As a fellow choir director and employee at a music travel company, I can say without a doubt that every traveling ensemble undergoes a transformation at the end of the tour that enhances their choral program on both a group and individual level. Touring gives ensembles a sense of purpose and is an added incentive for being a part of the group. Choir tours are not only beneficial for our singers, but also for ourselves, as directors, as we are continually learning new repertoire, new vocal production techniques and choral directing skills to bring back to the classroom.
Grow Your Program
Touring is a great way to grow your choral program. People want to be a part of an ensemble that tours. By putting your tour information front and center of your webpage, you will see a boost in your recruitment strategies. Even better, if you have an established touring program, your community and administration will come to know and support it. You’ll continue to recruit, and retain your members and you’ll also see an increase in your fundraising efforts!
Develop Ensemble Unity
An ensemble’s musicality is built upon a strong bond between its musicians. It requires trust and a lot of listening. So it’s no wonder that there is a perceived correlation between strong friendships and strong ensemble unity. Touring overseas gives ensembles the chance to bond, strengthen friendships, foster understanding and shapes ensemble unity. It builds trust between the individual ensemble members, within sections and also with the director.
Educational Growth Through Cultural Exchanges
There is no doubt that culture influences the ways we learn, interpret and experience music. If your tour includes cultural exchanges, it can enhance the educational benefits of the tour. By singing with other musicians, your ensemble will be able to experience the different cultural aspects of pitch, language, rhythm and educational music methods that are taught differently throughout the world. Being a part of the cultural connection can help broaden our minds to how we interpret music ourselves.
Responding to Audiences & Sharing Your Story
Every performer knows the audience’s response plays a large part in the success or failure of a show as it feeds back into the musicianship of the ensemble. Touring inherently allows musicians to respond to different types of audiences. When playing to an audience of family and friends, the audience’s response is always going to be the same: positive, supportive, giving. Playing to a new audience type allows musicians to experience new responses and allows them to learn to “play to their audience” – quite literally.
Adapting to New Performance Spaces
Get outside your musical and personal comfort zone and expand your horizons with limitless performance opportunities across the world. It is a unique and rare experience when students can perform in the world’s most renowned concert halls. Performing inside cathedrals where composer intended a piece to be performed is one of the most awe-inspiring moments a young musician can have. Whether it is at Carnegie Hall for the prestige or a local school in an urban community of Peru, every performance will offer a unique experience for its performers. Ensembles will learn quickly to adapt to new performance spaces; a necessary skill for any musician.
Work With Different Directors
If you have workshops or master classes included in your tour, students will have the opportunity to work with different directors. This gives them the necessary skill to adapt to new conducting styles, particularly for those musicians who want to go on for a musical career. It allows them to work with different approaches and interpretations to the music and they may also take back a new interpretation back into their performance.
The Opportunity to Try New Things
The ability to try new things, believe it or not, is an acquired skill! Not everyone has it. Allowing students the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone, explore the world, experiment, try new things, helps them with not only their creative musicality but also their personal growth, which is important for their future careers. Challenge yourself and be inspired. We can all get used to the daily grind of life. When you travel, you can be motivated and inspired by the experience of new things.
Boost Self Confidence and Independence
Musicians who travel come back experiencing a new level of self-confidence in their performances. Youth, in particular, not only experience this on a musical level, but also on a personal level. Parents of traveling kids report on a rise in self-confidence and independence levels across the board.
Develop New Perspectives
It is vital for students (and adults!) to develop unique perspectives of the world. Travelers tend to have more open-mindedness than non-travelers primarily due to experiencing cultures outside of their norm. Developing a unique perspective of the world can open up job possibilities and enhance the creative mind. While this is relevant for all people, it is particularly important for students involved in the arts. Creativity is key!
Finding International Repertoire
Touring helps you, the director, discover musical styles from across the globe and also to enhance your existing international repertoire. Most countries offer festivals where you can participate in their cultural and musical traditions. So whether you are traveling to Europe, Africa or Asia, you will be able to enrich your repertoire selections.
Gaining First-Hand Knowledge of Musical Heritage
By immersing yourself in the country’s history, art and culture, you’ll be able to develop a first-hand perspective on the musical heritage of each piece and the intentions for which it was written. Imagine conducting your choir inside the Esterházy palace, where Haydn served as court musician. How might this change your perspective of the piece? What might your students learn from this experience? How does this change the musical interpretation of the piece? You won’t know until you experience it for yourself!
Opportunity for Professional Development
Choir tours offer choir directors a unique opportunity for professional development. Directors will have the opportunity to network with other directors across the world and experience varying methods of music technique and education giving them a wider understanding of musical studies. Perhaps you may wish to include a workshop with Gerald Wirth, the artistic director of the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Not only is he the director of one of Austria’s most prestigious choirs, but he is also the founder of the Wirth Method – a method of musical education that is widely taught throughout Austria. While working with Wirth, you may find a certain conducting gesture that “hits home” with your students that you can take back to the classroom. Or how about visiting the Kodály Institute in Hungary? The methods of music education are widespread and the perfect opportunity for directors and their students to learn new musical skills. Plus, it’s a great résumé boost!
For musicians, every performance is a story we want to tell to our audiences. Every audience member perceives the story differently and we as performers never know the full effects of our music on our listeners. If at home your musical story can have varying effects on your friends and family, imagine what it could do in different regions of the world with different ways of perceiving music. By traveling, you are sharing your story with the world through your music.
Students are musical ambassadors for their community when they travel overseas. They can meet local representatives of the countries they are visiting and even perform in benefit concerts where proceeds go to local charities. Some groups even incorporate mission projects into their tour where they participate in hands-on activities within the local communities. These types of activities are sure to just make you feel good!
It’s the Universal Language
We say it over and over: “music is a universal language.” Instead of saying it, let’s go out and experience it! Let’s create meaningful relationships with fellow musicians from across the world, share our musical stories and enhance our choral programs through cultural exchanges.
Tori Cook is the director of marketing and business development at Encore Tours. Her passion for travel is matched only by her love of music. She studied music education, vocal performance and music theory at the University of Idaho before relocating to Boston where she now directs the Harborlight Show Chorus, sings in Chorus pro Musica and remains an active professional soloist. You can reach Tori at email@example.com and subscribe to her posts at blog.encoretours.com for additional music educator resources.