Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Music is a basic part of the human experience. On any given day, how long can you go without hearing some type of music? For some who are class clowns at heart, music is not just some- thing to be heard and enjoyed. Instead, it is an outlet for the desire to perform, whether it takes the form of singing or playing musi- cal instruments. Are music and performing at the core of your very being, some- thing from which you derive great enjoyment? Has music always been a special part of your life? Have you always longed to appear before audiences? Did you ever stand in front of your mirror and pretend your hairbrush was a microphone? Did you play your musical instruments for friends, family, pets—virtually anyone who would listen? If so, then a career as a musician may be the ideal choice for you. For Genuine Music Lovers Successful professional musicians are artists who express them- selves through their music by conducting, playing instruments, singing, or all three, at one time or another. Through their talent, many years of hard work, initiative, and perhaps a lucky break, they make a living and entertain audiences doing what they love most—making music. Some musically inclined individuals succeed early in life. Lorin Maazel conducted two major symphony orchestras before the age
of thirteen and went on to enjoy a successful career as an adult conductor. Yehudi Menuhin made his violin debut at age seven. Sergey Prokofiev was already performing as a pianist at the ripe old age of six and composed an opera at the age of nine. His Peter and the Wolf has been a source of entertainment for both children and adults for many decades. No matter how old you are, this chapter will provide you with the information you need to pursue a career in performing music. Jobs for Musicians Millions of people play instruments or sing in choirs or amateur groups, but the number of professional musicians is much smaller. About 215,000 men and women are employed as musi- cians in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Included are those who play in regional, metropolitan, or major symphony orchestras. (Large orchestras employ from 85 to 105 musicians, while smaller ones employ 60 to 75 players.) Also counted are those who are a part of hundreds of small orchestras, symphony orchestras, pop and jazz groups, and those who broad- cast or record. Instrumental musicians may play a variety of musical instru- ments in an orchestra, popular band, marching band, military band, concert band, symphony, dance band, rock group, or jazz group, and their instruments may be string, brass, woodwind, percussion, or electronic synthesizers. A large percentage of musi- cians are proficient in playing several related instruments, such as the flute and clarinet. Those who are very talented have the option to perform as soloists. Rehearsing and performing take up much of the musicians’ time and energy. In addition, musicians, especially those without agents, may need to perform a number of other routine tasks, such as making travel or rehearsal hall reservations; keeping track of auditions and recording schedules; arranging for amplifiers and other equipment to enhance performances; designing lighting, costuming, and makeup; keeping financial records; and setting up advertising, concerts, tickets, programs, and contracts. In addi- tion, it is necessary for musicians to plan the sequence of the numbers to be performed and/or arrange their music according to the conductor’s instructions before performances. Musicians must also keep their instruments clean, polished, tuned,and in proper working order.In addition,they are expected to attend meetings with agents, employers, and conductors or directors to discuss contracts, engagements, and any other busi- ness activities. Performing musicians encompass a wide variety of careers. Here are just a few of the possibilities. Section Member Section members are the individuals who play instruments in an orchestra. They must be talented players and able to learn the music on their own. Rehearsals are strictly designed for putting all of the instruments and individuals together and for establishing cues such as phrasing and correct breathing. It is expected that all musicians practice sufficiently on their own before rehearsals. Session Musician The session musician is the one responsible for playing back- ground music in a studio while a recording artist is singing. The session musician may also be called a freelance musician, a backup musician, a session player, or studio musician. Session musicians are used for all kinds of recordings—Broadway musi- cals, operas, rock and folk songs, and pop tunes. Versatility is the most important ingredient for these profes- sionals—the more instruments the musician has mastered, the greater number of styles he or she can offer, the more possibilities for musical assignments. Session musicians often are listed through contractors who call upon them when the need arises. Other possibilities exist through direct requests made by the artists themselves, the group members, or the management team. The ability to sight-read is important for all musicians, but it is particularly crucial for session musicians. Rehearsal time is usu- ally very limited, and costs make it too expensive to have to do retakes. Concertmaster The role of concertmaster is an important one.Those chosen to be concertmasters have the responsibility of leading the string sec- tions of orchestras during both rehearsals and concerts. In addi- tion, these individuals are responsible for tuning the rest of the orchestra. This is the "music" you hear for about fifteen to twenty seconds before the musicians begin to play their first piece. Concertmasters answer directly to the conductor. They must possess leadership abilities and be very knowledgeable of both the music and all the instruments. Floor-Show Band Member Some musicians belong to bands that perform in floor shows and appear in hotels, nightclubs, cruise ships, bars, concert arenas, and caf├ęs. Usually the bands do two shows per night with a particular number of sets in each show. Additionally, they may be required to play one or two dance sets during the course of the engagement. Here, the audience is seated during the shows and gets up to dance during the dance sets. Shows may include costuming, dialogue, singing, jokes, skits, unusual sound effects, and anything else the band decides to include. Floor-show bands may be contracted to appear in one place for one night or several weeks at a time. As expected, a great deal of traveling is involved for those who take up this career. Choir Director Choir directors are responsible for recruiting and directing choirs and planning the music programs for churches or temples. They
are often given the job of auditioning potential members of the choir, setting up rehearsal schedules, overseeing and directing rehearsals, and choosing the music. They may be in charge of the church’s or temple’s music library or may designate another indi- vidual to oversee it. Working closely with the minister or other religious leader of the congregation, choir directors plan all con- certs, programs, and other musical events. In addition, choir directors develop and maintain the music budgets for their religious institutions. In some cases, choral directors are expected to maintain office hours each week. During those times, they may write music, handle administrative chores, or work with small groups of singers and/or the organist or accompanist. Usually a bachelor’s degree in music is required, with a special emphasis on sacred music. A master’s degree may be preferred. Organist Organists carry on a long-standing tradition. They play their instruments at religious and special services,such as weddings and funerals. Recitals may also be given as part of the congregation’s spiritual programming. Organists choose the music to be played or may work with the choir or music director to accomplish this task. Organists are also responsible for making sure organs are in proper working order and may also advise the congregation on other music-related issues. Sometimes the organist also serves as the choir director or assistant director. Singer Singers use their voices as their instrument of choice. Using the techniques of melody, harmony, rhythm, and voice production, they interpret music and both instruct and entertain their audi- ences.They may sing character parts or perform in their own indi- vidual style. Classical singers are identified by the ranges of their voices: soprano (the highest range), contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass (lowest range). These singers typically perform in operas. Singers of popular music may perform country and western, rap, ethnic, reggae,folk,rock,or jazz as individuals or as part of a group.Often singers also possess the ability to play musical instruments and thus accompany themselves when performing (guitar or piano,for instance). Religious singers include cantors, soloists, and choir members. Conductor and Choral Director The music conductor is the director for all of the performers in a musical presentation, whether they are singing or playing instru- ments.Although there are many types of conductors—symphony, choral, dance band, opera, marching band, and ballet—in all cases, the music conductor is the one who is in charge of inter- preting the music. Conductors audition and select musicians, choose the music to accommodate the talents and abilities of the musicians, and direct rehearsals and performances, applying conducting techniques to achieve desired musical effects such as harmony, rhythm, tempo, and shading. Orchestral conductors lead instrumental music groups, such as orchestras, dance bands, and various popular ensembles. Choral directors lead choirs and smaller singing groups, such as glee clubs, sometimes working with a band or orchestra conductor. Announcer or Disc Jockey Radio and television announcers play an important role in keep- ing listeners interested. They are the ones who must read mes- sages, commercials, and scripts in an entertaining, interesting, or enlightening way. They are also responsible for introducing sta- tion breaks, and they may interview guests and sell commercial time to advertisers. Sometimes they are called disc jockeys, but actually disc jockeys are the announcers who oversee musical programming.
