I took the time and effort to attend a free LAMDA seminar the other day. I couldn’t make the London dates which would have been easier for me so made my way up to Birmingham instead. It was hot and sticky and I don’t know the city well and as I had had to drop my son off at school first I couldn’t allow myself the journey-time buffer I would have preferred. I got to the venue 10 minutes late and was relieved to find they were hanging on for ‘stragglers’.
I have to say, part of me questioned whether this was the most useful way I could spend a precious ‘desk day’ when I have so much on my plate at the moment just running my business. The seminar was to go over the new syllabus and to clarify any changes and it wasn’t like I couldn’t check all that out for myself having already bought the necessary publications. However, having booked myself on some time ago and not being one to duck out once I’ve made a commitment, I found myself on a sunny day in an air-conditioned room with a small group of fabulous and inspiring people.
It can be a solitary life, teaching LAMDA one to one. Obviously, the students I teach are always a delight and I thoroughly enjoy my time spent with them. But when you do not have colleagues in the office or in the next room where you teach, you have no one to compare notes with. So to come together with other teachers from around the country and have the LAMDA experts right there in front of you, ready to have their brains picked, is an energising experience.
Yes we went over the details of what we already have printed on our syllabus publications but people had questions and I realised that I had questions too; the kind of questions you feel you can’t keep firing off by email whenever they pop into your head. And the next three hours re-affirmed why I had chosen LAMDA as my vehicle for teaching drama.
An organisation like LAMDA, operating on the scale that they do, cannot get everything 100% perfect all the time but they admit that and they listen. It is refreshing to be told that the little niggles you have had have been heard and acted upon and that they are constantly working at oiling the wheels for teachers and students. What struck me most, however, is the ethos. It isn’t like it hadn’t been said before but talking to actual examiners, it became clear how much these exams are designed to help students achieve success in every area of their lives.
Yes, LAMDA is a drama school, however, the external examinations are not just designed to turn out super stars of stage and screen (although they do and this too is wonderful) but, as they so succinctly put it in the introduction in the new syllabus “to develop a broad range of skills that will serve them throughout life”.
It became clear, too, that they constantly strive to keep up to date and offer a process and anthology material that will feel fresh and new and appropriate to the modern child and young adult. This is why the syllabus is updated so frequently (why we teachers have to get used to a bunch of different guidelines every few years). Not forgetting, that these exams are open to adults too!
I know there are those who can be put off at the idea of an exam when all they want to do is perform. However, LAMDA offers students the opportunity to play a dream role that may otherwise have never been given to them or talk on any subject for which they have a passion to a kind, supportive audience of one, who really is willing them to be the smash hit they deserve to be!