Becoming a kid’s magician is a very rewarding job. You can set your own hours, earn a good wage and bring smiles to young children. But how do you go about becoming a children’s entertainer?
1.Organise your material.
2.Create your costume.
4.Keep everyone safe.
5.Create your brand.
1.Organise your material.
A children’s entertainer, or kid’s magician, needs a full show to perform. This is different to a close up magician who might start out knowing only a handful of effects. If you want to entertain at children’s parties, schools and libraries you will need approximately 30 – 45 minutes worth of material. You won’t need 45 minutes of non-stop effects but you will need to command your audience for the full amount of time: little bits of business; jokes; visual gags; and maybe even a puppet.
Start watching examples of children’s entertainers and their shows to see how they fill the time and plan the entertainment journey for the kids.
The best children’s magic shows establish the performer quickly and get the children interacting with phrases they can call out and feel involved. Very quickly the behaviour expectations ae set (This might sound more like a formal school thing but you will notice that the best performers quickly show the children how they should be behaving and where the boundaries are. Next there are a mixture of funny and amazing magic routines. Sometimes a puppet is brought out for around 10 minutes of silly fun. Children understand that the character you are talking to is a puppet but they always love a good puppet. Why is this? The puppet can be cheeky and say things that you normally wouldn’t bringing you onto the same level as the children.
Examples of great children’s entertainers and places to learn check out the links at the bottom of the page.
2.Create your costume.
Your image is very important as a kid’s magician. Take a bit of time deciding what you would like to wear. Make it bright or appealing for the children. Also make it comfortable for you to work in. A lot of children’s entertainers start off with branded Polo Shirts as they tick all of these boxes.
Keep your image simple but recognisable to begin with so that families can recognise you from your images and book you for their events.
Do a quick Google Search for children’s entertainers in your area and see what they are wearing. Make your image contrasting to theirs so that families and bookers don’t get your brands confused by accident.
Going forward you can be much more creative with your image but there is no need to do this at the start.
One of the most important steps to improving your children’s show is to get flight time and experience. This can sound daunting as not only does your experience have to be ‘in the real world’ and ‘in front of a live audience’ but that audience is children and they can be the most Blunt of critics! To get this experience as a children’s entertainer start by offering your services to family and friends for their parties at a reduced rate, or even for free. These are great as you can try out your material with children you might already know and with grown-ups that trust you. There will be a lot of mistakes and things you haven’t planned for which you will only find out after a few shows. Work out these kinks in a safe environment with friends and their families.
After this speak to local schools and libraries, explain your situation and see if they will book you at a reduced rate to help you gain experience. These first few public gigs are still going to be rough and a lot of hard work but you will learn a lot from performing your show in these real situations. Stay clear from festivals and open days for the time being – they can be a very different set up and will not necessarily give you a fair trial of your material.
Try and gain some photographs or video footage from these early gigs if you can as this will go a long way to helping you create a brand (step 4)
4.Keep everyone safe.
For the safety of the children, and for your own professional safety, make sure you are never left alone with the children: There should always be other adults in the room during your performance. Preferably an adult who knows the children and has the role of ‘loco parentis’. This could be one of the parents or a teacher.
Why is this so important? Children are challenging little things at the best of times and we should always expect the unexpected. One of them might need the toilet halfway through the show, they might have an argument with each other and a scrap break out, they might start shouting out and need someone to manage their behaviour, they might have a medical condition that needs taking care of in some way or another. They might outright get up and try to walk out. All of these can happen. If you are the sole adult with sole responsibility then you have no-one to support you when they do. You should not be taking children to the bathroom; you should not have to leave your show to chase down a runaway child; you should not have to manage unruly behaviour; your job is to entertain. The parents or employees are there to do all the other stuff.
Worse than all of these examples is the time when a child makes a complaint about you as the performer. Children might say you have acted inappropriately or claim you have said something inappropriate. Whether they are doing this maliciously or accidentally your whole career can vanish before your eyes. Having another adult present makes sure the truth will be heard.
To help with working in schools and libraries you can consider getting a DBS check (Criminal Records Check). However, even with one of these, do not get left alone with a group of kids.
As someone who has over ten thousand hours of classroom experience dealing with children I cannot stress this enough. If you are left alone with children you are putting yourself at a greater risk professionally and I have seen many a career vanish overnight because of this. Safety is a huge priority.
5.Create your brand image.
Now that you have had experience entertaining in front of children as a kid’s magician start to look at your brand. Use the images you have gained to create a website and a show reel. Start your own page on Facebook and start sharing your service with your community.
Create branded banners for your backdrop and get your logo printed on your props case.
In the eyes of a potential booker a well branded magician looks more appealing than one who has not got their brand together.
Remember that parents take photos and share them with their friends. Manage your set design so that your brand logo will be in these photos and will therefore automatically be shared too.
Parents love social media and often follow parenting sites. Reach out to you or local ones and place adverts for your services using your new branding. Get your face out in the crowd in the places they will be searching.
Below are some examples of great Children’s entertainers I have had the pleasure of working with or watching their shows live. Check out their individual styles, their clothing choices and their routine choices. They all have created their own little niche and are very popular because of it.
Examples of great children’s entertainers:
Kids magic suppliers
Practical magic https://practical-magic.com/
Our family have seen Dave’s shows on many occasions. He performers at various places as the resident children’s entertainer including Cadburys World.
Dave Oakley recorded a podcast with us. Check it out!
Dave Allen is an amazing family entertainer. His style is very upbeat an full of energy. His branding is clear and bold so that wherever he goes in the week people recognise him. And children love his cow puppet!
Dave Allen also recorded a podcast with us. Check it out!
Professor Dan is one of the nicest guys you will meet in the kid’s entertainment industry. Watch the video clip below and check out his style. In some ways it could be considered simple but putting together a stripped back, minimalist performance takes careful planning and thought. In Dan’s longer shows he uses puppets, makes balloon models, an uses a whole host of routines. Dan is even a Punch and Judy performer (Hence the title ‘professor’).
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