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!

    Clarifying Knott’s Chaperone Policy

    August 2023

    Dear Forum Festival Friends,

    In light of recent events, Knott’s Berry Farm has amended their chaperone policy. For the general public, this means that there must be one chaperone for every four minors under the age of 17.   For our groups, that ratio will be based on one chaperone for every ten students under the age of 17.

    If you are planning to perform at Forum Festivals followed by a visit to the park, please make note of the following information as you plan your spring program with us.

    1. Your group will be required to have 1 adult chaperone (21 years +) for every 10 students.
    2. Wristbands provided at the park will identify your students to Knott’s staff as part of a group under the supervision of chaperones based on the required one per ten ratio.
    3. Each group leader must submit a list of chaperone names and cell phone numbers to Forum in advance of your visit. Added details will be forwarded to you as we get closer to the festival season.
    4. Chaperones must remain in the park and be accessible by the provided mobile phone.

    Initial feedback about this new policy from Knott’s Berry Farm is very positive. Your group’s safety and security are most important to us. As this policy may evolve over the coming months, we will keep you updated on those revisions.

    Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

    Telephone: 1-888-76-FORUM (763-6786)


    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.

    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.

    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. 


    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.


    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 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

    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.