The birthplace of jazz and zydeco thrives on visiting musicians who can walk the same streets as Louis Armstrong, Allen Toussaint and Dr John. Students can visit concert halls from the 18th century and witness contemporary artists continue to innovate “America’s Art Form” on French-influenced boulevards.
St. Louis Cathedral and Houmas House Plantation
Students are able to play in venerated locations such as St. Louis Cathedral and Houmas House Plantation, a 1775 countryside mansion that will erect a stage on its front lawn. Smaller ensembles can play for the public on the famous Newman Bandstand in Audubon Park, a 350-acre public space filled with pavilions for lunches.
Every New Orleans music tour requires a visit to Preservation Hall, a 1750 aristocratic residence converted into a performance space. Your school group can see exceptionally talented jazz combos seven nights a week and might even catch a set from the famed house band.
Newcomb Department of Music
Teachers who wish to integrate lessons or clinics into their trip should consider Tulane University’s Newcomb Department of Music, which offers workshops for bands, orchestras and gospel choirs.
Washington Artillery Park Amphitheater
In Jackson Square, with the St. Louis Cathedral as its backdrop, the Washington Artillery Park Amphitheater is popular for its picturesque setting and live music. Students have the opportunity to apply to play at the amphitheatre where they can share their musical talent with the locals and tourists of the city.
Armstrong Park is a must-visit destination for any student performance group. On any given day, the sounds of the city can be traced back to Armstrong Park as it features weekly jazz concerts, drum circles, food tents and merchandise vendors.
“Music City” has more bands and music venues per capita than any other in America, and its central location makes it an excellent touring option. You can also combine a tour with your science students and visit the US Space & Rocket Centre.
Blair School of Music
Students can participate in a rigorous clinic at Vanderbilt University’s prestigious Blair School of Music, which specialises in county performance in addition to classical and vocal. Many of the program’s graduates are members of the Nashville Symphony, which you can hear at the neoclassical Schermerhorn Symphony Centre.
Further explore Tennessee’s country heritage at Ryman Auditorium, a former church and original home of the Grand Ole Opry, and the Country Music Hall of Fame, which houses instruments and gold records belonging to Johnny Cash and Carrie Underwood. Students can experience a show or even play for themselves at the 4,000-seat Grand Ole Opry House, where Dolly Parton and Brad Paisley have taken the stage.
Third Man Records
Students interested in contemporary Nashville sounds should consider a visit to Jack White’s Third Man Records, the creative hub for the White Stripes frontman. The space includes an instrument store and label offices, and your students can record with a professional sound technician in a vintage-inspired studio.
Tennessee Performing Arts Centre
The Tennessee Performing Arts Center is a non-profit organisation that presents Broadway shows and even administers educational programs. The arts centre conveniently houses the Tennessee State Museum. Filled with history and culture of the town, the centre has become a desired destination for entertainment and learning.
Gallery of Iconic Guitars at Belmont
The Gallery of Iconic Guitars at Belmont is a venue featuring some of the rarest guitars and stringed instruments ever known.
Historic RCA Studio B
The Historic RCA Studio B was once used by popular music icons such as Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton. Since then, the studio’s exterior has been renovated, but the interior has been restored to its 1970s charm. The studio is currently a cultural attraction for visitors to commemorate some of Nashville’s finest artists as well as a classroom for students to learn about the science of recording technology.
NEW YORK CITY
For the musically-minded, there’s no better place than New York. Your students can enjoy a Broadway show, take a theatre tour and perform for an audience.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, for one thing. Or you can rent one of the three performance areas in the world-famous music venue. These theatres range from the 2,804-seat Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage (the most familiar to PBS viewers) to Zankel Hall (the newest space) to Weill Recital Hall, the smallest venue, which often hosts chamber music concerts. Tours include stories of the famous musicians whose signed photographs hang on the walls and the Rose Museum, which has more than 400 Carnegie Hall artefacts on display.
Another high-profile cultural magnet is Lincoln Center, a 16-acre campus with theatres hosting everything from jazz and opera to Shakespeare and musical comedy. Lincoln Center’s Young Music Makers series allows school concert bands, orchestras, jazz ensembles, choirs and choruses to perform on its outdoor plazas.
