Try New ThingsJust because you play the saxophone at school, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to learn other instruments as well. See if you can take piano or guitar lessons, or maybe even ask your band director if you can learn two instruments, alternating between practice times. Just because most people focus on a single instrument, doesn’t mean you have to, too. This same principle applies across performance skill sets as well. You may not be able to enlist in band, theater and choir at school, but you could take band at school, join your church’s choir and sign up for the community theater program during the summer. Not only will trying new things expand your talent and abilities, it will also help you figure out what types of performance you enjoy the most.
Think Outside the BoxPerforming and singing on stage may be your ultimate goal, but sometimes the best way to make yourself stand out from the crowd is to develop a skill in a niche field that not many people try. For instance, you may want to take a class in ventriloquism, set design or African dance. Chances are most of your friends will be focused on more “popular” forms of performance art, so developing these outside-the-box skills will give you an edge when trying out for roles.
Take it to the StageIt’s one thing to take lessons and try new things, it’s another to get on stage and perform. Young actors, singers and dancers should perform every chance they can get. Join local talent shows, sing in front of friends and family, record yourself and make short films or video clips to post online. Don’t just perform the skills you’re most confident about, perform them all! If you don’t actually take the time to get real performances under your belt, you’ll never be able to identify areas that need improvement. The real triple threats are those actors who can fearlessly perform a number of skills at the drop of a hat.
Develop social gracesWhen you’re just starting out, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you have bad manners, are disrespectful or arrogant, you’re going to rub people the wrong way and could hurt your chances of landing a role. Learn proper etiquette and always remember to say “please,” “thank you,” and to acknowledge the efforts that others have gone to to help you achieve your goals. This may seem like it should be a minor factor, but in today’s world, you’d be surprised how far a good attitude and good manners can take you.
by Laura Williams