Faqs

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Financial

What if I need to wire money to my child?

There are a number of options for wiring money -: Your bank, Western Union, Transferwise, World Remit, etc.  Check on the fees and exchange rates – They vary widely.

In some locations, the person receiving wired money must be 18 years or older.  If your child is under 18, please contact a director first to make the arrangements.  You’ll need to send the money to a staff member who will sign for the money and then give it to the student.

Find out where the money is to be picked up.  For example, in Westendorf – the wired money goes to the Post Office, not one of the banks.  The Westendorf PO is only open from 8 am- noon on weekdays.

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Hotels

What’s the hotel rooming situation?

This varies depending where the Red Tour stays. The rooming assignments will all be set up by the AMA home office before the tour leaves, and the staff will receive a packet showing how the rooms are organized at each stop on the Tour. You’ll generally be with the same roommate for much of the Tour, sometimes you’ll be in pairs, while other times there will be 3 to 6 in a room. The hotels are often very different from here in the in the USA, and from each other. We’ll stay in great hotels the entire time, but some of them (like in Dinkelsbuhl) might have been built more than 500 years ago!! Some aspects of hotel stays are very different: Elevators (they’re small), showers (some have no curtain!), room keys (you’ll often have to turn them TWICE all the way around), windows & doors (there are no screens … but then there are almost no insects!), and even the way the floors are numbered (the “Lobby” is often on the 2nd floor!)

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Will our hotel rooms all have irons and hairdryers?

The hotel rooms are widely varied. Most are very updated, and will remind you somewhat of American hotels, while other (especially in Dinkelsbuhl) will have been built literally hundreds of years ago. Over the years, we’ve found hairdryers in most hotel rooms and irons in about 50% of them. All things considered, here’s our recommendation: if you used the Roommate Request form and know in advance who you’ll be with, then make a plan with the roommate(s) to carry only ONE small-sized Travel Iron among your group. On the other hand, if you have pants/skirts/blazers with a high content of polyester, nylon or other synthetic fabric, follow the AMA instructions about rolling your clothes and you’ll be surprised how few wrinkles you’ll get. Also, the dress shirts marked “wrinkle-free” aren’t truly wrinkle-free, but they do provide some degree of protection.

Three final thoughts

  1. Take a small spray bottle of wrinkle-remover (available in the laundry section of the supermarket) and practice using it before leaving the states. It can work very well. Bring a hanger with you for your concert clothes.
  2. If you’re really concerned, try this – buy a sheet of 1/4″ foamboard (like you’d use for school presentations) and create a “form” for your concert clothes to stay flat. It is almost weightless.
  3. As soon as you check into your hotel room each time, make it a priority to get the concert clothes out of the luggage, hand-smooth any big wrinkles, and hang the clothes. If you hang them in the bathroom, the extra moisture will often help release the wrinkles.

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Laundry

What’s the deal with laundry?

Am I really going to do it myself, in my room?

Yes, you’ll be doing it in the bathroom of your hotel, either in the sink or the tub.

You should bring a double ziplock bag with powdered laundry soap or some travel packets.  Powdered soap has gotten harder to find, but look for a small box of Woolite or Dreft.  Powdered soap is much easier to deal with – liquids can (and will) leak.  The packets of liquid detergent will work, but you have to commit to one packet per load.  Sometimes it’s too much, and sometimes not enough.

You’ll also want something to use as a clothes line (I use about 30 feet of mason’s line that I picked up in a hardware store), some clothespins, and, if you can find them, some suction cups with hooks.  Bring two large plastic trash bags – one for dirty laundry and one for laundry that my not be dry when we leave the hotel.

We’ll go over the details of how to wash clothes in great detail at the orientation sessions before we leave.

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Can’t I just go to a laundromat and do laundry there?

You can, but consider this:

  1. You’ll need to carry a bag of dirty clothes with you during your free time.
  2. You’ll need to read the instructions for buying soap in a foreign language, and have the correct amount in euro for change.
  3. You’ll need to read the instructions for operating the washing machine and dryer in a foreign language, and have the correct amount of change to operate the machines.
  4. It will take about 2 hours, and you’ll need to do it during free time, when you would be sight seeing.

              Is this a good idea?  What do you think?

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What do I do with my dirty ESU laundry if no one is coming to pick up my stuff after the concert?

There are washing machines and dryers in the dorm, so you can do a load of laundry after the recording session.

There is no charge for using them, but you will need to supply your own soap (which you will already have for washing clothes while on tour.)

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Clothing for Travel

Where does the Blazer patch go?

Please sew this patch on your uniform blazer’s upper left hand pocket or “over the heart.”

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General Clothing

Look for clothes that will line-dry quickly and are wrinkle free or resistant. Microfiber clothing is great.

Choose things that will mix and match and that you can wear in layers.

Pick comfortable clothing. Most of the time you will be wearing shorts and short sleeve shirts/blouses.  Plan to dress in layers for cooler weather.

Restrictions:

  • No Denim. (Denim is OK at the college, but not in Europe)
  • Nothing with offensive language or pictures.
  • No clothing that shows bare midriffs or excessive cleavage.
  • No mini skirts or short shorts. (Ladies – we will not be seeing your rear end!)
  • No low-rider pants (Gentlemen- we will not be seeing your boxer shorts!)
  • No flip-flops or flimsy sandals. (We do A LOT of walking on cobblestones, gravel and dirt paths.  Many foot injuries have occurred because of poor choices of footwear.)

