Danube, Slovakia, Poland Journeying Learning Music

Lessons Learned from Travel? Well…

Music tour of Europe Recorders
Written by Stuart Wickes

Lessons Learned from Travel?

Stuart Profile SmallOver the last week I’ve been taking part in the BootsnAll 30 days of Indie Travel Project over on our Facebook page.  Each day brings a new travel related theme to explore and it’s been fun taking time out each day to think back on our family travels in different ways. So far we’ve looked at travel and goals, change, music, mistakes, kindness, fear and celebration, and it’s been interesting how easy it’s been to find connections to each theme. It reminds me what a rich tapestry of family travel experiences we’ve woven in our 10 years of adventures together.

The Bootsnall day 8 theme is learning and asks “What has travel taught you this year?” Well, this was just the prompt I needed to tie up a loose end that’s been bugging me (and perhaps some of you?) about our musically inspired tour this summer. So I thought I’d share it here; some of our lessons learned from travel.

Playing Recorders on Ijmuiden Beach

We set ourselves a musical challenge: to learn to play the recorder together.

Remember our musical tour of Europe?

If you’ve been with us for a while, you may remember we set off this summer to cycle from Munich to Krakow with 5 recorders in our panniers. Our mission: to ride along the Danube and cross the High Tatras while trying to become a more harmonious family by learning to play the Blue Danube Waltz as a family recorder ensemble. Yes, triple madness I know.

Recorder Music The Blue Danube

Not content with a simple arrangement, we wanted to play in four part harmony.

Musical progress… of a kind

We did blog about our progress as we went, and shared a few videos of our ‘musical’ progress and mishaps, but I never got around to sharing the end result of our musical endeavours. Until now. Not that it’s anything to be particularly proud of.

Now, when we’re travelling as a family we definitely listen, laugh and learn with each other much more than we do day to day at home. Normally. But when the recorders came out there was often too much laughing and too little listening for there to be enough learning to create a harmonious sound. Believe me when I say it’s easier to cycle over the High Tatras on a tandem pulling a trailer than it is to get a 5, 9, 10, 43 and 47 year old to play a four part arrangement of the Blue Danube.

But we were determined and practiced our way along the banks of the Danube until we managed to pick out the tune, and play it in time, so that we (and perhaps other unfortunate passers by) could recognise it.

Practicing the recorder on a cycle tour

Practicing the recorder on a cycle tour

Performing at the Vienna Opera House

After weeks of ‘rehearsals’ we eventually plucked up the courage to play our own unique arrangement of this classic Vienesse waltz in public. We thought long and hard about where our first public performance should be and decided there was only one place.

What did we learn?

So what did all this teach us? Well, that playing the recorder is not as easy as it looks. That family harmony is as much of a challenge musically as it is in family life. That anyone really can play at the Vienna State Opera House. That we were never going to make any money as a busking family.

Busking at Vienna State Opera House

Busking at Vienna State Opera House

Gutsy buskers or musical fools?

But then we remembered something we’d learnt somewhere else. That people are often more willing to give money to cute little kids. Which gave us an idea that everyone thought was worth a go…

We didn’t make much. But the kids tell me the Paypal hat is still open. 😉

What have you learnt from travels together? 

Do leave a comment and let us know.

About the author

Stuart Wickes

Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project. He is our chief photographer and videographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!


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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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