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Performing Arts High Schools - Pros and Cons of Performing Arts High Schools

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If you have a middle school aged child who is an aspiring actor or musician, you may have thought about sending your son or daughter to one of any number of performing arts high schools in your city. Performing arts high schools are prevalent in many major cities. They are high schools that offer special programs and curricula that are centered on acting, music, and the production of plays, movies, and concerts. For a young and talented artist that knows that this is what they want to do with the rest of their lives, these specialized schools can prove to be invaluable training grounds for later success. However, before making such an important decision that will have long lasting ramifications for your child’s life, you should consider the pros and cons of sending your child to performing arts high schools.

The main benefit of choosing performing arts high schools over more traditional high schools is the curriculum that the schools offer. These schools have a distinct emphasis on acting and musical training that is not available in most traditional schools. For example, if your child is proficient at playing the piano, a normal high school would not usually have piano lessons as a class. You would have to send your child to private lessons after school. If your child attends a performing arts high school, however, there may be several piano classes to take, each specializing in a different area of music education. These schools are essentially vocational schools that prepare students for a life in the arts. One negative aspect about performing arts high schools is that most of them do not offer many elective classes outside of music or other art classes. They are, however, required to teach the basic classes required by each state to graduate from high school. Due to their focus on art classes, students that want to continue their studies at an art college or music conservatory often have a leg up on the competition, having been prepared more thoroughly for the demands of higher education through their training from performing arts high schools. Also, these schools have guidance counselors who are more familiar with the entrance requirements of such schools than regular high school staffs.

Another positive feature of performing arts high schools is that their budgets for school plays and musical concerts are much higher than traditional high schools. This allows the students to stage more elaborate productions and events in a more professional atmosphere. Often, local professional artists are resident faculty members, who can lend their advice to students that has been gleaned throughout the years.

Performing arts high schools also bring students with like interests together. Instead of feeling like outcasts in regular schools, artistic children are free to congregate with other people who share their goals and aspirations, letting them fit in more. Having friends who are into the arts can also be a source of inspiration and motivation for children. Also, it helps them to build contacts and social networks that may be important in their professional careers.

Performance arts high schools are not without their negatives, however. For one, most cities only have one performing arts high school, which means that most of the students who attend the school have to be transported a long distance each day. Most schools do not provide bus service beyond a certain distance, forcing parents to arrange their child’s own transportation. Also, most of these performing arts high schools lack sports teams. Most of the budget that would have been devoted to athletics is diverted into funding artistic productions and events, so children that have an interest in sports may be disappointed by the lack of school sponsored athletic programs. Another problem with performance arts high schools is that they can be highly competitive, creating undue stress on certain children. Often, the children who go to these schools are the best and most talented young musicians and actors in the city. The competition for roles and concerts can be fierce and is not for everyone. Finally, on top of normal classes like English and math, students are required to learn repertoire for acting and for their instruments and in most cases have to participate in school productions. This can create an extra workload for the child, making good time management skills crucial.

Most major cities have public high schools that are devoted to the performing arts, however, if your city does not have one or if you want to send your child to a more prestigious performing arts high school, there are several institutions across the country. Three of the most wildly acclaimed private schools are Walnut Hill located in Boston, Idyllwild Arts Academy in Palm Springs, and Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Minnesota. These three schools are boarding schools and have tuitions that cost upwards of $40,000 per year, not including supplies and personal expenses.

Sending your child to a performing arts high school is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. For highly motivated and talented children, performing arts high schools can be a great tool in fostering their gifts and preparing them for professional careers.

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over 5 years ago

this is intresting

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over 3 years ago

There's a typo in this article. It says Interlochen is in Minnesota when it's in Michigan.

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over 2 years ago