What is speech and drama, and how can it benefit my child?

At this time of year you will have had those conversations around the dinner table – will your child continue learning their musical instrument? Will they return to soccer again? How about trying a term or two of gymnastic? Or yoga? Jujitsu? Hip hop?

The options for young people are endless! Especially in a thriving, bustling city like Sydney. You desperately want to invest in activities that will help your child’s growth and development – and there’s no limit as to how.

With so much to pick and choose from, it’s easy to steer towards activities that are familiar or known to you – perhaps an older child had a similar interest, or a niece or nephew enjoyed it – so it feels like a safe option.

If you’re not familiar with speech and drama from your own experience growing up, it might sound like a strange activity that you don’t quite comprehend.

So what exactly IS speech and drama, and how can my child benefit?

Speech and drama is an empowering way for young people to learn effective, clear communication that will serve them throughout their life. Through an exploration of poetry, reading aloud, drama games, performance and improvisation, children spark their imagination, think creatively and learn to perform with charisma. Classes involve a range of speaking and performing exercises that focus on developing clear speech and confident communication.

You will understand from your own professional and social life that strong communication skills go a looooong way.

Just think back to the most recent P & C meeting, a job interview, or any tough conversation at work. Speech and drama instils those very communication skills from a young age so that children are not afraid of speaking up, speaking out or standing up for what they believe.

At Viva Voice, why do you call speech and drama Voice and Acting™?

Our signature classes at Viva Voice are our Voice and Acting™ classes – a specially designed curriculum that incorporates voice production and technique for performance. They’re our version of a speech and drama class. Our curriculum digs a little deeper into vocal craft, hence we named the program to reflect that!

In a Voice and Acting™ class, students work on poetry, oral reading, monologues, scripts, short scenes, radio plays, readers’ theatre and more. They are exposed to texts beyond what’s introduced in school, and learn to unlock the meaning of language and covey that meaning through performance.

With a limit of six students in each Voice and Acting™ class, all students are given different pieces to work on and do a fair amount of individual work. They do some drama games and activities but it isn’t the sole focus of classes.

The range of texts and topics explored in Voice and Acting™ classes varies depending on a students’ experience and ability, but all students from Years 1 – 12 study:

  • Clarity and articulation
  • Voice production
  • Vocal and facial expression
  • Effective stance for speaking
  • Effective breathing for a loud, audible voice
  • Humorous verse
  • Australian literature
  • Prose readings (both fiction and non-fiction)
  • Stage craft
  • Prepared speeches
  • Impromptu speaking
  • Using palm cards, costumes and simple props
  • Managing nerves
  • Using eye contact
  • Speaking on the spot
  • And heaps more!

As students progress through the Voice and Acting™ curriculum, they will delve deeper into studying specific areas and genres, such as:

  • Acting objectives and tactics
  • Reading styles appropriate for formal and informal text such as sacred texts, journal articles, jokes and interviews
  • Forms of verse (including lyric verse, ballads, odes and elegies, free verse, rhyming verse, narrative verse and sonnets)
  • Using physicality and movement to create characters
  • Classic texts including Shakespeare
  • Contemporary and classic playwrights
  • Contemporary and classic literature
  • And the list goes on!

Voice and Acting™ aims to develop students’ voice and communication holistically, so that their vocal skill can be applied to both speaking and performance.

What’s the difference between Voice and Acting™ and Drama?

Our Drama classes focus on developing children’s creativity, confidence and communication through creative play and performance.

Students work on improvisation, play building, creating characters, writing and performing scripts, and basic acting skills and technique.

These classes have up to 14 students, so there’s plenty of room for scene work and scene sharing.

An important aspect of the classes is that students learn to work collaboratively and as a team of performers. It’s one of the biggest takeaways for our young Drama students (and not always the easiest skill to learn!).

Because of the focus on developing and performing scenes as an ensemble, there’s less focus on individual pieces. This can be a great introduction for a young creative who’s showing interest in performance but may be feeling a little hesitant when they’re on their own.

Drama is a great introduction to the world of speech and drama, and it’s also the perfect class for a young performer who doesn’t want to be limited to a script.

Additionally, if your child has any hiccups when it comes to reading, drama classes can really take the pressure off and allow them to develop a love of language in a free and fanciful way.

Could my child do both classes?

More and more, we are seeing our students take up both classes and the benefits are extraordinary. They just can’t get enough of being at the studio (and we don’t blame them!).

Students taking both classes develop refined, strong vocal skill in their Voice and Acting™ classes and then apply those skills to scenes and characters in Drama. They are often the students who just adore performing and are eager to fit as much acting as possible into their week

One of our students who does both classes is Lara, Year 7, who told me in Term 4:

“Both classes are just so different! I love the Shakespeare we’ve done in Voice and Acting but then I love creating my own characters and working with so many more people in Drama. Also, I definitely speak clearer now whenever I’m performing because of what I’ve learnt in Voice and Acting.”

Doing both classes has become so popular that we now offer a package – any student taking both receives a $7 discount per week (that’s $70 off per term). We really wanted to acknowledge the benefits of doing both classes, reward our most loyal students, and encourage other students to follow their lead.

How long should my child do speech and drama for?

Even one or two years of speech has a lasting impact, but nothing compares to the ingrained and embodied development of students who commit to speech and drama for a number of years.

Like any activity, it’s fine to pop in for a taste of it, but true skill is acquired over time.

The important thing to note is that any experience that affects a young person will have an impact on their voice and communication. Changing schools, changing home environments, experiencing puberty, getting a job, and many more key experiences will have an impact on how a young person uses their voice. The students who stay in classes throughout all the change in their schooling lives are the ones whose skills stick with them the longest.

One of our Year 12 students, Will, remarked to me last year: “Of everything that’s happened in my life throughout high school, Viva has been the one constant thing, and I’m so grateful for that.”

What are the top benefits for my child?

There are countless benefits for students of any age who study speech and drama, but the most note-worthy ones I see in our students at Viva Voice are:

  1. Developing a broad vocabulary which helps them articulate their thoughts clearly and with ease
  2. Feeling confident in front of a crowd, whether they’re speaking or performing solo or with an ensemble
  3. Learning to speak clearly and taking their time
  4. Communicating with confidence
  5. Developing a sense of empathy and broadening their perspectives by stepping into the shoes of other characters, exploring thought-provoking texts, and learning to listen to others’ ideas
  6. Learning to work collaboratively in a team
  7. Developing strong communication skills that apply to any classroom, conversation or future job interviews

Above all, speech and drama classes provide children the space to connect to their own voice, learn to use it effectively, and to express themselves with clarity and confidence.

No matter how long a student commits for, the exposure to learning key communication skills will be an experience that stays with them for life!

At Viva Voice we offer complimentary introductory classes for newbies.

We welcome you to see if Viva Voice is the right fit for your child. Browse our timetable to find a suitable class time, then submit the form to register your child for a complimentary introductory class.