Laurel Talley and her group in Leipzig, Germany on their 2017 performance tour with Encore
Laurel Talley is an accomplished violin performer and music educator, who is going into her fourth year teaching orchestra in the Boise Idaho School District. This year, Laurel led her very first performance tour to Germany and the Czech Republic with her high school chamber orchestra. Though Laurel was nervous to lead a trip for the first time, her experience with Encore gave her the confidence to lead future trips and to encourage other music teachers to do the same! Read our interview with Laurel about her group's amazing trip below.
Encore: Had you ever lead an international performance tour before? What were your biggest apprehensions before traveling?
Laurel: No. This was by far my biggest undertaking in terms of a trip experience for my students. There is a strong tradition of travelling internationally every three years within this program so I felt the pressure to continue with these opportunities. I was very apprehensive about most of the process, particularly in regards to fundraising and making sure my students would be safe and taken care of. I was also apprehensive that I would make all of this effort and feel like a glorified travel agent rather than a music educator. I wanted the musical and educational experiences to validate the effort and emphasis it took.
Boise High School Chamber Orchestra students outside the
Photo credit Tour Manager Peter Ede
Laurel: Wow. All of it! The performances were wonderful and well received and in awesome and diverse venues. Our Tour Manager was exception in every way (we love you Peter!). We visited the ghetto at Terezin and played in the Memorial Garden...an experience I will never forget.
Encore: What city did you most enjoy visiting on your trip?
Laurel: There were no duds, but if you forced me to choose I would say a tie between Leipzig and Trebon. For musicians, Leipzig is unreal and Trebon is just so safe and adorable!
"I was apprehensive that I would make all of this effort and feel like a glorified travel agent rather than a music educator. I wanted the musical and educational experiences to validate the effort and emphasis it took...On tour, I honestly felt like I was on vacation and not a group manager. The only time I went into work mode was for rehearsals, concerts, and bed checks...It was ridiculously smooth."
Encore: What did Encore Tours do to make your trip easier and more enjoyable?
Laurel: I honestly felt like I was on vacation and not a group manager. The only time I went into work mode was for rehearsals, concerts, and bed checks. I never had to handle money, schedules, or deal with housing or meal issues. It was ridiculously smooth.
Encore: What do you wish you would have known about taking your students on a performance tour before you went on your trip?
Laurel: Mostly I would have told myself just to chill out and it would be awesome!
Boise High School Chamber Orchestra students getting ready to perform at the Terezin Concentration Camp Memorial near Prague
Photo credit Tour Manager Peter Ede
Encore: What pieces of advice do you have for music teachers wanting to take their students on an orchestra trip or other performance tour who might be apprehensive?
Laurel: DO. IT. Have a plan for fundraising and give your families plenty of time to plan financially. Make sure you build the respect and appreciation in your program so your students will take full advantage of the experience. Then, sit back and relax 'cause Encore's got you covered!
Encore: Anything else you'd like to add?
Laurel: I will definitely be using Encore again the future...could not be happier.
Thanks to Laurel for sharing her experiences with us! For more first-hand accounts from music teachers and directors, as well as resources on travel and music education, visit our Music Education Center & subscribe to our Backstage Blog!
About the Author
Kate first discovered the power of intercultural communication and exchange through music on a month-long trip to China and Japan with her college wind ensemble. She's been hooked on traveling ever since and has performed with different groups in cities such Beijing, London, and Kyoto to name a few! Kate is a clarinet player and a passionate arts advocate with degrees in music, arts administration, and cultural policy. Kate is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Encore Tours.More Content by Kate Huffman