In the hearts and hopes of every schoolkid lives two words that strike against the ongoing grind and routine of the academic day: School Assembly. When those words break through the teacher’s lips, kids know they can look forward to an upcoming hour of fun, laughter, or inspiration. Professional speaker and leadership consultant, Houston Kraft, shared a few things he’s learned in his experience with over 500 schools, conferences, and international events.
Why Gig at Schools?
Getting gigs as a school assembly performer is a great way to keep the income going in the offseason when bookings are slim, and the clients are few. Most assemblies are going to be during the school day, so you can rock out with some great educational numbers in the morning and your awesome Steely Dan covers at night!
School assemblies also provide an opportunity to refine your performance skills. If you’re a musician, you’ll learn the tricks to get them on their feet while singing about kindness. If you’re an inspirational speaker, you can discover how to dial in your presentation on bullying to motivate and encourage. Magicians can try out new illusions to include in their acts. Kids and teens are an incredible combination of a discerning and responsive audience. They’ll quickly let you know what works and what doesn’t.
And lastly, assemblies make a difference in the lives of students. Studies prove that the interaction of education and the arts leads to higher test scores and retention of learning over time. It also develops the skills necessary to navigate the increasing demand in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields.
Some performers make the mistake of dismissing the sophistication of a school audience. Don’t. Kids and teens can provide some of the most profound and heartfelt cheers, tears, and laughter an entertainer could want.
What the Students Want
Some entertainers find performing for kids or teens intimidating. Those who can break through that barrier find incredible fulfillment in impacting the lives of students. Inspirational speaker, Houston Kraft, shared a story of one student who sent him a devastating, mean-spirited message only to receive another message FIVE YEARS LATER from the same student sharing how Houston’s presentation had, in fact, impacted him significantly and led him to apologize.
It is easy to assume that an entertaining or exciting presentation is all students want, but they also need to know that you, as a performer, genuinely care for them and that you carry great passion for what you do. Be authentic, trust your act, and your confidence and composure always show through.
What Educators Want
Houston has worked with over 500 schools all over the country, speaking to thousands of kids and educators. He feels the most critical skills to develop when working with schools are empathy and adaptability. “It’s important to show up very prepared and be willing to give more than you were contracted for.” Be flexible and easy to work with. Administrators are a highly networked community, and a good reputation will lead to future bookings.
Educators and faculty are notoriously overscheduled and underfunded. Academic and classroom resources are scarce, and teachers or administrators won’t have the opportunity to create extra content or materials for your event. For Houston, this is the number one rule: “Anything you can create or provide or share with a school that brings them value before, during, or after your speech helps to set you apart from anyone else that can fill an hour or two.”
Consider providing posters for the school to post throughout the campus, or a video that teachers can use to create buzz and anticipation for your event. Beyond promotion, Kraft suggests other tools such as parent resources, pre-event activities, and follow-up questions for the classroom.
How to Contact Them
Before emailing or contacting a school, you’ll want to lead with a phone call to the local school district to see how school assemblies are booked. It may be at the discretion of the Superintendent, individual principals, or even student councils. Making sure you are getting your information in front of the right people is critical.
From there, send an email introducing yourself and your presentation. It can read like this:
My name is Brian Jenkins, and I’m a professional musician with over ten years of performing experience. In my career as an entertainer, I’ve developed a presentation focusing on using music to encourage students with issues of self-esteem and healthy choices. The presentation is one hour, and I provide promotional materials as well as in-class support for use before and following the event.
Please follow the link below to my website (or GigSalad profile). Here you will find videos of my presentation, educator and student testimonials, as well as booking information.
Thank you for your time,
You’ll also want to investigate attending educational trade shows and conferences. These are invaluable tools to network with administrators and teachers and get your name out there. The website for the Trade Show Network is an exceptional tool for finding these types of gigs and making the appropriate contacts.
Theme Ideas for School Assemblies
It is important to remember that your key goals as an assembly presenter are to reinforce and enhance what is going on every day in the classroom. Take time to research and discover social and educational trends teachers are addressing. Maybe even reflect on your school years and consider some help you could have used.
Here are a few current topics that many schools are addressing:
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
Consider how you can fold these themes into your existing act. Magicians and Illusionists can explore the magic of chemistry and physics for a STEM assembly. Spoken word artists have the opportunity to introduce Shakespeare to a new generation. Inspirational speakers reinforce the value of diversity and self-esteem. Singer/Songwriters might consider writing new songs to teach students about the impact of kindness.
School assemblies are a great way to expand your fan base, generate more revenue, and make an impact in the lives of others. So work on your material, start reaching out, and have fun!