The five days Belle Plaine Junior-Senior High students spent on the band trip offered a memorable mix of music education, sight-seeing and culture unlike any trip they might have enjoyed during spring break.
The trip gave 57 Belle Plaine students the opportunity to learn from university professors and professionals in the music industry along with seeing the city’s culture and historic landmarks from March 22-25.
“In New York, it’s all about the culture,” said Jeanine Kruschke, Belle Plaine’s junior-senior high band director. “It’s such a melting pot of different cultures, different walks of life. You think Minneapolis is a big city and then you go to New York.”
The Belle Plaine students spent Sunday morning in a Broadway classroom. The workshop included the opportunity to learn from Ben Cohn, an associate director of the Broadway play, “Wicked.” The group worked with Cohn on a prepared piece. Cohn helped them with a variety of performance techniques.
The students also worked with Stephen Tewksbury, whose Broadway theater credits include roles in “Kinky Boots,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables.” The Belle Plaine band members played a piece, again learning techniques for improving their skills.
The session also included a question-and-answer session.
“He was so great with the kids,” Kruschke said. “The kids really bought into what he had to say.”
After a visit to Central Park, the Belle Plaine students attended a show, “Pippin,” at the Music Box Theater. That evening, the group also visited Times Square.
Monday, the students went back to class – at Rutgers University where they worked with Professor Darryl Bott. The students worked on a piece they knew with Bott helping them improve techniques and learn new elements of sound production and balance, Kruschke said.
An experienced university music professor, Bott made a solid connection with the high school band students, helping them with skills within their abilities, Kruschke said. “He met them where they were at. A lot of professors can’t do that,” she said. “It went better than I had hoped.”
After a visit to New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy, the students and their adult chaperones visited the sits of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attack and the memorial there. They saw the memorial to the victims of the attack and the firefighters who were killed trying to save people in the World Trade Center that morning.
Kruschke said the students were respectful and took in the memorial even though it might have been a little difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the attack since they were toddlers at the time.
Tuesday (March 25), the students visited Liberty Island and Ellis Island for self-guided tours and saw the Statue of Liberty. The statue, a gift from France in 1886, was designated a national monument in 1924.
After visiting Grand Central Station that afternoon, the students visited the three grand theaters in Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York State Theater and “Avery Fisher Hall.
At the Metropolitan Opera, the students enjoyed an up-close look at the historic facility where they saw a crew changing scenes on the stage. “Just the grandeur of the Metropolitan Opera was amazing, Kruchke said.
During one of the tours, she retold the story of a guide – an extra in one of the plays there – leading a group of Belle Plaine boys singing, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in a round.
The guide then told the boys they could now rightfully claim they had performed at the world-famous Avery Fisher Hall.
Kruschke was pleased with her students during the visit. She said the students were respectful to people they met. “Minnesota nice stood true,” she said. “That’s not what’s necessarily true all the time in that part of the world.”
Through fund-raising efforts or family help, the students paid their own way on the tour. It cost them $990 apiece plus eight meals. The BPHS band makes a trip every three years, alternating years with choir trips.
The students who went on the trip include Kellen Bergs, Hannah Burmeister, Jeremy Buszmann, Logan Caola, HaydenCody, Ally Doucette, Nicholas Feddersen, Mattie Flaschenriem, John Franck, Bailey Gavin, MeghanGavin, Sam Gavin, Marcus Giesen, Megan Glisczinski, Duane Good, Kendra Good, Sami Gregory, Kate Haege, Allison Hennes, Max Hughes, John Karl, Drew Keup, Taylor Kruger, Alex Kruschke, Ireland Lambrecht, JennaLaTour, Anthony Lovejoy, Allison Lundsten, Janessa Meuleners, Josh Mosbeck, Jacob Nowak, Robert Nowak, Dylan O’Brien, Carter Olson, Branden Pickar, Emily Pintozzi, Mason Ponath, Max Ponath, Jonathan Pressley, Hannah Preusser, Leah Schaefer, Patrick Schaefer, Steven Schmitt, Megan Schmitz, Andrea Schoenecker, Zach Schoenecker, Danika Schroeder, Rachel Schroers, Patrick Selly, Emily Smith, Kacie Staples, Schuyler Sterk, Joe Stoterau, Olivia Turmes, Donna Underferth, Ben Wagner and AlyssaWentworth.