Universal Parks – Student Performance Opportunities and Educational Programs

The Universal STEAM Program gives arts students a bevy of opportunities to perform, learn, and grow as musicians, dancers, and artists. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, and each receives equal emphasis. When it comes to an arts experience, Universal Youth Programs are a select choice for school musicians.

Instrumentalists can perform on stage or while marching. There are dozens of performance opportunities for them in the Universal Stars Performance Program. When they’re not performing, they can attend master classes, workshops, and individual lessons. Just as the Universal STEAM Program is interested in the whole student, the Universal Stars Program is interested in the whole musician.

Singers have the same opportunities. Choirs can meet with and learn from industry insiders and experts. They can hone their craft while having the time of their lives. Put the dance teams alongside the choirs and bands, and you can provide your students with a combined performance opportunity of a lifetime! The in-depth training and master class environment is designed to work your students hard, and the performance venues throughout Universal’s facilities are there to let them show off the fruits of their labors.

All work and no play is dull, however, so Universal Youth Programs also offer exciting amusement activities, including rides, walking tours, and annual festivals and events. Students with other interests can also explore foliage and fossils from the age of the dinosaurs, the mysteries of ancient Egypt, and the futuristic world of robotics. They can expand their minds beyond the scope of music on their way to becoming well-rounded, curious, and critically thinking lifelong learners.

The Universal Stars Performance Program is also for students and their teachers who wish to travel the world. Moscow, Beijing, and Hwaseong are all either available for visit currently or will be soon. These give you the opportunity to learn about current cultures while honing your musical craft.

Marching Band Parade Opportunities in Orlando around Christmas

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Orlando, Florida, offers marching bands plenty of opportunities to strut their stuff. The No. 1 parade at that time of year is the Florida Citrus Parade. Step-off is usually the morning of the same day as the Florida Citrus Bowl. It’s televised nationally, and there are usually sports luminaries and other guests hosting the event.

Other bowl game parades and halftime shows are an outstanding way to showcase your band. The Outback Bowl, for example, is in Tampa, which just about 80 miles from Orlando. That means you can enjoy Disney World in the morning, travel for an hour and a half, do the halftime show, and be back at the park for a fun evening. The Florida Citrus Bowl occurs after the parade, so you can do that halftime show too.

Even if you don’t participate in bowl game parades and halftime shows, you can still take part in the excellent Disney performing arts program. You can have the entire band march through Disney World itself as part of a learning extravaganza, and you can do small-group concerts throughout the park too. Disney professionals give master classes, too, so not only can the kids learn something, but so can you.

Once you’ve marched your way into Disney World history, you can doff the shakos and spats and take part in stage shows for your full group. If your group has some serious jazz chops, you can hit the stage for a real “Disney cast” feeling. The same holds true for your concert band. Should you want to bring your orchestra, it can play as well and get the full Disney experience.

Disney World offers participating groups discounted tickets for the various parks throughout the complex. You should check the website for the different deals provided for the holidays because they change year to year.

If the Disney performing arts program isn’t your thing, then you can take advantage of the Universal Stars Performance Programs instead. Universal Studios prefers your group to be at least 40 strong, so smaller groups should consider Disney.

Universal Stars Performance Programs, however, provide bands of all skill levels with a world-class experience of performing for adoring crowds in a magical setting. Universal Studios has a Macy’s parade that is similar to New York’s but doesn’t include the snow! The Macy’s parade combines characters from both Minions and Madagascar to enliven the fun.

Even before that parade, you can participate in the Superstar Pre-Parade. The pre-parade allows you to march through the exact route the Universal Studios parade will take, which means that there are excited throngs of people to cheer you on to greatness.

Universal Studios requires a certain dress code, which includes a prohibition against wearing material from other theme parks. So, if you do both Disney and Universal Studios, be sure to police your students’ clothing to avoid any “Imperial entanglements.”

Universal Studios offers the same kind of master classes and workshops as Disney World, so if you do both parks, you’ll get two perspectives from groups of seasoned professionals. The learning opportunities on both sides of the equation are not to be missed in a career.

The Holiday Music Extravaganza Festival takes place in early December every year, and you can pair that experience with other holiday events to give your group “the works.” You can choose to play for grades, ranking, ratings, or just comments, so every group can get something meaningful out of the festival.

If you’d like to do smaller events, too, then you can start with parades in Kissimmee, Tavares, and Leesburg. There are also boat parades where you could provide music for the event as a relaxed performance. A lot of events take place in Florida before Christmas Day, so if you plan to do some stuff at the two big parks around Christmas, you can do the earlier events too.

