An international concert tour is a great way to inspire and motivate students at the beginning of the academic year, giving them an exciting goal to work towards come July.
It is a way to spark the imagination and fuel a passion for performing and all of the hard-work, preparation and determination that coincides with it. Groups often remark how beneficial it is to have spent an intensive period of time together, with the opportunity to rehearse and perform together over the course of a concentrated period, as opposed to intermittent performances and weekly rehearsals.
The benefits of going on tour extend from technical development to personal development: it is a way for young musicians to build in confidence and develop as an ensemble, with the opportunity to perform in iconic venues around the world and bond as a group.
We spoke with Simon Toyne, Executive Director of Music at the David Ross Education Trust, on the benefits of touring in the lead up to his choir tour to Belgium with Malcolm Arnold Academy Choir:
‘You can have all the musical ingredients right for a great choir in terms of the technical side of things but unless they get on with each other, the core activity of music is not there. That sense of them living with each other for a few days, accommodating each other and cherishing each other is actually a kind of musical process.’
For Mr Toyne, the benefits of touring are two-fold: on the one hand, there is the aspect of group bonding which, in turn, enhances the choir’s sound as they ‘develop a sixth sense in performance’ and on the other hand, there is the invaluable benefit of confidence building; the significant moments for young musicians when they ‘realise the music they’re making is music with a capital ‘M’ and people are being moved by it’.
‘It’s also the experience of singing in different venues and to different audiences and from a simple element of there being a difference in the acoustics. When a school choir goes somewhere and they hear the sound back, that is a magical moment. Also, there’s that sense of people other than their parents enjoying their singing – that moment when the penny drops and they realise they’re actually good and making decent music. Those moments for young people are really important’.
Although the reasons behind the decision to tour vary from group to group, one fundamental reason seems to arise consistently and that is the benefit it has on young people: their musical development, their experience of new cultures, their love of music and most importantly, their self-confidence.