Support & Advice
Finding the Limelight: How to Make Performing Arts Work for You
Please note: These tips are based on my own experience over three years of study. Some of these tips may not work for everyone, but they may be useful to you. These additionally do not apply exclusively to Performing Arts students but are told from the point of view of a Music student.
Performing Arts at the University of Chichester have seen an increase in popularity over the last few years. Our Musical Theatre Department was recently featured in The Stage magazine as one of the top places to train outside of conservatoires. Our Music department is the biggest in the country at over 1000 students. It can seem a bit overwhelming for new and prospective students wishing to make the most of their time here: they want to make the most of every opportunity. How does one go about securing the chances that can shape their career? Here are a few tips:
Turn Up: This does sound like something your schoolteachers used to say, but it is true: the best thing you can do to get recognised is to be dependable. That means showing up on time. Things like poor traffic conditions and extreme health conditions are understandable, but if your lecture starts at 9am and you believe that missing one to recover from last night ‘won’t hurt’, you are jeopardising your chances at being trusted when opportunities come along. People notice the little things like punctuality and work ethic, which will serve you in good stead in the professional world. I am not saying 'don't enjoy yourself' but take into consideration your choices and the repercussions they will have on your work.
Be Keen and Ask Questions: They say if you never ask, you never know! If you display a clear interest in something, people are more likely to ask you back, or want to discuss it with you further. This can lead on to things you never thought would happen, believe me! Utilise publications like Showcase to find out about events that may interest you and audition opportunities. If they occur and you are eligible to audition, gor for it! Even if you don’t get in, people will see that you are enthusiastic and committed, which always acts in your favour.
Look After the Pennies: Make sure that all the little things that you can do to help yourself now (learning lyrics/steps/lines, choosing rep, planning essays) are done. It sounds simple but it can make a huge difference in the quality of your work and how your time is managed. It will also allow time for finetuning. That does sometimes mean staying on over Half Term breaks, but if you put in the hours now, the pounds will look after themselves.
Go Further Afield: Sometimes great opportunities lie beyond the campus grounds, so don’t be afraid to explore them! Any experience whilst training such as doing amateur/semi-professional productions, joining choral societies/choirs, or helping out at workshops are beneficial. They look great on your CV and keep you performing. University Societies such as Acting, Dance, Music, and Musical Theatre are also a great way to get involved and interact with students from different faculties.
Have Something To Offer: Whilst studying at university, do not forget your pastimes and hobbies: they may come in handy! Having a second skill such as playing guitar, designing costumes, or working with composing/orchestration tools keeps you versatile. Sometimes you make your own opportunities.
Your university experience is what you make of it. You can just float along, attend classes, and get your degree, but that will never give you the full scope of what you can achieve. Taking a risk and maybe looking like an idiot for a little bit has greater payoff than playing it safe.
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