A School Musical Is The Teacher’s Everest
Is there any company, any organisation, any area of industry that manages, on a daily basis, to be as productive, as creative, as meaningful and as versatile as any one of the thousands of schools anywhere in the UK on any given school day of the year?
Schools really are astonishing places, and teachers, teaching assistants and school leaders really are the most remarkable of people. These plate-spinning professionals multitask every moment of the day out of sheer necessity, serving as educators, performers, researchers, mentors, counsellors, administrators, writers, artists, designers, at times even as police officers. The days are frenetic and relentless; time is not their own, it belongs to the children, their parents, their colleagues. And yet, somehow, some of these people manage – and are willing - to introduce a whole new level of busyness into their lives when they agree to take on the school musical.
You see, directing and producing a school musical is like trying to cook Christmas Lunch for 20 in a kitchen designed for four. It’s a mammoth undertaking which can test even the most positive and organised of teachers. So why do schools do it?
Well, the simple answer is that there is nothing like it for bringing pupils together in a shared experience. Sports days can be exciting, concerts rewarding and residential trips great fun, but only a school musical provides so many children with so many life-enhancing opportunities to be experienced all together.
Fun, Fun, Fun
Children love being part of musicals. They love to sing, to act, to move or even to dance. They love pretending to be somebody else, somebody dramatic, or funny, or engaging, or naughty! They love the time spent with their friends, the weeks of rehearsing together in pursuit of that perfect performance. Even time at home becomes a happier time, a more productive time, as rehearsing moves from the stage to the bedroom.
Something For Everyone
And it’s not just for the confident, extroverted children. Musicals for schools offer plenty for the quieter, more reserved or less flamboyant members of the community too. Directed and produced well, a production can really bring children out of their shells (see our blog School Musicals Can Be All Inclusive) and be hugely influential in developing self-confidence and a sense of self-worth, not to mention a host of other transferable skills. Isolated, socially-withdrawn children can be transformed by their involvement in a school musical, never to feel so marginalised or friendless again. Indeed, the rehearsal period and in particular the performance days can create new and enduring friendships, such is the shared experience of the production.
Singing In Context
It is fantastic that there is so much quality music for schools available these days, and singing stand-alone songs is another wonderful pursuit which so many schools do so well. However, singing within a musical, where there is context, narrative, characters, themes and usually an excellent array of musical styles and genres, often leads to some of the best, strongest, most passionate singing that children can do, perhaps because of the production framework which allows them to give their all with less fear of embarrassment. Or perhaps just because it’s more fun!
The School As A Community
School musicals have the power to bring together the entire school community, not just those directly involved. Whole schemes of work can be devised around the show, whole topics and themes embraced, and almost every subject or department within a school can find itself lending a hand in one way or another (for more on this see our blog Organisation Is The Key To A Brilliant School Musical). Then there’s the parents, who always somehow manage to make time to cobble together the costume, not to mention help with lines, taxi to and from rehearsals, and put up with the endless singing and humming around the house. There really is nothing like a school musical for bringing out the best in people.
… if somebody casually mentions to you that they are directing the school musical, or painting the scenery, or making the props, or sewing the costumes, or planning the logistics, perhaps offer to help in whatever way you can; teachers may well be wonders of nature, but they are only human beings after all.