‘LEARN TO DO IT’ – PERFORMER TRAINING ACROSS THE PEDAGOGIES.

Clare Chandler, Rachel Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

There is a pressing need to investigate contrasting pedagogical approaches by Universities and Conservatoires and little exploration, to date. The cast of a recent production of Bad Girls the Musical, directed by the authors, combined Edge Hill University undergraduates alongside conservatoire-trained students from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Our experiences of working collaboratively over an intensive period with students from these divergent training pathways offers an opportunity for a comparative exploration of models of performer training, and perceived sectoral differences. This case study provides the basis for our proposed paper on performer training. As Higher Education becomes fully integrated in the global neoliberal project, students and staff are increasingly required to demonstrate compliance with controlling discourses, including ‘value for money’ and ‘employability’. Both these tropes are measured against the narrowest and most short-term criteria – initial salary, first graduate destination – none of which favour the real life experiences of students of performing arts. As HE institutions attempt to meet the latest metrics and fulfil the criteria of the most recent acronym (TEF) questions around the approach to performer training, both at Conservatoire and University, re-emerge. Competition for prospective students has intensified, and the decisive factors tend to be quantitative: crude measures of ‘value for money’ have played out as a concentration on the number of weekly contact hours offered on each course. Conservatoires typically offer 25-35 hours a week contact time, and, in a ‘market’ frame, this raises the question as to whether universities (often limited by institutional constraints) are able to, or even should, engage in performer training. In a subject area where students legitimately expect to engage in skill development to aid future employability, universities, wary of litigation, attempt to manage student expectations, by reframing definitions of performer training, so as to protect and increase their share of the student market. This strategy can be advocated for in light of a key finding in the UK Engagement Survey (2016) that independent learning “appears to have a stronger link than taught sessions to all types of skills development”,1 so, whether it succeeds or not, there is a clear pedagogical argument for the university’s reframing of the conversation. This paper will explore pressing realities around performer training, focusing on differences in pedagogical approach of universities and conservatoires - actual and perceived - and their impact on students’ approaches to performance and employability. As students are increasingly defined (both by institutions and themselves) as consumers-becoming-entrepreneurs we will also investigate how consumer attitudes and hierarchies manifest themselves within rehearsal rooms, and consider observable impacts on skill development and student/tutor relationships. 1 Havergal, C. (2016) Independent study more useful than contact hours, study suggests https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/independent-study-more-useful-contact-hours-study-suggests (accessed 20/4/18)
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 May 2018
EventTheatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference - Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sep 20187 Sep 2018

Conference

ConferenceTheatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
Period2/09/187/09/18

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student
employability
contact
university
training offer
art
market
salary
tutor
entrepreneur
experience
conversation
news
graduate
staff
discourse
learning
performance
education

Keywords

  • Musical Theatre
  • Performer
  • Training

Cite this

Chandler, C., & Griffiths, R. (Accepted/In press). ‘LEARN TO DO IT’ – PERFORMER TRAINING ACROSS THE PEDAGOGIES.. Paper presented at Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference, United Kingdom.
Chandler, Clare ; Griffiths, Rachel. / ‘LEARN TO DO IT’ – PERFORMER TRAINING ACROSS THE PEDAGOGIES. Paper presented at Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference, United Kingdom.
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Chandler, C & Griffiths, R 2018, '‘LEARN TO DO IT’ – PERFORMER TRAINING ACROSS THE PEDAGOGIES.' Paper presented at Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference, United Kingdom, 2/09/18 - 7/09/18, .

‘LEARN TO DO IT’ – PERFORMER TRAINING ACROSS THE PEDAGOGIES. / Chandler, Clare; Griffiths, Rachel.

2018. Paper presented at Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference, United Kingdom.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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T1 - ‘LEARN TO DO IT’ – PERFORMER TRAINING ACROSS THE PEDAGOGIES.

