by David Heflick
I'm reviewing these two books together, because they compliment each other nicely. Keith Johnson's Get Your Show on the Road focuses on how to mold the disparate elements of your repertoire into an effectively structured act. David Heflick's How to Make Money Performing in Schools tells you how take that act and sell it to the school assembly market. Both books are very thorough, and are packed with information. Neither author is a magician (Johnson is a juggler, Heflick is a musician), but the advice they impart is applicable to any area of the performing arts.
The basic premise of Keith Johnson's book is that many performers have a body of repertoire which they can present in a competent manner, but few performers have a tightly structured act, an act which reflects the performer's unique interests and style, and which projects a stage persona which enhances (rather than competes with) the performers personality. In 30 comprehensive chapters, Mr. Johnson discusses such subjects as the elements of a routine, your character and style, projecting your style, overcoming roadblocks, introducing your routine, building and maintaining interest, audience involvement, the high point of the routine, writing the script, recovering from mistakes, crowd control, and building the show. Johnson's focus is developing shows for the family market, but the information he gives can be easily transferred to other types of performing markets. There is a chapter on marketing the show, but marketing is not the main thrust of this book, which is why the Helfick book makes such a nice companion volume
The subtitle of How to Make Money Performing in Schools is "A Definitive Guide to Developing, Marketing, and Presenting School Assembly Programs," and that subtitle pretty much says it all. In the first part of the book Mr. Heflick offers information on the school market, ingredients for a successful program, developing a program, marketing and promotion, paperwork, pre-show concerns, sound reinforcement, and program presentation. There is also a chapter which suggests a method for making $3000 a week touring schools. Included here are interviews with national arts-in-education authorities such as Larry Stein, Director of Program Development for Young Audiences, Inc., and
Dorothy Sasscer of Chamber Music America. The second part of the book gives specific strategies for instrumentals musicians, dramatic performers, dancers, singers, and speakers. Again, the information is geared for a particular market, but the suggestions and approaches could be easily applied to any venue.
These are two terrific books, filled with the kind of information which can only be obtained through experience. They will save you time, and they can make you money. Both are highly recommended.
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