Disc jockeys must be very knowledgeable about music in gen- eral and all aspects of their specialties, specifically the music and the groups who play or sing that kind of music. Their programs may feature general music, rock, pop, country and western, or any specific musical period or style, such as 1960s or 1980s tunes. Work Settings for Musicians You’ll find musicians working in all kinds of settings. Popular instrumentalists are spread nationwide from small towns to large cities. Many consist of small groups that play at weddings, bar mitzvahs, church events, funerals, school or community concerts, dances, festivals, and other events. Accompanists play for theater productions or dance recitals. Combos, piano or organ soloists, and other musicians play at nightclubs, bars, or restaurants. Musi- cians may work in opera, musical comedy, and ballet productions or be a part of the armed forces. Well-known musicians and groups give their own concerts, appear live on radio and television programs, make recordings, appear in movies, create music videos, or go on concert tours. Many musicians work in cities in which there are fairly large populations and where entertainment and recording activities are concentrated, such as Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, San Fran- cisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Working Conditions for Musicians The life of a musician is not an easy one. Professional musicians are often forced into work schedules that are long and erratic, depending on how heavy the rehearsal and presentation schedules are. Usually daily practices or rehearsals are required, particularly for new projects. Work weeks in excess of forty hours are com- mon. Travel is often a familiar part of a musician’s or singer’s life, and a routine that includes daytime, nighttime, weekend, or holi- day work is entirely possible. Musicians who are lucky enough to be hired for a full season (a "master agreement") work for up to fifty-two weeks. Those who must work for more than one employer are always on the lookout for additional gigs, and many supplement their incomes by find- ing work in other related or unrelated jobs. Most instrumental musicians come into contact with a variety of other people, including their colleagues, agents, employers, sponsors, and audiences. They usually work indoors, although some may perform outdoors for parades, concerts, and dances. In some taverns and restaurants, smoke and odors may be present, and lighting and ventilation may be inadequate. Learning the Music Game Many people who become professional musicians begin studying their instrument of choice (whether it be voice, organ, harp, harp- sichord, string, woodwind, brass, or percussion) in childhood and continue the study via private or group lessons throughout ele- mentary and high school.In addition,they usually garner valuable experience by playing in a school or community band or orches- tra or with a group of friends. Singers usually start training when their voices mature. All musicians need extensive and prolonged training to acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and ability to interpret music. Par- ticipation in school musicals, religious institutions, community events, state fairs, bands, or choirs often provides good early train- ing and experience. Necessary formal training may be obtained through conservatory study, college or university study, personal study with a professional, or all of the above. Over six hundred colleges, universities, and conservatories offer four-year programs that result in a bachelor’s degree in music or music education. Usually both pop and classical music are studied. Course work will include classes in music theory, music composition, music interpretation, literature, conducting, drama, foreign languages, acting, and how to play a musical instrument. Other academic studies include course work in science, literature, philosophy, and the arts. Classroom instruction, reading assign- ments, discussion groups, and actual performances are included. A large number of performances are encouraged and expected, and students are evaluated on their progress during their time at the college. At the undergraduate level, a typical program for a violin major might consist of the following courses: • Instrument • Materials and Literature • Ear Training • Piano • Music History • Orchestra • Piano and Strings Chamber Music • String Quartet • Introduction to Literature • French, German, Italian, or Spanish (or another foreign language) • Academic electives The types of schools offering such courses vary widely. Here is an example of several. Small College Brenau University, a small college in Gainesville, Georgia, offers a bachelor’s degree program in performance. Areas of concentra- tion include voice, piano, and piano accompanying. The advantages of this type of school are that classes tend to be small, the atmosphere is friendly, and students receive a great deal of one-on-one attention. Before they can major in music, Brenau students must go through an audition. Once accepted, they com- plete courses such as the following: • History of Music • Theory • History • Period History • Choir • Major Instrument • Minor Instrument • Conducting • Diction • Opera Literature • Music Literature and Pedagogy They also complete electives in music, theater, dance, or foreign languages, along with general education courses in English, math and other areas. For more information, contact: Director of Music Brenau University One Centennial Circle Gainesville, GA 30501 Large University At a large university, students generally have access to more pro- grams than at smaller schools, including those at the graduate level. In addition, more courses within each program may also be available. Michigan State University, for instance, offers a bachelor of music degree in music performance with concentrations in five performance areas: piano, stringed instruments, wind instru- ments, percussion instruments, or voice.A piano pedagogy option is also available. Piano majors, for example, must take the following courses in addition to meeting performance requirements and completing general education courses: • Chamber Music • Keyboard Skills • Conducting for Music Performance Majors • Keyboard Methods and Literature • Piano Accompanying • Piano Performance • Keyboard Literature to Mid-Nineteenth Century • Keyboard Literature since the Mid-Nineteenth Century They also must complete two of these courses: • History of Oratorio • Song Literature: German • Art Song Literature: European and American • Music of the Eighteenth Century • Nineteenth-Century European and American Music Literature • Twentieth-Century European and American Music Literature • History of Opera Students in other areas have a similarly diverse range of course selections. Community College For students who don’t want to spend four years or more in col- lege, or who would like to save money and transfer later, commu- nity college programs can be ideal if music courses are available. At Lewis and Clark Community College in Illinois, students may earn an associate in fine arts degree in music performance. Programs are also available in music business, music theory, jazz studies, jazz performance, theory and composition, sacred music, and music pedagogy. Along with general education requirements, students complete courses such as Music Theory, Music Literature and History, Introduction to Music Literature, and hands-on instruction with the instruments of their choice, including trombone, tuba, per- cussion, violin, string bass, electric bass, guitar, piano, organ, or voice. Basic Traits for Success Those who are considering careers in music definitely need musi- cal talent. They also should have improvisational skills, versatility, the ability to sight-read, outstanding music memory, finger dex- terity, the ability to distinguish differences in pitch, determina- tion, imagination, creativity, perseverance, the ability to work with others, poise, and stage presence. Since high-quality performance requires constant study and practice, self-discipline is vital. Moreover, musicians who play concert and nightclub engagements must have physical stamina because frequent travel and night performances are required. They must also be prepared to face the anxiety of intermittent employment and rejections when auditioning for work. For announcers and disc jockeys, additional education beyond secondary school, particularly course work in areas such as public speaking, writing, English, communications, music, or radio and television broadcasting, is very advantageous. Desirable personal qualities include charisma, a pleasing voice, a good sense of humor, and expertise about the field of music. In addition, gain- ing experience as a production assistant or writer is beneficial, as well as securing a radio telephone operator permit from the Fed- eral Communications Commission (FCC). Musical conductors must have at least a high school diploma (and usually a college education) and knowledge of the arts, musi- cal history, harmony, and theory. Some understanding of lan- guages, such as French, German, Latin, and Italian, can also be helpful.Desirable qualities include charisma,a great ear for music, an air of style, and both business and musical savvy.Also desirable are knowledge of a wide range of instruments, advanced sight- reading skills, a sense of showmanship, the ability to lead, skills in performing in an appealing way, and the ability to use a baton to control timing, rhythm, and structure. Individuals become musi- cal conductors only after spending many years as musicians while studying to become conductors. Earnings for Musicians The range of financial rewards for musicians is wide.According to the U.S. Department of Labor, median annual earnings of salaried musicians and singers were just over $36,000 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $18,660 and $59,970. While the lowest 10 percent earned less than $13,040, the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,250. Salaries tended to be higher than average in performing arts companies and lower in religious organizations. For a relative few who become famous, earnings may be in the millions of dollars annually. This is not true just of rock stars; some orchestra conductors earn seven-figure salaries. But for most performers, such earnings will never be a realistic possibility. A number of factors may affect income. Earnings often depend on the number of hours and weeks worked per year, a performer’s professional reputation, and the setting. The most successful musicians earn performance or recording fees that far exceed the median earnings. The American Federation of Musicians has reported that weekly minimum salaries in major orchestras ranged from $734 to $1,925 during the 2002–2003 performing season. Each orchestra works out a separate contract with its local union, and individual musicians are eligible to negotiate salary variations. While top orchestras have a season ranging from twenty-four to fifty-two weeks, regional orchestras tend to have fewer perfor- mances. As a result, minimum salaries are often lower. The same is true in community orchestras, which often have even more lim- ited levels of funding. Some musicians employed by larger symphony orchestras work under master wage agreements that guarantee a season’s work up to fifty-two weeks. Other musicians, however, may face relatively long periods of unemployment between jobs. Even when employed, it is very common for musicians and singers to work part-time in unrelated occupations. Because they may not work steadily for one employer, some performers cannot qualify for unemployment compensation, and few have typical benefits such as sick leave or paid vacations. As a result, many musicians give private lessons or take jobs unrelated to music to supplement their earnings as performers. Many musicians belong to a local of the American Federation of Musicians. Professional singers usually belong to a branch of the Associated Actors and Artists of America. Future Prospects for Musicians Music is a crowded field. Competition for musician jobs is keen, and talent alone is no guarantee of success. The glamour and potential high earnings in this occupation attracts many talented and ambitious individuals. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that overall employ- ment of musicians will grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012. Most new wage and salary jobs for musicians will be found in religious organizations and in bands, orchestras, and other entertainment groups. Slower-than- average growth is projected for self-employed musicians, such as those who perform in nightclubs, restaurants, concert tours, and elsewhere. Competition is always great for announcers or disc jockeys. They must sometimes work on a freelance rather than a salaried basis. Ongoing changes in the world of radio, such as the growth of syndicated programs and the rise of satellite radio, may limit the number of openings in the future. For musical conductors, the outlook is not especially promis- ing. Job openings will be limited, and competition to fill them will be fierce. Career Development Strategies in Music The Job Search In a way, getting ready for a job search is like getting ready to do battle; you must arm yourself with all the best weapons avail- able to you and make the best possible plan of attack. The best weapons available to you include a well-designed resume, a well- conceived cover letter, a well-selected portfolio, and an audition tape or disc in the form of video or audio. The Resume For prospective musicians or for those who aspire to other per- forming careers, a resume is an essential tool just as it is for other career fields.A resume should include significant information that would make an employer want to hire you above all others, or at the least grant you an interview. Standing as a summary of your experience, skills and abilities, strengths, accomplishments, and education, the resume’s importance cannot be underestimated. Most experts agree that the best approach is to keep a resume focused and as brief as possible. Complete sentences are not nec- essary; phrases are acceptable. Keep your resume to a maximum of two pages—one is even better. Don’t list everything you ever did in your life; highlight important skills and accomplishments. One type of resume, the chronological resume, includes the fol- lowing elements: Heading. Provide a heading at the top of the page that includes your name, home address, e-mail address, and phone number(s). Invest in an answering machine or answering service if you don’t already have one—it’s an absolute necessity! Work Experience. This will be the main part of your resume, where your prospective employers will focus to determine whether or not you have the right qualifications for the job. So here is where you must show your expertise by emphasizing your accomplishments. Work experience is usually listed in reverse chronological order, beginning with your most recent position. Entries should be complete, listing the job title, dates of employ- ment, employer, and location, as well as descriptions of your responsibilities in each position. Use action verbs. Passive words don’t have the same impact. Education. Next to work experience, education is most impor- tant. Include all of the schools you’ve attended, the degrees you’ve earned, your field of concentration, and relevant extracurricular activities (student choral director, for example). Other Elements. In addition, your resume might include the following sections: • Professional Associations • Awards and Honors • Special Skills • References Nowadays, many resumes are posted online rather than printed and mailed or hand delivered, but the same basic principles still apply. The Cover Letter A cover letter is a document that sells the recipient on reading the resume. Cover letters are not used as frequently as they once were, since so many job applications are now submitted electronically. But they still have their place when resumes are mailed to poten- tial employers, and electronic versions can also be helpful. When used, a cover letter should be directed to a specific per- son whose name and spelling you have verified. Cover letters should be tailored to each specific company or job opening. Don’t use a form letter here, although some of the information, includ- ing the job you are seeking and some elements of your profes- sional background, may be the same. Cover letters should consist of the following elements: 1. A salutation directed specifically to the person who can hire you. 2. The opening, something that catches the attention of the reader. Be creative! Introduce yourself and specify the job for which you want to be considered. If you have a referral name, by all means mention it, and if you are responding to an ad, state that. If possible, show your researching skills by pointing out something new or positive you know about this employment possibility. 3. The body provides a brief summary of your qualifications for the job and refers to the resume, which will reinforce your selling campaign to win an interview or audition. 4. In the closing, request an interview and state your intention to follow up with a call, preferably on a specific date. If to be printed rather than submitted electronically, use the standard closing,"Sincerely yours," and type your name, leaving room in between for you to sign your name. It’s not a bad idea to put your address, phone number, and e-mail address under your name in the event your letter gets separated from the resume, which includes that vital information. Avenues to Music-Related Jobs What path leads to a job in music? The possibilities are wide ranging. Those who study music at an educational institution may find their first jobs by going through the school’s career-services office. Working closely with these human-resource professionals can provide you with a wealth of worthwhile advice. For example, since orchestra musicians usually audition for positions after completing their formal training, career-services staff at your school may provide you with a list of possible audition locations. Finding positions through want ads or ads published in trade journals is still a popular form of seeking jobs. Even more com- mon nowadays is the use of Internet job sites and those main- tained by employers. Professional organizations and associations may also offer you direct employment possibilities or provide you with agencies,companies,or other employers or contacts that may eventually evolve into positions. Consider joining an association that caters to your own musical specialty or to the field of music in general. It is important to realize that, no matter what the field, the majority of people find their jobs through networking. That means that you must make a concerted effort to let people know what your expertise is and that you are available. Talk to friends and acquaintances; go to club meetings and association work- shops. Volunteer to help with an event. Converse with people you deal with in everyday life: cleaners, bank tellers, personal accoun- tants—anyone you can think of. Of course, you may not hear about an opening directly, but one person may give you the name of another to contact, which could eventually lead to a job. In the music business, it is wise to get to know as many people as possi- ble, not only to make contacts that will lead to jobs, but in order to make contacts that may lead to internships, volunteer opportu- nities, or part-time work. Send a resume and cover letter to everyone you know who has any link to the music business. Let people know whether you have a tape or CD available that showcases your performing ability. If they want to hear it, they’ll get back in touch (don’t send these things out if they are not requested). Keep track of the responses, and follow up with people who respond. Individual musicians often join together with others to form local bands. Once a group is formed, you can advertise by placing ads, putting up notices, and spreading the message by word of mouth.You might also want to create a website for the band.After building a reputation, you may be able to obtain work through a booking agent or be qualified to become part of larger, more established groups. After having some performing under your belt, you might visit recording studios and talk to anyone you can. Tell them about yourself, your experience, your musical specialties. Make sure you leave your business card (or a sheet with your contact information and experience listed) with your instrument written on it. In fact, always carry cards with you and pass them out whenever you pos- sibly can. You may need to have a demo CD made to leave with possible employers. Demos, which are recordings of your voice or instrumental work, provide a good way to display your talents at their very best. Here’s a final birth-name challenge: Ramon Estevez.


