The principal of Stagecoach Kew, Stephen Guilfoyle, explains how singing, dancing and drama classes help children to develop confidence in all areas of life.
‘I’ve been running the school in Kew for the last fourteen years and children attend for many different reasons. Some may dream of being performers, while for others it’s more about building up their confidence both on and off the stage.
‘Our classes give children the opportunity to learn how to perform and at the same time become more confident within a like- minded environment. Children find their feet by working alongside their peers in the classroom. Once they’re ready to take on bigger roles in our stage productions we encourage and nurture them as much as possible.
‘In dance we work on improving fitness, stamina, suppleness and co-ordination. As well as working on engaging dance routines, children are also encouraged to develop their own choreography skills, building up a vocabulary of moves and dance steps.
‘In singing we start off with breathing technique, vocal warm ups and tricky tongue twisters. Diction exercises help to enunciate, so each word is heard clearly. In chorus everyone has to sing the same consonants and vowels and finish at exactly the same time, which means students also have to get their breathing right. It’s also not enough just to sing a song – you must tell its story. Students have to stand, move properly and present themselves to an audience. These are all great skills at any point in life.’
‘In drama we always encourage an individual’s ideas, but our students also learn that by working together they become more creative as a team. We develop this through lots of drama games, improvisation, script work and performances.
‘These skills boost confidence so much that many of our students apply for dance and drama scholarships at local independent schools. We often role-play fun ‘mock interviews’ for the 11+, enabling children to feel prepared and relaxed. We look at interview technique, presentation, speech, body language and of course the confidence to look someone in the eye and give a good account of themselves.’
‘Stagecoach can also be a stepping stone to professional work. But most children come to us because they love being part of a creative group. As one of my old pupils, put it: “Stagecoach is the only time I can combine all the things I love – music, dance and drama – in one place!”’
Skills children learn from Stagecoach:
How to receive constructive feedback