Monday, January 28, 2013

Performing Arts Schools are they worth it?

Arts Educational Schools, London and Tring
Is sending your son or daughter to a performing arts school worth it? An old school friend of mine asked me this question today. The standard required of performers today is so high I don't see how you can avoid it if you want to be employed. If you wait until they have finished their A levels at a normal educational institution it could be too late as the students who are professionally trained will have had a huge advantage and a head start.

There is always the exception to any rule but if you want to be a ballet dancer then waiting until 18 before applying to the Royal Ballet School is just too late. I have seen many girls who are encouraged to wait and who have regretted it for the rest of their lives and I have seen equally brilliant children have a dance career and then go on to become successful  doctors.

Here is what I wrote on Facebook in reply:

Arts Educational Schools London gave me the intro to the world of the arts and I don't think I should have got anywhere without it. It introduced me to the world of ballet and opera by getting me jobs in those fields and I could learn on the job. This part of the training was invaluable. I learned from the best and I mean the best although I possibly did not appreciate it at the time.

Our qualifications from the RAD counted for nothing in those days although they were very hard to obtain. You had to be really good to pass the RAD major exams! Many failed. I did my GCE's there and the educational standard was very high as we were all so bright but today the degrees that are offered for RAD exams are the same as A levels. RAD Intermediate is en par with A Level and  Arts offers a fully recognized BA.  

Janette Miller outside Stage Door Covet Garden 1957
I loved Arts but I was lucky. It offered a broad spectrum of artistic fields which I enjoyed as I had no outstanding individual talent but was competent in many and perfect for musicals. I think Arts gave me the practical skills, like learning lines, being on time, doing what a director says which sound obvious but many young artists fail to master. Also I had plenty of opportunity to practice getting auditions. I realized that this was the only way to get a job although I hated them.

It also helped me find employment but I don't know if they still run an agency. In my day it was very like the school in 'Ballet Shoes'. Most importantly it gave me the opportunity to become a professional. No school or training can wave a magic wand. You have to want to be a performing artist. I did. It was explained to me that being good was not good enough and that it would be tough. It was. It was also explained that you become a public figure and your life would be on show for all to see. It has been and I find this aspect 'difficult' even now as the past can catch up with you in unexpected ways as it has with Benjamin Britten.

I wish I had gone to Arts earlier. I went at the age of 12 and was way behind my school friends artistically and even educationally. Of all my arts schools it was the most helpful. However if I were starting out again today I should include a course of IT in the fields of video editing and production as this can help promote yourself which is essential today as on the whole nobody is going to do it for you. YouTube used properly is a magnificent window of opportunity. A subscription to where she can learn how to do this on line might be a good present.

Hope this helps. The young are so much better than we were and times have changed. I have had a challenging life, sometimes very tricky but I have enjoyed it and I did at least try.

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