I n our society, actors are special people. Those who have reached the top of the profession are constantly in the limelight. You can’t turn on the television or look at a magazine without see- ing their faces and learning (perhaps more than you want) about their lives. Gracing Stage and Screen Regardless of their level of success, actors share a common task: playing roles or parts in comedic, musical, or dramatic produc- tions. This includes performances on the stage, on television, in motion pictures, and on radio. In an attempt to both communi- cate and entertain, actors utilize speech, gestures, movement, and body language. In this way they operate as the principals who tell us a story. The work of actors begins long before they perform in front of an audience or camera. Before the actual production, they analyze the theme of the play or story, study the script, scrutinize the char- acter they are to play, memorize the lines, gain a concrete under- standing of the director’s viewpoint, become familiar with the cues that bring them on and off the stage, and often spend long, tedious hours in rehearsals. In some ways, the mediums in which actors work (whether on the stage, in movies, or on television) determines to what extent they must prepare for their parts. For example, performers assigned roles in musical comedies played onstage may not only have to memorize speaking lines, but also to sing, dance, and carry out other functions in connection with their parts, which may mean taking vocal or dancing instructions in order to fulfill the requirements of the role. Their roles may require them to speak with appropriate accents or speech patterns associated with the characters or the locale of the production, or to learn distinctive physical movements and gestures that are specific to the charac- ters they are playing. In some cases, they may be required to apply appropriate makeup, although in most cases, makeup artists are employed to accomplish this. Usually, actors who perform in stage shows rehearse for longer periods of time than do radio or television performers. Lines, actions, and cues must be perfect before the public sees the show. Musicals and stage plays may run for weeks or even years, although the people assuming the various roles may change. Rehearsals for a drama production may run about four weeks, while musicals may take one or two additional weeks. Radio performers are not required to practice as extensively as stage or film performers must since they can read their lines with- out having to memorize them. However, some rehearsal is usually required because they must be sure to put a lot of emotion into their voices so that listeners may gain an understanding and appreciation for the characters without ever seeing them. Weekly television shows and commercials are frequently filmed or taped in short periods of time. Many of the television programs currently scheduled are weekly series with all rehearsals and film- ing accomplished in six days or less. Special shows or films made exclusively for television take much more preparation than weekly shows. Since most television productions are prerecorded on film or videotape, the rehearsal and filming techniques are similar to those used in the movie industry. Generally, movie actors don’t rehearse a movie from the begin- ning to the end. They work on small segments, one at a time, and the cameras roll to film these short scenes. Later, the film editors put the scenes in proper order. Relatively few actors achieve star status in any of the mediums of stage, motion pictures, or television. A somewhat larger num- ber are well-known, experienced performers who are frequently cast in supporting roles.Many successful actors continue to accept these small roles, including commercials and product endorse- ments. Actors who accept nonspeaking parts are usually called day players or extras. Sometimes hundreds of extras are hired for movies—especially for scenes in which there are many people assembled for a large-scale event (such as a battle or a crowd scene). To become a movie extra,one must usually be listed with a cast- ing agency, such as Central Casting, a no-fee agency that supplies extras to all the major movie studios in Hollywood.Applicants are accepted only when the number of persons of a particular type on the list—for example, athletic young women, old men, or small children—is below the foreseeable need. Between engagements, actors refine and develop their talents by taking vocal, dancing, and acting lessons. They also may make personal appearances, accept offers to perform benefit shows, or teach drama courses to aspiring actors. Demand for Actors Performers are hired for stage shows, appearances in film, com- mercials, and parts on radio and television. New York and Holly- wood are the most likely places to land acting jobs. Next most likely would be cities such as Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Miami, Vancouver, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. However, most large cities have several theatre groups. Even smaller towns usually have acting groups that offer a chance to gain some experience and employment. These include little the- atres, children’s theatres, and regional and community theatres. Summer-stock tours take actors all around the United States and Canada. An Actor’s Life Although ordinary people tend to focus on the glamour involved, the life of an actor is usually an uncertain one. Professional actors always face the anxiety of unsteady employment and the disap- pointment of rejections. And because there are often long periods of unemployment between jobs, acting demands patience and total commitment. Performers must be available for constant rehearsals that may be stressful and physically and mentally exhausting—a situation that can be exacerbated by script or cast changes. Performers often spend several weeks rehearsing their parts, and some rehearsals may be scheduled on weekends, holidays, and evenings. Those having small roles may wait for hours before being called to rehearse their parts. Rehearsals may take place amid the clutter of electricians, cam- era operators, painters, carpenters, and stagehands. Heavy cos- tumes and hot lights may add to the stress. Deadlines loom in this business, too, and performers may be called upon to accomplish quite a bit in a very short period of time. In fact, a performer may rehearse one production in the morning and afternoon and per- form another every evening. The type of role being played often determines the amount of physical exertion required. For some roles, performers move about a great deal when walking or running, riding horses, danc- ing, or performing hazardous stunts, although a professionally trained stunt person usually undertakes the more dangerous stunts. Considerable traveling is often required of performers employed by theatrical road companies. These individuals per- form the same play in a series of locations. They frequently give an evening performance in one city and spend the following day traveling to the theatre where the next performance is to be given. They must adjust to the varying facilities and equipment available in each theatre. Movie personnel are also required to travel to sites that have been chosen as film locations. The physical surroundings of actors performing in stage pro- ductions can range from modern, air-conditioned, comfortable, and well-equipped theatres to those that are old and have inade- quate facilities. Backstage areas of many theatres are crowded, dusty, drafty, and poorly ventilated. Actors may be provided pri- vate dressing rooms or apply their makeup and change costumes in areas shared by several other performers. The Path to an Acting Career What path leads to an acting career? Aspiring actors should take part in high school and college plays and work with community theatres, summer stock, regional theatre, dinner theatre, children’s theatre, and other acting groups for experience. In fact, any stage work is useful. Formal dramatic training or acting experience is generally necessary and is definitely advantageous, although some people do enter the field without it. Most people take college courses in theatre, arts, drama, and dramatic literature. Many experienced actors get additional formal training to learn new skills and improve old ones. Training can be obtained at dramatic arts schools in New York and Los Angeles, among other locations, and at colleges and universities. Academic programs in drama and theatre are offered at both undergraduate and graduate levels through several approaches. College drama curricula usually include courses in the liberal arts, stage speech and movement, directing, playwriting, play produc- tion, design, and history of drama, as well as practical courses in acting. Other important areas include literature, dramatic arts, music, dance, communications, and English. At the University of Kentucky,students interested in acting have degree options that include a bachelor of arts degree (B.A.), a bachelor of fine arts degree (B.F.A.) with a concentration in acting, a bachelor of fine arts degree with a concentration in design and technology, and a master of arts degree (M.A.). The B.F.A. program is open only to students who have demon- strated special abilities in acting, and auditions are required for admission. This program offers a traditional liberal arts approach to the study of acting. In addition to general degree requirements, students complete courses such as the following: • History of the Theatre I and II • Acting I: Fundamentals of Acting • Fundamentals of Design and Production • Vocal Production for the Stage I and II • Script Analysis • Acting II: Scene Study (Realism) • Acting III: Scene Study (Styles) • Audition Techniques • Theatre Movement I and II • Topics in Movement • Acting IV: Classical Styles • Acting V: European Realism • Dialects • Production Practicum Students also complete a senior project as well as participating in one or more summer productions in professional theatre. For more information about this program, contact: University of Kentucky Department of Theatre 114 Fine Arts Building Lexington, KY 40506 Canada’s York University offers several degree programs related to drama, including a bachelor of fine arts honours program where students concentrate on studio work in performance or production. To earn a B.F.A. honours degree, students complete 120 credits, including 36 theatre credits at any level; 24 theatre credits at the upper-division level, with at least half in studio; 12 fine arts elec- tives that are not in theatre; 6 non–fine arts elective credits; 18 general education credits or approved substitutes; and 24 credits in elective courses. Here are some sample course descriptions for this program: • Acting (introductory course). An introduction to what a student may experience as a performer, it concentrates on verbal and nonverbal communication both in an ensemble situation and as a soloist. Reading and written work are an essential part of the course. • Acting (second course). A continuing exploration of the techniques and exercises commenced in the introductory course. Particular emphasis on script analysis and scene study, with a concentration on monologues and two- handed scenes, as well as a continued emphasis on journal writing. (optional) • Production (introductory course). Through exposure to a variety of technical areas, students will develop production- crew work habits and build a basic vocabulary in produc- tion and design. Participation on crews is a requirement of this course. • Production (second course). A continuation of the expo- sure begun in the introductory course but in considerably more depth and detail. Required for those interested in production and an option for all theatre majors. • Theatre Survey. A foundational encounter with diverse forms of theatre from different epochs, integrating analyt- ical reading with studio explorations of performance possibilities through scene study and rehearsed stagings and consideration of aspects of production and design. For information about overall program requirements, contact: York University 4700 Keele Street Toronto ON M3J 1P3 Canada Another college drama and acting program is New Jersey’s Cen- tenary College, which offers a B.A. in theatre arts. Students who enroll in this program have the opportunity to develop skills in a working professional theatre while pursuing a broad-based liber- al arts education. In addition to basic liberal arts courses, theatre students take classes in acting, dance, voice, and stagecraft. Of special note is the opportunity to participate in the Cen- tenary Stage Company, where students work in professional productions as actors, crew, stage management, and front-house personnel. Working alongside veterans of stage and screen, stu- dents gain exposure to the practical side of professional theatre. Those who are interested in joining the actors’ union may also earn credit toward obtaining union cards. Second- and third-year students may elect to study acting in several affiliate studios in New York City, and the college’s proximity to New York allows for a staff of instructors, artists, and designers drawn from the ranks of working professionals. For more information, contact: Centenary College 400 Jefferson Street Hackettstown, NJ 07840 For those with a bachelor’s degree, a challenging possibility is provided by the Actors Studio Drama School. This three-year intensive program is dedicated to training professional artists in the fields of playwriting, directing, and acting. Students who suc- cessfully complete the program are awarded a master of fine arts degree in theatre. The program is rooted in "The Method," an approach devel- oped by Constantin Stanislavski in Russia and later adapted in the United States through the Group Theatre and the Actors Studio.A major goal of the program is to produce "theatre artists who have access to emotional truth and moment-to-moment reality while maintaining a sense of stagecraft and professionalism."The Actors Studio Drama School is a joint program of New School University and the Actors Studio. More details are available at: Actors Studio Drama School 151 Bank Street New York, NY 10014 Getting Started Once you have your degree and some basic experience, the best way to get started is to make use of opportunities close to you, then build upon them. For example, regional theatre experience may help in obtaining work in a large city such as New York or Los Angeles. Modeling experience may also be helpful. In addition to a sincere interest in and love of acting, actors must have talent, training, poise, stage presence, the ability to move an audience, the ability to follow directions, an appealing physical appearance, and experience in order to succeed. Other important elements for success include hard work, dedication, self-confidence, versatility, ambition, good health, patience, com- mitment, stamina, the ability to memorize, the ability to with- stand adverse conditions, perseverance, drive, determination, desire, discipline, and the ability to handle emotional tension and disappointment. Those who are self-conscious or withdrawn will not make it. The length of a performer’s working life depends largely on training, skills, versatility, and perseverance. Some actors continue working throughout their lives. Many, however, leave the occupa- tion after a short time because they cannot find enough work to make a living. Compensation for Actors While superstars make tremendous amounts of money, the incomes of most actors are modest. Median annual earnings of salaried actors were $23,470 in 2002, according to the U.S. Depart- ment of Labor. The middle 50 percent earned between $15,320 and $53,320. