Giving your child an early start in the performing arts and music arena has so many benefits – greater confidence, better self-expression and increased discipline are just a few. Top schools make sure they incorporate these artistic disciplines into their curriculum. We hear from some students about their experiences with drama, orchestras and musicals at some international schools in Singapore.
Stamford American International School
SAIS combines a passion for drama with world-class facilities to nurture and achieve the best from any aspiring actor or director. Weekly drama classes begin at age five and continue through to Grade 10. Students have the opportunity for personal expression as well as to develop invaluable presentation skills. In addition, the school offers an International Baccalaureate Diploma in Theatre, a rigorous preparation not only for a career as a writer, designer, producer, director or performer, but instilling the confidence, expression and creativity needed to excel in any career.
“Since 2018, I’ve had the opportunity of playing in five productions at Stamford; I’ve been in both lead and supporting roles in musicals and plays. My most memorable performance has to be Little Shop of Horrors in November 2019 where I played Mr Mushnik. It was thrilling to collaborate with such a talented cast, crew and band.” – Rohan, Grade 12
“I’m currently taking theatre in the Diploma programme. What I enjoy most about theatre at Stamford is the community, which is extremely friendly and welcoming. The facilities at Stamford are good, if not better than a professional theatre. It’s a great way to get experience in the acting industry. My favourite performance was playing Orin the dentist in The Little Shop of Horrors. It was an extremely fun and interesting character to play.” – Dylan, Grade 11
Dulwich College (Singapore)
At Dulwich, the arts is a part of the daily curriculum and students are encouraged to take part in drama, music, art, film and dance. The College organises regular professional arts practitioner visits, performances and events such as the Dulwich Festival of Music and Dulwich Science Art Photography Competition.
A student’s thoughts
“Performing has always been something I’ve enjoyed. But at Dulwich, it’s become my passion. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of multiple school productions and workshops with professionals such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, and even travelled around the world to do what I love. In addition to multiple ISTA festivals around Asia, I was able to perform in an iconic professional theatre in London with students from Dulwich colleges around the world. It was one of the best experiences of my life! I performed scenes as Queen Elizabeth I in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank; the fact that my family could come and see it was the icing on the cake. I learnt so much and will never forget that week.” – Eleanor Magnus, Year 11
Singapore American School
At the Singapore American School, the arts are an essential part of the curriculum. The PTA and SAS Foundation-funded academic visitors-in-residence programme brings professional musicians, illustrators, thespians and choreographers to work with students. Students and teachers participate in international music and theatre festivals including the International Thespian Festival. The school’s graduates have been admitted to specialist arts institutions and selective arts programmes in universities, and alumni are thriving in various art industries.
A student’s thoughts
“I’m part of Singapore American School’s theatre programme and the advanced topics performing arts course. Acting has been my one true love since I was young and SAS has provided me with a multitude of opportunities to pursue my passion for theatre. My most memorable performance was the scene “Good Luck in Farsi”, which was part of this year’s fall production (The Show Must Go On). Despite the challenge of COVID-19, Mr Tom Schulz, our visual performing arts teacher, put an immense amount of effort into producing the show. Performing it was an experience like no other. I’m grateful to be part of such a great theatre programme and to have a teacher that cares so much about his students.” – Cheryl Lim, Grade 12
Tanglin Trust School
From Nursery through to Sixth Form, Tanglin Trust School students have many opportunities to develop their skills in art, design, drama, music, film and dance. The creative, social and intellectual development of students is supported by the school’s vibrant Arts programme, including ensembles, recitals, performances, exhibitions, masterclasses and participation in regional and international festivals. Tanglin’s Arts mission statement – “A desire to be creative whilst persevering through challenges” – has become even more apt in 2020. The school continues to innovate and evolve within a socially-distanced environment, with artistic expression finding ever-new leases of life.
