Playing live and in person as often as possible is one of the best methods to establish a fan base for music educators and band directors.
The problem: You are caught in a classic chicken-and-egg scenario.
You need an audience to get a gig, but you need a gig to acquire an audience.
Never give up! It is possible to break out of the vicious cycle, and I will explain the best ways to book gigs for music educators and band directors.
Make a promotional package.
Prepare a package to present yourself, your students, your band, and your act to venues, promoters, and other schools or universities. Maintain simplicity, impact, and clarity. Make sure your promotional package sets you apart from the other bands, speakers, educators, or performers they could hire. Make it impossible for them to turn you down.
Contain a brief sample CD, a bio or brief introduction to your music curriculum or your band, and any professional work references you have, especially if they include live performance reviews. Create an e-version that you can send to venues and promoters. Set up your website so that hiring directors and others can quickly understand your skill set and what you seek.
Seek hometown gigs.
Your hometown is the ideal area to look for gigs for your students or band.
If you aren’t already familiar with your local music scene, get to know it. Take the time to determine:
Which schools or venues are willing to allow emerging music educators or band directors to shine?
What local schools or universities have openings for directors or educators?
Approaching appropriate locations and schools increases the likelihood that they will hire you. It will also save you the time and frustration of attempting to be employed at schools or with bands unwilling to hire untested talent.
Don’t confine yourself to conventional schools or other music venues. Consider educating or directing a band at festivals, street fairs, and summer camps as alternatives. They may pay less but are more willing to try out new band directors and music educators.
Tip: Keep local chat forums, news outlets, and university bloggers informed about your availability. If nothing else, this will keep your name moving through the proper band and music education circles.
Reach out to schools.
To find a job as a music educator or band director, reach out to schools, universities, local clubs, and after-school program leaders. Send them your promotional materials, then follow up with them by phone or email. The school or program director may inform you when you should contact them again, or they may arrange for a meeting. If not, give them a week and follow up with a phone call or email. Continue until you get a response, but don’t become a nuisance.
Seek professional guidance.
Consider approaching a professional agent or headhunter if you aren’t sure where to begin looking for open music education or band directing positions. They may be able to reach out to the right places at the best times and provide you with “insider” information to give you a leg up on the competition.
Read all contracts thoroughly.
Most music educators and band directors aren’t moonlighting as lawyers. Nonetheless, it is critical that you comprehend everything in any job contract you sign.
Every position you’re hired for will have different requirements and required skill sets. Read every page of a contract carefully to ensure you are a good fit for the position and that the hiring institution is the right fit for your skills.
If you don’t understand something in the contract, reach out to the hiring director or their human resources department for clarification. Hiring directors like to know that each potential hire has an eye for detail and isn’t scared to ask questions.
Connect with the best.
If you haven’t taught many music classes or directed a band before, you might find the right connections by joining local clubs and activities. When you begin your career journey, you may not make much money from teaching or directing, which is okay. It contributes to your knowledge, skills, and personal and professional growth.
You owe it to yourself, your band, and your students to make the most of any job you’re hired for. Practice till you’re at your best. Always be attentive to your student’s or band members’ needs. Always dress and act professionally and abide by the institution’s rules and mission.
Don’t think of landing a music education or band directing job as a final destination. Instead, consider it the beginning step toward a long and prosperous teaching career.