In general, clothing should be neat, and modest.   The directors will have you change your clothing if they feel it is inappropriate. So don’t waste valuable luggage space.  If you would have second thoughts wearing a piece of clothing in front of your grandparents, leave it home.

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What about the tie for men?

Any tie will do – it should be red, white and blue or at least red and blue.  Design is not an issue.

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What about the blazer for women?

It can be any flag red blazer.  AMA will have suggestions in one of the newsletters.
I also recommend looking at sales at you local department store, Goodwill or Salvation Army Thrift shops, or, if someone from your school has gone on tour previously, they may be willing to part with theirs.  (Many blazers have seen repeated tours!)

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What’s the deal with flip flops and sandals?

We do A LOT of walking, much of it on gravel, dirt or cobblestones, so sandals and flip flops don’t cut it.  In fact we’ve had to deal with numerous foot injuries in the past because of inappropriate footwear.

Bring good supportive and comfortable footwear on tour.  You will be glad you did.

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What do I do with my dirty ESU laundry if no one is coming to pick up my stuff after the concert?

There are washing machines and dryers in the dorm, so you can do a load of laundry after the recording session.

There is no charge for using them, but you will need to supply your own soap (which you will already have for washing clothes while on tour.)

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Concerts

How much time will be spent preparing for the concert?

Once we leave the USA, we’ll have *zero* rehearsals. For that reason, the 3 days at the college will be jam packed with rehearsals, coaching, sectionals, and whatever else we need in order to have a great final product before we leave. The Farewell Concert will actually be a “dress rehearsal” for the Tour, and  we’ll have a professional recording session to make your CD BEFORE we even leave on the Tour. That’s another reason that everyone must be as prepared as possible before arriving.

Now, in Europe … When we perform a Concert, we’ll pull into the venue, unload the coach/trailer, set up the stage, and then ALL the groups will perform. When we’ve finished, some of the cities will have arranged for a Reception!  It’s a great cultural sharing time, and they are very hospitable. 

On non-Concert days, the Red Tour will pack in as much unforgettable sight-seeing as possible.  Red Tour band directors do often recommend that brass players keep a mouthpiece in your carry-on for buzzing, but if you do that, make sure it’s an *extra* one so the original never leaves your case.

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Will we have time to change on concert days?

All of this will be made clear to you each day. On some days, there will be plenty of time to return to the hotel for a change of clothes. Sometimes, however, you will have checked out of the hotel and your luggage is carried beneath the coaches. On those days, you’ll take your performance clothing on the coach with you; for that reason, it’s not a bad idea to take along a (lightweight, foldable and very cheap) garment bag. Even a garbage bag would work just as well. Don’t worry – the Staff will tell you very clearly how the clothing works each day of the Tour, and you’ll be reminded about how to prepare for the upcoming day at bed-check each night

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Do you know the names & addresses of venues & times of concerts?

Details will be provided on the final Itinerary provided at check-in when you get to the college. The Itinerary will show the places (at least it will list the town/city) and exact times; keep in mind you’ll be using global time so the Concert time will be listed as “20:30” for an 8:30 PM Concert. We don’t always know the exact places of all of the performances; most towns have a ‘good weather’ and a ‘bad weather’ venue set aside. Some will be very specifically stated on the printed Itinerary. Whenever any questions remain, give a call to the home AMA office.

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Money on Tour

What is the best way for the kids to take spending money?

We recommend getting a credit card that can be used to get cash from an ATM, but with parents’ ability to monitor transactions (and cancel in the event of a lost card) from home. Visa Buxx is fine. Many banks offer a DEBIT card on your checking account that will work in the ATMs. AAA also has a prepaid card that works well.

Important note: You MUST contact your bank and/or card company so they’ll know the dates & countries on the Tour. That way, they won’t deny the transaction which they might think is “suspicious” if transactions are seen in Germany then Austria only a few hours later.

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What are the details on ATM Card Usage?

Using a credit or debit card at an ATM will be the easiest and fastest way to get cash.  Every place we’ll visit has an ATM, and the Staff will know where to find it. We’ve found that cards with the Visa logo almost always work.  Like anywhere, please be extra careful with your card! Keep the card in a safe spot so you’ll ALWAYS know where it is, and hide your PIN entry from other people’s view. Also, be sure you concentrate while you’re at the ATM …. if you enter the incorrect PIN twice, there’s a risk that the ATM will keep your card; if it’s after business hours and the Red Tour is leaving that town, you may lose your card and need to figure out what to do for the rest of the Tour.

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Which credit card would you recommend?

Look for a card that does not have an ATM transaction fee.  Also check to see if the card charges for foreign transactions. A lot of people have had success with cards from Capital One and Chase.  Check with your current bank/ credit card issuer to see what they have to offer.

SECRET and IMPORTANT MONEY SAVING TIP: If you want to avoid paying interest on the ATM cash advance (which can be substantial!), overpay your credit card with the amount of money you want your child to have just before the tour starts.

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What about a gift card?

We DO NOT advise getting a prepaid “Gift Card” – as most of them work only in the US and NOT overseas.

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Should we get money converted before the trip?

For pocket-money it’s generally best to get about 75€ – 100€ and about $20 – $30 in any other European currency you may need. That way you can purchase things as soon as we arrive without having to look for an ATM.

You should also bring about $20-$30 in US cash. That way, you will have some American money at both ends of the Tour and it can be exchanged, if necessary, in Europe as well. You’ll need US money to buy food and stuff at the airport before we leave.

