Hundreds of students rush through the gates at the airport, chatting and laughing loudly. Luggage is everywhere. Instruments are everywhere. You're just trying to get a head count so you can catch your connecting flight, which will take you to your connecting bus, which will finally take you to your destination. It can be chaotic, uncontrolled and frustrating. Wouldn't it be a relief to take a trip and have someone handle everything for you so that your valuable time and focus could be on making great music with your students?
There are ways to simplify moving your band and help the process run smoothly by working with expert student group travel companies. Music for All (MFA) works with Official Student Travel Partner Music Travel Consultants (MTC) to help facilitate travel needs for its BOA Honor Band, a national, 300-member honor marching band that has performed in two Rose Parades and will perform again in Pasadena in 2013. With three award-winning band directors on staff full time, MTC knows how to help each and every band director traveling to an MFA event.
"We want to be that trusted consultant to help your ensemble gain the experience of a lifetime," says Mark Harting, Vice President of Music Travel Consultants. "In short, we try to do all of the big and little things that we wish people had done for us when we traveled with our own student groups."
By utilizing the skills of an organization such as MTC for its own 300-piece honor band, Music for All can then focus on our mission, and directors who utilize a music travel company can likewise focus on the mission and goals of their band programs, says Music for All President and CEO Eric Martin.
"Music for All's expertise and our cause is to provide pinnacle opportunities for performance, allowing bands a chance to measure the progress of their program on a national level," Martin says. "For the band director, MFA's Bands of America Championships are an opportunity to demonstrate excellence and to receive invaluable feedback and input from skilled judges and educators."
Cost, of course, can be a factor, but with personalized trip itineraries created for your band, it's possible to utilize a travel company and still work within a budget. "We work closely with you to set up a customized trip itinerary with exactly the sort of performances you want your group to experience - in short, a trip that is a perfect match for your educational and budgetary goals," Harting says.
Music Travel Consultants provides constant access to trip accounts, trip itineraries, financial information and payment options through their online portal to assist with logistical planning. Keeping the current economic environment in mind, MTC Online provides time and cost-saving options, eliminating the need for directors to act as the trip banker, treasurer and collections officer.
"When teachers and directors saw they would no longer have to enter rooming lists, coach lists, flight lists and chaperone lists by hand and that it was all done with a click of the mouse in the director's resource center, I think they were really blown away with how much easier it was going to be," says Robin Harting, software administrator and trip account manager for Music Travel Consultants.
"The ultimate goal was to create a safe and efficient way for everyone to access information and ultimately giving teachers the time to do what they do best - TEACH!" Travel logistics can become a major part of preparation for a Bands of America Championship, but proper planning will allow educators and students the chance to focus on the educational experience at hand upon arrival.
"I can think of nothing more important for education, for our students and our collective future than making absolutely sure that everyone's travel experience to each and every MFA event not only supports the mission but fosters growth and music awareness in our schools and communities from having had a positively life-changing experience," Mark Harting says.
In preparation for travel and competition, educators should remember that in addition to preparing students for excellence and success in competition, competitive instincts should be channeled toward individual and ensemble achievement. Competition can serve a positive role when the focus is placed on the performers rather than the final results.
"If the focus is to win, then only one band can have a positively life-changing experience," Martin says. "However, if the focus is to challenge on the individual and ensemble level, then everyone can win and excel."
For more information, please visit Music Travel Consultants' website at www.music-travel.com. You can view additional information about Music for All programs at www.musicforall.org