Training in Musical Theatre: Assessing Progress and Performance
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This paper reports on aspects of a larger project conducted on learning and teaching practices in a tertiary musical theatre program. Learning and teaching activities that focus strongly on performance outcomes are often difficult to assess objectively, particularly in relation to the balance of process and performance. This project reported on here sought to illuminate the perceptions of teachers in relation to assessment practices. The site in question has implemented and evaluated a process of continuous assessment in which staff members provide detailed feedback about student progress on a weekly basis. Marks are awarded for up to twenty sub-activities within the broad areas of acting, dance (with sub-categories for each of jazz, tap and ballet), performance project, singing and speech. This assessment process is embedded in a degree structure that has adopted a sliding scale of formative and summative assessment across the three-year degree: the first year is marked almost entirely on progress, and the final year almost entirely on performance. Through focus group interviews with staff members, the efficacy of this assessment process was documented. Teachers who worked with students in the second year of the program were interviewed to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach. As such it complements an earlier paper in which student perceptions were reported. The findings give a nuanced picture of the staff members' interface with the assessment process. These findings, combined with artefacts from the program are presented as a model for teachers in institutional and private studio settings. It is anticipated that this may be of interest to those who seek to prepare students who aim to prepare for the realities of the profession in musical theatre and other voice-based training programs.
Proceedings of the 8th International Congress of Voice Teachers: for the love of singing July 10-14, 2013 Brisbane, Australia