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Field Trips for Your Music Class

Field trips offer a unique opportunity to enrich the learning experience. From being immersed in sensory activities to being able to see firsthand the places where music happens, a field trip is unforgettable for most kids.

Traditionally, field trips involve traveling to a destination, but this isn’t a requirement. Technological advances have made it possible to tour far-off places that a lack of time and money might otherwise make it impossible to visit.

Whether your music field trips are virtual or take place in the real world, your homeschoolers will find these experiences to be deeply enriching. They bring to life all of the things about which they have been learning in music education. This may mean unlocking even greater knowledge and imagination.

Here are just a few ideas for music field trips for your homeschoolers:

1. Attend a Symphony or Orchestra Performance

If you live close to a city where there is a symphony, orchestra, chamber music performance troupe or other groups, check into getting tickets for you and your kids. Finding matinee concerts on weekends is usually easy or you could choose to take in an evening performance to make the field trip even more momentous for your children.

Many cities also have youth philharmonics or orchestras. It can be especially fun and inspiring for kids to see others who are close to their own age excelling at playing an instrument. Don’t shy away from choral performances as well. Some kids are even more inspired by a beautiful voice and the way that it blends with musical accompaniment.

If you’re fortunate enough to live relatively close to an orchestra, then pay attention to their website. Many of these performance groups periodically present weekday performances for local school groups. They may be welcoming to your homeschooled students joining the group. What a fun opportunity to hear a live music performance with an audience that’s filled with kids!

Many of these programs also have fun and informative question and answer periods to make the field trip even more interesting.

2. Take a Virtual Tour

Is there a music-related destination that you and your students have always wanted to visit? Maybe it’s just too far away to be a realistic field trip, but the good news is that many famous sites now offer virtual tours. This can be a convenient and inexpensive way to get a backstage look at some of the most famous music venues in the world.

Here’s a sample of available virtual tours:

  • The Beede Gallery: A one-of-a-kind collection of musical instruments from the Pacific Islands, Africa, Asia and beyond makes this collection informative and unforgettable. It’s a wonderful way to introduce youngsters to how music is made in various countries and cultures;
  • New York’s Metropolitan Opera: This world-renowned opera company streams past performances for people around the world to enjoy. Watching even part of one of these performances is a wonderful opportunity to see powerful vocal and instrumental artists in one of the most famous venues on the planet;
  • The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow: Plenty of famous artists have enjoyed stellar careers playing in this venue. From the gilded balconies and seats from which the audience enjoys performances, the virtual tour takes viewers on a journey through the costume department and other backstage areas;
  • Carnegie Hall, New York City: Located in Manhattan, this prestigious venue has hosted everything from classical music to rock ‘n roll. Go on the virtual tour to explore the Hall’s three auditoriums, learn about its history and watch a fascinating 360-degree view of a performance by the renowned Philadelphia Orchestra;
  • Theatro Municipal, Sao Paulo: This opulent venue was built in 1903 in Brazil using materials that were imported from Europe. Get a 360-degree view of the audience, a tour of the backstage areas and see a performance of a Wagner opera by visiting the theater’s website; and
  • Burgtheater in Vienna: Europe’s second-oldest theater was originally built in 1741. Bombs and a subsequent fire all-but destroyed the venue during World War II, but it has since been restored to its former glory. As you take the virtual tour, pay particular attention to the intricately painted ceiling, which features some work by a young Gustav Klimt.

These and dozens of other virtual tours are free and easy to access online. If there’s a famous theater, venue or performance troupe to which you think it would be beneficial to introduce your students, visit their website to see what kind of resources they offer.

3. Visit a Factory that Makes Musical Instruments

This won’t be available to everyone, but if you can find a factory or musical instrument maker within a reasonable distance of your home, then it might be a good idea to ask about scheduling a tour.

Here’s just a small sampling of possible tours:

  • William S. Haynes Company, Inc. in Acton, Massachusetts, makers of flutes since 1888;
  • Tsunami Guitars in Cleveland, Tennessee, makers of solid-body electric guitars;
  • Wooden Cross Hardware in Decatur, Indiana, makers of snare drums and drum sets;
  • Cunningham Piano Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a piano restoration factory;
  • Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in Corona, California, featuring 8,000 square feet of exhibits and much more; and
  • Gibson Guitar Factory in Memphis, Tennessee, makers of world-famous guitars.

4. Tour a Local Theater or Other Music Venue

Did you know that many theaters and performance venues provide daytime tours of their auditoriums and backstage facilities? Each tour is a fascinating opportunity for kids and parents to discover how theaters work.

Many of these tours are offered for free or at an impressively reduced rate, especially if the tour is given in the name of education. Going on a tour provides a chance to see the venues in which musicals, concerts, stage plays and dance performances are given on a regular basis.

Frequently, the tour guide is extremely knowledgeable about the inner workings of the theater and the troupes that perform there. Feel free to ask lots of questions. To make the tour even more meaningful, try to attend a performance after the tour.

5. Go to a Musical Theater Performance

If you live relatively close to a metropolitan area, then you may have more opportunities than you realize to attend a musical theater show. Sometimes, these shows are a national touring company for a Broadway show. Other times, these performances are presented by local and regional troupes on a professional, semi-professional or amateur basis.

