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Effective teaching in a music conservatoire needs a continual quest to find new and better ways of delivering excellence. The challenge is to keep the work innovative. In this article I argue that, for a classical musician the communication of personality is a vital component of excellence in performance and I give reasons why an authentic, confident personality should be nurtured as part of conservatoire training. I also examine in detail one approach to this issue that I explored in my action-based research and teaching at London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama: that is the practice of music students learning certain acting techniques and collaborating with actors (drama students) on specific projects that were designed to widen the musicians' range of expression. The article focuses on a two-year study which involved musicians working alongside actors on two devised performance projects: Storytelling and Circus. It describes the process in which the musicians were prepared for the eventual performances. I set out to explore exactly what musicians could learn from working with actors and what impact this might have on their normal sphere of performance. The projects demonstrated that, even a year later, some of the musicians manifested noticeable benefits in their mainstream playing, including greater levels of confidence, creativity and presence. The article also discusses some of the difficulties and shortcomings of this approach.
In this article, Ken Rea examines the factors that make for success in an overcrowded acting profession. He asks what actors can do to influence their chances of having a successful career and doing outstanding work, and suggests what drama schools could do to increase the number of their students who achieve this. He examines research on peak performance in other domains, such as sport and music, then formulates a profile of the outstanding actor, based on his own empirical research and more than thirty years' teaching at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Drawing on interviews with world-class professionals, he proposes seven key qualities that most outstanding actors manifest, and he suggests how these can be nurtured in a training context. This article explores ideas now being reworked as a book on success in acting. Ken Rea is senior acting tutor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and author of A Better Direction (1989).
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