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $13,330, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $106,360. Minimum salaries, hours of work, and other conditions of employment are covered in collective bargaining agreements between the produc- ers and the unions representing workers. The Actors’ Equity Asso- ciation (Equity) represents stage actors; the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) covers actors in motion pictures, including television, com- mercials, and films; and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) represents performers who work in television and radio studios. While these unions generally deter- mine minimum salaries, any actor or director may negotiate for a salary higher than the minimum. Under terms of a joint SAG and AFTRA contract covering all unionized workers, motion picture and television actors with speaking parts earned a minimum daily rate of $678 or $2,352 for a five-day week as of July 2003. Actors also receive contributions to health and pension plans and additional compensation for reruns and foreign telecasts of productions in which they appear. According to Equity, the minimum weekly salary for actors in Broadway productions as of June 2003 was $1,354. Actors in off-Broadway theatres received minimums ranging from $479 to $557 a week as of October 2003, depending on the seating capac- ity of the theatre. Regional theatres that operate under an Equity agreement pay actors $531 to $800 per week. For touring produc- tions, actors receive an additional $111 per day for living expenses ($117 per day in larger, higher-cost cities). Some well-known actors earn well above the minimum. Their salaries may be many times the figures cited, creating the false impression that all actors are highly paid. For example, of the nearly one hundred thousand SAG members, only about fifty might be considered stars. The average income that SAG members earn from acting—less than $5,000 a year—is low because employment is erratic. Therefore, most actors must supplement their incomes by holding jobs in other occupations. Many actors who work more than a set number of weeks per year are covered by a union health, welfare, and pension fund, which provides hospitalization insurance. Employers who hire Equity actors contribute to this fund. Under some employment conditions, Equity and AFTRA members receive paid vacations and sick leave. How About the Future? Employment of actors, producers, and directors is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. As in the past, large numbers of people will aspire to enter these professions.At the same time, many will leave the field early. Their experience will show them that the work—when it is available— is hard, the hours are long, and the pay is low. Competition for jobs will be stiff, in part because the large number of highly trained and talented actors auditioning for roles generally exceeds the number of parts that become available. Only performers with the most stamina and talent will find regular employment. On the positive side, expanding cable and satellite television operations, increasing production and distribution of major stu- dio and independent films, and continued growth and develop- ment of interactive media, such as direct-for-Web movies and videos, should increase demand for actors and related workers. However, greater emphasis on national, rather than local, enter- tainment productions may restrict employment opportunities in the broadcasting industry. Venues for live entertainment—such as Broadway and off- Broadway theatres, touring productions, repertory theatres in many major metropolitan areas, theme parks, and resorts—are expected to offer many job opportunities. Prospects in these venues are more variable, though, because they tend to fluctuate with economic conditions. Finding Acting Jobs How do you land acting jobs? Armed with your college degree, basic knowledge of the acting business, and some experience, you’ll need to prepare a portfolio that highlights your qualifi- cations, acting history, and special skills. This will take the form of a resume and "head shots," or photographic portraits. You will need to have photos taken by a professional photographer, one who shows you to your best advantage. These are the essential tools of your trade.Attach your resume to the back of your picture with one staple at the upper left- and right-hand corners. Once you have your portfolio ready, you can start making the rounds at casting offices, ad agencies, and producers’ and agents’ offices. Several trade newspapers contain casting information, ads for part-time jobs, information about shows, and other pertinent data about what’s going on in the industry. Publications of inter- est include: Daily Variety Magazine ( ) The Hollywood Reporter ( ) TDR/The Drama Review () Journal of American Drama and Theatre () Theater ( ) Once you drop off your resumes and head shots, don’t just sit at home waiting for that phone call or e-mail message. It’s wise to stay in contact—stop by and say hello. Check in by phone every week to see if any opportunities are available for you. If you are currently in a show, send prospective employers a flyer. It shows them that you are a working actor. When you get past this initial stage and actually win an audi- tion, there are some things you should remember. Audition Tips Here are some words of advice for aspiring actors. • Be prepared. • Be familiar with the piece—read it beforehand and choose the parts you’d like to try out for. • Go for it—don’t hold back. • Speak loudly and clearly—project your voice to reach the back of the room. • Take chances. • Try not to be the one going first—if you can observe others, you can see what they do, correct their mistakes, and get a feel for the script. • Be enthusiastic and confident. • Keep auditioning—even if you don’t get any parts, you are getting invaluable experience that is bound to pay off. So,when do you get an agent? Not right away,anyway.You don’t need an agent to find audition opportunities. There are many parts you can audition for that do not require an agent—theatre, nonunion films, union films. However, most commercials are cast through agencies, so you would most likely need an agent to land one of those. While waiting to be chosen for a part, acting hope- fuls often take jobs that afford a flexible schedule and money to live on, such as waiting tables, bartending, or driving taxis. Words from the Pros Introducing Jennifer Aquino Jennifer Aquino grew up in Cerritos, California. She got her first taste of acting at St. Linus elementary school in Norwalk, where she played the leading role of the princess in Beyond the Horizon. Continuing with success in this area, she received the Performing Arts Award while attending Whitney High School. Subsequently, she graduated from the University of California–Los Angeles, where she studied theatre and dance and received a bachelor of arts degree in economics. (After all, the entertainment industry is a business!) As a member of the dance team, she was a UCLA cheerleader for three years. In addition to cheering for UCLA’s football and basketball teams, she also entered national dance- team competitions. Following her college graduation, she got her first break playing Eolani, the wife of Dr. Jacoby in David Lynch’s television series "Twin Peaks," a result of her very first audition. Then she got an agent and joined the Screen Actors Guild. She has performed in various theatrical productions since then and was a founding member of Theatre Geo. She is also active with the East West Play- ers network of actors. "I remember performing at family gatherings ever since I was a little kid,"says Jennifer."I always enjoyed being in the spotlight. To me, acting is like a child’s game of pretend, something I always enjoyed. I see it as a career where I can earn a lot of money while having a lot of fun. At the same time I am entertaining people, impacting them, making them think, making them feel certain emotions, educating them, and helping them escape from their current lives." Like most actors, she needed a day job to keep income coming in. For her it was a career in the health-care industry working for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. She then became a health-care consultant for a major accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche. She was a good employee, and her managers were cooperative in let- ting her go out on auditions.After a few years,she realized that she was working too many hours, and she made the tough decision to quit her day job to focus entirely on acting. Acting itself also requires long hours, but she is willing to make that commitment. The workload sometimes involves working seven days a week, including mornings, afternoons, evenings, and weekends. Along with the time spent on the creative side of acting is the need to focus on business concerns—talking to agents or managers, networking, attending seminars, meeting people, and sending photos to casting directors, producers, directors, or writ- ers. She also tries to keep her stress level down and take care of herself by getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthily, and having some relaxation time. "What I like most about my work is that I am making a living doing what I absolutely love to do and that I am pursuing my pas- sion in life," Jennifer says."Not too many people in this world can say that." She adds that the least appealing aspect of her work is what might be called the political side. She feels that it’s not always the best actor who gets the job, but sometimes it’s more a matter of personal connections or other such factors. Aquino advises anyone who is considering acting as a career to pursue their dreams and be persistent. "But do that only if it’s something you absolutely love to do, and there’s nothing else in the world you would rather do," she says. "Pursue the creative as well as the business side of acting. