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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Want to do elementary school shows help. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Hood
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I am currently writing and putting together my anti-bullying show for school assemblies and I am just checking with others about assembly shows (this will be my first run at assembly shows). Do you guys split the school in half and perform two shows such as 1st-3rd and 4th-6th graders? I am planning it this way since the ages are so different and I plan on having slightly different shows. Am I correct in the way I am going at this or is there a better split of the ages or do schools like just one show for all? Any help or thoughts on this would be great. I know this is a tough market to get into but you can say I already have jobs for this venue as soon as I have my show or shows set. 
Thank you
Derek
Karen Climer
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I do more library shows than school shows, but I'll share what I know. In my experience with schools shows, it depends on the school. I would prefer to split it k-2 and 3-5. (In Florida, elementary school is k-5). But sometimes because of the school schedule, they want to do it differently. I've never done the entire school at once, primarily because the Caféteria (which is where you usually perform) can't hold the entire school.

Usually, they split it into two groups. But it could be more depending on the number of students in the school and the number that can fit in the Caféteria. The teachers/principal know that it makes sense to group them by age, so you don't have to worry about them grouping it k,3,5 and 1,2,4 or something goofy like that.

Also, I've done shows were the whole school isn't invited. The show is a reward for good behavior or perfect attendance or whatever. In that case, since it's a smaller group, you might do one show for K-5.

That's my experience with school shows. But I'm sure there are other here with a lot more experience in this market.
Dynamike
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If you are donating your time with these schools to get experience, the right way is what you are most comfortable with. If you are receiving calls from the schools to do paid shows, listen to your client.
Ryan Price
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I design my show for the whole school. The only time I split the groups is when the school population is too big. When doing the split I actually suggest having all grades present for both shows. For example one grade 6 class in one show and another grade 6 class for the second.
tacrowl
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Good timing on this question. Last night I finished interviewing Mark Wade, America's Foremost Kidshow Ventriloquist for an updated online version of his 2002 best selling book Kidshow Ventriloquism. Mark has over 35 years of professional experience working school shows. We were doing a question and answer bonus video and I asked him about how he geared his material for the schools.

Mark told me he always wrote with ten year olds in mind. (About fourth grade level.) He said the younger kids would be brought up to this level, and it wasn't too "young" for the fifth and sixth graders.

Hope this insight helps as you develop your act.

For split - when I work the occasional school, I usually limit audience size to 250-300 students. This makes a manageable group and everyone can feel included. With larger groups, inexperienced performers may lose the back of the room. I always aimed my material at the oldest age group in the room and figured the younger ones would capture the key points, if not always grasping why they were laughing with the group. As mentioned above, some schools mix the groups no matter what you do. Putting pre-schoolers in with 5th grade creates an age gap. Just be aware that not everyone may get the entire message, but if you focus on three to five concepts, most will get and remember your message - and that is what the administrators want when they ask students after the program - what did you get from the program?
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

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jugglery
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I'll echo and add to what Tom Crowl said: Aim your message and your show to the oldest age group. They are the leaders, with the most experience being an audience.

What you don't want to do is alienate the older ones by doing material that is beneath them. If the upper grades view your show as a Little Kids' Show, you will lose them and will lose the effectiveness of your presentation. I remember going to see a friend of mine perform for a library. The 9 year old boy sitting in front of me turned to his mother and said, "Mom, can we just leave? This is a baby show." They never left, but I could tell that he had checked out.

Appeal to the oldest kids there and you will have a greater chance of success. Best of luck.
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Mindpro
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In response to Hood's question, I directed him here because he was getting poor advice in the kids section. I thought a few others would chime in that actually work the school market (not just do an occasional booking) and could offer him more sound advice.

I am currently on tour and haven't been able to properly respond myself until now, but since I'm stuck overnight at an airport, I will do my best to address your questions. The real answer to your question is it is not up to you. Whether a you split your presentations is typically not up to you it's up to the school, and often based on several key factors including size of student body, grade levels, size of the room (gym, Caféteria, Cafétorium, or multipurpose room) where the event is being held, and budget.

As a performer or presenter working the school market you should prepare your presentation to be ready either way - one assembly for all grades and the entire student body, and separate presentations formatted for the younger grades and another for the older grades.

Performers that try to dictate this themselves will find themselves missing out or passed on a great deal of work, as professionals understand this and are prepared to accommodate this. Same is true for an evening Family Night performance or presentation. It too should be formatted and offered differently and separately than the daytime assemblies.

As I mentioned this often is dictated by pricing. If it's the same price for two presentations as it is for one, they will usually divide it into two. If you are charging additional for the second presentation, it's 50/50 that it could go either way, usually dependent upon the price you are charging for the second additional presentation. Many offer a discount or package price.

When preparing for two separate presentations be sure to format each appropriately for the students both in content and visually, as well as in presentation methods. Of course this should go without saying but may not be known by newcomers. Students learn, comprehend and retain differently at different grade levels and this must be accommodated and included within your presentations.

Of course be sure there is true educational content as it will be expected unless it's and end of the year or reward type of assembly which are becoming less and less these days.

