I was on the phone to a lady the other day who was enquiring about our singing dance and drama program and I found myself telling her our story from the very beginning, Beccy and I are opera singers when we aren't teaching but our kids were never really stage kids. They love singing, they are always singing but the aren’t those kids that just have to be on stage under the lights with the costume. They never really had the desire to be centre stage they just wanted to be involved. We wanted to find an outlet for their love of the theatre but it was really hard to find something that wasn't really strict, that didn't require a uniform, that was a no pressure environment. The big bug bear for me was the end of year concertand the awards. As parents we once attended a drama program’s end of year concert that went for 4 hours. I’ll say that again 4 hours. I was dying.
at the end of the night they gave out awards. There were 30 kids and 20 kids got an award for something or other. My kid of course was one of the kids who came home empty handed.
That’s why we decided on no hierarchy and really really mercifully short concerts. Regular Yes but short. If your experience is a good one you don't mind regularly attending. Even though I create kids concerts, I still hate going to them. I can sometimes dread them for days. That’s because they are too long. If you have to have an interval in a kids concert then the concert is too long. I would just have a couple of smaller concerts on different nights so you don’t have to watch everyone else. When putting on a concert you have a responsibility to your audience to make it run really smoothly to cut down the time that person is sitting there.
Friends of our suggested we start our own school. We shrugged it off at first but when our kids found out that it was a possibility there was a sense of excitement in the air. To be quite frank the idea of creating a program for kids in the local area was scary. I would have much rather done it in an area where no one knew us that way, if it failed we could have disappeared without a trace. But we created it in Balwyn where we live and a lot of kids who knew us came and it was kind of exciting.
I used a lot of props when we first started laser lights and smoke machines, story books with pictures that kind of thing. That had it’s place but over time I realised that it’s really about the imagination. More and more I asked the kids to create things in their minds.
We also played a lot of musical games then which we don't do so much of now. I often ask myself before I plan a song or game “ DO I want to sing this? Does this game sound fun to me?” It really is trial and error. Some activities seem so utterly lame and i’ll try it and the kids love it .
We play this game sometimes called Battle of the air bands. It’s like an air guitar competition but with a whole band. Kids form bands and come up on stage and the group that rocks out the best wins. It’s one of those activities where if there are parents in the room I wonder what they are thinking. Imagine “where’s the educational value in this…” The value is in standing up and making a twit of yourself in front of people and getting applause.