The Trip of a Lifetime: Not All Fun and Games


Geneva High School’s band and orchestra alternate with the choir for out-of-state trips every year. This February, the choir program is traveling to Disney. While students are excited to ride classics such as Space Mountain and experience new additions like Rise of the Resistance, the trip is not all fun and games.

The 84-person ensemble will participate in multiple collegiate clinics and sing on the main stage at Disney Springs.

“Students get the opportunity to perform somewhere really special,” Jessica Heinrich, the choir director, said. “There will be a lot of people in the audience – which is always a really good experience – and a lot of strangers.”

Choir members started learning the music for this trip in October of 2022, but with rehearsals only once a month, there is still work to do.

“We’re not as prepared as I would like to be,” Heinrich said. “We’ll have some time on the bus on the way to performances, and we have a couple clinics before we perform, too, so all those things should help.”Pat Frederick, the band director and seasoned Disney traveler, has seen the benefits of these clinics firsthand. “My ears sometimes can go a little numb,” Frederick said. “But you get to a clinic and here’s this fresh set of ears from this music professional and they start finding things that maybe I missed that can make the band better.”

These clinics offer a new perspective for directors and students, but the Disney workshop in particular teaches professionalism.

“Instead of working on the music we have prepared, they throw new music in front of the kids, which is movie music from one of the Disney shows,” the band director said. “They link up the recording with the actual movie.”

Students often describe these musical moments as a high point.

“It’s odd – when we talk to the kids about their favorite memories on the trip, you would think they might talk about a roller coaster or something,” Frederick said. “But they go to the music things right away.”

Molly Cowett, a senior in the band and choir, agrees that despite all the Disney magic, it was the music that stuck out the most.

“My favorite memory from my trip last year I would have to say is probably marching down Main Street Disney,” the musician said. “That was the one of the coolest experiences ever.”

While education is the main priority of this trip, each day is jam-packed with adventure. After spending approximately 24 hours together on the charter bus, students will visit both Universal parks and all four of the Disney parks.

“We’re going to be bonded for life after this trip,” Cowett said.

This bonding is not for nothing. Cowett recalls that after her trip with the band last year, they played better as a group, and the pattern may repeat itself with the choir.

“I feel like we’re all going to sing better together,” the senior said.

Heinrich constantly tells her students to “sing to inspire.” With this as their guidepost, the GHS choir and director are committed to the magic of this trip.

“For a lot of students this can be the highlight of their high school experience,” Heinrich said.

Disney is the tip of the iceberg for the music department, however. Their goal is to explore worlds beyond just that of Disney.

“I’m trying to get an abroad approved,” the choir director said. “It’s a really memorable experience for students.”

No matter where choirs go in the future, this year’s will have experienced the happiest place on Earth.