Band Students Experience the Culture, Music, Food of New Orleans


Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Over NDA’s spring break, as Tritons spread across the country to Canton and beyond, the Academy Band took a very special trip of their own to New Orleans, Louisiana. The biennial band trip alternates between NOLA and Nashville.

“New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the world and the birthplace of the original American art form, jazz. The city is steeped in music – it’s everywhere!” said Band Director Steve Johnson, who led the students on the trip.

“When you walk down the streets music spills out of restaurants and clubs. There are street bands performing all over town, and New Orleans is home to some of the greatest musicians in the world.”

Johnson explained that the music is not the only facet that makes New Orleans an ideal location for such a trip. “Students are able to experience a very different culture than what we have in Wisconsin. That includes the food, the people and the way of life that is New Orleans.”

Katie Coyle, senior and drum major who joined her bandmates on the trip, touted the “amazing music and food” that she experienced in New Orleans.

“There is music and art everywhere and always something interesting to see,” Coyle said of the city.

After a long ride from Green Bay to Louisiana, the NDA group packed in a number of activities over their short three-day trip, including two performances.

“Our concert bands performed at a clinic at Loyola University and the combined bands performed downtown in Jackson Square Park,” said Johnson.

“It was very fun to see how much the crowd got into some of the songs,” said Coyle of the Jackson Square Park performance.

Other highlights included visiting the World War II museum, a trip to Mardi Gras World, a Cajun Swamp Tour, which allowed students to hold a baby alligator, a trip on the Steamboat Natchez with dinner and live music, touring a plantation and a private performance at Preservation Hall.

“We got to experience the very beginnings of New Orleans jazz through that performance [at Preservation Hall] and it was extremely polished,” said Coyle. “It was a lot of fun to watch and listen to.”

“I enjoyed the new experience of holding a baby alligator on the swamp tour. That’s an activity unique to Louisiana that I would’ve never been able to do otherwise,” said senior Kelsey Mullen, who also made the trip.

The NDA band attended Sunday Mass at the Basilica, “which was gorgeous and a great experience,” according to Coyle.

The group also dined at the Hard Rock Cafe and an authentic Cajun restaurant which offered live music and dancing.

“After our meal at the Cajun restaurant, we got to learn some of the traditional dances,” explained Coyle. “The Cajun Dance instruction was definitely my favorite part because in addition to learning some very neat dances, we also just had a lot of fun dancing with each other and laughing a lot.”

The trip to New Orleans was one full of music, food, excitement and culture new to many NDA students.

“I appreciated the diversity of art and music on the streets when we explored the French Quarter. It was a really new experience,” said Mullen.

“Trips like this are an invaluable opportunity for our students to immerse themselves in the culture of a place that is very different than where they come from,” explained Johnson. “This sort of experience can excite and broaden our minds as well as promote cultural understanding in a way that simply reading about a place cannot.”