One of the most magical things about a good school is the extra opportunities it gives you to try out new skills and develop a talent. It could be learning to play a musical instrument, putting on ballet or tap shoes, or learning poems and prose to recite as part of Speech and Drama. As a child I was fortunate enough to be introduced to all three. I clearly lacked talent in the dance department, my reluctance to practise the piano limited my progress (which I now deeply regret) but I persevered with Speech and Drama, obtaining my Grade 8 before I left school.
It has served me well. Speaking in front of a large audience will always cause the adrenaline to run but the discipline of speaking slowly and clearly – of projecting your voice and looking directly at the audience – while trying to engage people with what you say, is a skill learned directly from Speech and Drama. For the girls its worth is invaluable and I was delighted to see so many of our pupils aged 7 to 18 standing confidently in front of the audience during our Evening of Speech and Drama last week. Every word they recited was not just clearly spoken, but beautifully so too.
Reciting poems, prose and plays is a pleasure. Speaking the pieces out loud gives you a love for the work that sometimes is not captured through reading. You have a greater appreciation of the words and understanding of the meaning when you say them out loud. As Dr Heather Martin said: “Poetry starts with music. It sounds good and it feels good to read aloud; it is written to be rolled around the mouth and savoured like a fine wine. Poetry makes you aware of words as building blocks, as colourful and varied as in any LEGO set. Once children see words in this way they are more likely to want to use them, play with them and write with them. Poems sit on the page inviting us to turn them into sounds.”
The girls truly loved reciting the poems, prose and drama pieces. They understood every nuance, making the audience chuckle or be moved by their passion and sometimes anguish when they spoke the words.
Our girls are clearly talented, carefully taught and eager to grasp the opportunities Bedford Girls’ School offers them to develop new skills. I was not surprised that this year we won more trophies, cups and places at the Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama than any other school. Speech and Drama is very strong at BGS and this is something of which I am very proud.