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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » School assembly getting them to listen after a fun trick (12 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Danatmosci
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Ogden, UT
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I did an audio recording of my last school assembly and noticed that I was having a big problem getting all the children to calm back down after doing a fun trick. My show is a lot of fun, but there are times when they can laugh and talk, and scream magic words, and there are moments where I want them to listen as I explain what is going to happen next. I've been doing assemblies for less than 6 months so I'm still very new, any advice would be extremely appreciated. Thanks
Dick Oslund
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Don't "explain what is going to happen next"! Kids get bored quickly by speeches.

I had a prof. in college who made a great statement one day in a discussion on communication. He said, "Some people have to say something. Some people have something to say."

Talk WITH them, not AT or TO them.
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Howie Diddot
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If you explain what you will do next, there is no mystery of what you will do next.

As I place my last trick away; I ask if they want to see another trick?

Every kid will say yes... if they are talking, I will say I can't hear you.. and they will all yell yes louder and I have everyone's attention.

try it, you'll like it....

Then I say "watch this"... and they watch what I do...
Ed_Millis
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I pull up a stool, sit with my props in hand (ring and rope), and ask "Would you like to hear a story?"

Ed
drewer
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I don't do school assemblies, but I have performed for similar audiences. After a fun climax and they're still bustling, I usually start by saying stuff to start transitioning to the next piece of magic, but what I say isn't totally vital for them to hear (a trick used during late night talk shows). By VISUALLY showing them that you're about to start something new, they will slowly quiet down. And they won't miss any important information over the noise either. (I hope that makes sense)

Plus, I believe all this noise is good because it gets the kids excited. So definitely allow for the noise, but keep it under control.

Best of luck, Drew
arthur stead
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Drew's got the right idea. Work on better transitions from one trick to the next.

You can also get their attention by asking a question.
Arthur Stead
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Mary Mowder
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Arthur,

Asking a question that is rhetorical? (which at least one Kid never understands) or a question that a Kid or Kids is/are expected to answer?

-Mary Mowder
arthur stead
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Mary, I would ask a question which involves the whole audience.

For example: "Does anybody here like superheroes?" ... which would lead to asking individual kids who their favorite superheroes are.

Another example: "Do you guys like ice cream?" ... then follow up with having them raise their hands if they like lollipops, or pizza, or popcorn, etc.

It is a "kid-control" technique, intended to engage the audience if they become unfocused or unruly. And in my experience, it hasn't failed yet!
Arthur Stead
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jimhlou
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I have an air operated blast horn. Just give it a shot. You will have everyone's attention and they will quiet down (at least it works for me).

Jim
Mary Mowder
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I've seen a lot of new performers ask questions to get Kids' attention but it can backfire because the Kids want to answer and since the others can't hear they lose interest and control is lost.

I'm sure the question route works for you Arthur, you are an experienced performer, but Magicians should be aware that this path is not an automatic win.

Jim, as a person who has always had over-sensitive ears, OUCH! But I like you subtile approach LOL.

-Mary Mowder
arthur stead
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You're right, Mary. But if you keep it short, and steer the questions in the direction your next trick or routine, it gets their attention and acts as a smooth transition. In both of the above examples, I follow up with a trick which relates to the questions asked.

