For young people, taking part in performing arts activities can help with major life challenges such as exam stress, lockdowns, and even bereavement. They can also have a positive effect in reducing anxiety, stress and combatting depression, as well as boosting confidence and making them feel more engaged and resilient.
Attending a performing arts group provides students with space for a social connection, creating a sense of belonging. In each of the three disciplines taught at Stagecoach Performing Arts, students are exposed to techniques and a social environment that can have a positive impact on their mental health and well-being.
When learning to sing, students are taught breathing techniques, such as using their diaphragm and increasing their oxygen intake and lung capacity. Understanding breath techniques can help those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. Studies have shown that singing releases endorphins that reduce stress and anxiety levels, allowing students to switch off from the outside world and enjoy the activity.
Being physically active releases positive endorphins. This makes children feel more relaxed and overall happier. Dance classes are a great way to get students moving, burning calories, developing muscle control, balance and coordination. According to a study conducted by Psychology Professor Peter Lovatt, the increased happiness levels experienced while dancing is measurable even after as long as a week after the last dance.
Acting and drama classes offer students a safe place to explore issues relevant to their lives. This raises awareness of the issues young people face and provides an opportunity for adults to understand what they are going through. Ultimately, it provides a space that encourages conversation and healing through creative expression. Performing as a group offers young people a positive shared experience, something they can bond over, creating friends and a support network. For many, having a group outside of school or family is vital.
Stagecoach Bishop Stortford teacher John Pritchard said: ‘During the lockdowns, we created digital showcases and end of term events to replace the performance opportunities that would have ordinarily been happening on stage. As teachers, we got tons of feedback from parents saying that the weekly online Stagecoach sessions were getting their kids through the lockdown. For some, it was the only time during the week that their children were back to being themselves.’
‘Performance skills aside, the students get out of the classes is the opportunity to be themselves. Not all students are super confident, many are quiet, and the acting lessons are an opportunity to grow in confidence. They learn to be part of a company of actors; they get to be silly and make mistakes, laugh at themselves, laugh at each other and then learn and grow.’