Though students are learning in a new way and teachers are learning new ways to teach, the feelings and impact of music-making remains the same. 

Musicians at all levels are communicating to the global community to touch those who are hungry to hear. Hospital staff singing to uplift patients or Italian citizens singing from their balconies to encourage their neighbors – we’ve all seen them.    Professional musicians such as Itzhak Perlman (one of my favorites- always with a story), Steve Martin (Banjo Balm), and YoYo Ma’s serenade for healthcare workers (google on classicfm.com)  are just a few of the many musicians who have mobilized in response to the pandemic.  The Pacific Symphony provides a Quarantine Clip on their website with new postings each day. The San Francisco Symphony offers Concert Highlights on their website (sfsymphony.org)   Choirs are using Zoom to join in digital concerts.

Although we are not together this season, resources are available on our website or Facebook page for you to provide to students. The countless online opportunities to see and appreciate musicians who wish to offer their gifts connects us and gives us hope.

Thank you for your many kind emails and good wishes for our staff and the business. Please know that we are here to answer any questions you may have. We are already accepting registrations for spring 2021. Our very best wishes to you, your students, and your community as we move forward to a day when we can enjoy music together again.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Update

Updated December 28, 2021

All destinations and suppliers have their own rules related to COVID-19. For example, you may be required to quarantine upon arrival in some locations. Some locations may require masks or social distancing, or they may require you to provide proof of vaccination or negative testing. While Forum Educational Travel will try to assist you in understanding these requirements, you are responsible for understanding these requirements and must not rely on any representations made by Forum Educational Travel. Should you be denied entry to any destination or attraction, Forum Educational Travel will not be responsible for any such denial, or any cost associated therewith.

All medical costs associated with a COVID-19 infection during the trip are the responsibility of each individual traveler.

Updated August 15, 2020

It’s mid-August. Ordinarily, we would be circulating our annual brochure, generating our pricing, and looking forward to speaking with you who are anxiously planning festivals and trips. But these are unusual times, as we all know.

We understand that music educators are working through their own teaching schedules and, in many cases, distance learning conditions. We’ve shared some ideas and arts opportunities on our social media platforms in hopes of being helpful to students and educators. A survey will be emailed next week so we may plan some best next steps for 2021 festivals. When you receive that survey, we would be grateful if you would take a few minutes to let us know what is going on in your program.

Above all, we want you to know that we are still here – strong, steady, and ready to start planning with you when the COVID-19 situation allows. We are monitoring community and school closures as well as the CDC guidelines, to help us define how we will safely and effectively move forward with our festivals.

Refunds from the 2020 season were processed as promptly as possible. If any questions still remain about 2020 refunds, please contact us at office@forummusicfestivals.com.

As a company that supports school music programs, there is no question that this health crisis has impacted Forum as well as our many business partners. But be assured that when students are ready to travel and perform, we will be ready to welcome them with open arms and with our longstanding commitment to music education.

For now, we encourage you to keep safe and healthy.

o Observe instructions released by local health officials.

o Practice social distancing and wear a mask when in public.

o Minimize any chance of contracting respiratory infections.

o Do not touch your face without washing your hands.

o Avoid contact with persons who are already ill.

o Limit touching public surfaces, where possible.

o Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

o Carry hand sanitizer (60-95% alcohol) for conditions where hand
washing isn’t possible.

Take care and we will see you soon!

Your Friends at Forum Music Festivals and Forum Educational Travel

Updated July 10, 2020

Our registration for the 2021 Festival Season is NOW OPEN. Although we know there is still much uncertainty for the future, we hope to have a great festival season and get to see many of the faces we missed in 2020. We will be introducing new safety and sanitation policies and will share them once available. We are closely monitoring this ever-changing situation and making our decisions with the health and well-being of our clients at the forefront. Our partners are also hard at work to develop new protocols and ensure the safety of their guests, and we will be sure to share any and all information for trips you may be planning. In the meantime, stay tuned and we’ll see you soon!

Updated April 22, 2020

As we’ve said goodbye to our 2020 festival season (with barely a chance to say hello), we want to give you an update on what we’re doing and where we go from here.

Like many of you, we are monitoring the status of the Coronavirus and the guidelines from the State of California.  If you were planning on participating with us during the 2020 festival season, we are providing the following details.

  1.  All 2020 festivals are now cancelled.  Although we were hoping to re-schedule groups, it just isn’t possible during this spring season.  Above all, the health of our participants and our staff is what matters most.
  2. We have suspended our usual cancellation deadlines due to the pandemic.
  3. School refunds are nearly complete. We’d like to extend a shout out to our many valued partners (hotels, restaurant, bus companies, etc.) for assisting us to refund so many of our client’s funds.
  4. We continue to advocate for our groups with our corporate suppliers to expedite the remainder of funds paid on behalf of schools.  Wherever possible, we are offering partial refunds now so needed monies can be returned to the hands of students and their families.   Once the remainder of the refund comes back to us, we will refund the balance to the school.
  5. If you wish to have your 2020 funds carried over for a festival in 2021, please notify us.  We are accepting registrations now for the 2021 festival season – visit Festival Registrations.
  6. We are working remotely. The best way to reach us is by email –  office@forummusicfestivals.com.  You may leave a message at our office phone, but it may take longer to retrieve and answer those messages.
  7. Hotels, theme parks, charter bus companies, and restaurants are also under lockdown orders.  This may delay refunds and correspondence as they are facing the same situation as many of us.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate through this difficult time.    We are here to answer any questions you may have.  Most importantly, we encourage you and your school community to adhere to local guidelines for best practices to stay safe and healthy. 

