Whether your child’s artistic abilities were apparent from a young age or an interest for the arts developed in their teen years, it can seem challenging to know for certain how to best steer them or encourage this passion. Though there is still stigma surrounding artistic careers, research shows that creative jobs are actually in high demand at the moment. Plus, students who immerse themselves in the arts take away valued life skills that are beneficial long after they have left the classrooms behind. With guidance provided by three of Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong’s performing arts faculty members, here are a few expert tips on how to encourage your child’s artistic abilities.
Enrol them in a Juilliard-approved performing arts programme in Hong Kong
The Juilliard name should be familiar territory to anyone who takes their performing arts seriously. This famed conservatory located in New York City’s Manhattan is synonymous with unparalleled dance, drama, and music programmes, and has produced a stunning list of alumni — including household names such as comedian Robin Williams, jazz musician Miles Davis, Mad Men actress Jessica Chastain, and composer John Williams, to name a few. Their network of specialised educators and experienced industry professionals offer valuable insights into the world of performing arts.
According to Hannah Kelly, director of music at NAIS Hong Kong, her experience with the Juilliard-designed programme offered at her school has been beneficial in assisting the development of “quality performing skills” and allows students to “understand and question compositional techniques or ideas [and] develop their own knowledge, […] inspiring them to interpret, create, and perform their own works.”
This Juilliard-approved programme also allows increased access to performing arts subjects, such as drama and music, on a weekly basis. Of course, there is the added benefit of learning from renowned performing arts specialists and Juilliard alumni through annual artist visits and masterclasses. Curriculum specialists are also on hand to assist teachers throughout the academic year. In addition to that, teachers who deliver a Juilliard-approved syllabus have the ability to attend annual training offered by the conservatory. All this adds up to create a supportive education system and distinguished performing arts programme.
Incorporate dance classes into their schedules
Apart from developing coordination and movement skills amongst young people, dance classes have the added benefit of encouraging social skills, teamwork, and building trust. “Dance is a creative outlet that encourages the development of confidence and creativity through movement and performance,” says Sarah Sweetman, teacher of drama and dance at NAIS Hong Kong. “Participating in dance creates trust, camaraderie and a sense of belonging whilst establishing the skills needed to work individually and as part of a group. Dance as a skill, enhances co-ordination, rhythm and resilience but most importantly promotes social, emotional and physical health. In today’s society mental health problems amongst young people are continuously on the rise and exercise like Dance is the perfect solution, ensuring a healthy balance between school and home life.”
Nurture their artistic interest by exploring different creative avenues
Artistic abilities don’t have to be limited to theatre. In fact, exploring multiple arts subjects — such as dance and music — can encourage students to create well-rounded and in-depth performances. Not only does supporting an interest in different creative avenues instil valuable ethics, but it also teaches mature life skills like collaboration, organisation, time management, and confidence. “Drama and the performing arts [are] not just about performing and talent — it’s about problem solving,” adds Nigel de Sousa, director of drama and performance at NAIS Hong Kong. “The focus in drama on empathy and being self-aware and able to self-regulate form part of the emotional intelligence skills that employers recognise in good leadership.”
Hannah Kelly posits that “students who have the opportunity to study the performing arts develop a wide range of skills that help to create lifelong learners. They develop self-discipline through their need for practice to make progress and curiosity is grown when new repertoire is studied.” For instance, students who are regularly rehearse and perform advanced repertoires can greatly develop their technical and ensemble abilities, as well as nurture a clear artistic vision.
Take them to see performances and festivals
The best way to nurture artistic abilities in the performing arts is to allow students to experience it first-hand as much as possible. Seeing live performances creates an opportunity to fully appreciate the beauty of a performance and analyse what makes it great. These reflections can help improve the students as even better performers and help them realise the technical steps and skills required to make a performance successful.
Consider summer camps that focus on creative pursuits rather than academic and scientific ones
Every one needs a bit of mental break, even the little ones. Summer holidays provide a timely opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a creative pursuit or developing a specific skill that they may not have as much time to focus on in the classroom. Consider choosing a summer programme where you can combine a destination vacation with an educational summer camp, so it does not feel like all work and no play, such as the ones offered in Geneva, Florida, and Shanghai by Nord Anglia Education.
Hannah Kelly suggests that art-focused summer camps, even short ones, can encourage students to develop creativity, independence, and self-expression — all vitals skills for life beyond the classroom. It also enables them to meet and form friendships with likeminded kids who share the same passions and work on their socialisation and collaboration abilities. Nigel de Sousa likewise observes that “students tend to bond well with others when working on a common goal such as a performance”.
But how to get a taste of such prestigious education without completely uprooting the family and household? Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong is in partnership with the Juilliard School and uses Juilliard-approved materials in their performing arts curriculum to offer unique and enhanced learning experiences for students to enhance their artistic abilities. In addition to benefitting from individual teacher training at the Juilliard School in New York City and receiving annual visits from curriculum specialists who support the performing arts department, NAIS Hong Kong also has the Juilliard Creative Classroom — an extraordinary online collection of educational resources — at their fingertips. Furthermore, students are exposed to showcase opportunities to perform in concerts at a wide variety of ensembles and art festivals around China and Hong Kong.
Nord Anglia Education, an education family of over 60 schools in 28 countries, looking after more than 61,000 students globally, offers three summer performing arts programmes across the world in Geneva, Florida, and Shanghai, where students are immersed in two weeks’ worth of workshops, technique classes, and one-on-one tuition, all designed and delivered by the Juilliard School and its faculty members. Click here to learn more.