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you want to do.And always keep up your craft by con- tinuing your training." Introducing Gonzo Schexnayder Before getting into show business, Gonzo Schexnayder earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and advertising at Louisiana State University. He attended various acting classes at LSU and Mon- terey Peninsula College in Monterey, California. He also attended Chicago’s Second City Training Center for over a year and the Actors’ Center following that. He is a member of both SAG and AFTRA. "I had always wanted to do stand-up comedy but didn’t pursue it until graduating from college, when I began working with an improvisational comedy group," he says. "Four months later, the military sent me to Monterey, California, for language training. While there, I did my first staged reading and my first show. I’d never felt such elation as when I performed. Nothing in my life had given me the sheer thrill and rush that I experienced by creat- ing a character and maintaining that throughout a given period of time. Nothing else mattered but that moment on stage, my other actors, and the scene we were performing." After completing the language training program, he returned to Louisiana. There he began the long process of introspection about his career choices and what he wanted to do. He began to audition locally and started reading and studying acting. He still had not made the jump to being an actor but was merely investigating the possibility. One night, while watching an interview with actor John Good- man, Gonzo realized how important acting had become to him. He knew that it possibly meant a life of macaroni and cheese and Ramen noodles, but he realized that until that moment, nothing else had made him as happy or as motivated. While he believed he had the skills and the drive to make it in advertising or some other career, he decided that acting was his only logical choice. "Whether it’s rehearsing a show, performing improvisation in front of an audience, or even auditioning for a commercial, it’s fun,"he says."If you can separate the sense of rejection most actors feel from not getting a part, auditioning for anything becomes your job. Rehearsing becomes your life. Just as a carpenter’s job is building a house, as an actor, I look at my job as building my per- formance. The final product is there for me to look at and admire (if executed well), but the path to that product is the thrill." Gonzo says he loves the process of acting and sometimes just the fast-paced, eclectic nature of the business. There is always something new to learn and something new to try. He especially enjoys the excitement of performing live and the personal satis- faction of getting an audience to laugh or cry simply by saying the right words in the right way. "I dislike pretentious actors and people who take advantage of an actor’s desire to perform," he says. "As one of the few profes- sions where there is an abundance of people willing to work for nothing, producers, casting directors, agents, and managers who only care about the money will take advantage of and abuse actors for personal gain. Being an astute actor helps prevent much of this, but one must always be on the lookout." Here’s another birth-name challenge: Sean Combs. For More Information Books Bekken, Bonnie Bjorguine. Opportunities in Performing Arts Careers. McGraw-Hill, 2000. Bild, Kathryn Marie. The Actor’s Quotation Book: Acting in a Nutshell from Those Who Really Know. Smith and Kraus, 2003. Cohen, Robert. Acting Professionally: Raw Facts About Careers in Acting. McGraw-Hill, 2003. Field, Shelly. Career Opportunities in Theater and the Performing Arts. Facts on File, 1999. Ferguson Publishing Staff. Ferguson’s Careers in Focus: Performing Arts. Ferguson Publishing Company, 2002. Mauro, Lucia. Careers for the Stagestruck & Other Dramatic Types. McGraw-Hill, 2004. Mitchell, Stephen, and Kathi Carey. How to Start a Hollywood Career Without Having to Go There: An Instruction Manual for Actors. Cinebank Productions, 2001. Pasternak, Ceel, and Linda Thornburg. Cool Careers for Girls in Performing Arts. Sagebrush Bound, 2000. Shepard, John W. Auditioning and Acting for the Camera: Proven Techniques for Auditioning and Performing in Film, Episodic TV, Sitcoms, Soap Operas, Commercials, and Industrials. Smith & Kraus, 2004. Periodicals Back Stage East 770 Broadway, Fourth Floor New York, NY 10003 Back Stage West 5055 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036 Daily Variety Magazine 5700 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 120 Los Angeles, CA 90036 or 360 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10010 Organizations for Actors Actors’ Equity Association 165 West Forty-Sixth Street New York, NY 10036 Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists 625 Church Street Toronto, ON M4Y 2G1 Canada
Alliance of Resident Theatres (A.R.T./New York) 131 Varick Street New York, NY 10013 American Alliance for Theatre and Education 7475 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 300A Bethesda, MD 20814 American Association of Community Theatre 8402 Briarwood Circle Lago Vista, TX 78645 American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) New York National Office 260 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016 American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) Los Angeles National Office 5757 Wilshire Boulevard, Ninth Floor Los Angeles, CA 90036 American Film Institute 2021 North Western Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90027 American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) 184 Fifth Avenue, Sixth Floor New York, NY 10010 American Theatre Works, Inc. PO Box 510 Dorset, VT 05251 Canadian Actors’ Equity Association 44 Victoria Street, Twelfth Floor Toronto, ON M5C 3C4 Canada National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) 11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21 Reston, VA 20190 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) 360 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10017 or 5757 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036 Theater Communications Group, Inc. 520 Eighth Avenue, Twenty-fourth Floor New York, NY 10018

Jugglers and More

Those who fit into the category of "class clown" include all types. For some, being at the center of attention does not nec- essarily involve humor. Instead, they might offer excitement or some other brand of entertainment instead of, or in combination with, comedy. Such is the case for jugglers, who occupy a unique niche in the world of performance arts. Jugglers are generally considered variety performers. This group also includes mimes, impersonators, ventriloquists, pup- peteers, and storytellers, among others. Jugglers may entertain audiences by working alone or in groups. They may present their acts in many ways and styles in order to meet the interests and tastes of their audiences. Perform- ers might do a single show, or they may present a complete show in nightclubs, circuses, fairs, carnivals, motion pictures, or on television. O BJECTS Y OU C AN J UGGLE Golf balls Baseballs Softballs Glow-in-the-dark balls Apples Oranges Beanbags Clubs Juggling sticks Rings Torches Knives (handle with care!) The Life of a Juggler The juggler’s life is not for everyone. Those comfortable with the nine-to-five world may find it too unstructured for their tastes. But for prospective entertainers, juggling can offer an interesting array of challenges and opportunities. Jugglers perform under all kinds of conditions. They may work indoors or outdoors, at night or in the daytime. They might per- form in a theatre, in a school auditorium, at a mall, or in the park- ing lot of a shopping center. Nightclubs are often crowded and noisy. Studios may be hot and poorly ventilated. Gymnasiums may have no stage or poor sound systems. Conventions and trade shows can be noisy and distracting. Entertainers must be able to adjust to whatever situa- tion is at hand. Jugglers usually find it necessary to travel to be successful. Many such entertainers travel an established circuit. They wedge rest and meals between travel and performances. When they are first starting, most performers have little time and limited money for meals and hotel rooms. Few entertainers of this type work regular hours. A perfor- mance may be anything from a ten-second television commercial to a full-length performance lasting several hours. They may con- tract for a single appearance or for a long engagement of several weeks. Besides performing, they spend a great deal of time in practice and rehearsals. A one-hour television show, for example, may require five days of rehearsal. Keys to Success What does it take to be a successful juggler? First, of course, is the basic skill of the juggling act itself. Typically, this is mastered first on a small scale and then polished into something that audiences will find impressive. To get to that level, jugglers need talent, stage presence, and self-confidence in order to establish a rapport with the audience. Stamina, self-discipline, commitment, and the determination to keep trying are also vital. So are strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and dexterity. Since jugglers and other variety performers must sell them- selves to agents, employers, and their audiences, they must have charm, style, and originality. They must also be able to work well with other performers, technicians, directors, and others. They also should be able to adapt to a constantly changing schedule as well as the stress of a scarcity of bookings. Learning the Craft Want to earn a bachelor’s degree in juggling? Think again. There are no defined educational requirements for jugglers or other variety performers.However,a good academic background will be helpful in many aspects of this career. High school subjects should include English, the arts, and business courses. A college degree is always a strong asset. Many colleges offer programs in drama or theatre arts, and most such programs offer courses or activities that bring exposure to interpretation, costumes, makeup, history, directing, and related studies. Certainly, it is very important to study and practice one’s craft. All successful performers in this area have worked long and hard to perfect their skills. Students who want to be jugglers or other variety performers can start developing their skills in middle or high school. They might appear in school plays and shows and perform at parties, for church and community audiences, and in talent contests. Where Jugglers Work You may find jugglers or other variety performers working in a range of settings. The main centers for the highest-paid workers are Las Vegas, New York, and Hollywood. In large cities, they perform in stadiums, arenas, and other entertainment centers. In small towns and rural regions, performances may take place in schools, churches, or community centers. Performers may work in private homes, on street corners, or in shopping malls. They may also work in nightclubs, casinos, hotels, resorts, and restau- rants. They perform for business meetings, conventions, promo- tions, and industrial and trade shows. They work at a wide range of social events and private parties. Schools and colleges also offer some possibilities. Performers appear for fraternities and sororities, alumni organizations, special-interest groups, class reunions, and student bodies. Col- lege theatre groups also employ variety performers. Organizations of all kinds book performers for meetings, fund- raisers, children’s parties, seasonal and holiday shows, parades, and other social and business events. Performers may find work at festivals, pageants, and fairs. They may travel with a carnival or circus or work on a cruise ship. Variety performers may tour other countries as part of a com- pany or with a USO group. They may appear in stage shows, at dinner theatres, in motion pictures, and in television shows and commercials. City parks, recreation departments, and amusement parks may hire jugglers for special events. Getting Started in Juggling The road to juggling typically begins on a small scale. Many per- formers start out in local charity or school programs. They may appear on talent shows. As they become better known, they audi- tion for booking agents, producers, and other possible employers. Trade journals, websites, and the yellow pages list jobs, the- atrical agencies, and booking agents. Performers may get leads through a union or from friends and associates. They can make phone calls, send e-mail messages, write letters, and send resumes to potential employers. They must have a portfolio, and possibly videotapes or other media, to show prospective employers their record of performances. Beginning variety performers in New York and other major cities may develop their acts in clubs, cabarets, and places that offer an open mike. Some entertainers perform on the street or at festivals. Performers of this type have no guarantee of promotions or higher pay. Those with talent, determination, and luck may find openings for paid performances. Performers who become known locally may hire an agent to get bookings. A few may become celebrities. Others may be satisfied with steady work. Successful performers may work as solo acts, or they may start their own companies and advance to directing and producing. They may work as promoters or agents for other performers. Or they may work as performers on a part-time basis, sandwiching such activ- ities around the requirements of a regular job. International Jugglers’ Association A great source of information about this field, and an important provider of helpful services and support for practitioners, is the International Jugglers’ Association (IJA). In operation since 1947, this nonprofit organization focuses on the advancement and pro- motion of juggling throughout the world. The IJA members rep- resent a diverse array of skills, ages, and interests and span the range from amateurs to dedicated professionals. Membership is open to all who seek to share their love of juggling. The mission of the IJA is to educate and render assistance to fellow jugglers. The organization provides accessible information pertaining to juggling and jugglers and records and maintains the history of juggling. It offers a wide variety of services, includ- ing an annual festival, workshops on topics of interest to mem- bers, and a magazine. Its online store offers videos, DVDs, and other merchandise. The organization also produces videotapes of its events and instructional materials that members may purchase. Juggler’s World magazine, which is published by the IJA, presents reviews of new videos, books, and props; descriptions of some of history’s great juggling acts; interviews with the juggling world’s most fas- cinating personalities; historical information; and more. Contact this organization as follows: International Jugglers’ Association PO Box 112550 Carrollton, TX 70511 Another source of information about juggling is the Internet Juggling Database. This online site offers answers to frequently asked questions, basic details on learning to juggle, information on juggling clubs, schedules of forthcoming performances or events, a video database, articles on juggling, and more. Check it out at . Financial Prospects The earnings of jugglers vary with their skill, fame, employer, geo- graphic region, and the kind and amount of work. They may receive anywhere from $25 to five-figure fees for one performance. Some of these entertainers earn more for an hour than others do for a week, but the pay for that one hour could be their entire income for a month. For union members, minimum pay rates are governed by agreements established by groups such as the Ameri- can Guild of Variety Artists, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The American Guild of Variety Artists represents performers in nightclubs, circuses, and other places that present live enter- tainment. