Just a very short piece about taking photos and the recording of my
Children’s Magic Shows and Birthday Parties…
I am more than happy for you to film my Magic Shows and take photographs throughout the Birthday Party. My aim is to make memories for you, your children and your family and friends, so you can record those memories and play them back over and over. Especially when the Birthday Child is involved. They will be Laughing, Giggling and full of Great Expressions, so be sure to have the cameras pointing at them!
As I never use my camera when you book me, I really appreciate seeing any pictures you’ve taken, so please feel free to share them in one of the following ways…
You may be a teacher or a member of a P.T.A (Parents Teacher Association) and you might be looking for a way to reward children, celebrate Christmas or raise funds. One way to do this is to hold a School Disco. I have a lot of experience as a School DJ and am a regular DJ at Infant, Primary and Junior Schools in Portsmouth, Southsea, Havant, Waterlooville, Fareham and Gosport and can hopefully give you some tips to make your School Disco a success!
If you aim to raise funds for the school, you can charge a ticket price for the children to attend the Disco. Look at the approximate numbers who could be attending, then look at the price of the DJ and calculate how much per child will give you a profit. This is likely to be a couple of pounds each.
Then consider having snacks, foods or sweets. The cost of these can be included in the ticket price or you can sell them as a way of generating more profit. One thing to bear in mind is how/where you are going to feed the children. If your food is in a different room to the DJ, you will find that the ‘dancefloor’ can be quite empty at times. Food wins all the time! A good option is to have a break for the children to eat. This also gives them a breather, so they can carry on dancing.
Another thing children like to buy are Glow Sticks. These are sold for pennies and the boys and girls like to build up long lengths of them.
This leads nicely to another aspect of the Disco – Darkness! If the children are younger (Years R to 2) I would recommend dimming the hall lights, so the Disco lights can be seen, but not total darkness. Once the children are older, a dark hall gives them the feeling of being at a proper Disco. But there is something important to consider – Can you still see what the children are doing?
Here is a very important point to bear in mind when holding a School Disco…
When children meet up, they behave the same way as they do in a playground. So they will run, chase, gather in groups and even fight! So there must be enough adults, teachers or parents, to oversee the children and make sure they are safe. At my Discos, I will always give the children some guidelines which include ‘No Running’ and ’No Sliding’. I do this in a humorous way, so they take notice.
If the school has a very wide age range from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2, where possible, it is best to have a separate Disco for each age group. This is because younger children like games in their Discos, Years 3 & 4 are slightly more grown up, but still like encouragement, whereas Years 5 & 6 like a proper, no nonsense Disco.
When you are organising your School Disco, look at how long it will be? Obviously, outside factors come into this, such as keeping the school open out of hours and staffing. Personally, I would recommend between One and One and a half hours. This gives enough time to have different aspects of a Disco, such as Games, Competitions and Singalongs. Two hour Discos without a break in the middle are a very long time for children.
It probably should go without saying, but School Discos are LOUD! Just the effect of putting over one hundred children into a hall is going to raise the noise levels. And then they need to hear the music and the DJ! Some children are sensitive to noise. If this is the case, they can still enjoy the Disco by having ear defenders or ear plugs.
The most important part of a School Disco is the music. It should be right for the different ages of children to dance to. An interesting thing is that each school is different, no two schools are the same. So while one group of children will like a certain type of song, another group won’t. You can’t just turn up and press play! In my Discos I am always looking to have as many children involved and so will try different songs and chop and change at the last minute to keep them dancing.
Not only should the music be right, but the lyrics and song content must be appropriate. There is a problem with today’s chart music – out of the Top 40 songs, probably 25 have explicit content or inappropriate lyrics. Of course, these songs are played on radio stations, each song is cleaned before broadcast. But a lot of the time, it is not possible to buy a child friendly edit. That is why I do not stream songs live. I always check every song and if there is unsuitable content, I will edit it myself or not play it at all. This includes songs from ‘Now’ albums, because although they advertise clean versions, it is quite obvious which words have been edited!
The final part of organising a School Disco, is who to book?
There are hundreds of DJs in the Hampshire area. Most are adult DJs and while they say that they will do a School Disco, they do not have the experience of children and may not be careful with the lyrics. So, it’s best to book a children’s DJ. Choose one who knows how to keep the children involved. Choose one who shows the children the actions to Action Songs. Choose one who does everything (and I do mean everything) to play songs with appropriate/clean content. If they say that they play ‘Now’ songs, it is not enough! Choose one who has PAT Test Certificates for his electrical equipment and Public Liability Insurance (you’d be surprised at how many DJs don’t have these). If you can, choose somebody who is highly recommended. If you are a teacher, ask which schools they have done and then contact those schools for a review.
While this might start off as sounding like a nag, I hope that you will also find it will help you if you are running your own children’s party.
At the heart of what I do is one simple aim…
That is to offer my clients the Very Best Service I Can.
With that in mind, I want you to feel that you have received Great Value For Money.
That the Children feel that they have Had A Great Time.
And that your guests feel that You Got It Right!
To achieve my aim, I ask you to look out for any possible distractions.
Distractions grab the children’s attention when I’m presenting a Magic Show or Running A Party. And if there are too many distractions, they can spoil your party. So here are some things to look out for.
BALLOONS ON THE FLOOR
I’ve mentioned this before, but children love to play football and rugby with balloons. They also like to burst them! If I’m presenting a Magic Show, I will ask for the balloons to be moved to the back of the room until after the show.
Maybe keep the balloons up on the walls until the end of the party and give them out at the home time.
BALLOONS ON HANDS
Sometimes, helium filled balloons are tied to the children’s hands. When the children run around the balloons drag behind and the strings tangle or become a choking hazard. Please, please, please don’t let any grown-ups tie balloons to the children at the party.