If we are in Switzerland for more than a day, you should get Swiss francs. If we are spending just one day in Switzerland, where we’ll only be at the hotel and airport, don’t bother getting Swiss francs – they will be happy to take your euros or dollars.

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Where is the best place to get Euros and other currency?

In the US – PLAN AHEAD to get your European currency.  Many area banks can get you currency, but it will take at least 2-3 days and maybe up to a week. Your local bank manager can give you details. Chase, Wells-Fargo, Bank of America and M&T banks also are easy places to get currency, and American Express Offices usually have it on hand – but call ahead before you make a last-minute trip.   Many banks will also allow you to order currency online.  If you are a member of AAA, they can get you currency.

It is possible to get foreign currency at the airport, but they usually charge more than your bank and if there is a lot of traffic on the way to the airport on the day we depart, there may not be time to visit a currency exchange kiosk.

When in Europe, using a credit or debit card at an ATM is the easiest and best way to get cash.  In a pinch, can also get cash at banks and at the front desk at most hotels, but they usually charge a commission or have a poor exchange rate.

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What if I need to wire money to my child?

There are a number of options for wiring money -: Your bank, Western Union, Transferwise, World Remit, etc.  Check on the fees and exchange rates – They vary widely.

In some locations, the person receiving wired money must be 18 years or older.  If your child is under 18, please contact a director first to make the arrangements.  You’ll need to send the money to a staff member who will sign for the money and then give it to the student.

Find out where the money is to be picked up.  For example, in Westendorf – the wired money goes to the Post Office, not one of the banks.  The Westendorf PO is only open from 8 am- noon on weekdays.

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Luggage - Carry On

What is the suitcase weigh-in process?

You should have a separate suitcase/overnight bag just for use at ESU.

At East Stroudsburg, the first thing that will happen is we will weigh your Europe suitcase and carry-on.  Pack your uniform in your suitcase along with everything else that you plan to travel with.  Make sure your suitcase is less than 35 lbs, or we will have you remove items until your suitcase is an allowable weight.  (This can be embarrassing to do with everyone waiting in line, so weigh it before you get to ESU.)  The suitcase must be less than 62 dimensional inches (L x W xH) Charges for oversize suitcases are $300.  (Really!)

After weigh-in, your suitcase goes on to the dorm room with you.

We recommend that you do not use the Europe suitcase at ESU except for your uniform, toiletries and the wire music stand (which will be in your suitcase for the flight).  That will help you avoid changing the weight, which might result in an issue at the airport.  If your suitcase is overweight, you will have to pay for the extra fees, which have become quite expensive. ($150 or more in 2013).  You also want to be sure you have room and extra weight available for bringing home souvenirs.

Your carry-on should be less than 17 lbs. and fit under your bed.  We recommend using a backpack.

 

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Is there any lee-way with the 35 lb rule for the luggage?

Trying to cram all of the clothes and everything else, shoes, toiletries, and whatnot into a suitcase with a low weight limit it pretty hard. Can I hide clothes in my instrument case?

The weight limit is a compact between the AMA company and the airlines, and we have no way to allow anything other than what AMA has put in print. Also, this accounts for extra weight and space for souvenirs on the trip home.  Fees for excess weight (over 50 lbs) are $150 .  If your suitcase is overweight, you are responsible for the cost. In 2016, 4 people had to pay $150 because of overweight or extra baggage.

Make wise choices about clothing and stick to the limit. If you use the packing guide in the April Newsletter, you should be fine.  You’ll find that you’ll have plenty of clothing if you choose wisely, especially because the Staff will remind you when the ‘good’ laundry nights will be (i.e., when you stay in the same hotel for two nights, the first night becomes an excellent opportunity to wash your clothes).

Also remember that you’ll be carrying your suitcase, carry-on in the hotels.  Sometimes the busses cannot park near the hotel, and you may need to carry your suitcase down a cobblestone street.  Many of the hotels have small (or zero) elevators. Thirty-five pounds will be plenty when you have to climb stairs at 10PM!

That said, you can put clothing in your instrument case if you want. Especially for cases like Tubas, Euphoniums, and perhaps Trombone & Bari Sax, sometimes clothing can actually help protect the instrument as ‘padding’.

REMEMBER – When traveling – Less is More!

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What happens with the Europe suitcase after it’s weighed?

You will keep the suitcase with you – You will need your uniform, music stand, toiletries and other stuff that you’ll take on tour.  For more info – see the Luggage FAQ

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What kind of luggage do you recommend?

  1. First, look for something that weighs less than 14 lbs.  Bring a bathroom or luggage scale to weigh prospective suitcases.  Most luggage stores have hand held luggage weighing scales.
  2. Second, look for something with INLINE wheels.  We will be traveling over cobblestones, and suitcases with small exposed wheels will soon find themselves victims of wheel amputation.
  3. Third, look for something with decent zippers, latches and handles.  It’s no fun toting a suitcase that won’t stay closed, or has a broken handle. Most students find that duffle bags with wheels work well.  They are soft sided, making them lighter, and allow for needed expansion as souvenir purchases increase.
  4. While you are purchasing a suitcase, purchase a luggage strap – just in case!

For Carry-ons – We recommend a backpack.

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What’s the deal with the “ESU” Suitcase?

We recommend packing two suitcases – the suitcase for traveling in Europe, and a smaller one (a small duffel or backpack) with the clothing for your stay at ESU.

That way, when you are done at ESU, your parents can take home all the dirty clothing, (including any denim you may have chosen to wear at the college), and other stuff you won’t need on tour.

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Do students carry instruments on plane or bus?

