Future stars on the Middle and Upper School stage are nurtured in Lower School. Beginning with Jr. Kindergarten, every Lower School grade performs a musical to the delight of families and friends. These musicals are directed and produced by the lower school music teachers. We feel very positive about putting our students on our stage and in front of microphones.
The benefits to the young performer range from developing a love of singing and public speaking skills to building self-confidence, say music teachers Leslie Scott and Elizabeth Atkins. “For the youngest children, being in a grade level musical develops a love of singing, movement, and pretending, which all come naturally to children this age,” said Scott, who teaches Jr. Cubs through First Grade.
During “musical time,” students gain self-confidence and pride in accomplishing a long-term goal, especially since accomplishing long-term goals is an essential skill that grows with the students into adulthood. Students also learn theatrical terminology like “blocking,” how to read musical notation such as “first ending,” dynamics, and other music theory terms that they will continue to use once they complete their Lower School education.
As the students get more experience, they begin to learn the importance of how each role contributes to the whole production, explained Atkins, Grades 2-5 teacher.
“Probably most importantly, being in these productions fosters a child's self-confidence, which builds on each previous year. Leslie and I have both seen this happen and discuss it frequently … how two years ago, a particular student was reluctant to even be a participant in the musical, and how this year, he wants a large speaking part or a solo."
Many students go on to shine in Middle School musical productions — perhaps due in part to their Lower School music experiences on our stage. What a fantastic way to start a career in music or theater with the drama of a four-year-old child! As parents of younger students can tell you, most of that drama is “built-in” – we just find ways to channel and use it on stage and in our classrooms to help build a child’s self-esteem and gain confidence in public speaking and song.
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