Solo Performance Tip #5: Artistic Discipline

Tip #5: Artistic Discipline

Artistic discipline in Drama is a necessary part of our profession. It is also something students respect, not loathe.

Using myself as an example, I goof around with my Drama students as much as any Drama teacher does. The child in me simply never went away when I became an adult (notice how I carefully avoided the word ‘matured’!).

It is not uncommon for my students to tell me to get lost in the classroom, so that they can complete the work I set them! Occasionally I get bored and have to annoy my own students. It’s not my fault!? 🙂

Having said all that, one thing that is very clear to my students, especially the senior ones, is that I demand a high level of artistic discipline. I set high standards, become stubborn and refuse to give in when students go slack and haven’t prepared performance pieces on the due date, insist on outside class rehearsals (with plenty of advance notice) for tasks that simply can’t be completed in class time alone, and more.

It is a culture, that’s all. You can’t create a culture or change an existing one overnight, but with a little patience and a bit of hard work, any Drama teacher can set the right culture and level of discipline expected in their classroom. Most importantly, you have to be yourself. My students see me for who I really am. They know they can choose another subject at school if they don’t like what they see in me.

The solo performance in Year 12 Drama is a tough task, indeed. I recently said to a group of current Year 12 students at a professional learning day ‘never underestimate the beast’. For many students, this task is the toughest they will do in all of their Year 12 subjects. Those students who don’t have the right level of discipline, struggle to say the least. Many produce sub-standard work, while others freak out and don’t turn up on exam day, disappointing both themselves and their teacher in the process.

I don’t have to preach the specifics of discipline in the Drama classroom here. Every Drama teacher is different and sets their own standards. My only advice would be:

  1. don’t be afraid to push your students hard; they’ll respect you for it
  2. don’t accept work from your students that is clearly under par
  3. be consistent in your approach so no one thinks you have ‘favourites’ in the classroom
  4. don’t be too hard, remembering your students are teenagers with busy lives, after all
  5. never forget that fun has to be an integral part of all drama work, no matter how hard it is
  6. praise, praise, praise your students for their efforts – you can never give too much praise
  7. be genuine in everything you do

I firmly believe artistic discipline in the Drama classroom is one of the golden keys to success and the incredibly demanding solo performance exam task in Year 12 Drama should ask for no less.

Coming Up
Tip #6: Risk Taking

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