Band students from Platte County R-3 and Park Hill high schools recently traveled south to take part in unique musical experiences at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
About 150 students, seven staff and 30 parents departed from Platte County High School in the early morning hours on Wednesday, May 31 on three charter buses to begin their 27-hour drive to Florida. This is the largest amount of students, parents and staff that has been on a trip in recent history for the Pirates band.
The Platte County band took part in the Music USA Festival Program, which is an eight-to-12-week event that ended the weekend the Platte County students arrived. The performances were held at Universal Studios Theme Park.
Five ensembles, including the color guard, jazz band, percussion ensemble, marching band and wind ensemble, competed for ratings, and all received the highest possible rating of superior. The marching band performed on a route through Universal Studios where thousands of people were able to hear them play while the other four groups performed on Sound Stage 33, which overlooks the lagoon and the Hard Rock Café.
“Our primary reason for going is to get an appraisal of how well our ensembles are performing on the national level,” Platte County band director Jay Jones said. “We know we have quality ensembles, based on the Missouri standards, but trips like this give us the opportunity to get feedback on how we are doing against national standards.
“With all our groups earning the highest rating, I feel we are doing things right.”
The students were also treated with dinner and a show at Medieval Times and also saw a Cirque du Soliel performance before spending two days at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. The kids also got to enjoy some time on the beach at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort.
“As a staff, we want to provide a family atmosphere for our kids in the band program,” Platte County assistant director of bands Matthew Bonsignore said. “We also want to provide experiences and performance opportunities that they would not have a chance to receive anywhere else.
“It’s not always about the accolades and trophies; it’s the experiences and memories our students are having that will last with them a lifetime.”
After finishing up their performances and having fun at the parks, the students and staff departed for home on Sunday, June 4 before arriving back in Platte City on Monday, June 5. They traveled on three chartered buses for the lengthy road trips.
“It was a great trip, and I was proud of the performances they gave. But even more proud of the way they represented themselves as a band,” Jones said. “They were excellent ambassadors for our school and the community as a whole.”
About the time Platte County students left for Florida, Park Hill’s band made its return.
About 100 marching band students also spent three days at Disney and two days at Universal Studios before attending a performance of the famed Blue Man Group. The students flew from Kansas City International Airport to Orlando on Sunday, May 28 and returned on Thursday, June 1.
While at Disney, the band took part in the “You’re Instrumental” program, which is a 2½-hour session in a recording studio. The students work with a Disney clinician on Disney music focusing on sight reading skills and the importance of practice and improving performance skills.
The end product of the session was a DVD of a Disney trailer with the Park Hill band performing the soundtrack to the video.
The Trojan Marching Band was also selected to perform in a parade in the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, May 30. The students marched in uniform down Main Street in Disney World in front of the Cinderella’s Castle.
“The opportunity to perform in a place far from home is twofold,” Park Hill band director Ky Hascall said. “First, we get to see different parts of the country and experience the sights and sounds of those areas. Secondly, we get to show people in other places the quality performances of our outstanding young people. We are proud of their hard work, and other people need to see and hear the product of our students’ hard work.”
The students raise money to fund these trips.
The Park Hill band program takes a multi-day trip every three years. During Hascall’s 15 years at Park Hill, the band has traveled to Washington D.C. twice and Orlando three times, and they are already planning their next trip for spring of 2020.