Band trip to Florida goes well

Other than the arrival and departure delays and the theft of a laptop computer, the April 2-7 PHS band trip to Florida went well, PHS band director Jim Baxter said last week.

Ninety-three band members in grades 10-12 took the trip via two coach buses to Orlando, Fla., with chaperones. It was the every-third-year band trip that PHS offers, with costs paid partially through band fundraising.

A 1 1/2 hour detour in Georgia on the way down cut into some of the activity scheduled on the first day in Orlando, Baxter said. The trip included performing at and taking in the sights and sounds at Disney World Resort in Orlando. That was followed by visiting the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach on the east coast of the Sunshine State.

There was also a delay by a few hours in the arrival back home, the buses depositing everyone at the high school parking lot at about 1 a.m. on Easter Sunday April 8. The original plan was to be home well before midnight on Saturday, April 7. Traffic issues were again the cause, Baxter said.

Despite all that and riding in a bus for 30 hours each way, the students were “extremely cooperative, understanding and adaptive,” Baxter continued. “Adaptability” was the key word on this trip, he said, noting that the students adjusted to be where they needed to be, and to “do what is right.”

The band arrived on Tuesday, April 3 in Orlando and took in Disney World’s Fantasmic Show of fireworks and waterworks in Disney’s Hollywood theme park. The band was given a three-hour band clinic the following morning by three professional Disney World musicians. One of the musicians, a saxophone player on the job for 20 years, gave insights into the position. Baxter said this musician talked about he and fellow instrumentalists giving surprise performances on the thoroughfares of Disney World, “as if coming out of nowhere.” Disney wants all the visitors to experience something magical.

One of the lessons at the clinic was to strive to rehearse once for 40 performances as opposed to practicing 40 times for one event, Baxter noted. The other thing brought out, Baxter said, was to remember the audience. Even though these professional musicians have played a Disney piece many times, they must give it their best effort each time as it may be the first time people in the audience have heard the song.

On Wednesday of the trip the band group watched the Blue Man Group, featuring three percussionists all in blue including their skin colored blue, perform with backup musicians.

The PHS band performed on the Waterfront Stage in Downtown Disney for 40 minutes on Thursday and then had lunch at Planet Hollywood, before taking in the Magic Kingdom and its fireworks and magic show.

The band entourage stayed at a Holiday Inn and that was where PHS choral director Mark Potvin, who was a chaperone on the trip, lost his laptop computer to theft, Baxter said.

The group left Orlando for Florida’s east coast on Friday to take in the sights at the Kennedy Space Center. Next was time at Cocoa Beach and capping the Florida experience with a meal at a restaurant along the pier, before heading back home.

The trip offered first-time experiences for many, such as seeing the ocean, Disney World and the NASA space center, Baxter said. Disney World’s Epcot Center, that features a taste of various countries, is an especially memorable experience, Baxter added. If a person stands at one of those country presentations at Epcot “and lets their imagination go they might feel like they are in that country,” he said.