Skip to content

Drums, Drugs, and Discipline!

…and other random pre-departure stuff you need to know…

Pre-Departure ZOOM meeting #1

Hello everyone,

First of all, a reminder that I’ll be hosting a pre-departure ZOOM meeting tomorrow evening (Sunday, June 23) and the following Sunday evening, June 30, each at 7:00 pm. While it is not required that you “attend” I’m guessing you will find the it helpful to do so as we chat about mundane things like electrical adaptors, paying for things in New Zealand, and how not to get held in a little white room for interrogation at the Auckland airport. The link for THIS WEEK’S MEETING IS HERE! I will record the meetings as well and post them afterwards, though it’s way more difficult to ask a question once the meeting has ended!

DRUMS: Instruments to make Leonardo’s machine… FLY!

Whitacre’s Leonardo is scored for hand-drum, tambourine, and finger cymbals. This presents two rather immediate problems.

  1. We don’t have immediate access to any of those instruments, and
  2. We have yet to identify people who might play them.

We’re thinking that some of you might have access to such instruments at your school. (Borrowing such items from UD is next to impossible!) I’m prepared to buy them on line for immediate shipping, but all the better if one of you can get your hands on any of these instruments since you would already know the quality thereof. The drum should be a 10″ to 14″ hand drum with a deeper sound.

BUT MORE URGENTLY… we need players who can literally count, sing, and play a percussion instruments at the same time.

ACTION ITEM: If you can help in procuring instruments, or in playing one or more of said instruments, please indicate such in the comments below.

DRUGS: Prescriptions, policies, and the New Zealand police.

When I went to New Zealand in December I had prescription drugs in my carry-on and nobody asked about them or required me to produce documentation about said drugs. And if you poke around on the internet, that seems to be the most common experience with bringing medications into New Zealand. BUT… regulations published by the New Zealand Department of Immigration are very specific, requiring you to bring medications in their original bottles along with a doctor’s note as to what they are for.


Especially if you are traveling with meds that you absolutely can not live without. PLEASE REVIEW THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE and act accordingly. Better safe than sorry.

It should go without saying that if you’re carrying any illegal substances, that will likely get you in hot water really fast! And not only in New Zealand. I’ve seen repeated instances in the luggage areas of SFO and EWR where agents wander around with drug-sniffing dogs and literally confiscate passports right on the spot while people are waiting for their luggage. (I have no idea what happens then, and hope I never find out – even vicariously)

DISCIPLINE: Be on time. Be aware. Be conscientious, and be kind.

Twenty days is a long time to travel even with those who are most near and dear to your heart! And even more so when the stakes of making things happen from one day to the next are so high! In case you haven’t been following the hype, this is supposed to be the biggest turn-out for the World Choir Games to date, with 250 choirs comprised of 11,000 singers, all of whom will share a collective anxiety of where to be when and what happens next. As participants, we have very little control over our schedule from one day to the next except to be where we are told for a coach transfer, a sound-check, or who knows what else. IF YOU ARE LATE, IN THE WRONG PLACE, MISSING WARDROBE OR EQUIPMENT, OR SIMPLY NOT PREPARED FOR WHAT’S HAPPENING, YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND! (God help us if you’re a soloist!) Go with the adage that if you’re less than 10 minutes early, YOU’RE LATE!

Additionally, as has been the case in the past, there will be “Red Days” (No alcohol consumption, please – including the director! 😧), “Yellow Days” (Moderation please), and “Green Days” (Please don’t get arrested! But have fun.) Simply stated, you can assume that any period of 24-36 hours leading up to a competition performance is going to be a Red Day. Adhering to these policies is a social contract with your fellow singers so nobody feels put in an awkward position, and you certainly don’t want to put members in the choir in the role of playing bad cop. Just be a good human.


  • Deal with the prescription stuff so you don’t get caught at the last minute.
  • Get your New Zealand visa, or the won’t let you on the plane
  • You may want get with the airline to select your seat. We’ll talk about that in the meeting tomorrow evening.
  • Start watching the Auckland weather so you can figure out how to dress. (It apparently rains A LOT there this time of year.)
  • Check with your phone company to see what kind of cell service you want/need
  • It is NOT necessary to change money before departure. And your credit card or Apple Pay will work just about everywhere in New Zealand.
  • Order a couple plug adaptors, as they’re different than pretty much any place I’ve been in the world. (Normally you could get them there, but with the onslaught of 11,000 singers, that may be more difficult that usual.) The wall outlets look like this:

I think that’s it for now. I hope memorizing your music is going well. If you’ve not done so, I would STRONGLY recommend writing in all the translations as well. Even though we’re not holding music in competition, the process of writing that in will help you absorb the text.

AND OH… this just in. My college choral director, Dr. Charlene Archibeque, will be meeting us in San Francisco during our rehearsal day there to serve as a mock adjudicator. (Her choirs have won competitions all over the world!) She’s getting up there, but she’s still full of life. That should be a hoot!

See (many of) you tomorrow evening on ZOOM.


3 thoughts on “Drums, Drugs, and Discipline!”

  1. Hey Paul, may be able to help you in the finger cymbals and hand drum categories. Text me if you are still in need!

  2. Hi Paul! Thanks for the info. I have several nice hand drums and tambourines if you still need. Let me know before Wednesday at 3pm!

  3. I (enthusiastically) would love to play the finger cymbals!! I don’t have them but I will work so hard to be perfect please

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *