On the surface of it, and as the name suggests, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) is an organisation which seeks to find and train exceptional dramatic artists and technicians.

EMPOWERING AN INDIVIDUAL TO FULFIL THEIR POTENTIAL.

Founded in 1861, LAMDA is the oldest drama school in the country and counts actors such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ruth Wilson and Benedict Cumberbatch, currently the Academy’s President, among its alumni.

Scratch beneath the surface though and what you will actually find is an offering that is equally geared towards providing pupils with the skills to excel in the workplace and at university.

Communication skills are among the most in-demand skills for employers. Developing those skills can benefit an individual in all aspects of life, from professional spheres to social gatherings. Equally, working on improving communication can help a pupil grow in confidence to be able to perform under pressure.

Not only does taking part in LAMDA help with the verbal aspects of communication but it also helps with nonverbal communication, from body posture to hand gestures and eye contact, all of which express meaning, often saying much more than spoken words.

LAMDA lessons at Bradfield encourage and enhance pupils’ performance and communication skills in an atmosphere that is fun, creative and educational.

The partnership with Bradfield began back in 2010, with just one teacher and ten pupils. Fast-forward almost a decade and LAMDA has seen significant growth. There are now five dedicated teachers tutoring around 120 pupils.

Most importantly, LAMDA is for everyone, helping those who are less confident and want to develop their speech and communication skills, as well as servicing those who are already confident performers and communicators but want to enhance and build up on their existing skill set.

No matter which direction a pupil chooses to follow in the future, LAMDA exams provide an opportunity to nurture natural abilities which are attractive to employers and beneficial when studying at university.

The sessions develop a learner’s ability to read easily, fluently and with good understanding, expand vocabulary to improve powers of self-expression, research and create persuasive formal presentations as well as creating and defending arguments, all while working alone or as a member of a team.

These critical skills will enhance the learner’s self-confidence to engage and contribute fully, whether at school, in further education, in work, or in the community: in short, empowering an individual to fulfil their potential.

Lessons can be individual one-to-one sessions or held in pairs, with pupils able to choose from a number of different pathways and examinations including Speaking in Public, Acting and Speaking Verse and Prose.

SPEAKING IN PUBLIC

Public speaking is an integral part of 21st century life. Whether speaking in front of a small group of colleagues or at a large scale conference, people in many walks of life are required to make a presentation or to give a speech. This route provides the tools to help learners construct speeches use positive body language and engage with a wide range of communication techniques.

Not only that but, at the higher grades, the “Speaking in Public” examinations also include impromptu work, where pupils develop the skills necessary to formulate arguments and convincing presentations with little preparation time.

ACTING

While geared towards developing the skills necessary to communicate dramatic text to an audience, the Acting examination pathway can also help pupils develop key life skills such as understanding and empathy, by allowing learners to engage with different circumstances and/or situations in a practical way.

Promoting creative thinking and exploration also enables pupils to acquire memory skills, spatial awareness, vocal confidence and physical presence. Exploring different characters also allows learners to get to the heart of how feelings and emotions dictate behaviour, encouraging them to become more self-aware. Naturally, this pathway can benefit any pupils preparing for GCSE and A Level Drama.

Old Bradfieldian Tiff Hurren (G 12-17) testifies that his LAMDA experience went beyond the dramatic arts.

LAMDA was a crucial part of my personal development at Bradfield. I only had a minor involvement with the Drama Department, concerning myself more with House events, but the education LAMDA provided wasn’t confined to the Dramatic arts. My lessons and the examination process developed my elocution and general command of language, skills which I used in the debating chamber, utilised during university assessments and benefitted from at Society AGMs.

SPEAKING VERSE AND PROSE

Using poetry and prose, LAMDA Speaking Verse and Prose examinations allow learners to explore literature in an engaging and practical way. Developing a good speaking voice is key and successful pupils will recognise how to use their voices in different ways to provoke different reactions.

Equally important, memorising a number of pieces encourages self-discipline and focus. This also enables pupils to tap into their creativity as the way they interpret each piece necessitates an imaginative engagement invoking thought, emotion, style and form of the text.

Pupils can work on their diction, posture and body language and a deeper appreciation of the literature will also be achieved as they study the text and that will help them communicate to the imagined, or future audience in an engaging way.

Another OB, Anna Mladentseva (J 13-18), praises the transferable skills that she gained from her LAMDA experience which have helped her in the world beyond Bradfield.

People tend to associate any sort of art, including performance art, with artificiality, deceit, or suspension of belief. For me, on the other hand, LAMDA trains an awareness of body language, vocal subtleties and facial expressions in everyday life. Even if one does not necessarily think that they are ‘good’ at acting, they should still give LAMDA a go. The experience of LAMDA will always be replicated in real life, be it in university interviews or work. Learning speeches of several minutes long does indeed train your memory, but what it also does is allow you to hold an upright posture, make confident eye contact and speak with clarity. Currently, I am undergoing an internship in a gallery where all of these skills have proven to be incredibly useful. Talking over the phone about sales to auction houses and delivering excellent customer service to clients require a conscious control of voice and open body language. For me, having 30 minutes of LAMDA per week was not simply a rehearsal for an acting exam, but an ongoing practice for that non-fiction text of real life.

LAMDA is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation in England and the corresponding regulatory authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland (CCEA).

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