Clare Chandler, Rachel Griffiths

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    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 Sept 20187 Sept 2018


    ConferenceTheatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Musical Theatre
    • Performer
    • Training


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