Stuart McCrone

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Tours…. 

In the words of Tim Cahill “A journey is best measured in friends”…. Needless to say that is one of the biggest things I take away from every trip that I have been on. Through travelling with music, I have met some amazing people, people that I never would have dreamed of meeting and also made some long lasting friends from around the globe. Alongside the travel, the thing that has connected us all; has been music. It really resonates with me that “music is the international language”, nowhere can this be seen more than when a group of people, being away in a foreign country, unable to speak the languages of each other but somehow managing to perfectly communicate with each other through music. 

 

My first trip was to Belgium, I was the youngest person on this trip (too young to actually go, but, as my sister was there I was allowed to go) and it was the greatest thing ever. Experiencing the culture, travelling with friends, playing music every day and having stories that will stay with me forever. Needless to say, back then I was young, small and everybody on the trip looked after me like their little brother!  

Another fond memory is my first ever trip to America, 2005 – L.A.!!! Wow – the build-up to the trip was exceptional – this was the furthest I (and a lot of the others in the band) had ever travelled. We were rehearsing as much as possible, fundraising at every opportunity, recording material so that we had gifts for anybody and everybody we met over there to remember us by! We had been accepted (the only UK youth band) to play at the 32nd Annual IAJE (International Association of Jazz Educators) Conference. Little did we know, this would be one of the biggest gigs of our lives. 

I distinctly remember the feeling of walking into the conference room where we were scheduled to play (for those that have been to America, particularly L.A., you will understand that American’s don’t do things by halves). IT WAS HUGGGGGGE! The biggest sound desk I have ever seen, full grand piano on stage, lighting rig, so many chairs, all the equipment there ready for our sound check.  

After the sound check we had some time to explore the conference and ‘drum up’ an audience – I mean, who is going to want to come and watch a youth band from the UK right?? 

Well….. turns out – a lot of people, 5000+ in the audience, including the likes of Gordon Goodwin (http://www.bigphatband.com) and some of his other band members, Wayne Bergeron, Eric Marienthal and Bernie Dresel – we played a lot of their music in band and idolised many of the musicians in the Big Phat Band. After our gig – the buzz was incredible – so much so that Gordon himself visited our green room to congratulate us on such a performance, in his words “Wow, you guys really swing for a bunch of British Kids”!!  

This trip went on to be more incredible, hanging with friends, meeting like-minded young musicians from around the world (America, Australia, New Zealand, Istanbul and many others), all sharing the love of music!!!  

Another memory that will stick with me forever will be the first time we visited NYC. What’s that? You’ve not been?? – YOU HAVE TO GO!!! 

New York is one of those amazing places, you will never see buildings soooooo BIG, so many cultures, music everywhere, the biggest pizzas in the world! It is truly the city that NEVER sleeps! We have now visited New York numerous times on different trips and with different groups of musicians and am positive that they all take away memories that remain with them for the rest of their lives. Whether that is playing to some of the biggest jazz musicians in the world, visiting amazing places (Rockefeller Centre, Empire State, Central Park, Trump Towers, Birdland Jazz Club, Blue Note, Havanas Latin Bar, Rockettes show at Radio City [I know for a fact that this is Jon’s fondest memory of NYC] Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Grand Central Station, University of New York, the Lego shop, Hershey’s world, Toys ‘R’ Us [they actually have a full sized Ferris Wheel inside the store], Apple Shop [we always manage to end up visiting here…hmmm…convenient] just to name a few) I have attached a list of links below – if you ever get the chance to see some of these: please do!!! My tip is to go to the top of the Rockefeller in the evening is  as you then get to see Times Square, Empire State and the Chrysler building lit up!! AMAZING 

https://www.rockettes.com 

https://www.birdlandjazz.com 

http://www.bluenotejazz.com/newyork/index.shtml 

https://www.esbnyc.com 

https://www.rockefellercenter.com/ 

 

I have now had the joy of experiencing these trips from both sides – as a student and also (possibly the more stressful/sleep deprived) as a member of staff! Needless to say, everybody always comes back absolutely shattered and needing a 2 week sleep but it never stops us wanting to do it all again! I know that we would do every one of these trips all over if we could! 

 Every trip is incredible and we hope that all the students take away something – if anything it’s that they have made an AMAZING group of friends from home (it’s amazing how you see the groups gel and become one whilst away)!!!! 

Some of the other amazing places we have lined up to visit in the future include: 

Paris 

Disneyland 

Tokyo 

Singapore 

Hong Kong 

Chicago 

San Francisco 

New Zealand 

Australia 

 Watch this space!!! #hhontour

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