CONCERT BAND TOURING - ORGANISING COUNTRY SCHOOL BAND TOURS: www.rodherbertbigsoundmusic.com
Travel around the countryside, countryside, countryside….ask the Leyland Brothers!
This was the theme song of the popular 70’s Australian travel show.
I look back feeling very blessed as a musician and teacher at a large amount of travelling I have experienced, be it as a musician touring Australia wide and internationally, or as music performance examiner, or taking my high school concert band on the road performing to remote rural schools and communities!
Since 2006, I have organized an annual Australian, country New South Wales concert band tour, with my high school band, performing concerts and workshops in rural primary schools all over New South Wales.
It is a fantastic opportunity for my North Sydney students to experience school life in rural communities as well as bringing live music to often small schools who are often starved of any sort of live musical performance!
I am writing this as I am travelling on the coach returning back to Sydney after a wonderful four - day blitzkrieg tour consisting of two primary school performances in different towns each day!
Accompanying me is a couple of great teachers and a highly knowledgeable and helpful coach driver, and an exceptional group of 30 young musicians from Marist College North Shore aged 12 to 17 years old.
We left Sydney on Sunday at 12 pm and travelled 7 hours to a recreation camp at Yanco, just in time for dinner!
Monday morning, we left Camp Yanco early at 8.15 and drove 2 hours West to an 11am performance at Hay for the combined State and Catholic primary schools and the Hay Nursing Home and Preschool. It was a wonderful, vibrant performance for the whole community.
We then travelled 2 hours back to Griffith, one of the rice, orange and wine-growing capitals of Australia performing in the local town park to a small, but enthusiastic audience.
One of the highlights was a combined afternoon workshop/rehearsal with the Griffith Town Junior Concert Band consisting of 25 young primary and junior high school-aged musicians. We were rehearsing one of their regular repertoire pieces sharing the conducting duties with the local conductor, Trevor Peacock, and then concluded with an exuberant set of our Marist show in a very small community band hall that could barely fit 60 musicians. The combined sight-reading, energy and enthusiasm of all the students were
Tuesday, we travelled 2 hours North-West to the small wheat-growing town of Hillston, performing in the local Catholic school with their student population of under 50 children!
This school does not have any regular classroom music teachers as it is a 300 klm round trip from the main district town of Griffith.
Many of these kids had never seen live woodwinds and brass instruments, so our regular show transformed into a regular primary school classroom music session consisting of instruments waves and sound physics, how these instruments produced the sounds, also allowing the kids to walk through the band talking with the musicians and mini blow test where kids got to play these instruments!
Tuesday afternoon we performed at Griffith North Public School, who has a fairly new band program only two years old conducted by the wonderful trumpeter, Mr Lachaln Pendlberry. This group of 30 beginners rehearsed with myself conducting a combined workshop then following with our high energy Marist show!
Wednesday morning we left Yanco camp and performing at Leeton Catholic Primary School. A quick tour of the magnificent Temora Aircraft Museum and then our last performance at Temora Catholic School returning to North Sydney by 9.30 pm!
High energy shows opening with Advance Australia Fair, Blues Brothers, YMCA with audience actions, Lego Theme, a sing-along Playskhool and Bananas In Pyjamas Medley, audience participation Tequila, teachers dancing the Can-Can, Bruno Mars Medley with myself rapping and MC! Concluding with the 60’s surf medley of Born To Be Wild in Sixties Superhits with the entire 300 students dancing and jumping in time with the music!
An audience reaction of pure joy and fun from both kids and teachers!
Worth every inch of the massive organization and logistics needed to create a tour.
Sometime in the near future, we will prepare for an international music performance tour, but until then we will continue this great regional country tour tradition.
We are now starting to repeat some of the towns in our travels after a seven-year absence.
So far traveling to Eden, Bega, Coffs Harbour, Walgett, Coonamble, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Ardlethan, Piliga, Dubbo, Parkes, West Wyalong, Lithgow, Gulagenbone, Wellington, Cootamundra, Coolamon, Griffith , Grafton, Bowerville, Eugowra, Gunnedah, Tamworth, Hay, Hillston, Temora, Pambula, Tathra, Woolgoolga, and many other regional locations.
How do I organize these trips?
Here are a few ideas:
· Pick your suitable dates around the busy school calendar. You may need to present a selection of dates to school executive team.
· Pick a region. Find a sport and recreation camp or conference style accommodation that can comfortably fit your group. Liaise with the camp manager for suitable meals from the accommodation or a local catering company. Get them to provide dinner, continental breakfast and packed lunches for day trips.
· Pick your performance itinerary. Think about satellite trips travelling in a 1.5hour radius from your accommodation base. Also, consider a performance venue on your way back to your hometown.
Google maps are very helpful to calculate a tour, but add extra 15 minutes each travelling hour or divide the distance kilometres by bus speed of 80 klm.
· Book a coach company to transport the band. Give them a proposed performance itinerary to generate to transport cost. Calculate your fixed cost being the coach hire, food and accommodation for the accompanying teachers and driver. Divide this fixed cost by your minimum amount of students. In my case, 30 piece band was divided by 25 students attending.
· Contact the school and community performance venues. Factor travel time, then the 30 minutes set up time, the 40 minute performance show time and then a 30 minute pack-down and loading of the coach.
· Create a proposed itinerary and tour costing.
· Fill out your required school risk assessment form being very thorough including travel risks, equipment carrying and set up risks, sun protection, risks associated with the community interactions, sun protection and water hydration, require WWC child protection documentation from coach driver and any parent volunteers involved.
· Fill out your required school excursion/incursion forms and associated documentation.
· Create a family tour expression of interest judging band tour attendance numbers.
· Set up school permission letters, student behaviour/rehearsal attendance contract and payment options with your school finance bursar.
· On your permission letters collect student /family information to create a tour medical family information spreadsheet to use in an emergency.
· The tour medical family information spreadsheet includes names, student and parent mobile phone numbers, family email addresses, student date of birth, Medicare details, private health fund details, and most importantly any specific medical and dietary requirements for each student.
· Rehearse your ensemble to produce a high level entertaining and educational product. Think about the repertoire that audiences know and recognize or imaginative ways of presenting Symphonic repertoire to young audiences.
· Have fun and communicate the steps of your tour organization with the school, parents and music students as you go. Ask for help if you need it. You will be surprised who will assist with gusto when asked.
The positive effects of a band tour are tenfold for performance skill development, group cohesion and camaraderie, social team-building skills, socialization and ensemble performance!
Keep an eye open for my upcoming
“ Brass Practice Buddies Podcasts” available on my website.
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