Why you should take your students on field trips

Field trips? Yes, you heard me right. It was a true experiment for this teacher. But it went so well that I am trying it again this year!

All good experiments have parameters, so I started with my middle and high school teen girls. I wanted a group small enough I could take without chaperones, and that meant the boys had to sit this one out.  Each girl got a formal invitation to see the Cleveland Orchestra, get a tour of the beautiful Severance Hall, and enjoy dinner together in between. (What can I say, Cleveland truly is amazing when it comes to this sort of thing!). 

5 girls ended up attending, and we had a fantastic evening! The tour was certainly one of the highlights (even I hadn’t seen much of the building!), and the girls loved experiencing the only human-operated elevator left in Cleveland. We walked down the street to get dinner in between, and then enjoyed a beautiful night of 20th century music – conducted by the composer! It was a spectacular night to remember!

Here are some of the amazing benefits we’ve gleaned from the trip!

  1. Build community. Piano can be a very lonely instrument. The girls got to meet each other and we had lots of laughter the entire night!
  2. Practice what you preach. No matter how many times I stress the importance of seeing live music, this gives a tangible opportunity for my students to participate and see that I truly do mean what I say!
  3. Music history. Of course we took the time to talk about music history and how the program was put together. Intermission was the perfect time for this!
  4. Build teacher-student relationship. I do not live in the studio, although sometimes it may seem like it. But I am human, and interested in all parts of their lives, not just the piano player part! Car ride and dinner conversation was precious.
  5. A different peer group. These girls did not go to school together. The barriers to impress each other were broken down almost instantly. They were really trying to be themselves in this group.

Some tips for your trip –

  1. Have a good relationship with you studio parents. This ensures that they trust you to take their kids on the road.
  2. Make the evening affordable. We had nosebleed seats … which in this auditorium happens to be my favorite due to the way the ceiling is shaped. The sound came straight to us! We could see everything, and parents were much more willing to pay for the evening when the entire thing was less than $40. We did dinner at Panera. Lots of choices, doesn’t break the bank.
  3. Set parameters. I love my boys… but the dynamic would have been completely different had the evening included boys and girls. At the end of the day, this just means I get to see more than one concert – woohoo!
  4. Weekends are much safer evenings than weekdays. Pick a day when curfew won’t be dictated with school the next day.
  5. Vary your trips. Doing this more than once? We went to see 20th Century Copland and newer in 2018. This year we plan to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
  6. Make sure to type up a simple permission slip and carry it with you the day of the concert. This covers you if anything unusual were to happen.
  7. Have fun and enjoy making memories!

Do you have plans to take your students on a field trip? Did you feel this made a difference in how your students related to you? I’d love to hear about it!

*** UPDATE: Our 2019 field trip has been completed! It was a week later (and into the holiday season) this year, which meant a couple of the girls could not go. But we enjoyed the evening seeing Thibaudet play Saint Saens and Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. It was yet again a beautiful evening!

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