Performing arts in education supports the development of well rounded children though social skills, self-discipline, memorization, work ethic, taking risks, self-esteem, appreciation for physical fitness, creativity, cooperation/teamwork, as well as specific performance skills such as public speaking, solo performance, agility, flexibility, and strength. The skills learned through participation in theatre, dance, and music are beneficial to raising well rounded children who will be prepared to tackle the world’s challenges head on as adults.
Research shows that children who study the arts demonstrate stronger overall academic performance. Art programs improve a student’s self confidence, build communication and problem solving skills and prepare young people to be the creative thinkers that employers seek for today’s workforce. ~ National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
- Auditions: When a young child auditions for the first time, they are experiencing what it will be like to interview for a job later in life. During a traditional theatre audition, the performer is asked to stand alone before a panel of adults and recite a monologue of their choice or a piece given to them from the script (side), cold read from the script without preparation, and possibly perform with other actors auditioning at the same time. If the show is a musical, the performer will also be asked to sing. A short dance piece will be taught and the performer will be expected to learn it and present it in that short time as well. This can be terrifying for many aspiring performers! However, the experience alone prepares them for the world of interviewing and showing off one’s best attributes. In addition, actors will face rejection and criticism early on (constructive and otherwise). Successful auditions, like successful interviews, are those in which the performer prepares according to the specific show or role for which she is auditioning.
- Memorization: Whether or not your young actor has lines, memorization is a huge component of performing arts. Knowing when to enter and exit stage by listening for cues requires that the performer has memorized the lines and actions of others, as well as his own. If the a performer does not go where they are supposed to at the correct time, it can affect the entire performance. Memorization is a great brain exercise and takes discipline and cognitive skills.
- Time Management: Rehearsals can become quite grueling. Child performers learn quickly that they need to mange their time wisely to maintain grades in school, enjoy a normal social life, and get enough sleep to stay healthy. Along with this, comes stress. Young actors learn quickly how to respond to stress and still work towards the goal of an outstanding performance. This skill will carry over into adult endeavors like higher education and work/life balance.
- Working with Others: Just like any team, a stage performance depends upon all of those involved. There will be performers with grandiose plans for a future in performing arts while others are simply doing it for fun. Some come with huge heads and inflated views of their own talent while others visibly lack confidence on stage. It is each performers duty to work well with all of these people and always be their best, while encouraging others in the same way. On stage, each individual effects the outcome of the performance and the audience’s perception of a successful show, not just the lead characters.
- Risk Taking and Self Worth: Every successful adult needs to have a sense of healthy risk as well as a solid ground of self worth to motivate them to succeed. In theatre, each new endeavor is full of risk, challenge, and building new skills. With each accomplishment, a performer builds confidence. Growth potential in performing arts never ends. There are always new places to go, different venues to seek, skill sets to learn, and people with whom to work. This exciting environment builds character and a sense of “I can” attitude that is needed in adult life.
- Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes: In each show, actors study their character (and show) in depth. They take into consideration historical periods, social environments, and background information, to effectively connect with their character’s psyche. In doing so, young actors learn that there are many different people out there who have incredible stories to tell. They gain knowledge about eras of history, build empathy for individuals who have lived a much different life than their own, and will be more apt to listen to people’s stories with empathy.
These are skills that everyone will agree help to make good leaders. Our children benefit from being active in performing arts programs even if a life in theatre is not their goal. These experiences shape great teachers, doctors, leaders of companies/organizations, political leaders, as well as hard working entrepreneurs. Keep performing arts alive and healthy in your community by supporting them through show attendance, advertisement space, becoming a financial donor, or getting involved as a volunteer.