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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Wyoming High School Band’s Trip to New Orleans, Louisiana

Written by Joanna Thorman

New Orleans, Louisiana. That is where the entire Wyoming High School band was headed to on June 3. We visited many places, the first of them being a plantation. The plantation gave lots of insight and education into Louisiana's history with slavery. We continued to Jackson Square next to perform in the blazing heat with our flip-folders full of stand-tunes. We played fun songs such as “Lil Liza Jane” while tourists strolled past and listened to the Pride of Wyoming! On Wednesday, we visited the University of New Orleans for a jazz clinic, while colorguard headed to Tulane to have a colorguard clinic. In the jazz clinic, the teacher talked to us about different modes, music theory, and even about how West Side Story is useful when studying music theory. 

The Wyoming High School Band and Colorguard performed at Jackson Square in New Orleans. 
The most emotional and moving part of the trip for me personally was the concert band performance at the veteran home. We played a few songs for a handful of veterans staying in the home. I was almost driven to tears by the performance. I saw audience members dancing, one man was even dancing with two different ladies during "Big Band Favorites." One man after the show had made little dogs out of Mardi Gras beads and gave them to me and some of my peers. It now sits on my shelf and is my favorite souvenir that I brought home from NOLA. We enjoyed dinner that night at Café Soule, where I discovered my new favorite food: jambalaya. The band also got the experience to try shrimp Creole and beignets. One Friday night, we ate dinner at "Mulates," and some of the staff gave Cajun dance lessons. I learned how to dance and danced like I never had before! 

As part of a service project, band members sorted Mardi Gras beads as Griffin demonstrated. 
The motor coach tour of the city was incredibly interesting. We even learned about the above-ground burial system and the “cities of the dead” that are within the cemeteries. The National World War II Museum was also amazing. Powerful artifacts were on display along with stories shared beneath those artifacts. The IMAX movie we watched at the end was also eye-opening. Powerful messages were shared in the documentary. 

The Colorguard Team had a great experience on the trip.
On Thursday, we had a performance from the jazz band on the dock of the Natchez Steamboat. Playing jazz in the city with a rich jazz history was a dream come true for me. Our jazz performance concluded when the steam-powered calliope began playing from the top of the boat. We boarded the boat and heard the Dukes of Dixieland play a phenomenal setlist before we went inside the boat’s restaurant for another of many meals of authentic New Orleans cuisine. 

The New Orleans trip was a mix of performances, sightseeing, and volunteer work. 
The band had some free time to explore the French Market and the tons of interesting things it had to offer. Street musicians and artists lined the streets. A clown even made balloon animals, and balloon saxophones! We then headed over to Preservation Hall, for a private jazz concert from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. We were sat in a small room. The first row was on the floor and close enough to the musicians that you could touch their shoes! They answered questions from the inquisitive students (and staff) sitting in the audience. 

The Wyoming High School Band performed at a veteran’s home in New Orleans. 
On Saturday, the last day, we took a swamp tour. The tour guide was able to get the alligators to jump up and eat a piece of ham! We toured Mardi Gras World too, which was full of parade float props and even some old finished floats. Some of the props were huge! We had previously volunteered at a building that sorts Mardi Gras beads, which gave us some background knowledge for the tour of Mardi Gras World. We also visited the Audubon Aquarium on Saturday. It was a huge round building, covered in glass tiles. Inside were hundreds of beautiful sea creatures. When our time in the aquarium was over, we went to our last New Orleans dinner. We arrived at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe, and to our surprise, we saw the same clarinet player that was in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. After everybody was finished eating, we went to the bus to head home. 

Even the youngest on the trip got up close and personal with the wildlife on the swamp tour!
New Orleans was an amazing experience. I discovered my favorite city, and along with my peers, I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to see so many wonderful New Orleans places and try so many authentic foods. Everybody on that trip will forever have our stories, including our new-found band jokes like “swords up” and “put the WOMAC on em’.” Everything about the trip was unforgettable and fun, even the long bus ride. I'm forever going to be grateful for the weeklong experience of being in New Orleans with all my band friends. 

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