Creative kids are confident kids. Experts explain why

Lisa Gardner, head of creative and performing arts at APGS.

Lisa Gardner, head of creative and performing arts at APGS.

At APGS, coursework for the NSW syllabus is complemented by a separate performing and creative arts program taught every Friday by visiting industry professionals, from musical theatre stars to digital animators and film composers. This is highly valued by the students, says Gardner, while also showing them the discipline and collaboration involved in pursuing a career in the creative or performing arts.

“In creative areas, it can help to have some guidelines around the practice so you know you need to fulfil certain steps along the way,” says Gardner, who is also a seasoned singer and performer.

“We believe in involving students in their decision-making because then they feel a sense of owning the project and having success in their own ideas. Then one bit of success leads to the confidence to take the next steps.”

Building empathy and resilience

Gardner points out that the smaller class sizes at APGS — typically fewer than 20 students per class — are designed to create a supportive environment where students feel comfortable taking those next steps, whether it’s singing solo for the first time or attempting a more complex piece in front of their peers.

“We always start by reminding the group that it needs to be a safe space where people can take risks and try something out, and that the responses need to be kind, supportive and constructive.”

Working in this way helps to build resilience, she adds, and equips students with the skills to accept and interpret feedback. It also teaches and encourages empathy, as students all share the same experiences and “they all have a wobbly moment here or there”.

Smaller class sizes offer students a supportive space to explore their creativity.

Smaller class sizes offer students a supportive space to explore their creativity.

Studying drama or dance is another powerful way to foster empathy, says Professor Ewing. “Drama is about getting into the shoes of a character and thinking about their dilemmas and their perspectives. If you have opportunities to do those things, it opens up your world.”

Sara’s story

Sara Tamim graduated from APGS after spending her entire high school career at the school. Interested in music and the creative arts from a young age, she knew a traditional academic path wasn’t the right fit and wanted an option that would allow her to explore her interests.

Tamin credits her time at the school with equipping her with both the skills and the confidence to pursue a career in the music industry, and worked in artists and repertoire at Universal Music before starting her own talent management consultancy, Sara Tamim Management. She says the tight-knit school community and small classes encouraged respect and tolerance, teaching valuable lessons in working with other artists.

“There is a lot of talent at the school, so you can’t always get every opportunity. You have to be really gracious in your reactions and in your conversations with others. Being thrown into that situation so young helps me better manage relationships with artists now.”

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