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists serves performers of live or taped radio and television programs. The Screen Actors Guild serves performers in film, television, and commercials. The Associated Actors and Artists of America is an umbrella organization for the nine AFL-CIO unions that rep- resent performing artists. All these unions negotiate contracts on wages, hours, and working conditions. Performers may sign indi- vidual contracts with special terms. Union contracts also set terms for overtime and residuals (pay- ment for reruns of films, commercials, and television shows in which the performers appear). The performers may also get a per- centage of any sales from videos, DVDs, or other items such as dolls and games modeled after performers. Because most performers are self-employed, they do not receive the fringe benefits other workers get. Although they work nights, weekends, and holidays, they seldom get extra pay. Union con- tracts may include pension plans, health insurance, and other aid. Entertainers who work for one employer long enough can collect unemployment insurance when the job ends. Sick leave and paid vacations are rare. National and local arts organizations some- times offer group insurance and other benefits for those not cov- ered by union contracts. Most performers have other jobs. Many take whatever kind of work they can get to fill in between jobs. They may sell their tapes, films, DVDs, books, or other products. Future Prospects While jobs in this field can be exciting, the prospects for employ- ment are limited. There is no accurate estimate of the number of performers or the number of jobs available. The unemployment rate is very high—perhaps 60 to 65 percent for these workers. The competition is stiff. The number of job seekers is always greater than the number of jobs. Most entertainers work only part-time. At best they make only a modest living. Only a very few become rich and famous. Words from the Pros Introducing Jack Kalvan Jack Kalvan is an entertainer who is based in California but who works all over the world. His training includes a number of com- edy, acting, and dance classes, including Greg Dean’s Stand-Up Comedy Workshop in Los Angeles. Jack has been interested in entertaining since childhood. At the age of twelve, he unwittingly determined his fate by teaching him- self to juggle three balls. Juggling quickly became his main love and obsession. Jack honed his juggling skills for many years while fulfilling his more scholarly ambitions. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in Pitts- burgh and then took a job in robotics at IBM Research in York- town Heights, New York, where he actually worked on building and teaching a robot to juggle. He eventually quit that job to pur- sue his true love, a career in juggling. Since starting his career, Jack has performed thousands of shows in hundreds of cities around the world. He has appeared on television shows such as the "Drew Carey Show" and "Days of Our Lives." "I had so much fun practicing juggling, I spent most of my free time doing it," he says. "I was becoming pretty well known by other jugglers. When people offered me money to juggle, I could not turn it down. While I was working at IBM in New York, many of my friends were doing street shows. It looked like fun, and they were making pretty good money at it. I did some of my first shows passing the hat in New York’s Central Park and Washington Square." Now, much of his time is spent at home. But when he does work, he makes enough money to live on the rest of the time. About twice a month he spends a day on the phone calling up agents and trying to get work. There are times when he works every day for long periods. At one time, when he was performing extensively at colleges, his days were mostly spent driving to the next show and sleeping in hotels. Now he is usually employed for one show at a time. He has enjoyed performing in Atlantic City and also in Japan. He has worked frequently on numerous cruise ships. When not performing, he periodically develops new shows. This involves a substantial amount of time writing new routines and rehearsing them, as well as writing and designing new promotional materials. "The best thing about this career is that I get paid to juggle," he says."And I am paid well enough that I can spend most of my time at home with my family, doing whatever I want. I seldom have to get up early, and I don’t have to work in an office. I am self- employed and can take the shows I want and not take the shows I don’t want." He says that at first the travel was very exciting, but now it’s one of the things he likes least because he usually doesn’t have time to go sightseeing. Jack worked with a partner, Rick Rubenstein, for about ten years doing a two-man show called Clockwork. The two met in college and became friends and then partners. Later, Jack made the transition to performing exclusively solo shows. "I would advise that you not expect to become famous or wealthy," he says. "Remember that it may take years before you have a good show. Be original; the world doesn’t need any more corny juggling acts. Research, but do not copy what others have done. Do what you are good at. Never be satisfied with your show; always strive for improvement." Introducing the Raspyni Brothers Dan Holzman and Barry Friedman present themselves as the Raspyni Brothers. While they are not actually brothers, they are a successful juggling duo. The two partners met in a park in the 1980s when they were twenty years old, and they quickly formed a partnership to perform comedy/juggling shows.After more than two decades of entertaining, their credits include "The Tonight Show," a command performance for the president, "Circus of the Stars," and the "Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon." They have performed as the opening act for Tom Jones, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and other famous entertainers and have also won several juggling championships. For their previous jobs, Dan sat in a room and sorted x-rays. Barry drove a forklift in a small warehouse. "These jobs had a tremendous bearing on our career paths because we knew that if we didn’t find something more interesting and challenging to do with our lives, they would just bring us more x-rays and pallets," Dan says. Today, they spend much of their time on airplanes flying around the country as well as to other nations. On show days, they meet with clients and make sure that they understand exactly what is expected of them as performers. When at home, they meet and talk about new markets, new routines, and new projects to make themselves more popular. They also practice juggling, usually for an hour each day. Asked what they like most, the two list the travel, the money, the excitement of performing, meeting and working with famous celebrities (because it humanizes them and makes their level seem attainable), being on television, seeing new places, staying in world-class resorts, getting standing ovations, seeing people laugh so hard that they have tears in their eyes, doing encores, sending postcards from the Caribbean to all the people who said they would never make anything of themselves, and eating in New Orleans. The main shortcoming is the need to be away from home so much."Our life is the textbook case of ‘the greener grass’ theory," Barry says. "We usually find ourselves either at home or on the road and wishing for the other. Too often, friends get married on weekends when we are traveling. Too bad more people don’t get married on Tuesday nights; we’re usually available!" The two advise others to work hard and be creative. They offer these tips:"Don’t ever take no for an answer; someone will say yes if you keep asking. Believe in yourself. Don’t ever treat life like a rehearsal. Do what you love, and if you are good at it, the money will follow. The beaten path has already been taken, so blaze a new one for yourself. Don’t ever be content with what you have done; there is only one time to quit, and God lets you know when that time has come." Introducing Jonathon Wee Jonathon Wee is a San Francisco–based entertainer.He has a bach- elor of arts degree in economics from Luther College, a small, private liberal arts college in Iowa. Jonathon is largely self-taught. He learned primarily from going to juggling festivals, seeing other jugglers, and juggling with them. He started out by learning to juggle three bean bags when he was in eighth grade at the age of thirteen.A woman was teaching a few people to juggle, and he thought it looked like fun, so he joined in and was immediately hooked. He spent much of his spare time just standing in a corner of the room, or wherever he could find space, juggling for hours. Then he taught two friends, and the three of them started doing small shows for birthday parties and picnics. Their first real job of any distinction was at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival when he was fifteen. "I was first fascinated with the juggling itself," he says. "The feeling of satisfaction, of learning something that seemed impos- sible but soon became easier and easier,was compelling.And there were no boundaries—just so many possibilities. Hundreds of tricks with three balls, then working on four balls, then tricks with four, then five, and so on.And then when that got boring, all I had to do was pick up rings or clubs (the things that look like bowling pins) or flaming torches, and it was all new again." He also found juggling was a fun thing to do with others. "You could teach each other, show off what you had learned, or chal- lenge the other person or people to do what you can do. The next step was cooperating and learning to pass between two or three or more people. That group effort and accomplishment was a fun way to meet and bond with people. But I became truly attracted to it as a profession when I got onstage and realized that I could make people laugh and applaud. And the fact that I could actually get paid for it was almost too good to be true!" One summer during college, Jonathon had a job laying sod. He remembers it as the most miserable working experience he had ever had. It was dirty, back-breaking work, but the experience helped him realize that by comparison, juggling was something really wonderful. He still had some thoughts about a more main- stream job after college, but he knew that his college education was at least going to keep him out of doing hard labor, and he was glad about that. Once he made the commitment, Jonathon was able to build a successful career. He and his partner often work for corporate clients, juggling their products while making jokes or references to the industry or company. They also perform at comedy clubs, on cruise ships, at NBA halftime shows, and other venues. Most of their performances take place evenings and weekends. "I love making people laugh,"he says."I love being able to travel and meet interesting people in exotic and fun places. And I love the possibilities. I never know what the next phone call is going to be—it could be a great new gig, a trip around the world, a spot on a television show, or an audition for our own television show or movie—anything!" Introducing Doubble Troubble Jugglers Nick and Alex Karvounis are based in Las Vegas but work all over the world, including shows on cruise ships. Both earned bachelor of arts degrees in film and television production from New York University. The two began juggling in elementary school when their gym teacher taught the entire fourth grade juggling during class. Of the hundreds of children he taught over the years, Alex and Nick were the only ones to con- tinue juggling as more than just as a hobby. On weekends during middle and high school, they practiced juggling with many ama- teurs and professionals at the Baltimore Jugglers Club. By this time, the two were already performing a twenty-minute magic and juggling show for children’s birthday parties. They found they enjoyed making people laugh. "I think, in the long run, the reason we continue to perform our comedy and variety show is the satisfaction and joy you get when you step out onto stage and make a theatre full of thousands of people laugh," Nick says. "I remember seeing an article on Anthony Gatto, another juggler from Baltimore, and his job in Las Vegas. I remember seeing a photo of him on stage juggling seven rings. I said ‘Wow!’ And that’s another reason I love to perform. I love to see people walk away from our show and say ‘Wow . . . amazing.’ Pure satisfaction!" After performing at children’s birthday parties, conventions, and other events in the Baltimore area on the weekends during high school, Nick and Alex went to college. Their four years at New York University in the heart of the Big Apple proved reward- ing. During the summers they worked at a resort in the Poconos, where they served as camp counselors during the day and enter- tained at night. The first time they performed onstage was as an opening act for a comedian. The manager asked them to do fifteen minutes, but they lost track of time and ran over thirty minutes. Nevertheless, the pair was still invited back. They also began to experiment with street performing. "Street performing is where an act can really become refined," Nick says. "It is when you are out on the street that you really learn how to keep an audience. If your show isn’t interesting enough or funny enough or exciting enough, the audience will leave. I am truly convinced that the street is what makes or breaks an act. The street will separate the good from the bad,the strong from the weak.The street is where we learned to deal with hecklers in the crowd. This experience with street performing and passing the hat for a few bucks is where we really learned to appreciate the audience. The only reason we as entertainers survive is because the audience decides that we should survive. The second the audience stops lik- ing you, you’re dead." From New York and the Poconos, they moved on to theme parks, such as Bush Gardens in Williamsburg and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After relocating to Orlando for work with Disney, they were offered their first job on a cruise ship. "Cruise ships are definitely the place to be,"Nick says."The the- atres that we perform in are more beautiful than most showrooms in Las Vegas. They are state-of-the-art theatres that hold more than a thousand people and have forty-foot stage ceilings, orches- tra pits, and millions of dollars worth of lights and sets. On a seven-day cruise with RCCL [Royal Carribean Cruise Line], you can expect to see two celebrity entertainers, two large-scale- production shows, and three to four other variety artists. Every act is professional and entertaining. Our work on the cruise ships is very rewarding and exciting." Nick and Alex find that many people think their jobs are easy, but it’s not just a matter of putting on a one-hour show and then sitting back for the rest of week. Even though a show may last a fraction of a normal workday, there is much more that goes on behind the scenes. When they are between contracts, much of the day is spent making phone calls and sending out promotional materials. Many phone calls are made to their agents and prospective clients, searching for that next booking. They also stay busy on the com- puter, designing new brochures and updating materials for their portfolio, sometimes taking days or weeks to achieve the exact look they want for the client. With the use of desktop-publishing software, Alex and Nick have mastered the design of new promo- tional materials directed specifically to a prospective client, adding that personal touch to each piece. For instance, when they were designing promotional materials to submit to the National Basketball Association, they added NBA photos along with pictures of their act to make the materials more personalized. Any given day may continue with the unexpected as well. An agent may call and ask if they can send promotional material to a client for a last-minute job. Everything in their office stops so that they can send out a package overnight halfway around the world. One hour later, after a long line at the post office, they are back in the office with other projects still waiting for them. When evening comes, they may still be working. "People wonder why we don’t stop at five o’clock. It may be quitting time in Las Vegas, but halfway around the world in Tokyo, there is an agent who needs to talk to us. We have come to find that there are no office hours in this business as well as no week- ends or holidays. When the phone rings, the phone rings, and if you don’t pick it up you may miss an important job. And it has happened to us before, so we quickly learned our lesson." Another part of their work is trying out new routines at the gym or on the racquetball court. It may takes months to perfect a new routine with new props and choreography.A typical rehearsal might run an hour. Through trial and error, they begin to find what feels right and looks right. They note that the process can be frustrating because when they are learning new tricks, their tim- ing may be off, and they may drop things. But all the hard work pays off when the trick is perfected and applause and laughter come from the audience. Their act includes a good deal of comedy. Some of their humor- ous material comes by accident. If they are in the middle of a show and someone slips or says the wrong word, they may turn it into comedy. They say the most rewarding part of the job is the actual show."It is exciting to see and hear an audience laugh and respond to the juggling and comedy," Nick says. "The travel also makes for a unique and interesting part of the job. We are in a position to do what we love to do and see parts of the world that we thought we’d only see in history books or on the Travel Channel. Our performing has taken us to nearly every continent on the earth and seeing and meeting people of every culture and back- ground. It has been a learning experience far beyond anything we could have expected, which is what makes us enjoy taking our show on the road." They add that while traveling may bring excitement, it can also become tiresome. Waiting in crowded airports and carrying lug- gage are definite downsides. "There is more to performing than just knowing how to juggle," Nick says. "There have been some great jugglers in the past who couldn’t entertain an audience. The novelty of juggling wears off quickly, so you must come up with something unique to keep the audience’s interest. To keep your show interesting, you must make the audience like and relate to you onstage. Finally, the most important thing is that you have to enjoy what you are doing. If not, move on and try something else. Good luck!" Other Variety Performers Along with jugglers, a number of other career areas involve some type of variety performance. In addition to those of actors and musical performers (covered later in this book), they include the following: • Acrobat • Amusement-park entertainer • Announcer • Aquatic performer • Dancer • Disc jockey • Impersonator • Magician’s assistant • Mime • Narrator • Psychic • Puppeteer • Ring conductor • Rodeo performer • Show girl • Stuntman or stuntwoman • Talk-show host • Thrill performer • Ventriloquist • Wire walker Making It as a Mime A mime is a performer who practices pantomime, which is the art of conveying stories by bodily movements alone; no words are spoken. Sometimes this art is called mime for short, as is a person who practices it. Mime performances can be seen frequently as practiced by members of amateur theatre companies, but relatively few men and women make a career of it. Like jugglers or other variety artists, many mimes pursue this art as a hobby or part-time career. Those who love mime feel it offers a special challenge, since performers may use only their skill with bodily movement or facial expressions to convey emotions or other concepts. Marcel Marceau Without doubt, the world’s most acclaimed mime is Marcel Marceau. Born in Strasbourg, France, Marceau became interested in mime as a child and eventually made it his career. He studied under another famous mime, Etienne Decroux, and ended up becoming famous not only in Europe, but also in North America and elsewhere. Marceau created Bip, a character in a striped pullover and bat- tered opera hat who became his alter ego. Bip’s encounters with people, animals, and objects became the stuff of legend in the entertainment world. Marceau has been performing in the United States and Canada since the 1950s, both in live performances and on television. His awards are too numerous to list. The French government awarded him its highest honor, the Legion of Honor, and he holds honorary doctorates from Ohio State University, Linfield College, Princeton University, and the University of Michigan. If you are interested in exploring a career as a mime, you cer- tainly will want to watch him perform and study his style. Even if not, anyone can enjoy his wonderful performances. For additional information, including details about upcoming performances, visit the website offered by the Marcel Marceau Foundation at . Learning Mime To learn the art of mime, consider taking classes. Sometimes you can find workshops or classes offered by a local college, university, or individual performer. A few organizations specialize in such activities. The American Mime Theatre, located in New York, teaches a unique approach based on an identified balance of playwriting, acting, moving, pantomime, and theatrical equipment. This approach differs from that of the French schools and is taught only at the American Mime Theatre. For information, contact: The American Mime Theatre 61 Fourth Avenue New York, NY 10003 Mime Theatre Studio, located in North Hollywood, California, offers weekly classes in mime theatre throughout the year. Begin- ners complete an introductory level made up of six classes. After that, they may attend classes at more advanced levels for as long as desired. Short-term workshops are also offered. Students at this school learn the fundamentals of the art, basic physical and dramatic skills, specialized movement skills, "physi- calization"of emotion, and stylization techniques. In the course of their studies, they are exposed to techniques developed by Marcel Marceau, Etienne Decroux, Polish master Stefan Niedzialkowski, and others. For more information, visit the Mime Theatre Studio website at . Venturing into Ventriloquism Another specialty in the area of variety performance is ventrilo- quism. Performers who develop this skill project their voices so that the sound seems to be coming from somewhere else, typically from a dummy that forms the other half of a comedy act. While some performers specialize as ventriloquists,others com- bine this approach with other types of comedy. Some use it as a gimmick to deliver religious messages or other material. If you’d like to explore this area, consider getting in touch with someone who is a practicing ventriloquist and asking for tips. Or take a class or workshop. A good place to get started is the Inter- national Ventriloquists’ Association. This group offers an annual festival and publishes a magazine, Distant Voices. It also provides helpful networking opportunities. For more information, contact: International Ventriloquists’ Association PO Box 17153 Las Vegas, NV 89114 Here is your next birth-name challenge: Jennifer Anastassakis. For More Information Daily Variety Magazine 360 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10010 or 5700 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 120 Los Angeles, CA 90036 Daily tabloid for the entertainment industry International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) PO Box 112550 Carrollton, TX 70511 Internet Juggling Database (IJDb) Screen Actors Guild (SAG) 360 Madison Avenue, Twelfth Floor New York, NY 10017 or 5757 Wilshire Boulevard Hollywood, CA 90036


A t one time or another, everyone has been awed by the clever performance of a magician. For a few very talented and lucky people, a career in magic has led to fame and fortune. For example, do you know who this is describing? 1. Birth name: David Seth Kotkin. 2. Birth date: September 16, 1956. 3. He gave his first magic show at the age of ten. 4. He was the youngest-ever member of the Society of American Magicians at age twelve. 5. Before leaving high school, he taught a few classes of magic to drama students at New York University. 6. He was cast as the lead in The Magic Man, the longest- running musical in Chicago history. 7. He is a world-renowned multimillionaire. If you guessed David Copperfield, you’re right! Of course, not everyone will be as successful as this famous performer, but many are content to enjoy a measure of success as professional magicians. Zeroing in on What a Magician Does Magicians don’t really makes things disappear, but they make it seem that way. Performing carefully designed tricks of illusion and sleight of hand, they use their creative powers and a variety of props to entertain and mystify audiences. Magicians are masters of illusion. They do one thing, while an audience sees another. Through a combination of complicated techniques and persuasive comments, a magician can appear to pull a rabbit out of a hat, make a handkerchief disappear, or per- form other "amazing" tricks. A magician may include a participant from the audience and secretly remove the person’s wallet while a delighted audience looks on. Or a magician may use a wooden box or other prop to appear to saw a trained assistant in half. Magicians generally depend on props such as illusion boxes, cards, or coins. Although many magicians perform similar tricks, each magician brings a unique style to his or her performance. It takes a high degree of skill to perform the different illusions. The more skilled and experienced the magician, the more complicated the illusions. Can You Do This? Here are some of the tricks performed by magicians: • Sleight of hand (making the hand appear faster than the eye). Examples include card tricks, disappearing balls, or handkerchief tricks. • Illusions (visual deceptions that may involve large objects and/or the use of special equipment). Some examples include sawing a woman in half or making an animal disappear. • Mentalist tricks (appearing to read people’s minds or predict the future). Examples include "guessing" people’s birthdays or revealing secrets of audience members. • Great escapes (escapes from seemingly impossible situations). Examples include shucking handcuffs or escaping from a cage or locked crate. The Magician’s Job A typical performance for a magician takes place indoors in front of a live audience. There may be a crowd in a large theatre, or the audience might consist of just a few people at a birthday party. Magicians often work alone, but it is common for a magician to have one or two assistants to help during a performance.At times, a magician may have to move heavy props, such as tables or large boxes. Developing the Magic Touch Magicians are skilled entertainers. It can take years of practice and training to become an accomplished magician, yet it is often pos- sible to learn some of the more basic tricks in just a short time. Professional magicians rarely reveal in public how they per- formed their tricks. The reasons are obvious. If everyone knew how a trick were done, it would no longer be a trick. The element of surprise and wonder would be gone. For this reason, the most common form of training is for a budding magician to study