All five New York boroughs provide performance spaces at bargain rates, usually not more than the basic $25 processing fee. Or consider performing indoors or out at Ellis Island, with views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline, it’s a stunning backdrop for your choir or band.
The lights of Broadway draw student groups to Times Square, where dozens of theatres in the neighbourhood present long-running musicals like The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera, plus the latest smash hits. There are lots of workshops that expose students to behind-the-scenes aspects of staging a Broadway production, delving into subjects from stage makeup to the business side of showbiz. Off-Broadway shows include classics like Blue Man Group, a multi-sensory experience that students won’t soon forget.
Radio City Music Hall
New York’s largest and most celebrated theater, is the place to be during the holidays. Its Christmas Spectacular, featuring the high-kicking Rockettes, has been a tradition since 1933. On an educational tour, students can go backstage to see what goes into making the show, from costume and stage design to dress rehearsals and everything in between. They can even meet one of the Rockettes.
Have your students ever imagined marching through Fantasyland in front of Cinderella’s Castle? That dream can be realised on a visit to Orlando—the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’.
Jazz It Up Workshop
Students can perform in Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland or the Animal Kingdom and participate in a Jazz It Up workshop, where a Disney clinician conducts a rehearsal and recording session of classic Disney selections done in a jazz style. Vocal groups can join Disney cast members onstage to sing Frozen musical numbers in front of guests, and marching bands have the opportunity to join the Festival of Fantasy Parade down Main Street U.S.A.
In nearby Universal Studios, students can enrol in the Music and the Art of Foley workshop. Participants will compose scores or choral arrangements for movie scenes and can replicate sound effects from classic films like Jurassic Park. Universal’s STARS Stage Performance Program lets bands play on the Universal CityWalk or Plaza Stage, and the resort’s Dance is Universal workshop pairs students with professional choreographers. Musical groups looking to improve sight reading, intonation and articulation should sign up for the Orlando Fest workshops held in Universal parks year-round.
Offering an aquatic backdrop, SeaWorld Orlando’s SoundWaves program consists of pop-up stages throughout the park. Groups can perform in front of penguins and dolphins, and many packages grant free time for thrilling attractions like the Mako and Kraken roller coasters.
Catching a performance at the Orlando Ballet is yet another way to spend time with a group of students in Orlando. The Orlando Ballet offers workshops and master classes and is a great place to stop for groups that specialise in dance.
Music USA Festivals
If you are looking for a performance experience that is not done through Disney, Music USA Festivals is a great way to get your students into a less stressful competitive environment. Featuring festivals year-round at Universal, Music USA is yet another option to keep your students performing.
The entertainment industry epicentre, Los Angeles has welcomed actors and artists for generations.
Millennium Dance Complex
Aspiring dancers should beeline to the Millennium Dance Complex, the studio that’s collaborated with Britney Spears, Usher and Justin Timberlake. Professional choreographers teach hip-hop, jazz and classical ballet, and working dancers can take questions about the industry.
Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall
Bands have the opportunity to tour the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall (both home to the Los Angeles Symphonic Orchestra) and perform onstage at Universal Studios Hollywood or Disneyland in Anaheim, where they can meet the theme parks’ house bands.
Thornton School of Music
Groups should also pay a visit to USC’s Thornton School of Music, which counts Dr Dre as a patron and offers programs in film and TV scoring. Students can meet composers and learn about career trajectories while touring an editing suite.
NBC Universal or Warner Bros
Since LA is synonymous with film production, aspiring actors should pay a visit to the CBS, NBC Universal or Warner Bros. studio lots in the San Fernando Valley. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour will guide students through The Big Bang Theory and Ellen DeGeneres Show sets, and you might even spot a movie star cruising down the Ventura Freeway.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
Groups can take a tour at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and even see a movie in one of its famous auditoriums. Conveniently located along the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame, this theater has hosted famous movie premieres and red carpet events.
Rooftop Cinema Club
Give your group the full Los Angeles experience by watching a classic movie at the Rooftop Cinema Club. Audiences can view their favourite movies such as Grease, Dirty Dancing, The Godfather and even new releases while atop the Ricardo Montalban Theatre every Tuesday through Saturday.
Students will rave about the Grammy Museum and its in-depth music timelines, engaging artist biographies and hands-on exhibits. One of the attractions at the Grammy Museum even gives students the chance to mix their own song.