As with any major trip with a band, planning is your No. 1 priority. It’s not all about hitting the dot, maintaining the form, and the “glide.” If you take care of all the logistics and plan effectively, there’s nothing to say that a trip to Florida during the holiday season won’t be an experience of a lifetime.

The Benefits of taking your 8th Grade Class to Washington, D.C.

For teachers striving to plan end-of-the-year trips, there are typically two options – either dread or delight. Organizing, planning, and executing can be even more excruciating for teachers in the middle school arena, but what if it could be simpler than that? There is an easy solution for teachers wanting to take a meaningful class trip but struggling to isolate the best destination for their time and their dollar.

An epic solution to the where-in-the-world-to-go dilemma is this – Washington! Why? Washington D.C. shines like a copper penny, ripe with history, landmarks, and promise for any age group, but especially useful for a group of middle schoolers. This destination offers the best of both worlds – beauty, education, and affordability.

 Beautiful Memories

One only need Google “Washington D.C.” to know the wonders that would greet students in the United States’ capital. From the White House to the cherry blossom festival, Washington offers a picturesque view of our nation and the history behind it.

Just imagine standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, surrounded by ninety middle school students and a handful of enthusiastic chaperones, and taking a photograph. There, in that beautiful place, you will have captured a memory that not only your students but also you will treasure  forever.

 Educational Value

There is no arguing the educational promise that Washington DC offers schools and school-age children. Middle school teachers think of your standards. In seventh and eighth grades, students learn all about United States history. Why not exit middle school with an exploration of the United States capital?

When planning a trip to Washington DC, teachers could very easily create a  meaningful field trip for their students that will not only entertain them but also educate them. Students could visit the White House for a little modern-day history, soldier to Georgetown for a lesson in classic history, and meander to the Capitol building for a tour.

Teachers could seamlessly build their trip around historical landmarks they have taught that year or anticipate future lessons. In one, swift trip, your middle school students will wrack up invaluable experiences that will intensify their understanding of their nation’s rich history.

 Affordable Moments

Another undeniable pro of a class trip to Washington is the affordability. Any educator knows that funding for field trips is limited at best and that World’s Finest Chocolate bars only sell so much, so inevitably the bill will fall to the parent. Therefore, keeping costs low is paramount.

Washington offers a wealth of inexpensive and  free adventures for school trips. From the United States Botanic Garden to the Library of Congress, Washington is a walking tour waiting to happen. Schools can travel from memorial to memorial in the heart of Washington, and students will be delighted to watch their nation’s history – not to mention the fact that you will love the creative, excited side of your students that will emerge during the adventure.

Think of it this way, a field trip committee could design a field trip that requires food, housing, and transportation costs but little to no other cost. There are so many free – and inexpensive – activities to do in DC that it makes a phenomenal place to share with your students… even on a budget!

 The Best of Washington, Free Addition

Here’s just a sample of three of the most memorable places to visit on your next class trip to Washington!

  • Visit the White House, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol Building. These buildings are beautiful, historic and full of insight into how our nation operates. Just remember, if you want to stroll through any of these wonders, you’ll have to make appointments and/or set up free guided tours.
  • Art teachers or arts integration enthusiasts might have heard of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A unique touch to any trip to DC would be to visit the Kennedy Center for a free tour. This interactive experience is sure to be something your students will remember for a lifetime!
  • Pack a lunch and visit Rock Creek Park for a picnic, a photo opportunity, and maybe even a hike. There, you’ll find both beautiful scenery and hiking trails, so you could split into two groups – with equally distributed chaperones, of course – and either relax or adventure.

So, if you’re an educator attempting to plan an end-of-the-year trip for your middle schoolers, consider the historical touch and visit the United States capital. Washington offers a host of options for any school in search of the perfect location. The city is inexpensive, educational, and gorgeous, making it a phenomenal option for you and your students.

Nonetheless, wherever you choose to go, cherish those final moments with your students. They will cement the memories you’ve already created together, and you’ll enjoy seeing your students in another light. Don’t worry too much about the logistics – you and your colleagues will figure that out!

Just read, research, and discover.  That will lead you to the perfect place for your school trip! Maybe, just maybe, it’ll be Washington, D.C!

Plan an Alumni Choir Tour

What a joyful time for singing!

Jack Kerouac once said, “The only truth is music.” Music has the power to bring people together and singing in a choir intensifies that sensation tenfold. From each crescendo and fermata, the members of a choir grow closer and closer in song–exposing the true healing power of music.

