FEATURE FOCUS: MUSIC & THE PERFORMING ARTS IN SCHOOLS With educational theorists increasingly

emphasising the importance of ‘emotional intelligence’, sculpting personalities and individuals from a young age is one of the biggest tasks a teacher can face in the pressurised classroom environment. Viewed as therapy but also as a fantastic way

of learning, I believe that the performing arts and more formal teaching can work perfectly hand-in- hand in and outside of the classroom, with the confidence and self-esteem gained from music and dance in school reflected in other areas of life. I’ve witnessed time and time again youngsters become empowered and reinvigorated by performance to go on to focus on achieving their wider life goals and finding a career path that suits their individual needs and talents in later life. It really is a joy to behold and I really can’t stress enough just how crucial it is that young boys and girls are able to continue to have access to the performance arts and to be able to pursue their passions. It is no secret that the performing arts help

raise energy levels, enable thought processes, increase endorphins and allow young people to stay more alert, which can only be a good thing for when they leave the music studio, dancefloor or theatre stage and pick up their textbooks to learn. Working closely with Rainford High and various

other schools in the Liverpool City Region, MD Creatives has played a vital role in taking children from school into full-time employment, giving them first-hand training, life skills and confidence that they simply would not have received in a traditional, college environment in which performing arts is very much book-led. Learning to trust others and build meaningful relationships through dance are just some of the

skills picked up through the performing arts which can be transferred into everyday life, which is why it is so vital that schools continue to teach it. I’ve seen so many of my own Creatives unable to talk to their friends and family about how they feel, but as soon as they step into an area that they feel comfortable in and feel the music, they go on a therapeutic journey and are comfortable in off-loading all of their cares. The performing arts in schools isn’t just about

being on the stage anymore either, as not every child can or wants to sing, dance or write poetry. You just have to look at the thousands of jobs that come from the performing arts, whether that be social media, costume design, merchandise, PR, strength and conditioning or videography, as well as the remarkable camaraderie and friendship in the industry, to know just how life- changing and beneficial it can be for school children, teachers and the wider society. Still underfunded and underappreciated by the

Government, young people in the most deprived areas of the country are still in desperate need of being exposed to the creative industry from an early age. The performing arts as a whole are sadly just

seen as a corporate entity and what the creative industry brings to the economy is not recognised until it is too late. There is no support to fund the arts in schools and community centres, however, when people want to see a show or go to an event, it is just taken for granted that the money and the personnel will be there to create it. Until children are taught properly at school and the Government sees the importance of the performing arts in the classroom, things won’t change. A lot of the fantastic teaching and mentoring of the performing arts in schools comes from the goodness of people’s hearts and

for more lives to be transformed and for the industry to survive and flourish, much more needs to be done. Allowing children from various backgrounds,

creeds and cultures to come together under one roof to share a love of music and dance, the performing arts can greatly strengthen the wider school community and promote a better and more inclusive society. With a study in 2012 reporting that children

who learn how to work individually through performing arts tend to perform better academically, the importance of funding, improving and promoting the performing arts in schools is clear. Performing arts breaks down barriers, helps

people find themselves and unites people and communities. It doesn’t matter what background you are from, music and dance is a universal language and that is why it connects so many people. When things are due to be cut it is always performing arts and it really is such a travesty. Schools that have an extensive performing arts programme are now very few and far between and although a lot of schools in my experience support it, it is not supported enough financially to benefit young children. It also brings so much culture to society - it is

about providing a safe haven and I really hope that the performing arts will start to be more appreciated in schools, because now more than ever is it crucial that young people are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel as we continue through the Covid pandemic and beyond.

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November 2020 33

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