Small instruments (Flutes, Piccolos, Oboes & Clarinets) will be put into your carry-on, carried on as a small item, or packed inside your suitcase for the flight. In Europe, you’ll keep you instrument in your hotel room and will be responsible for bringing it to and from concert venues.

Medium sized instruments (Violins, Violas, Trumpets, Alto Saxophones and Bassoons) will be packed 2-4 instruments together in a cardboard box with bubble wrap for the flight overseas.  The boxes are tagged & checked at the baggage area and put under the plane.  You can choose to carry one of these instruments as your carry-on, but if it doesn’t fit in the overhead bin (too big or bins are filled) it may end up being put under the plane by itself.

“Larger” instruments are individually tagged & checked at the baggage area and put under the plane.

Once in Europe, medium and large instruments will be transported in a securely locked trailer that is towed behind one of the coaches.  You will not need to carry these instruments to your hotel room.

 

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Should I lock my suitcase/instrument case for the flight?

No.

Many suitcases and ALL instruments are opened up by security at the airport.  If the case is locked, and you are not using a TSA approved lock, they will break the lock, and possibly your suitcase/instrument case.

If you are locking it because you are afraid it might open, use a luggage strap instead.

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When can I pick up the ESU suitcase from my son/daughter?

If you are leaving after the concert, you will have about an hour after the concert to collect anything not needed on tour and take it home.

If you are staying overnight, you can pick up the stuff right after breakfast (around 8:00) or before the busses depart for the airport.

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Can bring my clarinet as my ‘extra personal item’ on the plane?

That’s fine, and it’s fairly common, because it is in the same category as a purse or camera bag (but you should still try to consolidate everything into the smallest possible number of items). Here’s an additional good reminder: if while in Europe you purchase souvenirs that “must” be hand-carried (because they’re fragile, sentimental, easily-lost, etc.), make sure you have a plan for the return trip. A carry-on, clarinet and a bag of souvenirs might be a difficult load.

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Do I need to get an x-ray bag, or will my camera equipment be safe through the airports?

Staff members have taken both film cameras and digital cameras over the years. Some Staff members have taken X-ray bags to protect the film (available at any photo store, and probably in the photo departments of other stores as well) but usually had to send the loaded camera unprotected through the scanner anyway. However, they never suffered any damage. The airports say that the security machines have changed over the years so that film is generally good until you get to 1000 or 1600 ISO speeds. In the past, staff members have had some ISO-1600 go through with no visible damage.

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Traveling with Instruments

What suggestions do you have for making instrument safe during travel?

1) Inspect your instrument case.  It should be a hard case with a zipper or good latches that work and stay shut.  If you think there might be an issue with that, purchase a luggage strap to keep the case closed. DO NOT plan on using a key to lock the latches.  During security check at the airport, the latches will be broken open.  Also, Murphy’s Law states that you’ll leave you key in the hotel room during a concert night.

2)If you feel you must lock your case – get a TSA approved lock.  Locks and luggage straps are available at most places that sell luggage.

3) Make sure your instrument fits snugly in its case and does not shift or bump around. Vibrations on the plane and in the trailer have caused instruments to disassemble themselves! If needed, add some extra padding – (bubble wrap, towel, t-shirt) to prevent the instrument from moving around in the case.

4) If you have an expensive wooden instrument, consider purchasing “Dampit” to keep humidity stable during the flight.

5) If you have only a soft case, purchase a hard case or see if you can borrow or rent a hard case.  If that’s not an option, make sure your instrument has plenty of padding protection – it will get bumped around on the plane and in the trailer. You use a soft case at your own risk.

6) Not all hard cases are equal – in 2013 we brought 3 cellos overseas, and one had a case that was somewhat flexible.  The neck on that cello broke on the way over to Europe, and AGAIN on the return flight home.

7) ALL instruments get opened up by security at the airport.  If your instrument gets packed in a special way, take a picture of the correctly packed instrument, print it and put it inside the case for the security agent to see.  Also marking “TOP” or “THIS SIDE UP” or “OPEN THIS SIDE” on the outside of the case  may help insure that your case is opened correctly.

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What about TSA airport security checks with my instrument?

All instrument cases will be opened and x-rayed at the airport.  This is usually done out of your sight so a few precautions are advisable:

1) Do not lock the case.  If they cannot open the lock, they will break it.  If you must lock it, use only a TSA approved lock.

2) If the instrument needs to go in the case a specific way – take a photo and print it on an large piece of paper with the words INSTRUMENT PACKING and leave it in the case so that the TSA Agent can see it.

3) Percussionists- make sure you have a drum key with you. – one year we had to disassemble a drumset bass drum so that security could see inside the drum!

 

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What kind of folding music stand do you recommend?

Fold Up Music Stand

 

If you have a music stand that fits in your instrument case and will not damage your instrument, you can bring it.

Otherwise, you will need a Hamilton KB400N or something similar. (See photo on the left. Any color music stand is fine.)  

It should separate into 2 sections and fold up compactly.  It will need to fit in your suitcase on the airplane, and in our rolling cases while on tour.  When folded up, the bottom part of the stand must be less than 26″ and the top must be less than 20″

DO NOT bring a stand with a solid/non-collapsing desk (the part that holds the music) or one with thick tubes.  It will take up too much space, may not fit in our case or your suitcase, and you will be responsible for schlepping it around yourself.

Before you arrive at ESU, Label the top and bottom of your stand with your name.

 

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Do students carry instruments on plane or bus?

