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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!”
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:
Baseball games are a fun way to achieve camaraderie within a group. Contact us for specific game and group pricing.
Patio dining at group-friendly restaurants give students a chance to socialize together. We’ll suggest outdoor dining to please your students’ appetites at a good value.
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.
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 thetrip are the responsibility of each individual traveler.
As we plan our Forum Festivals Spring 2022 season, we have developed guidelines for participants regarding our safety plans regarding COVID 19.
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.
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 directorfor a day (if admin agrees)
Gather statisticsfor school counselorsabout 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!
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.