Time to go Freelance? by Adam Davenport, Artistic director of The Pauline Quirke Academy

Freelance teaching is a varied and multi-faceted source of work, and when given the right approach, is often a brilliant way for professional performers to supplement their income, widen their skill set, and stimulate their creativity. Adam Davenport, artistic director of The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts Shares his experience with PerformingArtsTutor.com. The performing […]

Freelance teaching is a varied and multi-faceted source of work, and when given the right approach, is often a brilliant way for professional performers to supplement their income, widen their skill set, and
stimulate their creativity. Adam Davenport, artistic director of The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts Shares his experience with PerformingArtsTutor.com.

The opportunites for skilled performing arts tutors to ‘go freelance’ have never been greater.

The performing arts education industry is thriving, from conservatoires offering vocational training,
to weekend academies for children, and there are more and more opportunities for highly skilled
actors, singers, dancers, and filmmakers to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of young
performers.
However, if you are an actor purely looking to pay the rent as you wait for rehearsals to begin for your
UK tour, this may not be the path for you, as a successful route into freelance teaching takes a huge
amount of thought, preparation, and a genuine love for the craft.
What’s exciting for a freelance teacher is one day you could be teaching a group of 5 year olds a Disney
song, the next you’re preparing third year undergraduates for their agent showcase. The beauty of
freelance teaching is once you have enough experience, you can develop your own portfolio of work
based on your own strengths and preferences. Your working week can be what you make it!

Adam’s Top Tips when applying for freelance teaching:

1. Be personal

Alongside your CV, send a covering letter has been thought about, and is tailored to the company and to
the position advertised. I have received so many letters from people who haven’t taken a few minutes to
find out who to address the application to, and on many occasions, the name of our company is spelled
incorrectly. If you’re unsure, make a quick phone call and ask to whom teacher applications should be
addressed to. Templates are of course useful when applying for several positions, but do proof read. I
can’t count how many times I have received letters from people explaining passionately how much they
would like to work at a different performing arts organisation!

2. Be short, be sweet…

Employers are very short of time, and have a high volume of applications to review. (Large organisations
can receive as many as 50 emails a week from potential teachers.) Be succinct, positive, and professional.
We just want to see a genuine enthusiasm and passion for teaching, and an explanation as to why you
feel you are suitable for the role. What can you bring?
Two–three paragraphs are often sufficient for a cover letter, and no more than 2 pages for a CV. Where
possible, create separate CVs for teaching and performing. Include your Spotlight Link if you have one.
Refine your CV to the most relevant information. Everyone loves a good old Victoria sponge, but we’re
more interested in your degree in Musical Theatre than your Food Technology GCSE!

3. Be Open

Sometimes, when professional performers apply for teaching roles, employers can be concerned that
these candidates cannot offer stability or a long-term commitment. Offer practical solutions, such as
friends you would recommend who could cover you, and provide reassurance that you’ll keep your
employer informed of any auditions taking place, communicating immediately should an audition lead to
a recall. Institutions usually love the industry experience that working performers bring into the room,
and this is worth the flight risk! As long as employers know, they can plan. If you maintain an open dialogue like this, and make the effort to provide a proper handover to your cover, usually the door will
be left open for you to return when you are next available.

Freelancers provide the Performing Arts Training industry with highly trained, experienced and flexible mentors.

4. Be creative

Come to interviews full of ideas for themes and content for the age group and specialism you are being
seen for. Be confident to discuss musical theatre repertoire, one-act plays, acting exercises, choreography
and staging that has inspired your students in the past – whatever is relevant to the role advertised.

“I love to see a teacher who is
charismatic and fun, yet can hold attention and instill respect, discipline, and performance etiquette.”

5. Be current

Principals and Artistic Directors are always inspired by teachers who remain fresh and exciting by
clearly demonstrating their commitment to professional development. Organisations like The Voice
Explained, The Actors Centre, City Lit, Associated Studios, and Pineapple all offer excellent one-day
courses which are perfect to fit around other work, and keep your skills up to date.
For extra brownie points when working with children or vulnerable adults, get a DBS check, and join the
update service. This saves employers huge amounts of time, and speaks volumes about your level of
commitment to teaching.

6. Be Social

Social media is a fantastic way to find out about new teaching roles or cover.  On Facebook, groups such as The Hustle, Stage School Teachers UK, (Not just) Saturday Deps, plus many more post new opportunities daily. Follow as many performing arts training institutions as you can find on Twitter.

Adam inspiring tomorrow’s professionals.

7. Be engaged

In interviews, Employers are always impressed when a candidate has done their research on the
company and can talk confidently about their creative structure, demonstrating an understanding of
what is required from their teachers. Research the company ethos and talk about why that resonates
with you.

“..provide reassurance that you’ll keep your
employer informed of any auditions taking place, communicating immediately should an audition lead to
a recall.”

8. Be Passionate

Employers are always looking for teachers who are genuinely passionate about working with their
students, and not only developing them as performers, but as individuals. Understand the ethos that
every student has something to offer, and it’s our job to find out what that is, show them they are valued,
and encourage growth and confidence. A good teacher is well prepared and always looking for exciting
and innovative ways to explore training, to keep lessons inspiring. I love to see a teacher who is
charismatic and fun, yet can hold attention and instill respect, discipline, and performance etiquette.

Passing on valuable experience to the next generation.

9. Be Yourself

For my teaching team, I look for people who are intelligent, articulate, and experienced, but also fun,
down to earth, and don’t take themselves too seriously. Most importantly, people who I think would be
role models for the students. Just be you, and establish a natural rapport with the person interviewing
you.
Above all, be positive, enthusiastic, and committed, and take pride in your work. Ensure you plan your
lessons well to deliver high quality sessions, and build a reputation for excellence. Word soon gets
around, and you will start to get booked frequently. Watching students transform as they build their
confidence and develop skills is hugely rewarding and fulfilling. Good luck!

 

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