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Studying Performing Arts

Have you always wanted to perform in front of audiences? If you do, you may to consider one of the many areas of study within performing arts. Three broad categories are described below.


Dance comes in many forms.  Generally, they can be divided into two categories: classical and contemporary dances.

Classical dances include ballet, ballroom, and other traditional dances. This category focuses on the specific techniques and style of dance. While classical dancers attempt to preserve dance choreographies of the masters before them, they also allow room for different types of interpretations and improvisations. Students majoring in classical dance will learn the histories, techniques, and the existing interpretations followed by dance practices of selected pieces such as ‘Swan Lake’ or ‘The Nutcracker’. Students are usually expected to perform what they have learned at recitals, concerts, competitions, or at formal events.

On the other hand, contemporary and modern dances emphasize the freedom of expression and creativity that allow a breakthrough into the new era of dance. Contemporary dances include contemporary ballet, jazz, and hip hop. Students majoring in contemporary dance will learn how to choreograph new forms of dance moves and how to incorporate some of the techniques into their choreography. Like those majoring in classical dance, students are expected to showcase what their creativity and what they have learned through concerts or competitions.

Students can pursue a diploma or degree in dance. Depending on the course and dance school, prior qualifications in the specific area of dance is required. In more competitive courses and schools, this could mean that students need to have studied dance from a young age, and have achieved good grades in exams.


To have a career in drama, one must acquire multiple skills such as acting, voice projecting and body movement, improvisations, project and costume design, stage setting, audio-visual production, film making, script and play writing, stage directing, film directing, team management, and cultural understanding.

Students may choose to focus on a specific area such as theatre works or screen works such as television and film production. While both require somewhat similar set of skills, there are minor differences as to what to focus on. Both works require proper voice projection and body movement, but theatre works will focus on utilizing the stage and how to bring out a character through costumes and make up, and screen works will focus on how to fully utilize video tools. Theatre works require students to focus on the big picture, while screen works requires students to focus on various camera angles and movement. At the end of the day, students will get hands-on experience in creating their own theatre or film productions. These are usually guided by lecturers or professionals.

Students can choose to get a diploma or degree in drama, and different schools give different titles to their courses, for example, Bachelor of Arts in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies; BA in Drama and Film Studies; BA in Drama and Performance. These courses may differ in course content and focus so you need to understand what is being offered in each. While some schools may not require prior experience or qualifications, some institutions prefer students who have performed previously.


The most common genres of music are classical music and contemporary music which are then broken down into being a vocalist or playing an instrument, and this can be further narrowed into being a soloist or focusing on playing in a chamber group or orchestra, or in a band. Those who choose to study classical music also have the option of becoming a conductor.

When people talk about classical music, they talk about Beethoven, Chopin, and Mozart among others. They talk about orchestra and chamber music performances. When choosing to study classical music, students will have to choose to major in an instrument from the following: strings, woodwind, brass, keyboards, and percussions. However, students are usually given the choice to minor in any instrument from a different family group. For example, a student majoring to become a professional violinist may choose to minor as a trumpet player. Some may choose not to master in any instrument or in a specific instrument.

Students may also choose to become a vocalist or a conductor. A vocalist will learn a wide range of singing styles including opera singing. A conductor usually creates his or her own interpretation of music pieces and are required to have a good knowledge of every instrument that makes an orchestra. Students studying classical music will be taught about the theoretical aspect of music as well as the practical, not forgetting sight-reading and oral tests. Furthermore, most universities will offer master classes for students to learn from professionals themselves. Students are also expected to perform a recital from time to time.

Contemporary music is a new wave of music such as folk music, jazz, blues, reggae, pop, and electronic music. Guitars, drums, keyboards, and synthesizers are brought into the picture. Contemporary music begins with it being all about the odd and fun rhythms and it evolves into a new mash of sounds which then become many of what we have today on our radios. Students will learn how to break away from what constitutes the normal way of playing music. Students are also given opportunities to compose their own music from what they have learned from seniors and professionals.

Contemporary artists can choose to either to form a full band, or a duet, or to perform solo. Students in contemporary music can choose to major in a type of music they would like to create or re-create. Similar to classical music, students will be taught both the theoretical and practical aspects of music. Students may be recommended by their respective universities to perform outside the university as a form of exposure or a first-hand experience. Similar to those majoring in classical music, students in contemporary music are also expected to perform in a concert or recital from time to time.

Students can choose to pursue an undergraduate degree, Master’s, and even a PhD in music. If you wish to major in an instrument, prior knowledge and qualifications are necessary.

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