Why are the Performing Arts so Important?

Your little one is a bundle of fun. Their imagination astounds you daily, their sheer energy and love for life is something that marvels you. Chances are your young child also loves to sing, dance and act. They surround themselves with make-believe play and for some, despite a real case of shyness around people they don’t know, with you they are a force to be reckoned with!

 

21

Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is something that should be practiced daily. Their innocence and their true belief that everything that happens is fantastically exciting is something that we as adults forget. The world is a marvellous place full of opportunity and exciting new adventures.

As your children grow and become young adults it is often the case that they lose their once shining innocence. Their imagination and creativity begins to decline and they often become far too self-conscious to play in their make believe world anymore. And this is absolutely normal! If we as adults wandered around in a make believe world, I’m pretty sure people would be asking some serious questions! However, the importance of creativity and confidence cannot be underestimated in the adult world. There are few jobs now that don’t require an initial interview where a person needs to be able to state their strengths in a positive, confident and assured way. Creativity is equally important – employers don’t want young people who can recite facts, they want individuals who have new, inspired ideas and can implement strategies for the better.

Sadly, our education system does not prepare students for the job world. In the Scottish Pupil Motivation Enquiry, Imaginate (a company tasked with increasing the involvement of children in performing arts) stated:

“The present education system is letting our children down, not only not preparing them individually to cope with the world and their place within it but stifling the vision, imagination and creativity of those children over the duration of their time within the formal education system.”

The English secondary school system is woefully similar. The introduction of the English Baccalaureate has made the situation worse. With no inclusion of the arts at any point, many secondary schools are simply unable to give their students the skills they need for the world of work due to being hindered by the need for them to study ‘Academic’ subjects. I myself saw this first hand when I worked as a Head of Music in various secondary schools. I had numerous conversations with parents who knew the importance of the arts and the skills they would give their child, but were simply unable to provide that opportunity due to the path they were being lead down.

So what are these magical skills that the Performing Arts can provide?

Performing Arts stimulates creativity. So much of acting and drama is led through improvisation – the ability to creatively ‘think on your feet’ using a given stimuli. The ability to pass a message over to an audience without simply stating facts and to do this is in an engaging and interesting way.

It helps children and teenagers to deal with emotions. Growing up is so very hard to do, especially in the teenage years. Your body is a world of hormones causing you to experience peaks and troughs on a daily basis. This can be extremely confusing and scary for our young people! The Performing Arts take these emotions and allow students to use them in a safe environment, thus negating some of the initial challenges.

Performing Arts challenges a young person’s preconceptions about the world in which they live. It helps them interrogate their world; see it as a 3D place. Our world is not a perfect place and our young people need to find a way to live in it with a full understanding.

Performing Arts develops their language and communication skills and introduces new ideas to them allowing them to express opinions about them. Perhaps this is the most important point. If you are unable to express yourself fully and to be understood, how will you ever become the person you want to be in life?

There are many many more reasons I could go into as to why studying the Performing Arts is essential to your child’s education and life journey (how about the amount of fun it is?!) but I would imagine you may stop reading! Unfortunately, many schools have their hands tied and are simply unable to prepare their students in the most effective way. We have to give our children the opportunity to develop their creativity! I will leave you with one of my favourite Philip Pullman quotes which sums up the importance of the Performing Arts for children:

‘Children need to go to the theatre as much as they need to run about in the fresh air. They need to hear real music played by real people on real instruments as much as they need food and drink. They need to read and listen to proper stories as much as they need to be loved and cared for. The difficulty with persuading grown-up people about this is that if you deprive children of shelter and kindness and food and drink and exercise, they die visibly; whereas if you deprive them of art and music and story and theatre, they perish on the inside, and it doesn’t show’

Helen Ames BA(hons), PGCE

Principal of Little Voices Hertfordshire West

What are the benefits of theatre weeks when my child already attends lessons every week?

IMG_1871

Theatre Weeks are a completely different aspect to drama and singing learning and development. Your child is able to put all their training into practise and work at a tremendously fast speed to pull it all together in a very short space of time – 4 DAYS!

  • They make special friendships with children as young as 4 and as old as 16 years
  • The teamwork that emerges is truly inspirational and outstanding to witness
  • They work fast and as a team to pull the entire performance together in a matter of hours
  • They have fun
  • They socialise and develop not just vocally, dramatically and dance wise but as confident performers too
  • They develop so much and the difference in confidence in the children that attend lessons the following term that have had a theatre week experience is really noticeable
  • It is a great chance for you to see what they are capable of and watch a performance
  • They are really stretched in terms of what they can learn and perform. Young children are so tired after each day!

“Dear Ashlea, we would like to thank you and your Little Voices Putney team for all of your tremendous hard work and for putting so much time and dedication into each child. They did not only present a wonderful performance but they learned so much more than that. My daughter LOVED it and was very keen to come back each day. She met new friends and definitely wants to come back to the next. A great half term experience for my daughter and us. Plus bonus points for the inclusive DVD too!! Thank you so much.”

If your child has enjoyed a theatre week with us please let us know the benefits that you have seen from their attendance alternatively if you want to learn more about the next one or simply as more questions about them please ring and ask at any time.

