Promoting #StudentAgency in the Performing Arts: The ‘What’


I’ve previously discussed why I feel that performing arts needs to be rethought in order to align itself with the concept of student agency.

Now I’d like to explain what it is we’ve been doing to work towards achieving this goal.

Important to note: I’m not saying that we have a definitive model which all others should follow, but I am sharing an idea, a system that I feel deserves wider consideration. 

So, what are we doing?

Simple really: We are conducting personal inquiries!

With my experience facilitating the PYPx, and seeing how this can promote student agency, I decided to apply a similar model in performing arts, I persuaded the powers that be… and that’s what we’ve been doing for the current school year.

Here’s the process, from the beginning:

  • Students had time to play and experiment with the new set-up in the room; loads of tech, drums, dress up and other exciting things which they hadn’t had access to previously,
  • We held open mic sessions for each class (celebrating prior knowledge, sharing talent and who we are as performing artists),
  • Provocations for each of the three disciplines were experienced, preferences discussed,
  • A brainstorm to share all of the possibilities was conducted,
  • Students started to form preferences, time was given for them to ‘network’, to compare goals and see if they wanted to connect straight away or start on their own,
  • Students committed to a month when they would aim to share their learning,
  • They got to work!

Here are some of the ideas that came out of the mix:

  • Singing a song with a full YouTube backing track; great to build confidence for aspiring singers
  • Writing a scene and acting it out using the green screen, videoing the process with iPads and editing on iMovie
  • Playing the drums along with a song (I call this drum karaoke)
  • Circus skills; clowning, juggling, unicycling
  • Learning how to beatbox with the help of a Boss RC-505
  • Learning the dance moves to a song, or choreographing their own dance
  • Learning how to DJ – Launchpad on iPads, and scratching & beatmatching on the decks!
  • Creating a tune in GarageBand
  • Learning how to be an MC for an event
  • Forming a band with their classmates (they commit to 1 song as their goal)
  • Learning how to mix and match loops and adding effects on the iPad app ‘Launchpad’
  • Learning to play instruments such as piano, drums, ukulele, guitar, bass…
  • Creating a character by dressing up, changing their voice, their walk, etc
  • Playing with various ‘music tech’ devices eg Roli BLOCKS with a view to creating a tune or playing live

The list goes on. And on!

That’s what we’ve been up to, and so far what can I say… it’s a WIN-WIN!

Student agency is prevailing and the students are having some #SeriousFun

I’ll discuss the following questions in the next post:

How have students been documenting and sharing their learning?

How is this all being facilitated?

Thanks for reading…

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