After two years of pandemic restrictions, the DeKalb High School Band and Orchestra programs are reintegrating performance travel into the district’s music education repertoire.
Under the direction of Band Director Steven Lundin and Orchestra Director Sheila Felder, student are traveling to California this week, from March 20, returning on March 25. While there, DHS ensembles are performing in a variety of settings, and students are visiting several popular must-see sights in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.
The trip has been a long time coming. While not the trip originally planned, both students and staff are excited to be making something happen.
“The trip now is exciting, because, I think, it will be the first big thing many of our participants will do post-COVID restrictions,” said Lundin.
“It is absolutely wonderful to be able to travel again and share the great music talent developed in DeKalb with audiences outside our community,” Felder said.
The duo, along with their staff and families, began planning for a combined trip between their ensembles in 2019. At the time, DHS Band had a noteworthy history of music education travel, and Felder had ramped up orchestra travel since she joined District 428.
The original goal: a joint trip to Prague in the fall of 2020. Then, the pandemic brought those plans to a halt. Since then, the decision of what might be possible in terms of student travel – and when – became an ever-changing consideration.
“Working through the process of delaying a trip, making destination considerations, balancing all the considerations was one of the most challenging things I’ve done as an educator,” Lundin noted.
Both veteran educators, however, were anxious to make sure that another complete class of DHS students did not lose out on the right of passage that music travel has become as the class of 2021 did.
With the possibility of restrictions loosening and opportunities for domestic travel seemingly more manageable, Lundin and Felder began working earlier this year with their travel partner for destination options within the United States.
The result: this month’s joint trip to California over spring break. More than 185 students, staff and fans are traveling to southern California. They are visiting sites including downtown Los Angeles and the San Diego Zoo. The orchestra is performing on stage in Disney’s California Adventure, and the band is marching in a Disneyland parade. Students have the opportunity to engage in an educational workshop at Disney. Students are also perform at Spreckles Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park while in San Diego.
Extra rehearsals and final trip preparations began in early March. Following the trip meeting on March 8, students began to pack and prepare to rediscover music education travel.
And, when asked how that feels, Felder summed it up: “Joy is the first word that comes to mind,” she said.
Follow along for trip photos on the DeKalb Band Parents and Fans Facebook page with photos courtesy of DeKalb Colorguard and fans. Follow DHS Music ensembles on Twitter as follows: DeKalb HS Music @D428Music or DeKalb, IL High School Bands @MarchingBarbs. You can also follow DeKalb High School Orchestras on Facebook and DeKalb Orchestras on Instagram