We hope that you are having a great week!

Ashlea.

A Parents Perspective On Little Voices.

A parent responded to us about what they felt about Little Voices and we felt that it would be lovely to share with you.

Little Voices is so much more than that.

 

“I have just read the email you sent about what Little Voices is and felt I needed to reply. As you know at the beginning I was one of these parents who thought that I would be entertained by my daughter and the rest of Little Voices in shows, like other groups around our area. I even looked at taking Georgina out of Little Voices and putting her into one of these groups so that she would get ‘I thought’ a rounded education within the world of singing and drama. I would like to let the parents know from a parents point of view that I understand their questions and wanting to see their child perform, but and it’s a big but, Little Voices is so much more than that, I have learnt as a parent of a child who loves drama and entertaining that she needs more than putting on shows, she needs to understand herself and to understand how to get the best out of herself, whether or not she is speaking to one person or over 1000 people. Little Voices has not only helped my daughter in speech and confidence but has given her so much more. Little Voices has helped her to understand the world in which she has chosen to be part of.

I know a few people who go to these other groups and when I asked them what they do, I am horrified to hear that there is no structure within the class groups. The numbers are high in the class and the ages are mixed. My daughter has also made friends with a child who attends wild cats and when she asked her friend about how you stand when speaking, the girl did not know what my daughter was on about. She did not know about the stage rules and she did not understand how to be the perfect audience, something I never thought of either.
I am so glad that I have kept Georgina at the group and for as long as she wants to, she will stay within the family of Little Voices. I will also keep praising the work and letting people know what a wonderful organisation Little Voices is.”

Please feel free to let us know your thoughts. We thrive and develop as a result of parent’s feedback and it is always a pleasure to receive.

 

Email: SWL@littlevoices.org.uk

 

Even those that we respect the most get frightened!

Judi Dench is one of our all-time favourite actresses at Little Voices and yet you would probably never guess that she lives with “constant fear”, we certainly would never have thought that about her.

 

AR-AE223_DENCH_GS_20131114121705

However she has spoken about the constant “fear” she lives with as an actor, claiming that being a performer gets more frightening with every job.

Speaking about her career with director Richard Eyre at an event to celebrate Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts’ 70th birthday at the Hospital Club, Dench revealed she is “very critical” of her own performances, and said that she has a “fear of everything”.

She said this fear related to her concerns that she may not be good enough for a role she had been asked to do, and admitted she worried about forgetting her lines on stage.

“I have a fear of that unbelievable silence you get in a theatre when you dry. The fear that an audience sees that thing in your eyes and thinks, ‘Oh, she’s gone’. It’s a shattering silence,” she said, adding: “I have a fear of everything – of not fitting into that slot, of not fulfilling that piece you are asked to do. I get more frightened [the more I do]. The more you do, the more frightening it is anyway as you are much more aware.”

Dench also said she worried about what her next job would be and whether she was “going to be asked again”.

This certainly helps to read about how one of our idols feels about their career and the fear that stirs up inside of her.

So it helps us as performers to expect the fear and to deal with it as ‘the norm’, embrace it when it comes whether that is just before a stage performance at theatre week or before a LAMDA exam. Learn to work with the fear feelings rather than against them with a good breathing technique and a calm approach to preparation. As the saying goes “Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail!” I am sure that Dame Judi always makes sure that she is prepared.

What The Head of Arts Ed Is Looking For.

Following on from our findings about what drama schools are looking for this week we have found out from the Head of Acting at Arts Ed, Gareth Farr, in The Stage, that they are all about the creative potential of the individual.

He goes on to say that:

“In any interview or audition the main thing we look for is an understanding of the text, character and story from the auditionees’ perspective. There isn’t one way to play Hamlet, there isn’t a right or wrong, there is a personal connection and instinct. We only look for flashes of potential in audition. We work with that potential over three years to get the very best out of each student”

How interesting! We really try to ensure that your child really has a deep understanding about the characters that they are playing and that they add their own flavour to them. This individuality is so important and it is obviously what some drama schools are looking for!

What are the Drama Schools currently looking for?

It is really interesting to research the different Drama Schools and find out what they are looking for in their auditions.

RADA’s artistic director Edward Kemp told The Stage newspaper about TWO THINGS; Versatility and Imagination:

 

“We’re looking for that peculiar combination of individuality and generosity that makes a great actor. A passionate curiosity about the world and people that fires the desire to explore the totality of the given character and situation coupled with the very personal idiosyncratic imagination which will make that exploration both true and utterly unique.
We are also primarily interested in two things.
One is the individual imagination – we have no set model of what the RADA actor is like in terms of look, sound, race, age, educational background, class and no quotas for anything apart from gender (we take 14 of each). We’re looking at the 28 most interesting actor’s imaginations that come through our doors each year – we quite often see people who are brilliantly imaginative but don’t to us seem to need to express that through acting – as opposed to writing, performance art, directing.
The other is a degree of versatility – we occasionally encounter people who can do one thing very truthfully, but that’s it. They may potentially have very successful careers doing that one thing (especially on TV) but they interest us less than those who have a greater breadth of transformative ability.”

Have a great week!