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How should I improve acting/vocals for school musicals/plays?

I'm a middle/high school student who's interested in participating in plays and musicals for my school. I've only been in two in the past and have gotten side/background characters and a narrator. I don't have much experience in acting and I am a self-taught singer. What are some good ways to improve my acting/vocals and to possibly have a better chance in getting a lead role?

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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Olivia !

I would be happy to advise you on improving your singing and acting ! The actual best way is to obtain singing and acting instruction. Although I cannot say you will get lead roles, that will be up to the director of the shows you audition for, but there are some things you can do. Chorus or background or parts with under five lines are always important too, as those parts make up the whole show.

So, I have suggested taking private singing and acting lessons. Since you are a self-taught singer, you may benefit from the additional information, techniques and application a voice teacher can provide. I learned so much in my college voice (singing) class as a theatre major in college. Things I never thought about. Did I ever think I could ever sing an aria from an opera ? Only that class showed me that I could. So I would first suggest an in-person course or a private one-on-one singing teacher/coach. I did both and the private teacher was amazing !

For acting, you would take an acting class. Development as an actor comes with consistent practice, exploring your versatility and mastering a variety of genres. Do not worry about your level right now. People are sometimes cast for their look, not necessarily for their skill as is the case with high school shows. Sometimes it is just a matter of popularity, too, so do not underestimate your talent but if you are seriously interested in taking performance further, it will pay off to invest some time and money for lessons as I've mentioned. I have left a list of voice and acting lessons for you below. They are in Salt Lake City. If you take lessons, you will feel the difference between being self taught and formally taught.

Another thing that you can do is watch videos on You Tube for vocal exercises and acting instruction. I have left links for you below to observe some videos for this. You should also do more searches there for additional presentations.

In the professional world of performing, nothing is guaranteed but each audition is worth it. Even if you don't get a part, you've tried and have had a learning experience from it which you can take to your next audition. If you feel that you really want to get into acting and still not getting the parts you want at school, try community theatre. I have left a link to a list of your local theatres below.

I hope that this was helpful. Never hesitate to ask questions whether you are in it as a hobby or considering it for a future career ! Best wishes to you !

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

SINGING LESSONS IN SALT LAKE CITY https://lessons.com/ut/salt-lake-city/voice-lessons/
ACTING LESSONS IN SALT LAKE CITY https://lessons.com/ut/salt-lake-city/acting-classes/
VOCAL WARM UPS (videos) https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=improve+your+singing+voice+exercises
ACTING LESSONS FOR KIDS https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=acting+lessons+for+kids
COMMUNITY THEATRES IN SALT LAKE CITY https://search.brave.com/search?q=community+theatres+in+Salt+Lake+City&source=web
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Martha’s Answer

Hi, Olivia - it is great that you have already gotten speaking roles! Competition for female roles can be high so that is an achievement in itself. Here are some thoughts based on my children's experiences and seeing what our many acting and singing friends from our regional theater do:
- Keep acting and singing, even in the ensemble, because you will get better as you incorporate feedback from your directors, musical directors, and choreographers and see what the leads do and don't do.
- Demonstrate your commitment to the show by being timely and learning lines, etc. at or before the deadline, as well as not being disruptive during rehearsals. Directors remember and will try to reward those who work hard with larger parts or extra opportunities. The opposite is also true.
- Acting and singing lessons would be helpful, but could be expensive. I assume that you have taken the acting and singing classes that your school offers and already participate in the choir? I have added a link below to a community college program in your area that may be more affordable. Alternately, maybe you could work at a performance camp and pick up tips from the instructors?
- Our regional theater sponsors a youth production every summer. Perhaps there is something like that in your area. Even if you are not cast, you could learn by being on the crew . I crew once or twice per year and have learned a lot by watching the process of honing the show. Additionally, you may be able to make friends who could give you advice and support.
Good luck!

Martha recommends the following next steps:

Explore this web site - https://www.slcc.edu/performingarts/index.aspx
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Jeff’s Answer

Olivia:
It is wonderful to hear about your artistic endeavors! I know first-hand how exciting and rewarding it can be. Here are a few tidbits of advise I can give you:
1. Practice! Practice! Practice! Which means "do it." Watching videos and others do it is helpful only if you try it yourself. And always remember that you will never know it all, so enjoy the learning. I have worked in entertainment for 40 years and still enjoy learning something new every day.
2. Get a vocal and/or acting coach or a teacher that will give you honest feedback and good instruction. It is always helpful to have another set of eyes on your work to give you other feedback than what your friends, family, or your mind gives you (which are very subjective.) Find out about local workshops and theatre classes. They are out there; you just have to look.
3. Be around the art as much as you can. Take any and all positions so you can be around the art. You will learn much about acting while you stage manage, or do sets/painting/costumes. Also, you will network with other artists who will help you, as you will help them, in the future. Theatre is about collaboration/teamwork. Always remember that. Be nice to EVERYBODY. No one is smaller, or greater, than you.
4. Read plays. Lots of them. Read books about actors/acting/theatre history. You will learn much from other's victories and failures.
5. Remember that it can be a hard way to make a living, but if you HAVE to do it (as I did), then do it. Go for it. You will hear "no" much. Don't let that deter you. Enjoy every moment, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time. And remember, that it is really not about fame, it is about being an artist and enjoying it.

I wish you all the best! Break a leg!
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