Updated April 1, 2020

In light of the new recommendations from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (read letter here), Forum has made the difficult choice to cancel the rest of our festival season.  We are as heartbroken as our many clients at this unfortunate situation but the health and safety of all our directors, students, families, and staff are at the forefront of our minds.

We are working remotely from home at this time.  Please contact us at office@forummusicfestivals.com for options for funds paid in toward your 2020 festival participation. 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your sincere and kind emails during this difficult time.  We consider you all as close as family and will miss seeing you and hearing your students this year.

We excitedly look forward to our 2021 festival season!  Registrations are NOW OPEN so lock in your preferred date today.  Contact us for a no-obligation overnight quote for the lowest rates and best availability. We are hopeful that all public health concerns will be resolved long before our season will commence.

Take care, be well, continue making music and we will see you all in 2021!

Updated March 27, 2020

Our team at Forum is working diligently to process refunds and address this fluid situation on a case-by-case basis.  At this point, we have not cancelled all of our May festivals.  We are waiting for further direction from the CDC and state of California.  If you are registered for a May festival, please contact us at office@forummusicfestivals.com to give us an update on whether your district will be in session or will allow travel in May or June.

Please note that registrations for 2021 open on April 1 and we anxiously look forward to welcoming each and every one of you back to Forum in the new year!  Reserve your spot today and request your custom overnight proposal now for the best availability.

Updated March 20, 2020

Due to the shelter in place orders from the California government, we are no longer actively in the office.  Our staff is monitoring email and phone calls.  Refunds will be processed once we can get back into the office. Please be patient as we work through this together.

Updated March 17, 2020

Forum Music Festivals would like to express a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of our clients and partners who have been so patient and understanding during this unprecedented and uncertain time.

We are currently holding to see if late May or early June festivals may be possible.  Based on current CDC guidelines, we do not feel comfortable planning any events until this situation calms down.  If you are interested in pursuing a later festival date, we ask that you reach out to us in early to mid-April to see what options may be available at that time.  We appreciate your understanding as we wait for a clearer picture of what is to come.

Please note we have had to reduce our office hours due to the governor’s recent suggestions, so our team is working remotely and communicating as best we can to get refunds and changes processed.  We also must wait for our partner organizations (theme parks, hotels, restaurants, etc.) to process refunds before we can move forward.  We are doing everything we can to get these out in a timely manner while also considering the health and safety of our staff.  Thank you in advance for your patience!

Take care and be well!

Updated March 13, 2020

As you may know, the COVID-19 coronavirus has forced the closures and cancellations of many venues and activities throughout the country. In accordance with the recommendations made by the state of California, we have decided to cancel our festivals through the end of March.  We are saddened to make this move but believe it is in the best interest of our music teachers and students.  We are also assessing our April dates and cancelling those as necessary.  If you have an existing registration with us, we will inform you directly if this impacts your trip.

You have several options including:

  1. Reschedule at a later date – possibly May or June
  2. Request a refund
  3. Request the theme park tickets and we will refund the festival portion
  4. Roll-over all fees for a 2021 festival date.  Registrations will commence on April 1.

Because of these extraordinary circumstances, we are processing many refunds on a case-by-case basis.  We thank you for your patience in getting this information out to you.  We have a high volume of calls at this time, so please email office@forummusicfestivals.com with any questions you may have.

We look forward to working with all of you and your talented students later this year and beyond in 2021 and appreciate your understanding during these difficult times.

Originally posted March 3, 2020

At Forum Music Festivals, our goal is to provide an experience that is not only educational and fun, but also an experience that keeps students well-being at the forefront. 

At this time, there are no restrictions on travel anywhere in the United States.  In addition, there’s no indication that travel plans within the United States should be altered for any public health reason.  The CDC and other health organizations have advised that the current health risk to the general public is considered low.  In addition, young people appear to be less susceptible to the Coronavirus.

Specific healthy habits always benefits student travelers – wash hands frequently, cough into your elbow and sneeze into a tissue, and consult your health care provider before traveling when sick.  We also encourage group leaders to check official world and national health resources for the most accurate information.  These include the Centers for Disease Control  and the U.S. Travel Association. Educating ourselves with guidance from legitimate health organizations will allow us to make the best decisions for our student travelers. 

Although this is a developing situation, we currently do not foresee a change in our cancellation policy

Finessing the Performance Schedule & How It Works

If you’ve been with us for a while, you probably understand our scheduling process.  However, if you are a “newbie” to Forum, you may need an explanation of how our scheduling works.

