Posted: 25 January 2016
We interviewed Daniel Roland, a music leader from a school in Middlesex who went on our Familiarisation trip for first time leaders to Belgium about what he learnt on the trip.
Along with other music leaders, Daniel visited performance venues, hostels and explored the area and also took part in a series of workshops giving advice on how to plan and prepare for a school music tour. This summer he will lead his first tour and take his school’s jazz and swing bands to Malta.
Here are his top five things to do for anyone planning a trip for the first time:
There are a lot of potential hidden costs – for instance in our hotel in Malta we have a swimming pool and we have to pay for a lifeguard. It’s only a small amount, but it’s good to know about this so it can be factored in. It’s important to ask your tour operator lots of questions about the costs, to make sure you keep within your budget.
I learnt so many things that have helped me in planning out Malta tour, which I would otherwise have never known.
Daniel is second left, below.
Think about its suitability for your age group and the type of your ensemble. Italy with all its wonderful churches may be good for choirs, but for my swing band I needed somewhere hot with lots of outdoor venues, so Malta was ideal. Location is a big consideration when planning a tour.
Don’t go it alone. Especially as a first timer, I would highly recommend using an operator, so you can get as much support as possible. My HOM is very experienced but hasn’t got the time to walk me through all of it, so having Club Europe at the end of the line is great. I have had lots of phone calls with Lucy and I go to her with all my questions, however silly they may seem. For example, Lucy has been great with researching the transport of our instruments, calculating the their weights and dimensions and deciding what should go in the hold and what we’ll take as hand luggage. It’s been a great help.
We have had some issues such as fitting in late comers onto our flight, which Lucy has sorted out for us. It’s important your tour operator is experienced and able to give you all the answers you need. That way you can focus on the music and your duty of care role. If you have to keep thinking about the flights, the excursions and everything else you don’t have as much time to devote to the music. Having a tour operator is like having your own little team.
Watch this space for Daniel’s top five ‘Don’ts’ in a future blog. If you’d like to go on this year’s Familiarisation trip with us, contact Lucy at Lucy.firstname.lastname@example.org. Or click here for more information.
Anthony Chew, Head of Music, Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, Lancashire.
Jane Werry, Head of Music, Hayes School, Kent.
James Williams, Llandovery College, Carmarthenshire.