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Student Blog: I'm not performing this summer. What can I do to keep my musical theatre skills sharp?


5 Ways to Grow As a Performer Right At Home

Student Blog: I'm not performing this summer. What can I do to keep my musical theatre skills sharp?

Quarantining? Didn't make the cast? Busy with a job or family responsibilities? No theatre in your area right now? There are so many factors that impact a young actor's work opportunities, but not being able to add a role to your resume shouldn't limit your ability to continue growing as a performer. Between Covid Quarantine and show-less summers, I've discovered a few ways I can flex my musical theatre muscle from home, sometimes just scrolling on my phone!

Practice. Be it in the car or in the shower, warm up as you would for a voice lesson or rehearsal, and sing through your music. Look through old lesson, show, or class notes and look for trends in things that need work. Is it breath support? Diction? Tension? Identify areas for growth and use this time to challenge yourself in these areas. Reach out to theatre and musical friends to ask if they want to have a fun and friendly recital night, where everyone gathers online or in person to perform a song for a mini audience! If you're worried about disturbing those around you with loud noises, opt for breathing exercises, or humming through your sheet music. A mindful and focused hum through can help you identify pitch problems or other musical uncertainties throughout the piece.

Move. If you're a dancer trying to stay in shape or looking to become a stronger mover, there is nothing more important than feeling as strong and flexible as possible when you return to work. Follow a YouTube dance class, strengthening workout, or yoga flow. Some of my favorites are This Barre Video by Dutch National Ballet and Yoga with Adrienne. Having a hard time getting up the energy? Start by walking your dog around the block, or silly dancing to a song while you brush your teeth!

Read. Plays and Musical scores are often available through your school or university's library. Most logins just require a student ID number for access to digital texts for summer reading. Alternatively, visit your local branch near you. Library cards are a quick and free application process and provide access to many physical and digital resources. For those in the United States, use this site to find your closest local library! No time to read a full play or flip through a score? Head to Wikipedia for a list of musicals, or a list of American plays, select one at random and read the synopsis to familiarize yourself with the plot and characters. For extra immersion, listen to a musical's cast album while you read.

Learn. Brush up on theatre history! Some of my favorite online sites for the history of American Musical Theatre include articles on PBS or this audio series on the Kennedy Center Education site. Treat the audio series like a podcast while completing chores or errands!

Drill. Study music pitches, notation, and other theory concepts. This is my weakest skill as a performer. I took three levels of Music Theory as a college freshman and sophomore, but still struggle with theory concepts, or identifying basic notation. Try making flashcards of notes on the staff, key signature, or note values. Make your own with index cards, or try a digital version, such as this Quizlet for notes on the staff, or this Quizlet for major and minor key signatures. I tap through these Quizlets on my phone while waiting in line at the grocery store, or during downtime at work.

Adding a role to your resume isn't everything. Building a strong foundation of music and theatre skills is crucial to being a strong performer. We are never done learning, and I hope the thought of that excites you as much as it excites me. Happy learning!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Emily Ownby