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5 Valuable Life Skills Learned in the Performing Arts

Think back for a moment about your time in high school. What did you learn?

You probably recall the names of each of your classes, perhaps you took World History and Pre-Calculus, for example. But what did you really learn?

High school is a critical time for students to develop life skills. Soon they’ll be entering the workforce or leaving home, and they need specific traits to face the real world undaunted.

These qualities are not often developed in a typical classroom. Fortunately, a performing arts high school “classroom” is anything but typical! To help your child to grow beyond book smarts, encourage him or her to explore the performing arts. Here are just a few life skills that can be learned on stage or behind the scenes.

  1. Self-Confidence

Stepping out of one’s comfort zone always seems intimidating, but the more students do it, the more confident they become. Soon they realize that no one dies from embarrassment, and they learn to laugh at themselves. Crucially, they learn that the things they want most are always outside of their comfort zones. Do they want the lead role? Then they have to be brave enough to audition for it!

Even behind-the-scenes tasks promote self-confidence when students are given more difficult challenges in set design and stage management progressively. Their teachers trust they can get the job done, and the students tend to take that responsibility very seriously. Soon, they believe in their abilities and are eager to do more.

  1. Cooperation

Some students groan when assigned a group project. It means they have to cooperate with people who have different ideas, and that’s not always easy to do. Sometimes it seems like it’s easier just to do a project single-handedly.

The performing arts represent the ultimate group project. There’s no way a production can occur without all hands on deck. Performing arts students have to work together to develop creative ideas and to encourage each other to do their best. If someone is struggling to get the right dance moves, they’ll need some help from other students.

At the end of the day, the success of a show largely reflects how successful the students are at working together.

  1. Self-Motivation

Lines have to be learned, dance routines perfected, costumes sewn, sets built and painted, songs practiced, and much of this takes place outside of the classroom. The performing arts are frequently offered as classes during the school day, but they are much more than that. They often require an after-school commitment and enough self-motivation to continue practicing at home.

Students who love what they do will find the time and energy to practice their art on their own.  But self-motivation really comes in handy when we’d instead do something else. Students generally know that they’ll feel pretty silly on opening night if they aren’t ready to go on stage, and this helps them understand that preparation is essential, even if they didn’t get a leading role or a solo.

  1. Punctuality

Because there will be an audience, students often take great pride in their performing arts work. No matter what, the show must be ready to go when the curtain opens. Deadlines must be adhered to and meetings attended. Most importantly, when a student’s cue arrives, they have to be ready to go on stage, no ifs, ands or buts.

  1. Speaking and Presentation Skills

Students learn to project their voices to be heard by the person in the very back row. Suddenly, standing up to give a presentation to a small group doesn’t seem so bad! The performing arts also teach students to use body language to convey an idea or emotion, which is a critical skill regardless of one’s career.

Did you attend a performing arts high school? What skills did you learn? Share in the comments below!

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