11. July 2009 · 1 comment · Categories: pattyRant

I know kids love tours. I know they are good for morale and all that jazz. Sometimes they are even good musically.

But sometimes I wonder about them.

I know, too, that teachers who take their students on tour are often doing so and getting perks. I wonder how many parents know that a teacher may get a free vacation later on, due to getting students to pay what is often a lot of money for a tour. Surely teachers are underpaid, and I suppose this might be the only way they get a vacation, but it still does bother me a bit. (Maybe I’m jealous; I don’t get to go to Europe as so many band directors seem to get to do these days!)

When bands and choirs go on a tour that includes those contests where they compete against other groups, it’s all somewhat silly. You are competing with whatever groups are managing to go on the same dates as your school. You may be pitted against a very weak music program. Winning gold can often be quite meaningless.

I chaperoned a tour years ago, and the main point of it all was to get to Disneyland. At that time, I, as a chaperone, didn’t pay a penny. Then the band director suggested all chaperones and teachers join her for an expensive dinner. When it came time to pay she smiled and said, “We have extra money! I’m paying for this.” Hmmm. Ethical? Were the children — or their parents, really — paying for our dinner? The drama teacher and a math instructor who came along as chaperones shared a room, telling all the kids they were brother and sister. A year later they were married. I’m guessing they weren’t brother and sister after all. Ya think?

Another tour (not a music tour, but a school tour from another department) had the teacher bringing a partner and another person (never quite figured out their particular living situation but a threesome was somewhat troubling) along with his chosen friends as chaperones. We parents were told we tended to get in the way and he preferred that we didn’t come along. But then I realized after the fact that we were told a lot of “incorrect” information. (Some might call them lies.) And money? The price continued to rise, and the teacher was the only one managing the money. Quite questionable.

So I can’t really say I’m in favor of tours these days. And I’m glad my kids are older and I don’t have to wonder what’s going on when kids go on these things. I hope parents are more careful than I was about tours; I’m just so wimpy I kept my mouth shut and never said a word.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Patty:

    Well, there are tours and there are tours. The Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir was just on tour to Finland & Estonia. The Estonia leg included singing at Laulupidu, which only happens every 5 years and is an incredible experience for anyone – either in the audience or as a performer. Check out the tour journal:

    Competitions such as the Choral Olympics, which really do draw top talent from around the world, are quite significant (personal bias – Piedmont choir got a gold medal there in the contemporary music division a few years ago in Linz, Austria, and had one of my pieces in their repertoire). The music-making is at a pretty high level. Given the kinds of judges and kinds of choirs there, I felt their prizes were a significant achievement.

    I guess, like most things in life, the devil is in the details – exactly what kind of tour and / or competition is it? would be the relevant question.