Reading, Writing and Rhythm

Creative teaching gigs available to musicians and other artists

Volume CX, No. 4April, 2010

Do you want to use your music to enrich the lives of public schoolchildren – while getting paid? Here’s some news: the Actors Fund has come up with a very creative way for musicians and other artists to do part-time teaching gigs in the New York City public schools through the Actors Work Program.

It’s not without some fine print, but it just might turn out to be a positive experience for you and a way to increase your income.

Here’s the big picture.

The program is called STARRRS, and it stands for “Substitute Teachers for the Arts and the three R’s.”

The idea is that musicians, actors and other performing artists are sent into the New York City public schools as substitute teachers.

But instead of following a standard curriculum, you are allowed to use your music as a teaching tool. You could even give mini-concerts. It’s ultimately up to the principal what you are allowed to do, but the idea is that you use your artistry in the classroom.

The pay is $154.97 for a full day of teaching, minus taxes. That means getting to a school around 8:30 and getting out around 3.

On top of this, there may be opportunities for additional work at an hourly rate.

Although the current budget situation has meant that some schools are not using substitutes, a number have expressed an interest in those from STARRRS – in fact many principals have expressed a specific interest in musicians.

Here’s the fine print.

  • You have to attend a generic orientation session about the Actors Work Program, which lasts 2.5 hours. (If you’re already a member of the Actors Work Program, call your career counselor now and ask about the STARRRS program.)
  • Working with a career counselor, you will determine whether STARRRS is appropriate for you. (Remember, the Actors Work Program is there to help you find a meaningful sideline or new career, so if STARRRS isn’t right for you, the program will help you find another fit.)
  • You must attend a separate STARRRS orientation and audition. (Yes, there is an audition.)
  • There is a substantial training commitment. Training takes place all day Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, for four weeks. All participants must attend all sessions, but you’ll get out of training in time to do evening gigs.
  • If you don’t have your substitute teacher’s license, you will need to be fingerprinted. The cost is $115, unless you’ve already had this done in the past from some other kind of teaching work.
  • If you ultimately make it into the program, the expectation is that you will commit to at least two teaching days a week. (Remember, each teaching day is 8:30 to 3, approximately.)

Are you still interested? If so, the first step is to attend one of the following Actors Work Program orientation sessions. These sessions are not specifically about the STARRRS program, but you must start the whole process by attending one of these. The next two are:

  • Monday, March 29 from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m.
  • Monday, April 5 from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m.

Both sessions are at 729 Seventh Avenue, between 48th and 49th Streets, on the 11th floor.

After that, the STARRRS orientation and auditions are in April and training is in the month of May.

If you need any more information, please contact Kathy Schrier, director of the Actors Work Program, at or (212) 354-5480.

Even if you’re not interested in the STARRRS program itself, but you want more information on career development, call the Actors Work Program. It is a valuable resource for musicians and all performing artists.