Small instruments (Flutes, Piccolos, Oboes & Clarinets) will be put into your carry-on, carried on as a small item, or packed inside your suitcase for the flight. In Europe, you’ll keep you instrument in your hotel room and will be responsible for bringing it to and from concert venues.

Medium sized instruments (Violins, Violas, Trumpets, Alto Saxophones and Bassoons) will be packed 2-4 instruments together in a cardboard box with bubble wrap for the flight overseas.  The boxes are tagged & checked at the baggage area and put under the plane.  You can choose to carry one of these instruments as your carry-on, but if it doesn’t fit in the overhead bin (too big or bins are filled) it may end up being put under the plane by itself.

“Larger” instruments are individually tagged & checked at the baggage area and put under the plane.

Once in Europe, medium and large instruments will be transported in a securely locked trailer that is towed behind one of the coaches.  You will not need to carry these instruments to your hotel room.

 

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Should I lock my suitcase/instrument case for the flight?

No.

Many suitcases and ALL instruments are opened up by security at the airport.  If the case is locked, and you are not using a TSA approved lock, they will break the lock, and possibly your suitcase/instrument case.

If you are locking it because you are afraid it might open, use a luggage strap instead.

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Can bring my clarinet as my ‘extra personal item’ on the plane?

That’s fine, and it’s fairly common, because it is in the same category as a purse or camera bag (but you should still try to consolidate everything into the smallest possible number of items). Here’s an additional good reminder: if while in Europe you purchase souvenirs that “must” be hand-carried (because they’re fragile, sentimental, easily-lost, etc.), make sure you have a plan for the return trip. A carry-on, clarinet and a bag of souvenirs might be a difficult load.

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Homebound Bus

Am I listed on the Homebound bus?

Click below for Student list and drop-off location:

Homebound Bus List

 

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When will I be able to pick up my child?

It usually takes about 60-75 minutes from the time we land until we clear customs and exit the airport.

We will ask the students to call home as the bus departs JFK.

If traffic is light (Ha!), expect the following travel times from JFK:

NY-E Bus – Love’s – 3 hours, 30 minutes, Treadway Inn, – 4 hours, 15 minutes.

NY-W Bus – Bethlehem Central HS – 3 hours, New Hartford High School HS – 5 hours

 

There is no NJ Homebound bus, so NJ students must be picked up from Newark Airport.

 

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Tour Visits and Options

We (parents) will also be traveling in Europe. Can we meet up with the tour to see some concerts?

Absolutely.  You will receive a detailed itinerary at check-in at East Stroudsburg University.  If you need more detailed information earlier, you can check with the main AMA office mid June

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Can our European relatives / friends meet our child while on tour?

Yes; however, in order to insure your child’s safety,  you must contact the main AMA office in advance of the tour to fill out a “Special Leave” permission form so that the directors know that the person coming to see your child is approved by you.

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Can our child stay in Europe after the tour ends?

Yes, that is an option that happens frequently.  We call this a “deviation” and you must contact the main AMA office by the end of February to work out the arrangements.

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Which town it was you liked?

(From Mr. Linaberry) For me, every stop on the tour has unbelievable interest, with a huge amount of variety. The cathedrals are amazing. The size and opulence of the Paris Opera House is stunning. There’s nothing like the ‘smell’ of the air at 11,000 feet, at the top of a glacier in Austria. Also, the kinds of cultural events you’ll experience (wait till you see the Tirolean Folk Festival!) are indescribable. All things considered, I think my favorite Tour stops are Dinkelsbuhl, GER and Westendorf, AUS. Ah, but then again, Brugge, BEL, is an ancient marvel, and the views you’ll get from the cruise ships on the Rhine and Seine rivers will be something you’ll remember forever. You’ll love every place you visit. I’m excited for you just writing about it!

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Electronics - European Power

Do all the counties that the tour goes to take the same type of plug?

Euro PlugYes and no. Most of the countries we’ll visit use the same power & receptacle style.  The voltage in Europe is 240 V as compared to the 120 V we have in the US.   If your appliance/item is listed as having “dual voltage” ( it will say something like 100-240 VAC), you’ll only need an adapter, and not a power converter.   The plug in most of Europe uses two cylindrical-shaped barrel plugs instead of the flat ‘blades’ that we use here. On the left is a picture for reference.   Color doesn’t matter, but you’ll want to be sure that the metal barrels AND the next 1-inch of plastic are basically in same width (i.e. the holes are often recessed there, so if you have a big “brick” style adapter, the metal plugs might not even be able to reach the holes).   On the picture to the left, two-thirds of this device will be beyond the flush surface of the wall (the metal plugs AND the next inch of plastic).

If the tour visits Switzerland, the plug is a little different, and some European plug adapters work, and some don’t.

If the outlet in the hotel is recessed (1st picture) the shape of of the hole may prevent your adapter from fitting.  If the outlet is flush with the wall (2nd picture), the regular European adapter will work.  You may want to get a “Type J” adapter just in case.

IMPORTANT – if your electronic device is NOT dual-voltage, (it only says 120 V) you’ll need the adaptor AND a Power Converter (also commonly called a Transformer).

You can usually purchase plug adapters/transformers at any place that sell luggage.

If you have many devices that you will need to charge, bring a small American multi tap extension cord WITHOUT a surge protector (it will blow if it see’s 240 V).  You can plug the extension cord into the plug adapter/power transformer, and then plug all your devices into the extension cord.  That way you won’t need an adapter for every device.

