The Sweet Sound of Six Flags: A Music Trip for the Band, Choir, and Orchestra

by Taylor C.

On Friday, May 20th, several music groups in DHS were able to attend a playing clinic at UMass Amherst, with a Six Flags trip included. Not only did the students learn a lot from the musical experience, but they also had fun with their peers at the amusement park. 

The concert band, symphonic band, concert choir, chorale, concert orchestra, and chamber orchestra all attended the trip, which was announced to them during the winter time. To prepare for the trip, these music groups had been practicing specific pieces throughout the year that they performed at the clinic. The students also registered, paid online, and brought permission slips to school.

Mr. Pondaco did a lot of the coordination for the trip by working with the travel company. Chaperones also attended the trip and made sure the kids acted appropriately, got on the correct buses, and gave students assistance if necessary. But for the most part, the students were given a lot of freedom and independence throughout the trip, particularly in Six Flags. 

On the night before the trip, students prepared by packing their own lunches and having their instruments ready to go. They also packed other items, such as sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and debit or visa cards for food, since Six Flags doesn’t accept cash. 

For outfits, most students wore shorts, a t-shirt, a jacket, and sneakers, as well as other accessories to accommodate for the hot weather. 

The music students had an eventful day on the Friday of the trip. First, they came to school at the normal time, 8:20. Then, they waited in their music room (the orchestra room, band room, etc). At 8:45, four different coach buses arrived and students loaded their instruments and other equipment onto their assigned bus. At 9 am, they departed for UMass Amherst. During the bus ride, students slept, talked, listened to music, and watched movies. 

At 11:30, they arrived at the university and the students were dropped off at their corresponding areas. The band students were dropped off at the marching band arena and the chorus/string students went to the Fine Arts Center of UMass. 

From 11:30 to 1:30, the students participated in clinics held for the different music groups and when they weren’t performing, they had lunch outside. During the playing clinics, they performed their pieces and got critiques from a music professional, Dr. Westgate. Ms. Varonko, who teaches all the highschool orchestra groups (concert, chamber, and string ensemble) found that the music clinic was very successful. 

“Dr. Westgate was very knowledgeable and engaging, and I think the kids really enjoyed hearing some good feedback,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to show that there are different places you can play music and different ways to learn more about it.” 

Freshman Kylie G. plays the flute in the concert band. She also found the clinic to be a very cool experience. “We played for the perfect length of time, and Dr. Westgate was super upbeat and gave us a lot of good advice.”

Before leaving the campus, the students also got to watch the other music groups perform. At 1:45, the students returned to the buses, picked up the other music groups, and headed for Six Flags in Agawam, Massachusetts.

They got to the park at 2:45, and when they arrived, they were able to go off with their peers and ride on whatever rides they wished. Counselors and parents were also around the park for assistance as the students went on rides.

At 7:30, the park closed and they returned to the park to head back to DHS. Overall, most students found the trip to be beneficial, rewarding, and most of all, fun. Maddie G. plays in the chamber orchestra and had a great time on the trip.

“We got to learn from music professionals who are well experienced,” she said. “We got to bond as a community and it was super fun!” 

After a long year, the trip allowed students to have fun together and recognize the end of the year. “It celebrates all the hard work we’ve done throughout the year, and it really paid off.” Kylie said. 

Students hope that the trip continues in the future so that more kids will be able to participate in the clinics and enjoy a good time in Six Flags.

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