When Fred Eyrich, Music Director at Jenkintown High School in Pennsylvania, considered traveling with his band to a national music festival, he knew it would be a powerful experience for his group. His entire school district consists of just over 600 students, but the participation rate for his programs is nearly 70%. Music is an important part of this little district, and they are committed to supporting the arts, whatever it takes.
The socioeconomic spread among Eyrich’s students is dramatic. Some have never left home, while others are well-traveled. He considers music and travel to be great equalizers and credits WorldStrides Heritage Performance with enabling his young musicians to experience this. He has attended the Annapolis Music Festival twice and while impressed with the Naval Academy and all it has to offer, the highlight was a trip with his band to nearby Washington, D.C., that included performances at George Mason University and a spontaneous show in front of the Lincoln Memorial!
While George Mason University provided the chance for his kids to perform in a beautiful concert hall that dwarfed their own home auditorium, the impromptu performance by his diverse group moved many to tears. It was a reminder of the power of coupling music with travel – experiential learning of the first order. Even if the concert on the mall was not part of the Annapolis Music Festival itself, the festival enabled the moment. It was a moment the group would never forget. It’s the combination of travel, destination, and performance that make these experiences so meaningful.
Eyrich also credits his festival experience for giving him access to peers within his field. His district is so small that there is no community of music teachers available to give him perspective, context, and critique. While the administration is supportive, they are not musicians and can’t give feedback on his teaching style, performances, or directing skills. Through exposure to colleagues and adjudicators at WorldStrides Heritage Performance festivals, he has been able to expand his network to include others who provide the perspective and balance he lacks in his small universe at home. This is not only an additional value proposition that comes along with the experience, it is critical to the success of his program.
For more information on the attending the Annapolis Music Festival, and other WorldStrides Heritage Performance programs, fill out our form on the right, or learn about our music festivals, elite performance opportunities, and more on our events page.