Additional Electronics reminders from your Directors: With communications devices, grooming, electronics, irons, etc., it’s good to work out a sharing plan with Roommates if you’ve made a roommate selection plan with the home office. ONE hair-dryer; ONE travel iron; etc.

Know your phone/camera/camcorder/etc. well in advance, or plan to take the owner’s manual with you.

For pictures & video, do a little research in advance. Make sure you know about resolution, memory-capacity, etc. An extra (or high-capacity) memory card, (or two!), is probably a very wise purchase.

Know how to turn off your flash!! Many locations have a mandatory no-flash rule. Ask some good questions before you leave so you’ll know some ways to still take good pictures when you have the flash off.

Plan carefully for your method of carrying (and caring for) all electronics. Security is essential. We have watched some students experience heartbreak with they’ve dropped (or lost) their cameras/phones; that’s especially bad near the end of the tour when you’ve collected 2000 pictures!

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Communication - Cell Phones - Laptops - Tablets etc

Should I take a cellphone on tour, even if I don’t plan to use it to make calls while in Europe?

Yes. Even if you don’t plan to make calls or texts while abroad, you will want it at the airport before we leave, and to call home after we arrive back in the US.

If you have a smartphone, you will be able to use the WiFi features (email, messaging, etc.) when there is WiFi service.  Apps like WhatsApp and Viber are excellent ways to communicate with people back home.  These will also work if you have a data plan, but be very careful – some data plans are VERY EXPENSIVE!

You can also use it as your camera, but make sure you have enough memory, as you will be taking many, many pictures. If that is your plan, be sure to transfer all the photos currently on your phone to a computer or a hard drive, and then delete them from your phone so that you have enough memory to store your new photos.

IMPORTANT: Using a cell phone in Europe can be EXPENSIVE and distracting.  You are spending a lot of money to visit and see new things.  It would be a shame to miss seeing the alps or not to meet new friends on the bus because you were playing a game on your phone for the entire tour.   Use it sparingly (unless you are taking pictures).  Enjoy every moment of the trip!

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What do I need to know about international mobile phone use?

  • If you are planning to use your phone to make regular phone calls, you need to make sure your phone will work in Europe. It will need to have multi-band GSM capabilities. ATT and T-Mobile operate with a GSM signal, Verizon and Sprint do not. However, some smartphones (iPhones, for example) have built-in GSM capabilities. The easiest way to find out is to ask your mobile phone provider if your phone will work in Europe. If it will not, see the last paragraph below.
  • You will need an international roaming plan. There are several ways to do this.
    1. The easiest way is to get a plan through your mobile phone service provider.  T-Mobile ONE  and Sprint’s “Global Roaming” add-on are free and include Unlimited International texts and data. Phone calls to and from the US are 20¢/ minute.  AT&& has the AT&T Passport and Verizon’s “Monthly International Plan” are $40 for 30 days with differing amounts of call time, text and data.
    2. Get a Global SIM card. You put this in your phone after you leave the US. It gives you a new phone number from another country, and sometimes a “toll-free” US number as well. (That means anyone from the US can call you for free, but you pay for the incoming call). Mr. Fink has used the International SIM card from Telestial.com for a number of years and it has been very cost effective. (With the International plan, incoming calls and texts are free, and there is no connection charge for outgoing calls or texts.) There are other plans offered by Telestial, and there are many other companies that offer international roaming plans like goSIM and World SIM.

Read the fine print carefully, as there are often connection and other charges. Also beware of companies like OneSimCard that give you an Estonian number – the rates for using your phone in Europe will be very cheap, but anyone calling you will be making a very, very expensive call or text. Search on the internet for “global sim card.” Also, make sure it will work in all the countries we are visiting. Some providers are very inexpensive in one country, (e.g. Lebara in France), but expensive if you use it outside of that country.

VERY IMPORTANT – most of the plans allow you to use data (for using GPS, surfing the net, checking Facebook…) but using data can be VERY EXPENSIVE!!! (There are many stories of people running up bills of several THOUSAND dollars in data cost!)  Some plans charge $20/MB – which could set you back $40 just for checking you email and downloading a picture!  Always read the fine print about rates. It’s probably best to turn cellular data OFF while on tour.

In order to use an international SIM card, you will need to have your phone “unlocked”. Ask your mobile phone carrier to do this for you.

If your phone cannot be used internationally, most of the SIM card providers will also sell you an unlocked international phone with the SIM card at very low prices.

 

 

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Will my cellphone work in Europe?

Your American cell phone won’t work in Europe as a phone unless you have a GSM phone (with a global chip/system installed) and an international roaming plan.

You must contact your wireless service provider and give them a specific description of where you’re going (list the countries) and what you want to do with the phone (calling to the U.S.; texting; internet). Also, it’s important to ask them up-front about the “plan” so you’ll know the exact costs of each service, without confusion.  For more info about international plans, click here.

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What Apps will be useful while traveling?

Remind – we will use Remind while on tour to let you know about any itinerary changes or other important information.

WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, Google Voice, and others for Communicating

Google Translate for translating foreign words

Forvo for pronunciation of foreign words.  They also have a new travel guide section on their website – click the “Guides” tab at www.forvo.com

Google Maps and CityMaps2Go for Maps and directions.  Be sure to use the download to phone feature for use when you don’t have wifi or data.

Mobile Passport for getting through US Customs quicker

TripAdvisor for reviews

Hotel  apps -if you have signed up for a frequent traveler account, you may be eligible for some perks like free or faster wifi.

