Trout Fishing in America is an eclectic family music band, four time Grammy nominees, and they have played venues in all 50 states and a few other countries. They also play school appearances — those big assemblies that were so exciting for you when you were a kid.
For those school appearances, they needed a study guide to send to schools ahead of their visits. Band members Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet sat down with me to brainstorm an outline, and Jay Jaro and I created a 24 page booklet with hands-on activities, reproducibles, reading passages, and more.
From the point of view of curriculum design, this was a particularly interesting project, because we needed to make sure it would be suitable for all grades from kindergarten through middle school. We talked about the kinds of things that would support the band’s performances and increase students’ understanding of their music, then thought about the standards and benchmarks schools needed to meet — an important issue when teachers are trying to get their schools or PTAs to provide the funds for a performance. We discussed the aspects of music that the guys really wanted to get across to kids. Then we organized all the ideas into a cohesive collection.
Research and writing came next, and we sent a draft to the band for comments. Next step: the text went to Jay. Jay and I have been doing projects like this together for years and we’ve done a couple of similar projects for Trout Fishing in the past, so we didn’t need a lot of extra communication at this point.
Jay used photos, drawings by Beans Barton, and those all-important stock images of musical instruments. The tools we used were the typical tools of the trade: MS Word and Adobe Creative Suite.
Jay sent JPGs — image files — as he got the designs ready, and we did a little fine tuning together. We used dropboxes, Notable, and good old email to get feedback from the clients, and once everything was perfect, Jay finished the project out in PDF format and we sent it to the printers.
We also have the files in InDesign and EPS, both files types that require some special software. While these aren’t useful for the clients, they will allow us to jump in and make quick changes easily. For example, if we need to change a web address in the text, or add new awards, we won’t have to redo the page.
Whenever you do a project of this kind, it’s wise to get the editable files for this reason.
For projects like this, SEO isn’t an issue — Trout Fishing will be selling this item as a download, but it will usually be a physical object. People read and use printed works differently from things on a computer screen. Since the goals and use of this project are different from the goals and use of a website, we approached both writing and design differently.
The first time Jay and I did a project like this, we had to make sure that all reproducibles would work well in black and white copies. Now, most schools have the capacity to make color copies, and teachers often just print copies directly from their classroom computers. Those changes in technology have given us more options than we had in the past. It’s essential, when you plan a project like this, to think about the end user’s needs and capacity.
This was a satisfying project, and it’s always a pleasure to work with Trout Fishing. If you haven’t heard their music, check it out! The Band gave us a treat, too — listen to “My Hair Had a Party Last Night” free!