I hope this helps. The school market is a great market to get into if you take the time to learn it properly. Most don't. Most misunderstand it terribly. It is a professional market just like the corporate market, college market, etc. and as long as it is understood and approached that way there are many possibilities. We work it 8-9 months of the year sometimes doing as many as 400-600 presentations per year, so it can keep you busy. You must decide if you're just going to work locally or larger as each require a different approach. Many of us doing this are coming to the end of our runs for the school year as our tour runs through June 20th this year. Best of luck!
charliecheckers
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Quote:
On May 3, 2014, Mindpro wrote:

When preparing for two separate presentations be sure to format each appropriately for the students both in content and visually, as well as in presentation methods. Of course this should go without saying but may not be known by newcomers. Students learn, comprehend and retain differently at different grade levels and this must be accommodated and included within your presentations.


Although my schedule does not afford me the opportunity to actively pursue this market, I have been able to accept some opportunities at schools for this exact reason. The performer they hire routinely tries to get away with one show for all ages. Several schools have reached out to me to perform my show focused on the younger grades and the performer they hired in the past now only does the older kids. My guess is one day we both will be replaced by a performer well equipped to perform for their whole school.

The only thing I would change about Mindpro's post is that often it has little to do with wether or not it is a newcomer. Many veteran performers leave doors open for others to take their business by not changing how they approach the needs of their customers.
Sam Sandler
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I just saw the post in the kids section and posted this. but thought I should post it here as well for you.

You will find that schools that have the space to fit all the kids will rather have one show. mostly due to cost factor.
most magicians offer second show half price. but the school still is paying more due to having 2 shows.

as for elementary schools generally they are k-5 with a few exceptions out there that will include 6 and some 7&8. depends many times on private vs public schools

as for creating 2 different shows for the times that you do have a split audience I would suggest finding some routines that work with both ages however only needing to adjust the patter.

i have found that when I have all the kids in one show if I cater to the older ones slightly with funny routines the younger ones laugh just as much and have fun.
point is that if I did a "kiddie" trick with one of the younger kids during that show I would alienate all the kids above 4th grade!


i am currently on a national school assembly tour. we have performed over 300 schools in 41 states in the last 30 weeks so I want to mention a few other things for you to consider.

i have been performing schools shows for many years I have learned much and still learning to this very day.

you must be aware of a few things as you create your show.

1-MUST HAVE REAL EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL! the days of doing a magic show with throwing in a few Read a book comments or don't be mean short talk wont fly with schools today.

2- become an expert in the field you wish to present to the schools. learn all there is to learn about the subject.

3- be aware of your settings in each school. as you design your show you need to keep in mind that one day you will play schools that have amazing stages with beautiful lighting that would put the academy of music to shame and then the next day in a gym or an purpose room. some times with a stage and many times with out. your show needs to be able to adjust to each location set up.

4-start on time!! Finish one time. - I know you think this is obvious but I have heard from so many schools how some assemblies either start late or run long. schools have tight schedules especially if you are doing a late afternoon show. the buses are lining up and the kids need to get their bags and get to the bus to go home. if you run long you create a huge headache for the school.

5-have your introduction on 3x5 card PRINTED for easy reading. explain to whom ever is introducing you to please just read what is on the card and then you will take over.

6-while this might not be a major thing for some I prefer to have both boys and girls on stage as assistant during the show. while some shows I might use more boys then girls or vice versa the point is try to include both at some point in the show.

7-DO NOT USE TEACHERS OR PRINCIPAL UNLESS you have spoken with them prior to the show. and obviously nothing that would be inappropriate or embarrassing, or degrading the image of authority. you sure can have some fun but make sure you speak with them prior to the show so that they are aware of what will be happening and that they approve.

8-packing and unpacking. KISS Keep It Simple Stupid. again seems obvious but many times we magicians have this thought of grandeur that really is not needed for school shows. bring what you need and be prepared with back ups but don't bring your whole basement of magic props in hopes you will find a way to use some thing.
create the show and stick to the show.

9-be prepared to adjust the show as you perform more and more you will find things that work and things that don't work.

10-have a good sound system that will play every option.

11-have a contract AND a contract rider


my show consist of over 1000 lbs of equipment in 2 large ATA road cases. I have had to make sure each school knew my load in needs as well as the few things that I ask the school to provide.
for instance I require the school to provide 1 folding table, 4 folding chairs, 1 music stand, and 2 extension cords if playing in a gym where we are more then 30 feet from the outlets.

i would also mention to keep in mind the length of your show. most schools want a 35-40 minute assembly. mine happens to run 50 minutes.

hope this info helps and feel free to ask any questions about school shows.

i am here to help when and where I can. I am not the final answer but I have learned a few things over the last 25 years of performing. Smile

sam
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
http://www.samsandler.com
http://www.deafinitelymagic.com
Mindpro
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Great to hear from you Sam, it's been a while. Glad to hear your tour is going well and I'm guessing almost coming to an end. I have another seven weeks left in mine as well.