For four years you sing and lead and lead and sing with a high school choir and then you graduate… does the bond dissipate like the setting sun? No, you carry that bond with you throughout your life.

So, as a veteran choir teacher, why not capitalize on the choir’s sense of belonging and friendship? Form an alumni choir group and travel the world with mature voices and responsible identities!

A performance tour is the perfect way to travel and create memories in the UK and cities in Ireland, England and Scotland.

 What is an alumni choir?

An alumni choir brings together former members of a choral program to create a new ensemble. In fact, these choirs can combine generations of programs and join music communities together with grace.

 Why form–and tour with–an alum choir?

These choirs offer many advantages–mature voices, mature souls–but beyond that imagine touring Europe with a rambunctious brood of teenagers. Your tour bus stops in front of Trevi Fountain and fifty adolescents flood the already crowded tourist hot spot. Instantly, they scatter, and you are left wondering if you’ll ever see your rebellious star tenor again or if he would run away with a busty Italian speaking broken English.

Now, imagine your bus pulls up in front of Trevi Fountain and thirty-year-old businessmen and forty-something-year-old lawyers pile from the bus onto the cobblestone gravel. They have fanny packs and mom jeans, and they smile and form an awkward group picture with a selfie stick.

It just works–no buddy system and no child-to-chaperone ratio.

 How do I form this kind of choir?

There are many ways to create these choirs but here are a couple of suggestions:


If you work in a large music program, you might have a music program that puts out a monthly newsletter. Include a cute graphic and announce practices that way! It’ll be an easy way to reach alum from all walks of life.

 Social Media

A thriving social media is a perfect place to announce your new choir! Choral programs across the nation are investing in their future–not only for marketing but also for community–and joining social media. So, post your brilliant plan on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to share it with your band of followers.

 It’s such an ordeal. How can I coordinate it all?

It’s an unavoidable truth that this kind of choir trip would be difficult to organize, but the outcome is beyond worth it. Nonetheless, you still have to figure out to juggle your normal class load plus thischoir.

Here is the catch–adults aren’t high school students, and the adults enrolling in your new choir will careabout the choir. They will have an attachment to the music, the people, and you.

What does that mean for you? You can expect a certain level of responsibility.

So, pick your music. Do you have any emotional attachment songs? Does your choir sing “Seasons of Love” from Rent at the beginning of every concert? Does your choir sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” at the end of every concert?

Pick those emotional response songs to start. Then, make a lineup. Send out soundtracks. Ask your former students to learn them.

Beyond that, you can ask these adults to form a committee–maybe the former choir president or choir chair could take the helm. Then, those men and women can help organize the logistics of the trip. Who knows? You might have fantastic organizers in your midst! Use them!

Nonetheless, if the task of organizing the choir and the tour still seems too daunting, consider a professional touch. Peak Performance Tours can make your choral tour a breeze. The company designs and manages the needs of not only bands but also bands and dance troops design the perfect European concert performance tour for their needs.

According to their website, the company Peak Performance can arrange tours in North America, Europe, and Pacific Asia from St. Peter’s Basilica to the churches of Rome and Venice. UK travelers can use cities in Ireland, England and Scotland. They collaborate with communities, educational facilities, and prestigious locations–both educational and sacred.

So, let Peak Performance Tours create a proposed itinerary for your trip to Italy. This no-obligation proposal might be the start of a new journey–full of music but also friendship and love.

Plan a Choir Tour to France

If you are thinking that is about that time to get some international travel under your belt for your Choir, might we suggest the beauty and splendor of France? A performance tour of France could be one of the greatest highlights in the singing careers of everyone in the choir. There are several performance opportunities available in the country that your choir could benefit immensely from. Not only that, but the country’s rich cultural history would provide plenty of chances for sightseeing and taking in a wealth of unique experiences available. Planning such an excursion can be daunting, but let Peak Performance Tours create a proposed itinerary for your trip to France. We can make it so that your energy goes to the purpose of your trip–putting on your choir’s performances!

Potential performance venues in Paris

France is home to some of the most beautiful cathedrals, churches, and performance halls in the world. In just Paris you can find such legendary spaces as the Montmartre Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church, La Sainte-Chapelle, Madeleine Church, St. Roch Church, St. Ephrem Church, Église des Billettes, and Saint-Sulpice Church are a well-known for hosting classical concerts and choir groups. It is a definite possibility that one of these locations could be where we help plan out a Paris performance for your choir!

