spotlight on… performing arts: musical theatre practice

Performing Arts: Musical Theatre Practice is one of the most popular and successful courses at Cowley Sixth Form.

Here, we take a closer look at what’s involved with the course offered at Cowley Sixth Form.

We asked one of our current students, Sarah, to give us a bit more insight into the course, what’s involved and what it’s like studying it here at Cowley.

1) When did you first consider studying performing arts at sixth form?

When I was in Year 9 at my previous high school, they stopped offering Music as a GCSE and said we would not have any extracurricular performing arts shows. It was at this point that I realised I was far too passionate about Performing Arts to not study it. I had heard of how successful the Performing Arts Department is at Cowley, and after watching performances from the Music and Musical Theatre Students, I knew that I would be pushed to reach my full potential at this sixth form.

2) What was it that captured your interest in the subject?

I always enjoyed acting and singing growing up, so I knew I wanted to pursue it to a higher level. After my taster day at the Sixth Form, my interest in musical theatre increased due to the content of the course as it includes a lot of professional skill building alongside units that give you a lot of creative freedom, which is ideal in subjects that lead on to working in the entertainment industry.

3) What has surprised you most about the subject?

What I’ve found most surprising about this subject is how it is simultaneously so challenging and so enjoyable. Similarly to any subject at sixth form level, it is very difficult at times and will push your abilities. However, I look forward to every Musical Theatre lesson I have due to the upbeat nature of the lessons and the encouragement you receive from both the students and the tutors. 

4) Did you partake in the flagship extracurricular programme? If yes, which activities?

For extra-curricular, there is a lot on offer for Performing Arts students. I was involved in the musical Grease in my first year, where I played Frenchy. I enjoyed this a lot as it gave me a chance to work with Performing Arts students in different years of the school and also a chance to perform in a professional level production due to the equipment and resources that Cowley has. I was also involved in the Cowley Senior Choir, where we performed at multiple events over the Christmas period.

5) If you are struggling with a question/topic, what support is available?

Whenever anyone is struggling, one-to-one support is always offered with the tutors, both face-to-face and over email/Microsoft Teams. In terms of performance, you will always be offered professional advice on how to improve and ways to rehearse, and any written work is usually given with very clear guidance on how it should be written in order to achieve the highest grade possible. Every student is supported fully in reaching their highest potential.

6) What do you enjoy most about the lessons?

I most enjoy the elements of the lessons where the whole class works together, for example, when we are organising a show or doing a group singing session. I enjoy this the most as we get the opportunity to include everyone’s ideas and creative input, and it is very gratifying to see the end result (meaning a show or a song) knowing that everyone worked hard to achieve it.

7) What have you found the most challenging? 

I originally found the singing part of the course difficult, as I wasn’t very experienced in musical theatre vocals or singing in harmony. However, I was supported very well throughout this by Mr Watkins and through the vocal lessons we were offered as part of the course, and my confidence in this area of the course grew very quickly. The course is designed to challenge you, but the support you receive allows these challenges to be manageable and incredibly beneficial to your learning.

8) What advice would you give someone thinking of taking the subject at Cowley Sixth Form College?

If you have a passion for Musical Theatre, I would definitely recommend taking this subject at Cowley. My main pieces of advice for when you are on the course is to rehearse as much as you can outside of lessons, never be afraid to ask for support from your tutors, and always offer creative ideas as doing these things will not only help you excel in the course but also improve as a performer. I would also say that it is important to remember that everyone has room for improvement at any level, so don’t feel discouraged if you think you may struggle in certain areas as you will receive the support and training you need!

9) If you had to pick your subjects again, would you still pick performing arts? If yes, why? If no, why not

I would most definitely pick this course again, as I have enjoyed it so much and continue to enjoy it more every single day. I have seen a lot of clear progress in my skills during this year on the course, and the overall atmosphere in performing arts at Cowley is so welcoming and supportive that I couldn’t picture myself making any other choice.

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