FOOD & DRINK
Imagine this choice, cake or magician? You know what a child is going to prefer. Cake wins every time!
Please can I ask that the party food and drinks are kept out of reach until after the Magic Show or in a Two Hour Party, until the mid-party break. On very hot days, it’s a very good idea for the children to have a quick drink before the Magic Show. And for After School Parties, have a drink and biscuit ready for the children when they arrive.
This might make me sound like a real meanie, but please make sure the other children’s parents keep to the rule.
TOYS – PLAY EQUIPMENT
If you are holding your party in your home or garden, or if the venue you are using has a Pre-School, there might be play equipment or toys in the corner of the room. Please keep these tucked away or covered up. Some children, especially if they are younger, will find them irresistible.
At the risk of being very, very controversial, I would say that Grown-Ups can be the biggest distraction at your Children’s Party.
They do like to talk while the Magic Show is going on and as I raise the volume of my sound equipment to be heard, they raise the volume of their conversation. As a result, the children struggle to hear me and therefore their attention can start to wander. At the beginning of the Magic Show, I will politely ask the grown-ups to not talk through the show. Maybe you can help me by gently reminding any talkers so keep the noise down.
Another thing that can help me, is to put grown-ups’ chairs across the room, facing where I will be performing the Magic Show. They tend to talk less and watch the show (which is entertaining for them too!)
Toddlers are very sweet and can be quite comical when they wander around. I would love to know what they are thinking when they explore new places. They can be quite a distraction. To be honest, this isn’t my worry about Little Dots. My concern is that I have a lot of cables, heavy equipment and I do jump around a lot! If there are any younger siblings at your party, please can you keep them safe.
That’s my list of distractions. As a Professional Entertainer with a lot of experience, I can deal with them and I will still do everything I can to overcome them and provide the Best Service I Can.
I’m sorry if it sounded like nagging, but if you are running your own party, take these into account and you might have an easier time of it.
Just a few words about Birthday Parties in December
If your Child’s Birthday falls in December, there is a very good chance that they will get Birthday/Christmas presents. You know, one present which covers the two occasions. And sometimes, it seems a bit unfair that the Birthday Boy or Girl’s special day is overshadowed by the 25th of December.
So I would like to make it known that when you book me for a Birthday Party in December, your Children’s Party will not have Christmas Music, or Christmas Magic Tricks and I won’t be dressed as a Christmas Character.
Their Special Day will be their Special Day – Not a Christmas Leftover!
More Advice To Ensure You Get The Right Children’s Entertainer
In October 2015, I wrote about How To Find The Best Children’s Entertainer for your event. This latest blog is a sort of reminder or a Part Two.
I’ve titled it ‘Please Choose Carefully’ because I appreciate that you could be spending a lot of money. And if you ‘get stung’ by a disreputable entertainer, it could put you off all entertainers. Hopefully this short piece will stop that happening.
So first of all…
Are They Established?
If you were to ask Children’s Entertainers how they started, you might get some interesting replies. Some are the same as me, they did it for their children and then developed from there. Others have had a lifelong interest in Magic or Performance and this has become their path. But there are some who have started because they see it as a way to earn money.
When there are tough economic times, or when major employers make redundancies, some people look for a quick way to make money. To an outsider, a Children’s Entertainer’s job is easy and it is just what they are looking for. They buy a bright T-Shirt, some chef trousers, a couple of Magic Tricks and they call themselves an Entertainer. Now, of course, everyone has to start somewhere but these people build a nice glossy website and advertise that they can do your Child’s Birthday Party, but don’t have any experience or practice. They only gain the experience at your expense. In effect, you are paying for them to practise and sometimes with horrendous results.
Then there are the dabblers, the ones who are trying everything in an effort to get your money. One day it might be Character Parties, next it’s Discos, then a Bouncy Castle or two, then Catering, anything as long it attracts your attention. These types generally are changing their Business Name over and over. As one grand idea fails, they start something else up. Or, as soon as one business gets a bad reputation, they change the name to disguise the fact.
So when you are searching, look for some information about How They Started or How Long They Have Been Going For. An interesting thing to do is to Google their address and see if any different Business Names are listed.
You might be surprised!
What Do They Look Like?
One of these pictures in an accurate representation of what I look like. Can you guess which one it is?
I mentioned this in the other blog, but it seems more and more entertainers are doing it so I’ll go on about it again.
When choosing the Children’s Entertainer or Magician for your Party, make sure that you see a recent photograph of them, maybe one that’s a couple of years old. If there are no photographs, or if there are only cartoons – Be Worried! The problem with the cartoons is that they generally do not look anything like the Entertainer. They are actually what the entertainer would like to think he or she looks like.
My (slightly controversial) view is that they only have the cartoons done, because they know that a recent photograph would put people off!
By the way, this photograph was taken in May of this year.
Will You Get Who You Booked?
If you have searched and found the perfect Entertainer for your Party – That is Who You Should Have!
I’m sorry to say that there are some Entertainers who will take one booking and then drop it for a higher paid one. So instead of getting the chosen Magician, a substitute turns up. Sometimes, the first the booker knows about it is when the stranger walks in. In my business, this is something that all good Entertainers frown upon, but it doesn’t stop it happening.
So always get some form of confirmation that you are going to get the person you have booked. Every reputable Entertainer, or Magician will provide you with a document of confirmation. This might be an e-mail or paper contract. If you don’t get this, Be Worried.
So there you go, my second rant about Choosing The Right Entertainer For You is over. I truly do hope you get the right person, because, like I mentioned, one bad Entertainer ruins it for all the good ones.
Of course, while you are here on my website, I would like to mention that I’ve been established since 1998, only use photographs and always issue confirmation paperwork. So you might like to enquire 🙂