Obviously, Paris is known as an epicenter for fine art. Everyone from Matisse to Picasso made their name in Paris, so what a delight it will be for your choir to get to tour some of Paris’s fine art museums and galleries. Better still, one of the most renowned art museums, the Louvre, actually has classical and choir performances in places like their Oratory. While your choir is in France can use cities in France to expand their knowledge of the arts beyond music.


Not to be outdone in terms of grandeur, there are beautiful and grand churches and cathedrals throughout Marseille–most notably the famed Marseille Cathedral. There are also theBasilique Notre-Dame de la Garde and Abbaye Saint-Victor. a performace for your Choir in Marseille could be just as unforgettable as in Paris.

Food in France

When in France can use cities in France as destinations for your choir to also explore genuine French cuisine. There are few greater pleasures than life than having a simple croissant in it’s country of origin. Your choir can have ample opportunity between performances to sample French classics from ratatouille and coq au vin to more adventurous fare like escargot and duck confit. If any of your choir members are wine enthusiasts, there is plenty of that to sample as well. The culinary adventures available to visitors of France can end up being one of the highlights of your performance tour!

We know that your choir has worked extremely hard on their craft and we want to do everything we can to make this trip one of memories that will forever be cherished. Thankfully, helping to make lifelong memories is what we do and we have a lot of experience at it. We can help pick the venues, the sightseeing excursions, and can make further recommendations on everything from lodging to where are the must-try spots for your choir to eat. We are in this to make your job easier, so you can just focus on helping your choir put on the best shows that they can and enjoying the beauty that is France. We cannot wait to be of service to you.

Plan an Alumni Music Tour to Vienna and Salzburg

Where are all your former Music students now? Is it time for a reunion? What about a reunion concert? If so, consider taking your alumni Ensemble on an exciting performance tour to Vienna and Salzburg. Whether your alumni are just out of high school or enjoying their retirement days, they’re sure to love singing with old friends in the historic and beautiful mountains, castles, and cathedrals of Austria.

An alumni Ensemble is always a great way to bring old friends together and drive participation in all sorts of school activities but taking that singing group to Austria is sure to bring graduates back together and rekindle interest in their alma mater. The delight of singing together joins with the joy of seeing new places in a country of such rich musical heritage.

In Salzburg, music is everywhere, and is celebrated. On your performance tour, be sure to visit the birthplace of Mozart and enjoy memorials to him across the city. The monument in Mozartplatz, a beautiful plaza in Old Salzburg, is a must see. In between performances, you can take a boat down the Danube River, explore medieval castles, or marvel at baroque cathedrals. Free time can also be spent at tourist shops, art museums, and other performances. For the best views of the old city, make sure to take the cable car up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, head underground to the salt mines that gave the city its name and take a boat across an underground lake.

While Vienna is every bit as exciting as Salzburg, the best alumni Music trips also take advantage of the time travelling there. First, enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Alps. Fans of the musical “Sound of Music” will feel right at home in the mountains where the story was inspired and much of that classic movie was filmed. Of special interest to Choirs is a Benedictine abbey in the town of Melk. Besides providing a much-appreciated chance to stretch your legs, the abbey frequently allows informal choral performances by passing groups.

Mozart may have been born in Salzburg, but his most well-known music was almost all composed in Vienna. His contemporary, Joseph Haydn, also spent much of his life in the Austrian capital, as well as in the nearby village of Eisenstadt. His student, Ludwig von Beethoven, lived in Vienna from age 21 to his death a few decades later. As you take in the sites of old Vienna, imagine these famous musicians, friends, meeting, talking, composing, and even making music together!

Two imperial palaces, Hofburg and Schonbrunn, and a variety of art museums are perfect spots for tourists. At Schonbrunn, you can even visit the world’s oldest continually operating zoo, TiergartenSchonbrunn, where Holy Roman Emperor Francis I opened a menagerie in 1752. The Wiener Riesenrad, a 212 foot tall Ferris wheel built in 1897, is a classic way for visitors to view the city. Visiting various historic churches and cathedrals may provide the opportunity for even more spontaneous performances, as well as an untold number of photo opportunities and group selfies.

Fun experiences and great views, from the top of Hohensalzburg to the busy streets of Vienna, will keep your alumni talking about the trip for years, but the crowning achievement will be performing together in venues on the other side of the globe. With so many options to choose from, let Peak Performance Tours create a proposed itinerary for your trip to Vienna and Salzburg. Peak Performance Tours takes the hassle out of planning, leaving you and your Music alumni ready to enjoy performing and touring in Austria.