You make some very good points that as many can tell only come with experience. This is all a learning experience for all of us, so my question for you is since this was your first tour, what have you learned about touring and being out on the road for so long that you hadn't known before? I'm sure much is what you've included above, but more specifically about life working the school market on the road with a touring show.

I'm sure there were the always typical travel issues, RV breakdown/service, road expenses, etc. I'm guessing many here would find it interesting.

Sorry we missed each other when you were in the area (but I was out of town as well) but I still hope our routing will allow us to connect soon. Are you planning on touring again next school year? If so with the same show or something new?

All my best!
Sam Sandler
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Thanks Mindpro. yes was bummed we did not connect. one day!

so what else have I learned. well I have toured in the past but only for a few weeks at a time. this was indeed my first year long tour.

I loved it. every moment. sure there were some set backs with costly repairs, or the week my daughter got sick and I had to perform the shows solo. it was hard to leave her in the Rv while I was inside performing. but she bounced back was back on stage with me the next week,


i learned that the midwest and the west coast are much friendlier then the east coast and that the west area is also much easier to find repair shops and rv parks then the east. we many times had to have repairs done at 1am in the morning. sometimes arriving at the shop by 10pm and waiting hours before getting the rig back and then heading to my show. some nights only getting 4 hours of sleep. but as I said I love life on the road.

there were days we stopped at truck stops after getting repair materials at local home depot and would open up the trailer to take out the road case and fix it. repairs of props on the side of the road many times. some times arriving at the school extra early so we could do repair work there.

nothing like fixing your illusion 45 minutes before show time! LOL

we had it rough when we hit Wyoming as the temperature dropped to NEGATIVE 35 yes -35 for about a month it never broke zero. always below.
my RV froze up. water was frozen and even my fridge stopped working because the Freon froze! so weekends we would go stay in hotels. but monday thru thursday we were very cold living in the RV. we used up so much propane trying to heat the bus. most days also running the generator so we could run small space heaters. but the temp inside the RV barely broke 55degrees.

we made the best of it.

things I would do differently. I am not sure there are several things I learned and confirmed on this tour but as to doing things differently at least things I have control over I guess I would say for starters buy an RV or tour bus from a dealer not a private sale. I bought privately and ended up being a bad choice as I have spent a small fortune in repairs. things that should not have broken or gone bad. I am even investigating as to if t his RV was in some sort of accident prior to my purchase. its been hard.

but that is part of life and you do what you can.

i am sure there are more things but never really sat down to think about it.

but as I said I loved touring. we have about 7 weeks left ourselves and now on the east coast NY, NH, CT, NJ all this week! then mostly NJ and PA for the remainder of the tour.

all in all we will have performed in over 325 schools in 42 states and over a 1/4 of a million students have been inspired by my show. that just blows my mind. I am so humbled and blessed to have been given this opportunity.

as for continuing to tour. I want to. however my daughter who has been amazing on this tour both on stage and off wants to go back to school to finish 11&12 grade with her friends. I am choosing to honor that. so I will not do a full year long tour for the next 2 years but will continue to perform my school show on the east coast and then when my daughter goes to college that following year after graduating high school I will go back on the road for at least 3-5 years.

cant wait!

sam
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
http://www.samsandler.com
http://www.deafinitelymagic.com
Mindpro
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Great to hear Sam. I've always said that one has to be a true road warrior to do what we do...and truly enjoy it. I've done this in four decades and like you I've always loved it, although now I try not to go out for more than four to five months at a time. Routing is important to avoid some of the winter troubles you have experienced. Over the years I've gotten to the point where I try to spend my winter months in the west, south or Hawaii. What used to be my worst, dreaded times of the year when I lived in the midwest, have now become my favorite.

You are right, schools, students and parents are different in different parts of the country. This takes time to understand and figure out but once you do you can actually use this to your advantage. I used to feel the same way about east coast schools and even east coast presenters and performers, but now have it all working to my advantage and love my east coast dates.

Yes, the road can be expensive but also like you, I have enjoyed touring with my daughter by my side for eight of years of criss-crossing every nook and cranny of the country and enjoying everything the U.S. has to offer. The big cities and major markets are great, but my favorites are the small and medium markets. They often pay the best and are the most accepting and successful. There was no better bonding experience with my daughter than our years on the road. We worked through great times, great places, personal matters, growth and even death. Our relationship evolved from father and teen daughter to our current adult relationship. We wouldn't change it for the world. She will be joining my final leg of my tour for a week in June as she does every year and we both still look forward to it.

I still contend only maybe 1 in 300 performers can truly be road warriors. Most never really understand what it is like or entails. I am starting to slow down on my road road and straight through touring, but have enjoyed every minute of it. My latest count from several years ago was over 20 million people that have seem my performances and presentations. When you look back it is really mindboggling - the people, places, the adventures, the money, the business, the relationships and the overall experience.

I think you are doing great, have found the perfect niche (which is one of the hard parts), and are smart by working on a 3-5 year plan. I say good for you. You're daughter will have an experience she will remember long after we are gone. What a way to make a living!
Dynamike
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Sam, have you been to Michigan yet?
Mindpro
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Michigan is usually earlier in the year
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