Airline apps – for checking flight information and adding frequent flyer miles

CashTrails – for keeping track of expenses

 

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Phone Cards – Long Distance Calling Plans – Emails

Can students purchase calling cards over in Europe or should I do it here?

Alert: the calling cards you’ll find here on our shelves – even those declaring that they’re “international” – are almost all lacking in convenience when it comes to making calls from Europe back to the states. Many advertise a specific number of minutes, but calling from there to here (accessing the #11 country code) chews up minutes before you can even speak! A “100-minute” card purchased here sometimes might give you only a third of that! Some of our staff members strongly recommend www.pennytalk.com. Others have purchased “MCI International” cards at BJ’s Wholesale Club (if you can find one of those); for one of our Staff members, this single card worked very well for three years in a row.

Solid advice, however, is to simply get a calling card when we arrive in Europe. There are many, many shops in most of the places we’ll visit, and calling cards are quick and easy to get. Those will work more conveniently for calling from Europe back to the states.

Calling TO Europe: the Itinerary you’ll receive at check-in will list all of the hotels & their phone numbers (reminder ~ please don’t try to pre-arrange calls on specific dates & times; that almost never works, and can lead to frustration).

Call your phone company and ask about an international calling plan. It is usually under $20/month – you can usually set it up just for the time your child is on tour, and it can literally save you several hundred dollars!

By the way, e-mail has become a great way to communicate: more than half of the places we’ll visit have internet cafes, and students can pay (it’s not expensive) for a half-hour, or hour, of computer time. Note: the keyboards are NOT all set up in the typical “QWERTY” orientation! Be prepared for some very slow hunt-and-peck!

Finally, remember that FAXes to our hotels are fun for students, and bring “a little bit of home” to the breakfast or dinner table. (Fax numbers will also be found on the Itinerary)

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Laptops – Tablets – WiFI – Internet

Some hotels have on-site computers which you can use (for free or for a small fee) for internet & e-mail.  Also, most places we visit have internet cafes with inexpensive computer or Wi-Fi access.

Wi-Fi is available at many locations (sometimes free or for a fee) for those of you who have an iPod Touch, tablets, netbooks, web-enabled smart-phones, etc.  Starbucks has free Wi-Fi in Europe. Be aware, however, that at many hotels, the Wi-Fi is slow, and with 100 AMA students trying to Skype at the same time, internet access is often very slow or intermittent.

Tablets are OK to bring, but be very careful if you make that choice. We move fast, and taking an expensive tablet might be more weight and responsibility than you need. See below:

Some people have carried full-size laptops, but it’s a definite risk and adds weight!   Do you really want to be lugging it up to the top of the long, steep hill to the fortress?  What if you drop it in a canal?  What if you leave it behind at a Cafe?  NOT RECOMMENDED!

If you do choose to take a laptop or tablet, be sure you check carefully about the cost of Data Plans – they can be VERY EXPENSIVE – some charge $20/MB – which could cost you $40 just to check your email or download a photo!

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Mail and Faxes

We had a question about mail. Will students be able to receive mail at the hotels they are staying at, and would it reach them?

Yes, they can receive mail at the hotels (but read on!). The amount of time it takes for mail to get from the U.S. to any given hotel is extremely variable so you will need send letters 10 or more days in advance! 

The best way – by far – is to use a FAX. When you arrive at the college, the final printed Itinerary will give the fax numbers for every tour-stop. If you send a fax, it will be delivered by the hotel staff to Mr. Fink or one of the other directors. In some towns, the Red Tour might be divided into several small hotels. At least one of the Directors will be in the hotel with the fax machine.

The faxes received at each hotel are handed out to students at breakfast and dinner. It’s a really nice treat, actually, and every year students get pretty excited about getting a note from home.

Some people send a handwritten letter, while others get a little more extravagant with drawings, puzzles, or a photocopied hometown newspaper article. Anything from home is nice!

IMPORTANT – Whether it is a letter or a fax, ALWAYS put  “AMA RED TOUR” and your child’s name clearly on the first page of the fax or envelope.

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How do I get up-to-date information on the tour progress?

Mr. Fink will post to Facebook on a regular basis throughout the tour.  Click on the Facebook icon to the right to visit the page.

When on the page, click the like button to “Like” the page.  Click the dropdown arrow on the like button and then click on “Get Notifications”.

Facebook Page Like & Get Notifications

If you have selected to “Get Notifications” when you login into Facebook, all the posts for the tour will be easily available.  Click on the world icon to see your notifications.

Access Facebook Notifications

Facebook posts are automatically tweeted to Twitter.  Click on the Twitter icon on the right and follow the tour on Twitter.

 

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Medical

What should I do about prescription drugs?

  • Make sure you have enough medication to last the entire trip, plus a few days.
  • Keep a small amount in your backpack, and leave the rest in your suitcase. Keeping them split up will help in case something gets lost or left behind in a hotel.
  • If you have several prescriptions, keep them in separate, clearly labeled containers so they won’t get mixed up.
  • Make sure you have a written copy of the prescription in case of an emergency and you need to refill it on tour.  Be aware that it may not be possible to refill it, as some pharmacies may not accept American prescriptions, or they may not carry the medication in Europe.  But if you have it, it can help a pharmacist get a similar medication for you.
  • Make sure you have complete info about your prescription on the medical form.

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I am allergic to certain foods. How can I be sure I will be safe?

Eating something that you are allergic to can be very serious.  It usually results in a trip to the hospital, and can delay the tour for 3 or more hours.  So it is important for you to be very careful.

