I would be perfectly content if life was a musical. If the girl in front of me at Starbucks suddenly broke out into a beautiful ballad about Taylor, the latte boy; I would be the first to throw in a nice low harmony. I realize that I may be in the minority when it comes to my affinity for all things musical. Most people are probably content confining their melodic outbursts to their showers. However, that doesn’t mean Mr. Shakespeare didn’t have a point when he mused that “all the world is a stage.” Now, I am willing to admit that he may have been making a deeper point about the masks that we wear to hide from the world, but allow me to borrow his famous words for a moment to make another point. That point being, that involvement in musical theatre is not only awesome, but just may help prepare you for the real world.
5 Life Skills I Learned from Participating in Musical Theatre
1- How to Work Hard
Have you ever tried running a marathon, while singing the National Anthem, in heels? Well, musical theatre is a lot like that. People who perform in front of a live audience must learn the mean
ing of hard work. Good theatre doesn’t just happen. It is the result of the self-discipline and hard work that takes place in the rehearsal hall. Performers get to enjoy the fulfillment of seeing their hard work produce results. A strong work ethic filters into other areas of life. Learning to work hard will make you a better, student, employee, or even a spouse.
2- How to Think on My Feet
Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time on a stage knows a thing or two about improvisation. Someone drops a line, a set piece is missing, an actor misses an entrance. It is the job of those on stage to find a way to correct or work around these problems while making sure the audience is never aware that anything is amiss. Improvisation also happens to be a skill that most employers wish their employees possessed. A deadline moved up unexpectedly? An important shipment was delayed? Someone called in sick? It’s time to improv. List that under your special skills on your resume and I guarantee you will grab any employers attention.
3 - How to Communicate Effectively
There is one rule that I drill into the head of all of my students. “Acting is listening and reacting.” As it turns out that is not just the key to honest and effective performances, but is in fact the key to honest and effective communication. In this day and age it is not a forgone conclusion that every- one knows how to listen. It is a skill that must be learned and practiced. If you want to be an effective communicator learn to listen. If you want to practice listening, become an actor.
4 - How to Remember Detail
Anyone who has been to college knows what it is like to try and memorize an entire semesters worth of material. Well, it turns out that musical theatre can help make those late night study sessions a little shorter. The brain is like a muscle it gets good at what it practices. Musical theatre actors have to memorize, dialogue, blocking, choreography, music, and more on a very quick timetable. Studies have shown that students who spend a significant amount of time participating in the dramatic arts are better students. Those same students grow up to be adults who can think about the big picture, while not missing the important details that others may overlook. You want to be able to see the forest AND the trees? Join a musical.
5 - How to Get Along with Others
The four previous skills are great and will help you to be more successful and well rounded, but none of them really matter without this last one and that is the idea of compassion. If you want to be a successful student/employee/family member skills 1-4 might get you there, but if you want to be a successful person nothing will be more important than compassion for others. Acting gives you the opportunity to work with a variety of different people, learning to get along with different personalities as you all try to accomplish a common goal. Playing a character gives you the chance to get inside the head and heart of someone else and see life through their eyes. As you do this you begin to develop compassion for them. Having compassion and the ability to see life through the eyes of another will be invaluable as you develop relationships throughout your life. Besides, if people learned to be more compassionate the world just might be a little better.
So, in a sense “all the world really is a stage”, and musical theatre is the training ground.