I met Dean Mark an ex-member of a youth theatre I ran. He has been a professional session musician for many years. He has toured with Lemar, Roy Ayers, Craig David, Lulu and many more. We talked about what makes a great performer. Obviously, you must have to have a technique and that means working at your skills daily. He was very interested to hear about my book, particularly about teaching young people how to think as professional performers.
I asked him how his early work in acting, dancing, and singing had helped him when he looked back. He said undoubtedly it gave him the confidence to believe in himself and to own his space on the stage. He thought there was a strong crossover between acting and being a musician as the act of performing, getting up in front of people, is a skill you must master.
“You must step up to the plate at moments like that and show what you can do.”
Then we talked about being on stage and those performers who were truly present, alive to what happened and those who were not. His first big professional job came at the age of 23 when he was suddenly playing for Boy George. You must step up to the plate at moments like that and show what you can do. That takes courage. He thought all the performances he had given when he was younger had got him to a place where he could handle that pressure.
“You must earn that right; it doesn’t just happen.”
We talked about when you work with highly skilful performers (and these aren’t always famous people) they have a way of being with you in the room. Of course, they will be polite and responsive but there comes a moment when you can tell you are accepted. You must earn that right; it doesn’t just happen.
In Theatretrain we are working with young people on the beginning of their journey. They won’t all want to go on and become professional performers, but they all benefit from discovering that there is no substitute for working hard at performing skills. It doesn’t come to you – you must go to it. It all comes down to the attitude you have towards the work – how hard you are prepared to work and whether you can throw that switch from just having fun together and then getting serious about what you are creating and doing a proper job. That’s how you earn your dues and the respect of others.
Then I watched Dean play with Heatwave- the 70s Disco funk band. His bass playing was amazing; so assertive. melodic and powerful but other times hanging back and being part of the team. Here was someone humble enough to know exactly when to step into the limelight and when to step back. That’s a real skill and it’s mostly not only about hearing but listening. It can take a long time to learn the difference between those two little words.
Theatretrain is delighted that our schools have now reopened for the Autumn term. Our awesome classes in acting, singing, and dancing have been providing teenagers and kids alike with life skills since 1992. Taking performing arts classes are proven to improve academic achievement across the board. Our classes encourage confidence, friendship, communication skills and so much more. If you would like to find out more about our weekend theatre schools or your child has shown an interest in attending drama, dance and singing lessons then visit our website www.theatretrain.co.uk or follow us on Instagram by clicking here!