  • Before you leave, make sure you have the foreign names for anything you are allergic to in the language of each country you’ll be visiting.  There are many websites such as Google Translate that will help you.  Use several sites, as you may get several answers. (e.g. find translations for peanut, peanuts,  peanut butter, roasted peanuts, peanut paste.)
  • Make several copies of the list and  keep one with you at all times
  • ALWAYS ASK if the food contains something you are allergic to.
  • Always keep an Epi-pen or something like Benadryl with you in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure info about your allergy is on your medical form.

 

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Should I bring bandaids, cough drops and aspirin, or can I depend on the nurse for that?

The nurse on our tour is a paying member of the tour, and is there to determine if a medical issue is serious, requiring a trip to a doctor or hospital, or if it can be treated on the spot.

Because of this, you are responsible for bringing any items that you might need: Bandaids, cough drops, aspirin/tylenol/ibuprofen, etc.  That way, if you need something, you will have it with you, and won’t have to find the nurse.

Also- since the nurse will be (hopefully) enjoying the tour as a participant, it’s unfair to expect the nurse to carry enough supplies for the entire tour.  

The nurse will have a small amount items, just in case, but it is YOUR responsibility to have a small supply of your own.

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ESU/Pre-Tour Rehearsal Information

What happens at check-in?

You will check in, ideally between 11:30 am and noon.

First, you will get your Europe suitcase weighed to make sure it is under 35 lbs.  If it is overweight, you will have to remove items to get it under 35 lbs.

Next, you’ll hand in your medical form, signed code of conduct and instrument insurance form.  You will show us your passport. You will hand in the driver/escort tip money ($70 in cash)

Next, you’ll get a bunch of stuff: Schedules, polo shirt, passport pouch, itineraries, meal card and room key.

You will then go to your dorm room, check your room for linens and damage.  You’ll unpack and eat lunch if you haven’t done so beforehand.(Lunch is on your own – not provided.)

Before 1:00 you’ll go to the Fine Arts Building with your music, pencil, music stand, instrument(s), passport and pouch. You’ll say goodbye to your parents and begin rehearsal!

(Parents – once you have brought your son/daughter to the Fine Arts Building, you are free to go.)

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What linens are provided the college?

** NEW INFO AS OF 6/28/18

ESU provides: 2 bed sheets, a pillowcase, a pillow, a blanket, a towel and a washcloth.

You need to bring:  Soap and any other toiletries.  If you need more than one towel, you will need to supply that and send it home with your parents after the concert.

 

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What’s the schedule on the day of the concert?

We will have rehearsals in the morning. After lunch we will have more rehearsals, Dress Rehearsals and Recording Sessions for each group.

Sometime between 2:00 and 4:30, students will be released.  The exact time will depend on what group(s) they are in.

Students will go back to the dorms, freshen up, change into their uniform and meet their parents for dinner.  We suggest going out to dinner, although it is possible to eat dinner on campus.

Students are to be back in the Fine Arts Building at 6:45 to warmup.

Parents are to be seated in the concert hall at 7:00 for a final information meeting.

The concert will start at 7:30 and will be over between 9:00 and 9:30. At that time, parents can collect the ESU suitcase and have a little time for an after concert treat.  Students must be back by 11:00 pm for an important orientation session.

Summary:

8:00 am  Rehearsals

12:00 pm Lunch

12:45 pm  Rehearsals/Dress Rehearsals/Recording Sessions

2:00-4:30 pm Dismissal, Freshen up, Change into uniform, Eat Dinner

6:45 pm Students call time for concert

7:00 pm Parent Meeting

7:30 pm Concert

9:00/9:30 pm Concert concludes

11:00 pm Orientation Session

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What money will participants need while at ESU?

Everything is included in the tour cost while at the college, so participants may not need any money while there.

There are vending machines for purchasing snacks, a bookstore to purchase ESU apparel or merchandise, and there is a Wawa located walking distance from the campus.  But all meals are included in the tour cost, so it’s possible to spend $0.

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Can a student have a car on campus?

No.  Parents should drop off students at ESU or have them ride with another participant.

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What happens with the Europe suitcase after it’s weighed?

You will keep the suitcase with you – You will need your uniform, music stand, toiletries and other stuff that you’ll take on tour.  For more info – see the Luggage FAQ

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What’s the deal with the “ESU” Suitcase?

We recommend packing two suitcases – the suitcase for traveling in Europe, and a smaller one (a small duffel or backpack) with the clothing for your stay at ESU.

That way, when you are done at ESU, your parents can take home all the dirty clothing, (including any denim you may have chosen to wear at the college), and other stuff you won’t need on tour.

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When can I pick up the ESU suitcase from my son/daughter?

If you are leaving after the concert, you will have about an hour after the concert to collect anything not needed on tour and take it home.

If you are staying overnight, you can pick up the stuff right after breakfast (around 8:00) or before the busses depart for the airport.

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What do I do with my dirty ESU laundry if no one is coming to pick up my stuff after the concert?

There are washing machines and dryers in the dorm, so you can do a load of laundry after the recording session.

There is no charge for using them, but you will need to supply your own soap (which you will already have for washing clothes while on tour.)

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Head Director

Gary Fink

Symphonic Band Directors

Dan Miller
Milt Lee
Marty Hollister

Concert Choir Directors

Julianna LoBiondo
Penelope Cruz
Taylor Rehe

String Orchestra Director

Dave Beck
Eileen Miller

Jazz Band Director

Gary Fink

Site Last Updated

Thursday, April 11th, 2019 @ 11:29am

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