Should I change DS training and agent or not?

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willywonka
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Should I change DS training and agent or not?

Post by willywonka » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:30 pm

My DS is 9. His acting and singing is his world. Currently at school he is doing his ABRSM singing as well as conducting lessons. After school He does his LAMDA Musical theatre. He has just completed Grade 3 and has had distinctions all three times. During his LAMDA class, the teacher hardly ever hears him singing. The teacher asks for volunteers, if you would rather play, you can. Each term, my son decides what song he wants to sing and we work on it together, according to his LAMDA teacher, you cannot do an exam every term, even if you are ready for it. So every second term, he never sings and does not do an exam, but I still have to pay for the class. Is that normal? At the same place he does a saturday school. They do ballet, tap, street dance, singng and drama. All the dance in non graded, its just to get a taste. If you want to take it further, you need to sign up and pay for extra classes. The singing, again, my son never gets a chance to sing on his own. The thing that really bothers me, is that they have an advanced group as well as a junior group. My son is the oldest in the junior group. They refuse to move him up, saying it is all about ability, however, in his group, he is the only one who has performed in the West End (twice) as well as been in two movies. So surely he cannot be that bad? The last few months, we have noticed that he has hardly had any auditions. When he does get them, for example, Les Mis, he was 9 and 4'8 so esceeded the height, same for many other west end auditions he had. He just got asked to audition for something, spec said they wanted mixed race kids, my DS is so pale he is luminous!
I have called his teacher (head of agency as well), in hope to discuss with her, but she does not return calls or emails.
I get the feeling that they think that my son is a terrible singer/actor. However, I know that he is really good. Unfortunately he has not been cast for anything lately, he has had a few call backs over the year and pencilled in for a few things, but nothing came of them. Do you think they are trying to push him out?
Am thinking of getting him private lessons for a term and then changing , but unsure. Any advice?

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riverdancefan
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Re: Should I change DS training and agent or not?

Post by riverdancefan » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:20 pm

He’s 9 and what’s should be relaxed for both of you doesn’t appear so.
Exams like LAMDA etc and grades I believe are
Really not important in the grand scheme of things, colleges don’t care or ask what LAMDA you have spent a fortune on. And I class myself as spending a fortune for my son and his exams.
Personally I would find somewhere else or at least look around as it’s doesn’t appear you have a good relationship with them?
You usually know when it’s time to move on.

As far as west end work and castings go. Many kids will get their time to shine and then it doesn’t happen for whatever reason, he’s tall, you can’t change that. He’s been lucky and probably had experiences other kids would chop their arms off for.
Will private lessons change the things you have no control over? Or will it just raise your expectations and his leading to disappointment thinking that this may be a panacea and the jobs will roll in.
I’m sorry to be blunt but you have probably been pretty lucky with his opportunities and for the majority of children, this simply doesn’t last once they grow or their voices break etc. Again I speak from experience.

Try local theatre groups, my son had some fantastic roles in amdram, they are not so fussy about height if you can perform well. Look elsewhere for him to have experiences and fun and maybe worry less about the professional stuff.
"Tall and proud my mother taught me, this is how we dance" - RIVERDANCE

Yorkshirepudding
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Re: Should I change DS training and agent or not?

Post by Yorkshirepudding » Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:13 am

It sounds like he has done fantastically well in the past - congratulations to him =D>
My DS (10) has never come close in west end MT despite performing professionally locally and overseas, so your son must have that happy combination of both excellent ability and the look that was wanted.

The MT height limit is just one of those things, and riverdancefan is right, if it's performance opportunities he wants then local professional, or amateur stuff is much more forgiving on that than the west end.

I suppose the question that occurs to me in reading your post is 'what does he want?' And who is driving the change?

If he is happy socially training where he is, and the training is good quality and he is improving then it may be worth just backing off for a while and letting it roll. You can always supplement with some private singing lessons, or seek out your own performance opportunities if he is getting itchy feet. If he is unhappy and you have lost faith, then of course think about moving, but the best way to stop progressing is to stop practising, and a sure fire way to stop practising is if a child is unhappy socially or feeling pressured and wants to stop going.

Having said that, I do know we have sometimes hit a mismatch in 'fun' classes because DS treats his training as serious work (enjoyable work but still focussed head on) because it is so important to him. And that doesn't always fit if the class or cohort is more of a hobby class.

I don't think not being singled out to sing on your own in a group class is unusual. I wouldn't expect my DS to do so at his group MT class, or certainly not any more than the other DCs who have less professional experience. They are all there to learn together. I also think generic taster dance classes seem fairly standard. We go to a separate dance school for dance, as DS is not a natural and needs to be carefully taught steps, he can't just watch and pick it up.

Is auditioning for something like Stagebox an option? Wasn't a fit for us, but I know others recommend?

As far as losing confidence in the agency is concerned, well that's always a tricky one. If you think it's time to move on, you may well be right, and if communication has broken down that may be a sign, but there's nothing in it for them to sideline him, they make money from him being successful, so I think it's probably worth trying again to make contact before you walk away. After all they have been successful for DS in the past. Maybe ask for a list of submissions so you can see what he has been put forward for? It's not their fault if he hasn't been called. Also may be ring them and ask them, given that things are quiet, if they are happy for you to supplement with your own work (local, Mandy stuff etc) to keep him fresh and busy? It is polite and also demonstrates you are serious about keeping on working.

