HomeBlogsdavecharliebrown's blogMaking the Most of Your Spring Break Tour

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It's snowing horizontally in Manhattan today.  You know what that means -- SPRING BREAK!!

Yes, despite the weather, we actually have already passed Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of Lent.  Which means Easter, April showers, and May flowers are around the corner.  College students everywhere are enjoying a lovely spring break.  For many a cappella groups, that means it's time for a tour!

The phrase "road trip" instantly conjures up images of junk food, no sleep, miles of empty highway, and of course your favorite road trip music.  Add in "spring break," and... I won't even go there.  But as you embark on a tour with your a cappella group, think ahead a little bit.  Below are some tips for making your tour a little bit better.

  1. Plan ahead.  Call ahead, know phone numbers, make backup plans, and have a good itinerary for the trip.  Downtime is great, but make it intentional.  Think the trip through... how can you make the most of it?  And if something goes wrong, are you ready for every contingency?
  2. Remember that traveling in groups takes longer than usual.  Molasses.  Groups are just inherently slow.  Like it will take an hour to get from the front of the airport to your gate.  Or longer.  If you plan ahead for that, it will keep you from being angry and surprised when it happens.
  3. Bring lots of swag.  Hand each member of your group one or two copies of your CD and make a rule they can't go home without giving them away.  This turns each member of your group into a salesperson.  Who do you give the CD to?  You'll know when the moment comes.  And these people will be your fans for life.  And besides CDs, bring along anything else you've got: T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, and of course don't forget your business cards.
  4. Leave a trail of thank you notes in your wake.  Before you even leave on your trip, have everyone in your group sign a dozen blank thank-you cards.  Then every place you stay, for everyone who does something nice for you, really almost everywhere, leave a note.  People don't expect any sense of class from college students, so a nice touch like this can go a long way.
  5. Don't break anything.  Speaking of having class, don't be tazmanian devils.  Whether inebriated or not, you are obligated to behave like a grown-up.  If you behave with indescretion, at least don't destroy other people's property.
  6. Be safe.  I hate to sound like your mother, but watch out for each other.  Don't ever, ever drink and drive.  Period.  You're too smart and you've got too many great things ahead of you to throw it away in a moment of stupidity.  Also, don't drive sleepy either.  I personally know multiple people who have died while driving tired across an empty state.  It only takes a moment to ruin your life.  Don't be stupid.
  7. Learn songs.  Take advantage of your time on the road, or any down time, to learn a new song.  Not only is this a good use of time, but you'll find that your group gets more attached to songs that have a good memory (like spring break!) associated with them.
  8. Connect with the past.  You've gotta listen to music in the car.  It's a given.  Pull the earbuds out of people's ears and turn on your group's old albums.  Veterans in your group should share memories from old years and re-tell old stories they heard from alumni.  Rally around your group's legacy while you create new memories all week.
  9. Make plans for the future.  You may never have your group members as captivated by a cappella and by your group as you will this week.  It's a peak of excitement for the year, so take advantage of it by setting goals for the future.  Chat up everything from future spring break locations to world leaders you want to sing for to awards you want to win to charities you want to support.  Whatever it is, now is when your group will be thinking about it.
  10. Sing for everyone.  While on the road, you'll get paid hundreds of dollars to sing at a concert, fifty dollars to workshop a high school choir, three dollars to sing on the street corner, and nothing to sing on the bus.  Same song every time.  And that's totally fine.  Sing in front of everyone who will listen to you.  Give away swag, plug your website, be rock stars.  Oh, and while we're on the topic, be sure to bring a large sign you can post or prop-up behind your group while you sing.  It will draw significantly more attention than you will (no offense), and sell your name and website while you're busy singing.
  11. Do non-singing stuff too.  While you're on the road, make time to be tourists.  It's a tour first, but it can be a vacation second.  Go to a museum, visit the sites, just hang out and get to know the locals.  Take a chance to break out into pairs or threesomes and just get to know the area.  Sometimes you need a little downtime.
  12. Take care of your body.  Lack of sleep + constant singing + laughing + poor eating habits = death to your voice = death to your music = crappy tour.  Add in alcohol and caffeine and you've effectively ruined your trip.  Take care of yourself, and don't share water bottles.

Oh, and one more thing.  I asked an a cappella buddy of mine for her advice to groups embarking on a spring break tour.  Speaking under condition of anonymity, she advised: "Don't make a chart showing all the hook-ups in your group.  It will almost certainly outlive you."

So there you have it.  With a little preparation and a little focus, your group's spring break tour can be a memory that will last a lifetime.