Organising a music tour for your school band, local orchestra or choir group is challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Planning and delivering a successful tour will create great memories and experiences - both for yourself and for your touring party.
So where to start?
There’s a lot to consider - where to go, affordability, an itinerary to engage all participants, timings, travel arrangements (particularly when cumbersome instruments are involved). The list goes on.
But fear not. Help is at hand in the shape of specialist music tour companies.
With over 30 years of working with music groups, orchestras, schools and choirs, Gower Music Tours is in a great position to help you make the trip a roaring success. So before you get too excited about performing in the great cathedrals of Europe, or a summer piazza performance in Italy, or a wintery performance at a Christmas Market in Prague, here’s a few practical considerations for you to factor in.
Get your team together
So you have an idea of a music tour. Great idea. But first of all, get some consensus from your colleagues or fellow performers that this is a good idea. Formulate a small organising team. It doesn't have to be too formal, but you are going to need to communicate with your tour participants, arrange your payment plans and collect money, perhaps organise some trip merchandise (bags, sweatshirts etc) and so on. You’ll also want to make sure you are rehearsed and ready to perform. So think through the help you need to organise your party. Get some volunteers on board and give them roles and responsibilities.
So you now have the will and you have a team of people eager to help. Now where do you want to go? You may have a clear idea of a location - or you may need some inspiration or advise. Search the web for ideas of music performance venues which may suit your group - or pick up the phone and have a chat with a music tour operator. They’ll have loads of ideas and their knowledge will help you seek the ideal location. Are you a school music group in need fun venues and trips to engage young people - for example water parks and chocolate factories? Or is your party mainly adults? Perhaps a touch of culture followed by vineyards and fine food may be more in keeping with the group. Either way, there’s plenty of advice to be had, so talk to the experts.
You've got your team together and you've now got a venue in mind. Now you need to get everyone on board and before everyone gets too excited, the first question on most people's mind may well be costs. So get a costing from a music tour operator, understand what’s included and start communicating with your provisional tour participants. Music tour operators can give you a simple payment plan and help advise how to collect funds from your tour participants. If your planning several months ahead (which most groups will be), you can arrange for payment to be made in several instalments, which makes it easier for group members and helps you invite as many group members as possible. It may also give you time to organise sponsorship money to assist with overall costs or contributions in kind.
Reassurance and peace of mind for your music tour
The excitement is building, your musicians are getting worked up with anticipation. It’s all happening, So make sure you're protected. A decent music tour operator will be able to offer the relevant travel guarantees and reassurances. Make sure your tour is protected by ABTA or ATOL such that in the very rare occasion there is a problem, you are covered and there won't be any issues. On the subject of reassurance, also check that your tour operator can offer insurances. You are going to be carrying a lot of kit and chances are you’ll be a big group, so make sure your operator has insurance to cover off a range of eventualities.
Practicalities and passports
If you are travelling abroad, you need to make sure all your travelling tour party members have passports and any other relevant travel documentation. With Brexit, the regulations concerning passport validity for travel in Europe is changing. Your party members may need need six months before their passport expires in order to travel. They may also want to get European health insurance card - or EHIC cards - or may need to make different provisions in a post-Brexit world. Make sure you check out the latest issues regarding passports and travel and communicate to your party information. Get your tour operator to give you the best advice as soon as possible so that you have plenty of time to tick the admin boxes. Make sure your travelling party have as much information as they need - we have a helpful checklist of resources here.
The day of travel is arriving
The excitement will mount as your departure date gets closer. Your tour operator will be able to provide a detailed itinerary with coach times, flight times (if applicable), accommodation details and address, a timetable for performances and details of all excursions. In fact, your music tour operator should have a detailed, almost hour-by-hour breakdown of your itinerary. You may wish to pass this documentation directly to your touring party (or their parents if you are travelling with a young group) - or you may choose to create an edited version. Either way, sharing the practical itinerary information is great for spreading the word and for building excitement of your upcoming adventure.
The performance of your life
At the heart of your music tour are your actual performances. Most tour operators will provide in-country transport, such as a coach. Familiarise yourself with your itinerary and work with your team and the coach driver(s) to make sure you know your itinerary and arrive at your performance venues in plenty of time to set up and maybe rehearse. The performance venues are at the heat of a great trip and often where the memories are made - so get their early, enjoy the anticipation and have a great performance. Also give advance thought to promoting your performance. Again your tour operation can help with publicizing your performance. But social media can also be a powerful tool to promote your performances and encourage an extra few people along to enjoy your performance.
So there you go. You are all set for a great concert tour. In essence, get a team of helpers around you, lean on and liaise with our music tour operator (they've organised 100s of tour, this may be your first) and enjoy the experience!