Speak up! Exploring Speech Arts & Drama
Published: 12/15/2011 by James Bailey, Mount Royal University Conservatory
Above my one-year-old daughter’s change table, my wife and I have hung a giant, cloth alphabet quilt. Each one of the quilt’s 26 squares pairs a letter with an animal: A is for alligator; B for Bear; C is for camel and so on. When my daughter’s fussy, I’ll sing her the alphabet song. Sometimes I’ll make up new lyrics based around the letters and animals that hang above her. With the letters right at head level, it’s easy to come up with all kinds of other plants, animals or objects that I can throw into a quick (and usually goofy) rhyme to keep her occupied.
My daughter has yet to say her first words, but I often wonder if she’s already building a vocabulary from the alphabet songs we sing. And while my wife and I are on tenterhooks waiting for what she’ll say first, it won’t be long before we’ll be relishing in how she says it. Our older nephews have prepared us for the often-hilarious ways kids use language: with limited words on-hand, they have to be pretty creative with how they get their meaning across.
As we age and our vocabularies develop, it’s funny to think that we’re faced with almost exactly the same challenges. That is, spoken language offers a world of expressivity and creative potential and it’s up to us, in every interaction we have, to make choices with the words we use. Truly, as the poet Robert Frost wrote, “All the fun’s in how you say a thing.”
Learning speech arts and drama is a great way to sharpen our skills as verbal communicators. For kids especially, training in speech arts and drama can have lasting, positive effects. As they grow into adults, children can draw from their early experiences with speech arts and drama to become poised, confident speakers; poised, confident speakers who, like Robert Frost, delight in choosing just the right word for the occasion!
Fundamentally, speech arts and drama programs focus on two main areas of study: voice training and technique, and performance and presentation skills. Through these two areas, speech arts and drama offer participants an experience with one foot in life-skills training with the other in the performing arts. Both build clear thinking and speaking abilities students can carry into every aspect of their lives and at the same time nurture an appreciation for the creative potential of language. You can teach these skills at home, or your child can take private or public lessons!
Through speech performance, children get to bring their voices to life. As magical as a great musician interpreting and performing a page of sheet music, speech arts and drama performance draws from the words of the world’s greatest writers for a dynamic audience experience. Great literature is at the heart of speech arts performance: sonnets, poetry, song lyrics and theatre monologues are wonderful resources. It can be truly eye-opening for kids to experience how powerful words can be when spoken aloud for an audience. And the confidence they’ll develop as public speakers will take them from the stage to the boardroom and beyond!
It’s as true for my nephews as it will be soon for my daughter: when you’ve developed your voice you can speak for yourself, and when you can speak for yourself you can make a place for yourself in the world around you. And confidence is a wonderful thing!
Speech therapy for kids online games
Creative Drama Classroom
Creative Drama resource site, Theatre Education