This past spring, Matt Fritz, the Band Director at Bowsher High School, took his students on a performance trip to New York City. He decided to take 68 students in the Marching and Concert Band and the Jazz Band, which included 19 students. The objective of the tour was to be immersed in an educational experience that focused on art and historical sites and to perform at a venue in New York City.
Matt Fritz teaches music theory and beginning band class for students who have never played in a band but want to learn an instrument. The school group’s itinerary was custom designed to meet Matt’s learning goals.
This Q & A was conducted with Matt Fritz upon completion of the band trip.
Q. What educational benefits are there to giving students live performance opportunities?
A. The high school band always gives a concert performance at school. With a trip to New York City, students had a chance to get out and showcase their talents to people who have never seen them perform before. It was a special thrill for student musicians to perform in New York City.
Q. How did you prepare the high school band and jazz band for this New York City performance?
A. We were scheduled to travel in the last week of April. Luckily we had no concerts to prepare for the entire month prior to the trip, so we could focus on our performance in New York City. We did complete a great deal of preparation in class and I also scheduled after school rehearsals.
Q. What’s the difference in traveling with student musicians as opposed to traditional students?
A. Musicians have instruments that are carried along with them on the trip and some of these are quite large. In fact, we had to leave the harpist’s harp home as well as some of the large percussion instruments, because they were too large to carry or store on buses. So the educational travel company took care of renting these instruments ahead of time. They made sure that the instruments were there at the venue before we arrived. Also, considering we had 87 students who did have instruments, it was important to choose a transportation service that had ample storage underneath the bus to accommodate the extra luggage – which is significant. These important details were handled by the educational travel consultants well in advance of our trip.
Q. Where did you schedule a performance in New York City?
A. We performed at the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum, right on the flight deck, near the fighter planes. There were three separate performances: the concert band performed, the choir and the orchestra.
Q. What was the audience like at the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum?
A. On the deck of the Intrepid, a steady group of people continued to walk by, and pause and take an interest in the performance. I’d estimate about 60 people passed through. There was an area that was roped off for the performance and the Intrepid staff provided chairs for the audience.
Q. What else did the student group do while touring?
A. The kids toured the Intrepid Museum that day as well as performing for the crowd. While we were in New York City we saw Mary Poppins on Broadway. This was the first time students had actually seen a real live Broadway musical production and it was great fun for them and me, too. We visited the Museum of Modern Art, took the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island boat tour, and had a guided tour of Manhattan on the bus.
Q. Was your tour escort helpful in resolving any last minute challenges or scheduling issues on the itinerary?
A. Karen Goodman was our escort and she was unbelievable. Our visit to Lincoln Center was canceled at the last minute and she was able to present us with choices for our open time on the schedule. We visited Ground Zero on the bus and she arranged for the students to see the Dakota Apartment buildings. Neither of these destinations was on the schedule but she made it happen easily. She also helped the bus driver out of a traffic snarl – which was quite impressive.
Q. Did parents of students give you any feedback about the band trip?
A. Some parents actually paid to come along and they enjoyed the visit to New York immensely. Parents who were not able to attend said they were really thrilled that their children were given the opportunity to tour and perform in New York City.
Bowsher High School band members and parents took a well-rounded trip to New York City that included art and historical points of interest as well as an afternoon performance. There are many different venues to choose from for performance groups headed to New York including: Lincoln Center, the United Nations Building, Statue of Liberty as well as the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum. Student choirs may elect to perform at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Performance groups that visit Lincoln Center may also elect to take a behind the scenes tour of this famous performance stage and learn more about the lives of professional musicians and how they live each day in the spotlight.
For more information about scheduling a high school band, orchestra, or choir trip to New York City or another destination such as Philadelphia, Boston or Walt Disney World in Orlando, take a moment to fill out the Request a Quote form online. Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org.