Childrens Music Portal
Articles : Lou Del Bianco "Career"
|Developing a career as a children's artist 29 Jan 05
I am an actor, singer and storyteller with 22 years experience in the field of childrens entertainment. Childrens Entertainment is a broad term, and can cover so many areas, but for me, I make the bulk of my work in the education field, performing one man shows for elementary schools up and down the east coast. Other venues include libraries, summer camps, theaters, childrens museums, preschools, the occasional festival and yes, birthday parties! Along the way I have produced 5 cds that I, along with my colleagues have struggled to distribute in the independent childrens music market; but thats a whole other article for another time!
Now, how does one begin the arduous task of actually making a living as a childrens artist? Based on my own experiences over the past 22 years I will try to break down some of the different ways in which an aspiring person like yourself can work in a field that can be extremely fulfilling and rewarding.
1. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME- Ah, the dreaded V word. You know what they say, you have to start somewhere! Remember, this is a field where your audience is under the protection and scrutiny of caring adults who only want to hire someone with a proven track record- and can you blame them? So why not make a simple recording of the songs and stories you want to perform on a cd or cassette and hand them out at your local preschools, elementary schools or library (preferably places where you have a relationship with at least one staff member who can vouch for you). Once you get the approval of a teacher, set up some times where you can have an audience to try out your material. This is the only way you will find out if your material works! Children are a great barometer for that and will let you know right away if they like something or not. And you will also have a trained professional onsite who can give you constructive feedback about the content of your songs and your approach with your audience. The payback wont be in dollars, but you will be getting an invaluable opportunity to showcase what you have to say, to the audience you want to say it to, along with the chance to see if this is something you really want to do. And who knows, youll probably find yourself on the payroll down the line!
2. BIRTHDAY PARTIES- While I dont do them anymore, birthday parties were a wonderful way of getting my name out to my community and building a following. It was also a wonderful way to hone my skills as well, not to mention the extra income! Most of all, I cant tell you what a loyal fan base you can build from coming to someones home and entertaining for their childs birthday. If the family and the child really love what you do, a bond can be created and you will find them among your groupies, coming to your concerts and spreading the word about the quality and sheer fun of your programs. And birthday parties are a great way to market your products as party favors as well.
Taking out a small ad in your local family magazine can be a good way to start the ball rolling, but if you take my suggestion in #1 and volunteer your time on a regular basis, you will have parents inquiring about whether you do birthday parties and a natural domino effect will start to take place and many times can lead to larger gigs at libraries, camps, schools, etc. So never underestimate the power of a birthday party gig- they can develop meaningful and lasting relationships and memories and can be a wonderful spring board to so many other venues.
3. EDUCATIONAL SHOWCASES- If you are interested in performing assemblies at various schools, this can be a very fulfilling and lucrative way to entertain children. Unless a school is looking for a completely entertaining program as a healthy distraction from the curriculum, they usually have strict guidelines requiring that assemblies have an educational message that tie in to the schools curriculum. Multiculturalism and Character Education are examples of themes that are popular with schools. The best way to see if this is a venue you can succeed in is to visit Educational Showcases. These are events that allow performers to showcase a portion of their program to perspective buyers, which can range from Cultural Arts and PTA people to librarians and camp directors, etc. There is also an exhibit area where artists can distribute flyers and talk to buyers, as well as network and build relationships. You can find out about showcases in your area by simply calling your local elementary/middle schools and finding the person in charge of the PTA and/or Cultural Arts. These people usually frequent these showcases and would be happy to give you the info you need. Attending these events allows you the chance to watch different types of established performers, their style in approaching arts-in-education, and can give you loads of inspiration on how to develop your own style in putting together an educational program that would be appropriate for schools. Browsing the exhibit area is also be a great way to network, see how artists exhibit themselves and find other avenues to pursue. So if you are serious about reaching children on an educational level, this is an avenue worth exploring!
(ed: Lou is one of our Select Artists, a veteran of the trade, and a children's music treasure, buy his cds and support this talent.)
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