Jim, for a while I tried the old clown "honking horn" if the audience was preoccupied in talking to each other at the very start of my shows. It sure silenced the crowd and got them to focus on me! I don't do that anymore because I now use music in a similar way.
Arthur Stead
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Danatmosci
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These are some great ideas everyone. I already use the question technique at the beginning of the show, while I have intro music playing to command the stage and get everyone's attention, but I hadn't thought of using more questions during the show when they lose focus after a trick, I do need to work on better transitions, I'll start writing 20-30 seconds of patter with questions that steer into but is ultimately unimportant to the trick to help them get the attention back and focus on me. Thank you, this has been a huge help, any other ideas out there?
o2b2b2
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Be sure that any questions you ask are not open ended. A definite answer of yes, no, or a particular word they know to say keeps them from going off in in all directions. Watch the screaming. Since you are just starting out, be aware that it can be difficult having the kids dial it back once they get too wound up. If you begin with them yelling, they may just get louder and louder. There are other ways to get their attention than by having them yell. They should already be excited as the program starts, so you just want them to come together and act as a group. Build things up as you go along. If you start off high, you have nowhere to go. I've done schooll showss for 25 years , and hear complaints about other performers who had a scream fest with the kids.
Usually applause after a trick tends to quiet them down a bit, as they know something else will now begin. (A personal peeve is someone standing there after doing a trick in the "applause pose" with little response. With kids you have to tell them things like "give these jumping bunnies a round of applause".)
You also have to reinforce good behavior throughout the show. Things like "I need someone to come up and help me, and I always pick people sitting down, being cool, with a hand in the air" tells them how they need to act. Before I start the vent part of my show, I tell them "I brought someone with me today, one of my puppet friends (they start getting excited), so I need everyone to sit down on your bumpers, criss cross I'm the boss...I mean applesauce (gets a laugh from the teachers) and look this way. Remember, laughing is cool, but no talking, and I'd like to bring out my pal...." and I introduce and bring out the puppet. It's no lecture, but reminds them how to act and keeps them in control.
If worse comes to worse, you can always do the "I know everyone is excited, but I'll need to wait until everyone is quiet" and then stand there in silence for a few seconds until they start calming down.
Also, don't forget, kids will talk. They are excited by the show. We forget sometimes that they are not used to being a spectator at a live show. They are having fun and want to share that with their friends around them, so not all talking is bad. The idea, for me, is to keep it controlled.
Well, that's my two cents...sorry for getting carried away.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Thanks for the great topic.

What are the goals or purpose for your school show assembly.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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arthur stead
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Great advice, o2b2b2! You sound like a seasoned pro.
Arthur Stead
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harris
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Harris Deutsch
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I have found lowering my voice helps at times.

So does going down on one knee.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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TonyB2009
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Good advice Harris. Joan Rivers said the same.
Sam Sandler
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I just got home from one of my school assemblies today. love them.

for the past 15 years I have performed school assemblies and honestly you never stop learning.

the biggest key to school assemblies is to be on target thru out the show.

what I mean is no dead times. keep it moving some thing always going on whether it be a performance, picking a volunteer, or you talking and sharing a story or the "educational portion of the show.

use background music while picking volunteers
lower your voice - raise your voice
move into the audience while talking
stand on opposite side of the stage and slowly walk to the other side while talking.


your show should be like a roller coaster. with ups and downs - fast parts and slow parts. the only difference is that unlike a roller coaster you don't want to start a show on a slow note. hit them fast and fun.


i would also highly recommend that your educational portions be broken up into smaller portions sprinkled thru out the show verses one big long talk

to give you an idea.

my show opens with about 15 minutes of magic and fun then I go into about 10 minutes of educational parts (some really funny) then about 7 minutes fun then 3 minutes of education but its more fun. then about 10 minutes then I close the show with a very special talk and special illusion that is slow paced and I dim the lights in the gym it changes the whole setting it gets all the kids AND teachers paying attention.

using lights is a huge attention getter!

hope that helps.

sam
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The Great Zucchini
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Great stuff, everyone. Just do what a comedian does. Take a pause, let the laughter die down, after a fun trick, then resume. It's possible that you can be rushing into your next effect. Just enjoy the moment, watch the laughter, stare at them, and yes lowering your voice is gold. You can even try just moving your mouth, with no sound coming out, they will quiet down, to hear what you're trying to say.
RebelEntertainer
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John Abrams
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There are a few methods I use that work almost every time. Here they are:

1.) Set up a physical action at the beginning of the show that tells the kids that it's time to listen. This can be as simple as a hand motion or sometimes the school actually already has something in place. Then use it sparingly every time you need the students to calm down.

2.) Change levels - Get on one knee. Sit on a stool. etc...

3.) Lower your voice like your telling a secret and talk very slowly.

4.) I know that you don't use music in your show, but incorporating music in the effects and then using a dramatic change or stop in music helps a lot.

These sound like simple solutions, and they are. But if you commit to them, they'll work. These transitions from trick to education work for me.
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