Posted: 01 February 2016
In the second part of our interview with a music leader from Middlesex, read what Daniel suggests music leaders avoid doing when planning a school music tour.
Following his Familiarisation trip with us to Flanders, Daniel Roland gave us his top five ‘Don’ts’ for other first time music leaders:
1. DON’T jump in at the deep end and plan without knowledge.
Even now as my knowledge increases there are things I would do differently. I would suggest first time leaders go on a Familiarisation trip first, then start their planning. Speaking to experienced colleagues also helps. There was a highly experienced tour leader on our Familiarisation trip and I learnt a lot from him.
2. DON’T give yourself too little time.
Allow at least a year to plan your tour. This gives you enough time to fix anything that needs fixing. For instance, we’re hiring some instruments in Malta and this has been a lengthy process. Having that extra bit of time now means I am far less stressed than I would have been. I’m already thinking about our next tour at the back of my mind. If you can give yourself more than a year, even better!
3. DON’T assume anything.
Whether it’s prices or excursion timings or anything else, don’t assume you know the answer, always ask your tour operator. For example, I assumed an excursion would be ok on a certain day but Sabine (Club Europe’s Operations Manager) knew that it was too much to ask the students to do on a hot day. I was trying to pack too much in! Whatever your query, always seek advice on every level, especially if you’re a first timer.
4. DON’T leave things to the last minute.
Give parents ample time to respond so that you have time to finalise details. So for example, send forms out not at the end of term but two weeks before the end of term. This allows for such things as missing passport numbers or out of date passports. We even had a visa issue which has needed sorting, so it has been useful to have extra time to look into this.
5. DON’T forget anyone in your communications.
It’s important to keep everyone in the loop – your SMT, other colleagues, the school’s trips co-ordinator and parents. This ensures that everyone knows what’s happening and that you’re working in line with the school’s policies. You often learn useful things from chatting to colleagues and parents. One parent has given us a brilliant contact at Malta University – you never know when this might come in handy!
In summary, I would say that my ultimate message is don’t do everything alone and in the dark. It’s best to keep talking to everyone involved, including your tour company. Happy Touring!
We are running another Familiarisation trip for first timer leaders to Flanders this October (25th – 28th). If you’re interested in going, please email Lucy at Lucy.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more about it here.
Anthony Chew, Head of Music, Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, Lancashire.
Jane Werry, Head of Music, Hayes School, Kent.
James Williams, Llandovery College, Carmarthenshire.