TRHS choir, band get once-in-a-lifetime experience on Disney World trip
ORLANDO, Fla. — For most high school students, going to Disney World would classify as a wonderful spring break destination.
For Three Rivers High School band and choir students, going to Disney World for their spring break was something even better.
Over 110 band and choir students, as well as more than a dozen chaperones and the directors, traveled to Disney World in Orlando last week during spring break for Disney Imagination Campus workshops for both groups, where they got to learn what it was like to work as a music professional and record their own versions of notable Disney songs.
“That is a workshop experience where you record music for a soundtrack, and you're treated like a professional recording musician,” TRHS Band Director Cheryl Thomas said. “A Disney clinician rehearsed the band and rehearsed the choir as well.”
“It was all about how to work as a professional not just at Disney but in general, and how valuable time is working with that kind of pressure behind you as well,” TRHS Choir Director Alex Williams added. “We talked about how most professionals make $150 an hour just to sing, and how they actually make efficient use of their time to be able to focus, have fun at the same time and be able to put out a great product.”
The choir got to record their own versions of the songs “For the First Time in Forever” and “Love is an Open Door” from “Frozen” during their workshop, while the band recorded their own versions of two songs from “Moana,” including “How Far I’ll Go,” at their workshop. The songs they recorded were then overlayed over approximately three and a half minutes of animation from the respective movies in question. For the choir, they also got to do a little bit extra and make sound effects.
“For our side, we made the wind effect for blizzards, we made waterfall sounds, we made doors closing by clapping our hands, and they put that all in the film,” Williams said.
Both the choir and band received a copy of their respective recordings from the workshops, however because of Disney’s strict copyright policies, they cannot be duplicated, shared or put on the internet.
“The Mouse owns us now,” Williams joked.
However, Thomas said the recordings may be able to be played at the band and choir’s spring performances at the TRHS Performing Arts Center coming up in the next month. But it may be the only time the recordings will see the light of day.
“There’s nothing like Disney copyright,” Thomas said.
In addition to the workshop, the Wildcat Marching Band got to parade through Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, performing one of the songs from their annual fall halftime show, “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon. The band started in Frontier Land, made their way around Cinderella’s Castle, and marched down Main Street. Thomas said the band got rave reviews for their parade performance.
“I heard a lot of people say – and even our guide said this – it was so nice to hear what you're playing, because usually people come and play Disney [songs],” Thomas said. “Even when I had my hat embroidered at the embroidery shop, they were like, 'Oh yeah, I remember hearing that band, that was your band?' They danced and played right up the parade route. We danced as part of the opener, so we turned it as we marched into a forward motion.”
Thomas said her students enjoyed the experience of parading through one of the most iconic parts of Disney World.
“They loved those moments of everybody just lined along the parade route, much like here in town. There are always people lining up for parades here, like the Water Festival parade, the route is just packed. At Disney World, there are people from all over the world packing the lines for that parade,” Thomas said.
“And you don't get this experience from just going to Disney alone, you have to coordinate that stuff with everyone,” Williams added. “We've had a kid who's been to Disney World six, seven times and said that was the best experience he's had, because how often do you get to work with professionals and work in that kind of setting?”
In the past, the high school band and choir would perform at the Festival Disney competition, where they would compete and be judged for scores, however both directors said they wanted a “change of pace” for this particular trip.
“The competition scene would be nice, but it's something about that kind of selective experience just works and the kids just fall head over heels for it,” Williams said.
“I know the bands have marched before, and we did that same thing. The workshop, I felt it would be a neat change of pace,” Thomas added.
When they were not performing or in workshops, the students got the opportunity to have fun at all of the Disney World parks throughout the week, including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Springs, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Prior to arriving at Disney, the group’s three charter buses made a stop at Cocoa Beach, where the group had the chance to visit the Ron Jon Surf Shop store and take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
Overall, both directors said everyone learned a lot on the trip, but had a fun time all in all.
“As much as it was being a kid again, being able to go ride the rides and see what's new, it seemed like it was a breath of fresh air for us. It just kind of brought life into all of us for a little bit. We were able to have fun, let loose a little bit and make sure it was a well-rounded experience for the kids.” Williams said.
“There's no way in the time we were there to see everything, but you can get enough and a good chunk of it to really enjoy it,” Thomas said. “For some of us, it was their first time going, and for some of our chaperones, it was their first time. It's a special place, it's lots of fun.”
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or email@example.com.