Ultimately child performing is a passing thing, but a love of the performing arts can be lifelong for our children if we manage to get the balance right. Good luck negotiating the maze xx

islandofsodor
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Re: Should I change DS training and agent or not?

Post by islandofsodor » Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:53 pm

Grade 3 LAMDA is incredible high for a 9 year old. LAMDA used to have minimum age requirements and they recommended a minimum of age 11 for Grade 3. Going higher would mean a bit of a conflict between his age, maturity and the type of repertoire they are expected to perform. What does concern me though is you say that he hardly ever sings in his LAMDA class. To be honest I would expect LAMDA tuition to be done individually or in very small groups (no more than 3-4, 6 at the very most) I would expect mst of the year to be spent developing technique, breathing and repertoire and approx 3-4 months spent on preparing for the actual exam.

Group singing classes can be great (I used to run one and my son now attends one. I would expect the format to be group warm ups and excercises then sinigng an emsemble song, maybe with harmonies and incorporating solo lines for those that want one.

It is also very common for there to be two kinds of dance classes recreationa non graded mixed ability classes for those who just want to dance for fun or for those who are predominatley singer/actors and graded (often but not always syllabus) classes for those who want to take it more seriously.
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willywonka
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Re: Should I change DS training and agent or not?

Post by willywonka » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:24 pm

riverdancefan wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:20 pm
He’s 9 and what’s should be relaxed for both of you doesn’t appear so.
Exams like LAMDA etc and grades I believe are
Really not important in the grand scheme of things, colleges don’t care or ask what LAMDA you have spent a fortune on. And I class myself as spending a fortune for my son and his exams.
Personally I would find somewhere else or at least look around as it’s doesn’t appear you have a good relationship with them?
You usually know when it’s time to move on.

As far as west end work and castings go. Many kids will get their time to shine and then it doesn’t happen for whatever reason, he’s tall, you can’t change that. He’s been lucky and probably had experiences other kids would chop their arms off for.
Will private lessons change the things you have no control over? Or will it just raise your expectations and his leading to disappointment thinking that this may be a panacea and the jobs will roll in.
I’m sorry to be blunt but you have probably been pretty lucky with his opportunities and for the majority of children, this simply doesn’t last once they grow or their voices break etc. Again I speak from experience.

Try local theatre groups, my son had some fantastic roles in amdram, they are not so fussy about height if you can perform well. Look elsewhere for him to have experiences and fun and maybe worry less about the professional stuff.
Great words and food for thought. many thanks. You are so correct. He wants to perform, he wants to be on stage, it is all he talks about. His training at the moment is really basic, and they believe that children should be able to grow in their own ways without being taught, and that is how they will shine. We do not have any one in this industry in our famiily or friendship groups, so we are just winging our way through things. We just think that with a few sessions of private tutorin, it would just give him some guidance to help him to improve, whether it be for amdram, auditioning for SYP , stagebox etc. We have always told him that all the acting is a lot of fun, and the main thing is that he enjoys it!

willywonka
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Re: Should I change DS training and agent or not?

Post by willywonka » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:31 pm

islandofsodor wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:53 pm
Grade 3 LAMDA is incredible high for a 9 year old. LAMDA used to have minimum age requirements and they recommended a minimum of age 11 for Grade 3. Going higher would mean a bit of a conflict between his age, maturity and the type of repertoire they are expected to perform. What does concern me though is you say that he hardly ever sings in his LAMDA class. To be honest I would expect LAMDA tuition to be done individually or in very small groups (no more than 3-4, 6 at the very most) I would expect mst of the year to be spent developing technique, breathing and repertoire and approx 3-4 months spent on preparing for the actual exam.

Group singing classes can be great (I used to run one and my son now attends one. I would expect the format to be group warm ups and excercises then sinigng an emsemble song, maybe with harmonies and incorporating solo lines for those that want one.

It is also very common for there to be two kinds of dance classes recreationa non graded mixed ability classes for those who just want to dance for fun or for those who are predominatley singer/actors and graded (often but not always syllabus) classes for those who want to take it more seriously.
I am aware that it is very high, and that is my bigggest concern. We have just started seeing a vocal coach and she could not believe how badly run the classes were. We have decided it is defenotely time to move onto another group, as DS is saying that he is bored and wants another class!

Calgan
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Re: Should I change DS training and agent or not?

Post by Calgan » Sat Jun 08, 2019 8:16 pm

Hi.

My advice would be to get him the best possible training. If you don't think he is thriving where he is then it is best to change. The reason I say this is that MT, singing, dancing etc takes such a huge investment of time (and money!) so if you are going to commit to it then you want to be using both wisely. For this reason, my DD attends two different local dance schools (both schools excel in different disciplines), an additional separate singing teacher (fab tuition and enters students for regular exam sessions) as well as attending Stagebox in the school holidays. Its a constant juggling act running from one dance school to the other and certainly costs more doing it this way but I feel that every class is time and money well spent and it works (just!) for us.

Hope you manage to get things sorted out

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