The Care and Feeding (Especially Feeding) of a Guest Soloist or Clinician
Bringing a soloist or clinician in to work with your program is a great way to invigorate and inspire your students and supporters (parents, administrators, community). Like everything else in your program, a successful event requires planning and funding (and planning for funding!). The following outline details many of the items you should consider when planning and executing a successful event.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR A CLINICIAN
Traveling soloists/chamber groups
Military band personnel
Instrument manufacturer artist rosters
Booking agency rosters
The booking window can range from a few weeks to a full year. In many cases, a three to six-month window allows time to secure the dates, funding and logistics.
For touring musicians, look online for their schedule and try to build around existing trips to your area, whenever possible. This helps minimize travel costs.
Look to partner with other schools in your area to help spread the travel costs across multiple funding sources and help strengthen your negotiating position for the fee. If the artist knows they are booking an entire week, they may be more apt to negotiate their normal “day rate.”
Contact your local music store and instrument company district representatives to find out if there are artists already scheduled to be in your area. In most cases, they will be more than happy to help you, since it helps them!
Make your expectations clear. Decide what you hope to have the guest do before contacting them. Consider your concert schedule, your weekly schedule and your daily schedule to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
Be ready to negotiate the dates and fees. The fee is usually some sort of “day rate” and can include travel days.
Be ready to negotiate travel expenses. These include transportation, lodging and meals. At a minimum, expect to cover flights, ground transportation and lodging. Most artists prefer hotels over B&B’s but when in doubt, ask. If booking the flight on behalf of the artist, ask about preferred carriers. Take the size and amount of equipment into consideration when planning ground transportation.
Have a written agreement (email or paper). Make the schedule and expectations clear (what sort of classes/performances, ability levels, etc.).
Ask about any special needs (dietary, technical, travel).
Work with local music store and district instrument company reps to help market the event and offset costs.
Plan far enough in advance to hand the guest a check. If this is not possible, let the artist know this in advance of the trip.
Stay in contact with the artist in the weeks and days leading up the event to head off any last minute issues and ensure a smooth start to the trip. Make sure you have multiple ways to contact the artist and they have multiple ways to contact you. An itinerary is always appreciated and can include this information.
Plan who is picking up the artist at the airport and taking them to the events.
Offer a place to store equipment.
Provide a quiet place for them to change and warm up.
If they have merchandise, offer to have someone help them sell.
If there are last minute schedule changes or additions (someone asks for a private lesson) ask if there will be an additional cost.
Offer to write a thank you letter to their boss or instrument company.
Ask before planning “forced fun” meals, receptions and other events. Almost every artist is happy to do these sorts of things, if asked in advance.