Some of our competitors “sell” performance spots.  This works for early registrants if they absolutely must have a location and a time spot for their ensembles.   But the drawbacks to this method are tough to get around. 

  1. If you are unable to register early, you must take what you can get. 
  2. If you want an audience to see your performance and to allow your students the chance to see other ensembles, the schedule may not be set up for optimal audience participation. 
  3. If you have to pick & choose times, your jazz band may perform at 8 AM and your concert band can’t perform until noon, just based on the spots that have already been filled. 

At Forum, we have a different method that’s seems to be working, now 25 years in.  We solicit director input regarding the group’s ETA, departure times, possible bus parameters that influence arrival time, plus a wish list for an ideal performance schedule.  We organize the schedule to group similar ensembles together, to allow for enough warm-up time between ensembles who share the same director or have cross-over students.  And we try our best to get your ensembles grouped on the schedule comfortably without a huge amount of wait time.   

Help US Help YOU with 11 Important Scheduling Tips:

  1.  If your bus company has timing constraints, notify us when you schedule your bus.
  2. If students perform in multiple ensembles, mention this before the schedule is released.
  3. If you WANT to perform back-to-back, (maybe with an associate to handle warm-ups), let us know.  No guarantees, but we’ll do our best.
  4. If you must provide off-duty time to your bus driver, share that essential information so we can schedule your exit time accordingly.
  5. If you can perform super early, that helps us help you.  Not everyone can perform at 10 AM – what a cacophony that would be!
  6. Do you want your ensemble to have an audience?  Let us know! No guarantees again but scheduling close to an awards ceremony will more likely ensure an audience.
  7. Your students deserve a great awards ceremony.  If your schedule doesn’t permit attending the awards ceremony, let us know before the schedule is released.  We may adjust the schedule so students will benefit by the entire experience.
  8. If you have arranged your own activity, tell us about your plans so we can comfortably allow time for you to get there.
  9. Flexibility is key!  Remember, traffic and road closures influence the schedule. Communicating with us can result in a positive outcome to the festival performance, even if traffic congestion woes misplace the best laid plans.
  10. Dropping groups after the schedule release is a faux pas of festival decorum.  When you register your ensembles, a spot in the line-up is being held just for you.  If you cancel an ensemble late in the game, you have likely eliminated the possibility of another school being able to perform.
  11. Time your performance.  Playing past the scheduled time causes the festival to run late, affects the timing of other schools, and irritates the judges who are trying to stick to the timeline.

Are you spotting a common thread here?  Notify usmention this – let us know – share information – and clue us in.  We enjoy chatting with our clients, so give us a call or shoot us an email.   If you have info that will affect your arrival, we’d love to know.  And, we want you and your ensembles to feel good about your performance so if scheduling is going to affect that, let’s talk. 

Last Minute Planning Can Still Work!

Not all of us are uber planners.  Some of us need to catch our breath before launching into another big program.  Those folks start planning trips after the holiday concerts are done, January classes are set, and reality sets in that a music trip hasn’t been booked quite yet.  Never fear!  There’s still time!

Give us a call – our experience and ideas will help you arrange an outstanding trip that includes all the essentials – learning, fun, and performance!  After all, we’ve been developing terrific resources for 25 years.  A great festival trip to your choice destination is just a phone call away.

Our team at Forum will answer your questions and guide you towards a festival trip that meets both your budget and interests.  How about five tips to get you started?

  1.  Be flexible.  If you didn’t start planning earlier, give us a range of dates that will work in your schedule.  Popular festivals fill up quickly.  If you are planning an overnight trip, hotels and attractions also fill up quickly.  Have an open mind and let’s get started!
  2. Explore alternate activities.  So, your group didn’t make the cut-off for a popular theme park workshop?  Let us help you find an alternate educational experience that fits the bill.  Maybe be a clinic or performance that you hadn’t considered before or an afternoon at the Philharmonic or theatre would appeal to your students.
  3. Don’t delay decision making.  When time is not on your side, be prepared to make quick decisions so you don’t lose out. Making speedy decisions may not be in your comfort zone but collecting everyone’s opinions at this date may impede the possibility of doing the activity that you really wanted to include.
  4. Fundraisers and finances are the facts of life.  If you haven’t collected funds for the trip, it doesn’t mean the trip is off.  At Forum, we have suggestions that allow you to enjoy a trip on a budget.  Early fundraising is beneficial, but options are available that make it possible for your students to travel.
  5. Don’t shortchange your itinerary if it jeopardizes safety and security.  We never recommend loading a charter bus in the evening to drive through the night.   Night driving challenges include driver physical and mental fatigue.  Most accidents happen during the hours of 2:00-4:00 AM.    Instead, consider staying the night and driving home the next morning.  Safety is the most important element of the trip. 

You might be getting a late start, but you can still your students with a fantastic and rewarding trip this year.  We’re only a phone call away and invite you to pick up the phone. 

1-888-76-FORUM

www.forummusicfestivals.com

PS – Looking for a destination outside of California or our festival season?  We can help with that, too.  Let’s chat about student tour ideas that will spark your students’ enthusiasm.  Email or call – info@forumtravel.org / 1-888-763-6786.