Any of these shows may be worthwhile. If you’re not sure if this is your kids’ cup of tea, then try a community theater performance where the tickets will be less expensive and the atmosphere may be more casual.

If this goes well, then it may be time to step up to a national touring company that offers plenty of big set changes, special effects and more. It’s an unforgettable experience for any kid!

6. Attend a Ballet or Modern Dance Program

Opportunities to see dance troupes abound in most metropolitan areas. From local to national professional companies, you may discover a wide range of dance styles to explore.

Don’t overlook the recitals of local children’s dance schools as well. Kids love to see performers who are in their age group. Moreover, these offerings tend to be less expensive and shorter in duration, which can be a major plus for children with shorter attention spans.

7. Go to a Recording Studio

You don’t necessarily have to live in Nashville, Los Angeles or New York to tour a recording studio. These facilities can be found in most good-sized cities, and kids may be fascinated to see all of the high-tech equipment that goes into making professional recordings. A highlight on some of these tours is being able to make your own music into the microphone so that you can hear it being played back.

8. Attend a Rehearsal for a Band or Choir

Children can learn a great deal by watching musicians and singers practice their art. Seeing the polished performance is one thing, but it is quite another to watch as artists struggle to get that performance to that point. It’s a wonderful lesson in discipline and the rewards of hard work. Try to attend the performance of the piece that was being rehearsed so that your kids can spot the differences.

9. Tour the Music Program at the Local College or University

If you live fairly close to a college or university that has a music program, then you may want to call someone at the department to see about scheduling a tour for your homeschoolers. Such a tour provides an excellent opportunity to see practice and performance venues, recording studios, libraries and other facilities that all may contribute to music education. For kids who are thinking about studying music in college, this can be a rewarding experience.

10. Take in a Music Festival

From classical music to bluegrass, music festivals are popular events across the country. Some are mega-festivals spread over more than a week with thousands of attendees, but others are quite intimate and feel almost exclusive. While some of these events focus on a single musical instrument or genre, others are quite diverse. A festival can be a relaxed way to introduce your children to new genres and live performances.

Instructors miss a golden opportunity when they neglect to follow up after a music field trip. For one thing, the kids’ minds are primed to learn more about the topic they’ve just spend an entire day seeing close up. Quality post-planning for every trip is the real key to extending and multiplying the learning experience. Here’s a roster of activities you can include in your trip follow up lessons:

Spend time asking each student what they enjoyed about the trip and ask the class to come up with suggestions for the next excursion.

Assign different class members to prepare reports about specific portions of the trip and assemble the final product into a class book to be distributed to students, parents and even trip hosts. Orchestra directors, for example, love receiving such reports from teachers. The document not only makes a nice thank-you gift but lets the hosts know how much a particular visit meant to the entire class. Try to have students work in small groups on the different sections of the report so that everyone has a chance to contribute.

Review any assignments that students completed while on the trip.

Have everyone compose thank-you notes to those who hosted field trip events, like symphony members, museum directors, sound studio managers, and more. This is more than just an exercise in social niceties. You’ll likely discover that many of the hosts reply with open invitations for future events, free concert tickets and other generous offers. Even more, the thank-you note writing teaches children a valuable lesson about networking, a skill they’ll need in their later careers.

If you’ve introduced music education into your homeschool and your kids love it, then maybe it’s time to encourage them to make their own music. At Music Prodigies, we develop accessible music curricula that are suitable for kids. It’s a fun, inventive and interactive way to learn about music, and even parents will find it enjoyable.


After the Trip: Following Up

Instructors miss a golden opportunity when they neglect to follow up after a music field trip. For one thing, the kids’ minds are primed to learn more about the topic they’ve just spend an entire day seeing close up. Quality post-planning for every trip is the real key to extending and multiplying the learning experience. Here’s a roster of activities you can include in your trip follow up lessons:

Spend time asking each student what they enjoyed about the trip and ask the class to come up with suggestions for the next excursion.

Assign different class members to prepare reports about specific portions of the trip and assemble the final product into a class book to be distributed to students, parents and even trip hosts. Orchestra directors, for example, love receiving such reports from teachers. The document not only makes a nice thank-you gift but lets the hosts know how much a particular visit meant to the entire class. Try to have students work in small groups on the different sections of the report so that everyone has a chance to contribute.

Review any assignments that students completed while on the trip.

Have everyone compose thank-you notes to those who hosted field trip events, like symphony members, museum directors, sound studio managers, and more. This is more than just an exercise in social niceties. You’ll likely discover that many of the hosts reply with open invitations for future events, free concert tickets and other generous offers. Even more, the thank-you note writing teaches children a valuable lesson about networking, a skill they’ll need in their later careers.

Allow for at least an hour of classroom time on a day after the trip for pupils to share their experiences and mention anything they discovered that was surprising or unexpected. For example, someone might mention how long the symphony practice sessions are just prior to a big public performance. Kids are always amazed at how much time and dedication it takes to be a symphony orchestra member. In any case, make sure to give students time to bring up anything they want about their perspective of the outing.

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