Advice for Musicians during the Pandemic: Part 4, Education and Outreach
Updated: Jun 3, 2021
To expand on our last post about the marketing and promotion materials that we encourage you to work on during this period, there is one type of document which is not widely done, but we think is highly valuable: an Education and Outreach Document.
An educational and outreach document is a brief overview of yourself as an artist, with a focus on educational and outreach activities, as well as an overview and description of the types and nature of educational and outreach activities you can offer, both as stand-alone engagements and, more commonly, as an add-on to a concert booking. You can think of it as an EPK specifically for outreach activities.
An Education and Outreach Document is an essential tool for many reasons:
It can enable single engagements to be expanded to mini-residences or extended residencies.
Educational activities can add to tour engagements to provide additional activities for additional contracted revenue and become eligible for certain touring subsidies.
Many presenting organizations and venues have as part of their mandate collaboration with school and community organizations.
It demonstrates your commitment to access to the arts for all.
All of the above reasons make an artist more appealing to presenters.
Most importantly - it will lead to more opportunities for YOU to connect with audiences and communities in intimate, informal context.
There is no one-size-fits-all education and outreach document - but generally, it should include the following components:
Photograph(s) of the artist, especially photos of past teaching or workshops
Educational mission statement
Summary of available programmes
More detailed description of each programme including activities, topics, age level, duration(s), and description of teacher materials available
Testimonials from past participants (quotes from children are great!)
Provide a short version of your group or soloist biography (around 150 words)
You can use your standard biography, but it’s a good idea to edit it to put more emphasis on your experience teaching and in community outreach settings.
Educational mission statement
Your educational mission statement should reflect your personal values and beliefs about teaching. When writing your educational mission statement, ask yourself : What are my artistic values, and how can I share them with an audience? Why is it important for me to connect with the larger community beyond the concert hall? You want to show presenters that you are passionate and thoughtful about your approach to education and outreach. This should be a short paragraph of around 3-5 sentences (around 200 words).
Overview of educational and outreach activities
Give a brief overview of the types of activities you are offering. This can be simply a few sentences or bullet points. The idea is to allow the reader to quickly understand the range of potential activities without reading through a detailed list.
Detailed description of educational and outreach activities
This will be the most substantial portion of your document. For each activity you are offering, give a brief description, along with relevant information:
1. Age level - you should have activities on offer for as many ages and community contexts as possible. This doesn’t mean each activity must be totally different than the others - you can keep the same basic concept, and add age-appropriate material for different groups. Here are some examples of age/community groups you can specify:
Primary/Elementary School (Ages 6-10)
Secondary/Middle & High School (Ages 11-16)
College, Conservatory, & University (Ages 17 and up)
Concert audiences - pre-concert lecture
Community centres, senior residences, libraries, amateur musician groups, community and youth orchestras, centres for social services such as shelters and centres for community members with special needs - and more! (You may wish to design specific programmes for one or more of these populations if you are passionate and knowledgeable about serving this community sector, or you can simply put all of these under the umbrella of community outreach)
2. Possible lengths of activity : Are you comfortable presenting for just 30 minutes? Three 30 minute sessions back-to-back? Do you need an hour to really do your programme justice? Give options and be specific.
3. Ideal number of participants, if this is a consideration: For something like an instrument petting zoo or participatory workshop, you may need to specify a maximum number of participants.
4. Description of supplementary teacher materials and pre/post workshop activities available
You will go a long way towards convincing presenters that you are a capable and professional educator by providing teachers with preparatory materials in advance of your educational activity. They can use these to prepare the class and provide context and introduction to your activity - and help build excitement!
For each educational activity that you create, it’s helpful to include a specific pre-workshop activity and a post-workshop activity that can be done by parents or teachers. Studies show that pre engagement of students will increase participation and impact.
Try to design activities that can reinforce the current knowledge of students and/or participants while adding new concepts. All activities should reflect your educational and artistic values.
You don’t need to include all of the teacher materials in your document, but do include an example so that it’s clear the type of material you have prepared. Have these materials on hand so that you can quickly send them to interested community presenters.
We encourage you to be creative both in the conception of the activities and in their presentation. Here is a great example of an education and outreach program that serves both as a pre-workshop activity for the kids, but also as a tool for teachers, parents, and eventually presenters: NSO Music for Young Audiences: The String Thing.
As we are not teachers, this work can require some research, but keep in mind that having an education and outreach program can convince a presenter that you really know what you are doing and that you are eager to help them build a community around music and music knowledge.
Sources and additional resources
Great example :
Other class activities suggestions :