under a professional magician. In this way, neophyte magicians learn how to perform the various illusions. Many beginning magicians start their careers working as assistants for more expe- rienced magicians. If possible, talk to several magicians who live in your area to find out how they feel about their work. It’s also worthwhile to read magazines and books that explain some of the basic magic tricks. Try performing them in front of your family and friends. Then prepare a performance for a school or other group and see how you feel about doing this on a regular basis. People generally do not take college or high school courses to learn magic tricks, although courses in acting or public speaking can help a magician become more effective. It is important for a magician to have good business skills, since magicians usually handle their own financial matters. It is also important for magicians to have strong sales skills, since they are always, in effect, selling themselves and their abilities to prospective clients. A good magician is an actor who is able to deceive people with- out making them feel silly or embarrassed. It is important for a magician to be comfortable performing in front of large groups of people. It’s also essential to be creative in developing original forms of presentation. Training Opportunities As noted, magic is not an academic subject traditionally taught in schools or colleges. Nevertheless, some training opportunities are available to those willing to seek them out. A number of magicians offer lessons or classes on a local basis; consult a phone directory of your local chamber of commerce to find them. If such opportunities are not available in your area, you can locate videos, DVDs or other training materials online. For example, MagicTricks.Com ( ), which bills itself as the largest online professional magic shop, offers more than thirty-five hundred pages of free information about the art of magic, as well as books, videos, and other items that may be purchased. In addition, it provides links to other sites of interest, including some offering lessons or training materials. In pursuing these or other links, keep in mind that just as in other areas, quality and reliability may vary widely if you go shop- ping online for magic courses or related items. Be sure to check out any provider’s track record before investing your time and money. The Financial Angle While world-famous magicians such as David Copperfield can earn many thousands of dollars for each performance, most magicians do not earn enough from their performances to sup- port themselves financially. The vast majority of magicians are those who perform at night or on weekends and have other full- or part-time jobs. A magician may earn anywhere from fifty dol- lars for performing at a birthday party to several thousand dollars for performing at a business meeting or magic show. Like other performance artists, magicians face an uncertain employment picture. Highly skilled magicians should find many job opportunities, while those just beginning may find it difficult to secure employment. There has been a trend for some businesses to hire magicians at trade shows and sales meetings to improve interest in a product. This should create some well-paying oppor- tunities for those with skill and a good reputation. Words from the Pros Introducing Carl Andrews Jr. Carl Andrews Jr. is a comedy sleight-of-hand expert who lives and works in Florida. He has performed on Japanese television and has appeared in Las Vegas,Atlantic City, and the prestigious Magic Castle in Hollywood. Playing the guitar in high school bands was his official intro- duction to show business, and he credits his success with magic to SOME FAMOUS MAGICIANS PAST AND PRESENT THEN: NOW: Harry Houdini David Blaine Harry Blackstone Lance Burton Howard Thurston David Copperfield Harry Kellar Siegfried & Roy
years and years of practicing and reading widely about his craft. He feels that his fascination with magic is something that every- one experiences at one time or another. Carl’s usual daily routine starts out with business, such as phone calls, e-mail, and mailings. Then he rehearses new routines and reads or studies videotapes. He performs in the evenings. "What I like most is working for myself and doing what I enjoy for a living," he says, "which is making people laugh. I love to entertain.The only downsides would be when business is slow and being self-employed means no paid vacations." Carl advises others who are interested in magic to study and read all they can about the field. "Develop your own unique per- forming character and style," he says. "Then practice, practice, practice!" Introducing Larry Moss Larry Moss runs an entertainment business in Rochester, New York, called Fooled Ya. He earned both a bachelor of arts degree in math and computer science and a master of science in elementary education from the University of Rochester, but he says he has no formal training in the three things he teaches and performs: magic, juggling, and balloon art. He also wrote a book on balloon sculpting that has been distributed all over the world, and he maintains a website that offers a collection of resources for bal- loon artists. Before becoming interested in magic, Larry focused on music. He started playing the violin at five years old and continued through high school. He had intended to continue pursuing music, but he got sidetracked when putting together a wizard cos- tume for Halloween one year. "Being a performer, I went a little overboard learning to play the part of a wizard," he recalls. "I discovered that magic was a wide-open field for creative expression that I enjoyed even more than playing the violin." Moss says that it was actually an accident that he ended up going into entertaining full-time. Making people laugh had always been important to him, but it wasn’t something he expected to do for a living. He paid his way through college by performing on street corners and at birthday parties. But when he took a "real job,"he decided it wasn’t right for him. So he went back to school, once again paying for his education by performing. It was only when he finished school the second time that he realized what he enjoyed most was entertaining. He also came to realize that if he could finance his education by performing, he could continue to be successful in this area. "I watch all the performers I can, all the time," he says. "I don’t care if they’re in my field or not. I’ve been influenced heavily by people doing things as diverse as clowning or ballet. "I don’t have a ‘typical’ day. I suppose the largest portion of my time is spent being a salesman. I sell myself and my art all day long, everywhere I go. It’s not an imposing sort of selling. Mostly, I’m just being myself. I’m always ‘on’ and always ready to talk about my business if the opportunity arises." Larry divides much of his time into writing about what he does, rehearsing for shows, creating new routines, and simply playing with balloons, which combines relaxing, practicing, and being creative. "The best part about this kind of work is that I rarely see peo- ple who aren’t happy,"he says."If they aren’t in a great mood when I arrive, they almost always are when I leave. I get paid to make people happy. What could be more fun than that?" On the downside, he tends to work different schedules than his friends. Another reality is that work, and therefore income, can be inconsistent. "An entertainer makes a career by being different from others," Moss says."Everyone looking to get into entertainment has to find their own differences and work on those above all else. Classical training can only go so far. If you only have the same skills as others around you, you can easily be replaced. But if you’re unique, you’ll always be needed by someone." Introducing Bill Palmer Bill Palmer earned a bachelor of arts degree in Germanics from Rice University in Houston and also studied music at the Univer- sity of Houston for three years, but he credits his success as a magician to on-the-job training and "plenty of seminars." He comes from a family of entertainers; his father was a music educator and concert artist, so he got started when he was just a child. He saw Harry Blackstone Sr. perform his vanishing- birdcage trick in a live show and said to himself, "That’s what I want to do when I grow up!"Besides performing his magic shows, he has also played in several bands. Bill works from his home. Since his work is seasonal, during the off-season he finds alternate ways to occupy his time, such as writ- ing and building magic props and banjos. "I like the accolades I receive when I do a good show," he says. "I’m an applause junkie. But I dislike the grunt work—packing and setting up. The upside of being a magician is that there are people I have entertained for three generations now. But the downside is the same—there are people I have entertained for three generations now!" To anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps, Bill advises focus- ing on the basics."Don’t take up entertaining unless you are will- ing to learn your craft from the ground up," he says. "Learn the fundamentals, then expand on them. Study with the best. Take drama courses. Learn to read and speak well. Be yourself.And take vitamins!" Here is your next birth name challenge:Terry Jean Bollette. For More Information Magic Organizations The International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM), founded in 1922, is the world’s largest organization for magicians. The orga- nization boasts a membership of more than fifteen thousand members worldwide. It sponsors over three hundred regional organizations called Rings around the world. The International Brotherhood of Magicians is a respected organization for amateur as well as professional magicians. For more information, contact: International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) 11155 South Towne Square, Suite C St. Louis, MO 63123 The Society of American Magicians (SAM) was formed in 1902 and is the oldest active organization for magic anywhere. It has more than 250 chapters around the world, and more than three hundred thousand individuals have held membership in the Soci- ety. The organization’s magazine is called M-U-M after its motto, Magic-Unity-Might. SAM actively promotes magic as an enter- tainment and art form and has the world’s largest youth program for magic, called the Society of Young Magicians (SYM). Young people between the ages of seven and fifteen may join SYM. For more information, contact: Society of American Magicians (SAM) PO Box 510260 St. Louis, MO 63151 Society of Young Magicians (SYM) 329 West 1750 North Orem, UT 84057 Another organization that focuses on young magicians is Mag- ical Youth International. You can obtain more information from: Magical Youth International 159 Ralston Avenue Kenmore, NY 14217 A more narrow focus is taken by the Fellowship of Christian Magicians, a religious organization dedicated to the use of visual illustrations to illustrate religious presentations. Members use techniques such as sleight of hand, optical illusion, ventriloquism, puppets, balloons, clowning, juggling, and storytelling in per- forming for church groups or other audiences. The group pub- lishes The Christian Conjurer magazine, holds conferences and workshops, and provides networking opportunities. More details are available by contacting the organization as follows: Fellowship of Christian Magicians FCM Mail Center 7739 Everest Court North Maple Grove, MN 55311 Magazines A great way to keep up with modern magic is to consult one of the magazines specializing in magic-related information. Genii, which describes itself as the conjuror’s magazine, offers a wealth of information in every issue. You can find historical articles on great magicians and their techniques, tips on how to perform spe- cific magic tricks, updates on happenings in the world of magic, and more. Its online version also includes a forum where those interested in magic can participate in online discussions. For information, contact: Genii: The Conjuror’s Magazine 4200 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 106–384 Washington, DC 20016 Another publication, Magic: The Magazine for Magicians, also provides readers with a wide variety of magic-related informa- tion. This monthly magazine offers profiles of working magicians, historical stories, predictions for the future, and reports on all types of magic shows. Readers can also check the "great new tricks" section each month, which offers advice from some of the world’s most successful magicians. You can also find listings of current magic performances in nightclubs, amusement parks, resorts, cruise ships, and elsewhere, as well as news, editorials, and product reviews. For more information, contact: Magic: The Magazine for Magicians 6220 Stevenson Way Las Vegas, NV 89120 Books Allen, Jon. Simple Magic Tricks: Easy-to-Learn Magic Tricks with Everyday Objects. Hamlyn, 2004. Eldin, Peter, and Eve Devereux. Card & Magic Tricks. Gramercy, 2004. Garenne, Henri. The Art of Modern Conjuring: For Wizards of All Ages. Gramercy, 2004. Hugard, Jean, and Frederick Braue. The Royal Road to Card Magic (Cards, Coins, and Other Magic). Dover Publications, 1999. King, Mac, and Mark Levy. Tricks with Your Head: Hilarious Magic Tricks and Stunts to Disgust and Delight. Three Rivers Press, 2002. McEvoy, Harry K. Knife Throwing: A Practical Guide. Tuttle Publishing, 2004. Scarne, John. Scarne’s Magic Tricks (Cards, Coins, and Other Magic). Dover Publications, 2003. Silverman, Kenneth. Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss. Perennial, 1997. Tyson, Donald. The Magician’s Workbook: Practicing the Rituals of the Western Tradition. Llewellyn Publications, 2001. Wilson, Mark. Mark Wilson’s Cyclopedia of Magic: A Complete Course. Running Press, 1995.