In my six years as a musical theatre teacher, I’ve noticed that many people often think that theatre classes may not be the right fit their child. Perhaps your son has never expressed a desire to sing or act or your daughter isn’t interested in dancing, so parents never explored the possibility of them trying those hobbies. But what if there were other things for them to learn, underneath the toe-tapping choreography or acting out a part in a play?
Theatre comes in many forms can also instil in your child things they might not effectively learn elsewhere!
Here are 7 reasons why your child should enroll in musical theatre.
It develops a sense of self and identity
In my experience (sometimes) more often than none children have difficulty coming out of their shell. This makes theatre a wonderful platform that allows children to develop their sense of self and identity by allowing them to be creative and expressive in a safe environment. Shy children often find that acting and dancing (especially interpretive dance) is a great release for them; taking on another character can help them to feel safer in being more outspoken and over time this feeling of safety can migrate into their everyday life. This helps children overcome barriers of who they ‘should’ be as opposed to who they are. Uniqueness is embraced and I’ve never seen or excluded a child from companionship while amongst theatre kids. Even a child who chooses to be a loner is treated with acceptance.
My students are very loving and supportive of one another because of the bond they have with each other and over time I’ve noticed that children make friends everywhere, given enough time. It’s good for children to have friends outside of school, and it encourages them to talk to children from other backgrounds they may or may not meet elsewhere. It will also help you as parents to meet other families with children of a similar age. You never know, you might make lifelong family friends.
Theatre teaches responsibility
From learning lines and songs off by heart to perfecting that little bit of choreography theatre helps children develop a sense of responsibility. Unlike school, where kids would be reprimanded, sometimes punished for not doing their homework – in theatre they would be impacting everyone else if they don’t know what they are doing. I often talk about the weight of responsibility to my students when it comes to this art form. When you are in a production (no matter what scale) you are part of a wider team that relies on each member to know their roles no matter how big or small. It’s important for children to understand that their role is important and that they matter. When they don’t take responsibility for their part, it can be embarrassing and negatively affect the flow of rehearsal. This push has its challenges and maybe difficult and require hard-work but it’s an incredible lifelong lesson.
It builds confidence
We hear it ever so often but it rings true for a reason. It’s a surprising fact, yet hauntingly true, public speaking is more feared than death. Performing can help children be more confident which is very important especially at a young age. Good self confidence is a life skill not many people have from a young age and is one I’ve personally battled with in my youth. I believe it’s very important for a child to believe in themselves as early as possible so that adulthood is much easier to navigate when they are older.
Explore talents they might not know they had
When I started my tertiary education in performing arts my principal would say ‘to succeed in this industry you need to be as versatile as possible’. Many children don’t know what they are capable of until they try something new and need the chance to explore new skills. Perhaps your child is not a skilled singer, but has a keen eye for dance moves. Theatre will help to bring out your child’s best singing voice and develop their dance moves further. If they haven’t explored these avenues yet, then theatre is just the right place to do so, because everyone else is in the same boat. You never know, your child might be the next West End or Broadway performer.
It improves communication, co-ordination and fitness
Learning to dance to a rhythm helps to co-ordinate the body and the brain at the same time, which is a very important life skill. Dancing also requires a certain level of fitness; jazz hands and box steps are staples of the musical theatre world and dances can be highly energetic! Playing a part in a show requires the actor to learn to communicate their lines to the audience as if they’ve just thought of it, rather than learnt it off a page. Communication is a great tool for a child to learn early on, since it’s a staple requirement for later on in life.
Take it from someone who has been involved in theatre – it’s fun! New shows each term, new people to talk to, new songs to learn, and dances to perfect. It keeps you interested, on your toes and is uplifting every week to see how much you’ve achieved. Then you do the performance and it’s the most exhilarating feeling being on stage and showing the audience what you’ve learned. The applause at the end of a show is always well deserved and each child knows that they have helped to bring about such a successful production!
Theatre is a wonderful world of learning and expression, and I reckon every child has the right to try it at least once. Go ahead and make 2020 that year of possibility for your child.