AU - Chandler, Clare

AU - Griffiths, Rachel

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N2 - There is a pressing need to investigate contrasting pedagogical approaches by Universities and Conservatoires and little exploration, to date. The cast of a recent production of Bad Girls the Musical, directed by the authors, combined Edge Hill University undergraduates alongside conservatoire-trained students from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Our experiences of working collaboratively over an intensive period with students from these divergent training pathways offers an opportunity for a comparative exploration of models of performer training, and perceived sectoral differences. This case study provides the basis for our proposed paper on performer training. As Higher Education becomes fully integrated in the global neoliberal project, students and staff are increasingly required to demonstrate compliance with controlling discourses, including ‘value for money’ and ‘employability’. Both these tropes are measured against the narrowest and most short-term criteria – initial salary, first graduate destination – none of which favour the real life experiences of students of performing arts. As HE institutions attempt to meet the latest metrics and fulfil the criteria of the most recent acronym (TEF) questions around the approach to performer training, both at Conservatoire and University, re-emerge. Competition for prospective students has intensified, and the decisive factors tend to be quantitative: crude measures of ‘value for money’ have played out as a concentration on the number of weekly contact hours offered on each course. Conservatoires typically offer 25-35 hours a week contact time, and, in a ‘market’ frame, this raises the question as to whether universities (often limited by institutional constraints) are able to, or even should, engage in performer training. In a subject area where students legitimately expect to engage in skill development to aid future employability, universities, wary of litigation, attempt to manage student expectations, by reframing definitions of performer training, so as to protect and increase their share of the student market. This strategy can be advocated for in light of a key finding in the UK Engagement Survey (2016) that independent learning “appears to have a stronger link than taught sessions to all types of skills development”,1 so, whether it succeeds or not, there is a clear pedagogical argument for the university’s reframing of the conversation. This paper will explore pressing realities around performer training, focusing on differences in pedagogical approach of universities and conservatoires - actual and perceived - and their impact on students’ approaches to performance and employability. As students are increasingly defined (both by institutions and themselves) as consumers-becoming-entrepreneurs we will also investigate how consumer attitudes and hierarchies manifest themselves within rehearsal rooms, and consider observable impacts on skill development and student/tutor relationships. 1 Havergal, C. (2016) Independent study more useful than contact hours, study suggests https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/independent-study-more-useful-contact-hours-study-suggests (accessed 20/4/18)

AB - There is a pressing need to investigate contrasting pedagogical approaches by Universities and Conservatoires and little exploration, to date. The cast of a recent production of Bad Girls the Musical, directed by the authors, combined Edge Hill University undergraduates alongside conservatoire-trained students from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Our experiences of working collaboratively over an intensive period with students from these divergent training pathways offers an opportunity for a comparative exploration of models of performer training, and perceived sectoral differences. This case study provides the basis for our proposed paper on performer training. As Higher Education becomes fully integrated in the global neoliberal project, students and staff are increasingly required to demonstrate compliance with controlling discourses, including ‘value for money’ and ‘employability’. Both these tropes are measured against the narrowest and most short-term criteria – initial salary, first graduate destination – none of which favour the real life experiences of students of performing arts. As HE institutions attempt to meet the latest metrics and fulfil the criteria of the most recent acronym (TEF) questions around the approach to performer training, both at Conservatoire and University, re-emerge. Competition for prospective students has intensified, and the decisive factors tend to be quantitative: crude measures of ‘value for money’ have played out as a concentration on the number of weekly contact hours offered on each course. Conservatoires typically offer 25-35 hours a week contact time, and, in a ‘market’ frame, this raises the question as to whether universities (often limited by institutional constraints) are able to, or even should, engage in performer training. In a subject area where students legitimately expect to engage in skill development to aid future employability, universities, wary of litigation, attempt to manage student expectations, by reframing definitions of performer training, so as to protect and increase their share of the student market. This strategy can be advocated for in light of a key finding in the UK Engagement Survey (2016) that independent learning “appears to have a stronger link than taught sessions to all types of skills development”,1 so, whether it succeeds or not, there is a clear pedagogical argument for the university’s reframing of the conversation. This paper will explore pressing realities around performer training, focusing on differences in pedagogical approach of universities and conservatoires - actual and perceived - and their impact on students’ approaches to performance and employability. As students are increasingly defined (both by institutions and themselves) as consumers-becoming-entrepreneurs we will also investigate how consumer attitudes and hierarchies manifest themselves within rehearsal rooms, and consider observable impacts on skill development and student/tutor relationships. 1 Havergal, C. (2016) Independent study more useful than contact hours, study suggests https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/independent-study-more-useful-contact-hours-study-suggests (accessed 20/4/18)

KW - Musical Theatre

KW - Performer

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M3 - Paper

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Chandler C, Griffiths R. ‘LEARN TO DO IT’ – PERFORMER TRAINING ACROSS THE PEDAGOGIES.. 2018. Paper presented at Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference, United Kingdom.