Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Break

In the Fall of 2007 I got a brilliant idea to take the orchestra students to Disneyland. Though I have participated in many tours: Germany, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Italy, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium; I have never been the adult in charge of planning one. I was a little scared and didn't know exactly where to start so....I asked my co-worker if she would like to take the band too. She thought it was a great idea and we submitted the idea to the Schoolboard for approval. From there it was approved, the choir got on board as well, and then it was time to take action.

We told the students of our adventurous plans and some of the fundraising ideas we had to help them pay for the trip. We started by holding the first Cowboy dinner in Feb of 2008, and then the second(much more successful) Cowboy dinner in November 2008. We also had two Music Department carwashes and I signed the orchestra up to work for the Concession Store at the high school. After this the kids were on their own to raise what they were not able to through the fundraisers.
They were all excited and worked hard. I was so happy when I finally found out that all of my students would be able to go. Nobody would be left home. Well enough of the introduction...what did we actually get to do after all that hard work and planning???!!!???

We left the high school at 6:30 a.m and headed for Peter Prier's Luthier School.

Here we meet Charlie, the woodshop teacher for the school. He taught us about what the Luthier students get to do at school, what classes they are required to take, and how much it costs to attend.
He showed us the tools that were used to make the instruments, and how they were used, we learned what type of wood is usually used to make the instruments, what they use to varnish the instruments, and how long it usually takes his students to make their first and last instruments at the school. We saw some of the luthier students in classes and others working on instruments at all different stages.
After we toured the school we got to go into the violin shop. Here we saw violins and cellos of all sizes(and prices).

As the students (and I) explored the store in awe, the manager of the store came up to me and asked if we would like to see a Stradivarius violin. I could not believe what he was asking, I asked him if he was serious, he assured me he was....pause for a quick history lesson: Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) was and Italian violin maker. The violins that he made are famous for their beautiful wood work and wonderful tone. Violin makers have tried and tried, but have so far been unable to match the quality of tone of Stradivari's violins....I immediately became so excited that my eyes even started to tear up. I told him we would love to and he moved us into a room with a round velvet table. He went to a cabinent and pulled out the violin and set it on the table. We all stared in total unbelief, and then he asked if we would like to play it. I could not believe how kind he was being to us. Not all of the students were brave enough to play but most at least got to touch it. Below is a picture of the violin and one of my brave, and very lucky students.

After leaving the shop we went to the Prier Recital hall, another building right next store. When we walked into the hall, Peter Prier came up to me, shook my hand and introduced himself. Holy smokes, I could not believe all the wonderful experiences we were having on this the first stop of our tour.
Mr. Prier shared his collection of instruments with us. Spoke to us a little about his background, and then pulled out another stradivarius violin and played for us. He would have talked to us all day, I was sad and a little embarrased when I had to tell him we needed to leave. We had already stayed 40 minutes past our scheduled time. As we got on the bus to go to BYU the students told me how "awesome", "cool", and "spilago"(a combonation of two orchestra vocab words that this class has combined and uses to define totally amazing experiences or they will use it when they think that they have played extrodinarily well.) I was glad that they realized, and appreciated the experience.

We arrived at BYU a little earlier then expected and so the students were able to wander around campus. Of course they found a Guitar Hero contest and without hesitation jumped in to show their stuff. The student below walked away with the highest score of the day up to that point. If only I could figure out how to get them to spend all those hours and that passion practicing their instruments...I am open to suggestions.
Congrats G.

Dr. Dabczynski worked with the orchestra for 2 hours. Teaching them how to phrase correctly, picturing something in their minds to help them play with character, the importance of every player playing in tune, and how they need to protect their hearing so that they could be successful musicians.

Of course things could not run completely as planned....When we arrived in Las Vegas, we discovered that our bus was very close to giving up the ghost. We stopped for lunch, and 3 hours later we were still stopped. Finally the tow truck for the bus arrived, and after taking time to get pictures of us on the tow truck. Our bus was dragged away. Four hours after arriving in Las Vegas, we got a new Mercedes Beinz of a bus and we were happily on our way, but a little nerveous that we would miss our dinner appointment at Midevil Times.
Have no fear, our new bus driver got us there with 5 minutes to spare.....our hero. We were able to eat with no manners and cheer loudly for our Yellow Knight as he won and lost at jousting, racing, and sword fights.

My girls all thought he was the cutest Knight and were excited at the end when they got to meet him outside of the arena.

Next stop, Califonia Adventure and Disneyland. We spent the next two days playing in the parks.
My mom got to come, and I was so glad that she was able to help out. We had lots of fun, and she was a good sport to go on almost all the rides.

We were also able to participate in Disney Backstage, in which the kids were able to work in a real disney recording studio. They learned and recorded music from Emperers New Groove, Atlantis, and Fantasia. Unfortunately they did not allow us to take pictures back stage, but they did send us home with a dvd of the cartoon clips with our recordings.

After the recording session they let us back into the park by way of Toontown. I could not believe all the detail, we walked out and I felt like I was in a cartoon.

After the fireworks on Thursday night we said goodbye to the happiest place on earth :) and boarded the bus for the long drive home. We drove through the night.....

stopping for breakfast at Bambi's, where they feed us all in 2 hours flat....

eggs, bacon, pancakes, and juice. It was really yummy and nice to have a good breakfast, even if it put us a little behind schedule.

We said a teary goodby to our red hot bus and our nice bus driver, and boarded our new bus with Hitler as the bus driver. (Seriously, he was not nice. Later on down the road I had to beg for a bathroom stop, which he denied first and then finally stopped.)

Not long after leaving Bambi's one of my students began to yell that it was raining on him, then we started to hear more noise from other disgruntelled students in the back. Yep brown water was dripping out of the air conditioning vents and onto my poor students heads. No worries the bus driver just kept on driving. We were almost home when all of a sudden the bus lost power and we glided to the side of the road. When we looked out the window we saw that our bus was oozing water and creating Lake Powell right their on the highway. What did we do, well the bus driver just started the bus up and we were on our way. I still don't know exactly what happened.

After all this excitment at the end of our journey,(and we thought it would be a long boring bus ride), we did eventually reach our final destination; the high school. We unloaded and everyone was on their way home exhausted but happy.

With tour #1 under my belt, I am glad that for the most part everything went well. The students were wonderful, the activities a success, and everyone home safe. I love my job.


Elizabeth said...

I'm so glad that you had such a great trip... but I'm sad that you didn't include the story about the kid who tried to defect from the band trip to stay in Vegas, or the one about the quick trip to the drive-through wedding chapel with the Elvis impersonator. Maybe you are saving those for a seperate post? Anyway, Chloe and I are glad that you are back safe and sound. Next year we suggest taking the kids to Twin.

Elizabeth said...

Oops. I commented as you. Sorry. This is really Mindy commenting, not Elizabeth :)

The 3 of Us said...

I wish you had been my music teacher!! Looks like a lot of fun!

Cathy Marlor said...

Wow, what an adventure! Thanks for sharing all the wonderful pictures and stories. Those kids are lucky to have you. Great job on organizing your first big tour as a teacher...how exciting!

Diana said...

Sounds like a fabulous trip. Lots of adventure and hopefully special experiences that will stay with your kids. It's great that your mom got to go, too!

Rachel said...

Hi Liz! I had no IDEA you were such a blogger! One of these days I'll have to sit down and read everything, but it was great to see all the photos and see what you've been up to. Let me know when you're down here in Utah and let's meet up. It's been way too long. Oh, I have a blog too so you can spy on me. :) It's spencernrachel.blogspot.com.