Joyful Learning at Disneyland Paris
What actually happens behind the scenes during the making of a Disneyland Paris musical performance? How can I communicate effectively in a performance? What does it feel like to be a real performer on stage?
As our band, strings and choir students boarded the bus for a three day musical adventure to Disneyland Paris, these were just some of the questions floating about as the students practiced, collaborated and bonded on their journey.
Shane, High School Music Teacher, explained that this year, the band and strings were combined together to create one performance ensemble, with the choir students attending just the workshop portion of the trip and to be part of the audience. Shane said: “We all traveled on one tall two story bus, intermingled all together. It was clear from the beginning that the students enjoyed and bonded together on the bus, the sense of community building - just the noise levels on the bus indicated that they loved each other's company by the end of the trip.”
Student Itzel shared: “I made a lot of new friends especially on the bus, my group was amazing & really fun and I learned how to be more expressive during the workshop.”
Once in Paris, the students had full days ahead of them: intense workshops, rigorous practice, loading and unloading of instruments, sound checks, wardrobe changes, backstage warm ups and finally a live performance in front of a large enthusiastic crowd. At Disneyland Paris, it is clear that the combination of perfecting your music and presenting yourself as a performer is part of the signature quality standard that is represented there.
Student Teagan said: “The choir came together to engage with the Disney instructor, learning new things about performances, and bringing passion and enthusiasm to any performance you give.”
Student Megan reflected: “I really enjoyed seeing a bit of the backstage and learning about all of the thought that is put into organizing something like a performance at Disney. The attention to detail is very appreciated.”
Student Casper shared: “A positive learning moment I had was how much time and effort goes into a big performance like the one we had. The microphones, the sound check, so much effort goes into the performance. “
Student Benoit agreed: “The professionalism we had on stage was really nice. I also loved how my section was consistent and they did their absolute best.”
Student Linnea said: “In the workshop we learned a lot about expression, and how you don't have to sing "politely and nicely" but with energy and understanding of the deeper meaning.“
The legacy of the ASH Disney trip is 25+ years in the making, with the trip usually taking place in the spring. This gives the students more time to grow in their individual musical mastery as well as perfecting their group performance. Having it take place in the fall this year pulled the students together “300% quicker”, said Shane. He continued: “For me as a new teacher, my second week here we had to submit a full recording of one of our pieces (for our Disney workshops). Ideally when new at a school you would have time to mold and slowly build things musically and work on fundamentals, get to know each other. But it was like whoosh! Through the Disney rehearsal process we were able to get to know each other and develop comradery and relationships. I think the Disney experience definitely propelled the students getting to get to know each other and interact with each other faster. “
The end performance is always a highlight of the experience for the performers, teachers and those in the audience. Shane reflected on the final performance: “It was musical, committed, energetic - the best part is that they had fun doing it and were proud of themselves afterwards. It can be tedious and intense when we are getting in there and diving into the details; but it was great to see the performance was a celebration of the process - and it just so happens to be at Disney Paris! I was most happy about how the performance went and how they felt afterwards. “
Johan summarized perfectly: “Connecting with the whole band and strings ensemble during the performance was so joyful.”
Student Linnea agreed: “While watching the Band and Strings perform it felt more magical, having it at Disney rather than any other performance. The expectations seemed higher, and the whole experience was enlightening because I could live through my peers and feel their excitement.”