April 26, 2021     Jon Linker

Rebuilding Your Ensemble After Covid-19


It’s an understatement to say the Covid-19 pandemic created numerous challenges for music directors. For more than a year, many ensembles have not been able to rehearse or perform together, and those that have been able to meet in person have often had to do so in smaller, less than ideal configurations.

As a result, many directors are now looking at a rebuilding project this fall. While that effort will encompass many aspects, there is one proven tool that will be available again soon and shouldn’t be overlooked – travel.

We will all be transitioning to new sets of routines and standards, but there are many rebuilding methods that are tried and true. We know that a performance tour can be a great recruitment and retention tool, as it helps build excitement within your ensemble through the creation of a shared objective. A tradition of travel also helps ensembles grow and thrive. Recently we went through our database to examine every ensemble that had traveled with Encore and found groups who did repeat tours were 23.3% larger than the average new group. One Encore Tours director grew his string program from 12 to 400+ members largely through an international tour program.

 “After a great tour, your kids will talk about it as a highlight of their high school experience,” said John Moon, Director of Orchestras and Chamber Music at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, TX. “And before you return home, they will be asking where the next one will be. The benefits don’t stop at the end of a tour. Your program will grow and continue to reach high levels of accomplishment.”

Even if your ensemble isn’t quite ready for a performance tour due to low numbers, limited rehearsal or other factors,  you can reap all the musical, educational, and cultural rewards of travel with a Music Appreciation Tour. These trips are fantastic for both student and adult groups alike.

A Music Appreciation Tour allows participants to walk in the footsteps of their favorite composers, delve into choral and symphonic history, visit some of the world’s most historic musical destinations and even include a workshop or attendance at a live concert – all without the pressure of performing.

Finally, for choral groups who want to sing but aren’t traveling with a complete ensemble, there are Massed Choir Festivals available. These festivals offer the unique opportunity for singers of all ages to collaborate with like-minded individuals from around the world, share their passion with other ensembles, and perform great choral works with world-renowned conductors!

Drake York, Director of Choral and Vocal Music at Millikan High School in Long Beach, CA said “Touring for my choir is really important because it helps with recruiting. (Touring) is not only a great opportunity to get to know your musicians but to have them experience music in amazing locations.”

The benefits of travel are many, including a shared sense of purpose and an added incentive for joining a group. Musicians want to be part of an ensemble that tours! Also, an established travel program raises an ensemble’s visibility within its community, gains the support of its board and/or administration and can increase fundraising efforts.

While COVID-19 temporarily stopped us all in our tracks, rehearsals and live performances are starting to return, and travel can play an important role in helping your ensemble build back better.

Interested in learning more about how a performance tour can jump start your ensemble? Speak with one of our dedicated tour consultants and receive a free quote for your next tour.

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