A student’s thoughts
“At Tanglin, participating in the arts is where you can create memories that stay with you forever. Since I joined the Senior School, I’ve enjoyed taking part in the school’s musicals, drama productions, musical performances (as a member of the Chamber Orchestra) and the Senior School Dance Showcase. My most memorable performance to date (without an audience due to COVID-19) was the “No Regrets” KS3 Drama Production, where I was cast as one of the main roles. From being fond of the arts to becoming an enthusiastic participant across disciplines, I’ve learnt to practise and improve myself, bring my passion to the stage, while developing teamwork skills. Through the arts, I meet many people with similar interests, and develop new friendships.” – Christiana, Year 10
St. Joseph Institution International
The performing arts is an intrinsic part of SJI International’s culture. From Elementary to High School, students have many opportunities to express themselves creatively outside the classroom. Students are able to embrace the disciplines of art, photography, dance, drama and music. Through creating, performing and responding, students become confident individuals, global thinkers and responsible citizens. Elementary School students perform weekly at school assemblies, and High School students are encouraged to participate in at least one extracurricular creative activity. All students can also get involved in major school events such as the bi-annual school production Rock Night, Cultural Carnival and Arts Week.
A student’s thoughts
“I take part in my school’s drama programme under the curriculum for IGCSE and try to get involved in most productions. Drama allows me to challenge myself with my perception of the characters and the world around them. It has helped to boost my confidence over the years; I’m now able to speak in front of large audiences and feel confident in group discussions and when meeting new people. My most memorable performance was being Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. It was memorable as I was a female playing a male character. It was interesting to study the mannerisms of a lord and apply it during the performance.” – Lidiya Pervak, Grade 10
The Grange Institution
The Grange Institution places emphasis on performing arts. The school regularly invites professionals from the drama, dance and musical scene to come to engage students in various activities of authentic learning. These include holiday camps and enrichment programmes where students take part in a range of diverse and exciting performing arts opportunities. These excellent avenues help to develop confidence, teamwork, partnership, creativity and self-discipline in the students at Grange.
A student’s thoughts
“I joined the school’s recent holiday camp and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was able to do what I love – dancing, learning new moves and choreography. The instructors were awesome and they helped me expand my imagination, which I believe can help me to be creative and hopefully create something original in the future that can benefit the world. I learnt things that I didn’t know before, like trusting in myself, and I collaborated with my peers. I was truly inspired during the camp.” – Naythan Robins, Year 2
Australian International School
Students at the Australian International School are able to choose from a range of diverse and exciting performing arts opportunities. With three major school productions every year, 16 music ensembles and 100 performance opportunities, the programme aims to develop confidence, critical thinking, creativity and communication through music and drama.
Hear from a student
“I’ve been part of various performing arts activities such as multiple choirs, bands, productions, music lessons and school trips relating to drama and music. I enjoy them because they give me so many great opportunities to build confidence and perform. My most memorable performance was probably the recent production of Little Shop of Horrors. I was a Shoo Bop girl and had the chance to perform various solos in front of the whole school. So far, I haven’t participated in any competitions but have been on drama trips such as ISTA. I met students from other schools and, over the course of three days, put together an ensemble performance with them. I’m so thankful for all these opportunities. They’ve enabled me to develop confidence, teamwork, commitment, creativity and new friendships.” – Emma Astridge, Year 8, New Zealander
UWC South East Asia
UWCSEA has an incredible offering of music, dance, drama, film and visual art, both within the academic curriculum and as part of the extensive activity programme at both campuses. Students of all ages are able to develop their passions and extend their learning by participating in a vibrant array of arts-related programmes. Students do not need to be studying the subject in the academic curriculum to access the arts and performance offerings which involve students in both large and small-scale creative collaborations.
A student’s thoughts
“I’ve been in many plays since Grade 8, taking on different roles, from acting to being a stage manager and assistant director. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to try out different aspects of the production process. This year, I decided to expand further; so I chose to be a director on An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen. When I was choosing which play to direct, I knew I wanted it to be about politics. When I first read the play (written in 1882) during the lockdown, it struck me how it was describing the situation we’re facing now – choosing between caring about health and worrying about economics. I felt like it was an ideal time to resurface the piece using our modern context.” – Nimisha Iyer, Grade 11
Read up more on international schools in Singapore.