Summer Skills Courses are growing ever nearer, and we're looking forward to meeting a new talented group of young people in July and August, plus many familiar faces too. Whether aspiring star or participating for the enjoyment of learning new skills, for everyone involved we know it will be a transformative experience and the best adventure. The anticipation translates across to parents as well as young people, who for many, it's an exciting time too.
Hear below from the experiences of Liz Rameshni, parent of Lilya Rameshni, a YMT Skills Course Participant and brilliant young talent who completed Summer Skills Courses twice, in 2015 and 2016 and was involved in our production Let It Snow in London in 2016.
From my perspective, I think one of the best things about the Summer Skills courses is that anyone from the ages of 11 -21 can 'have a go'. There is no audition and so a child does not necessarily have to be aiming for a career on the West End stage, but may just have a keen interest in acting, singing and dancing.
In addition, I really like the residential aspect to the course because it helps to develop a sense of independence in a safe and supportive environment. It also means that Lilya spends a productive week in the summer holidays doing something she really enjoys and has the chance to gain a Grade 6 accreditation with the Trinity College London in Musical Theatre in Production.
I feel that Lilya gained a huge amount of confidence from the course and it was good for her to make some new friends all of whom have a similar interest in the performing arts. Working as a team and listening to others' ideas and points of view, are valuable life lessons.
In Lilya`s opinion, it was the whole experience that she thoroughly enjoyed, but specifically, meeting new people, some of whom she has kept in contact with and was reunited with on the following year's course. The leaders were so welcoming and friendly and pitched it just right in terms of pushing her to get the very best from her. In addition, she enjoyed being able to have some input to the production with regards to 'blocking' and choreography.
In terms of organisation from the very beginning the YMT team proved to be professional and efficient. All the information regarding accommodation and directions to the venue, was sent through in good time and was very clear. On arrival to the course on the first day, I found all the leaders and chaperones to be very pleasant and I felt reassured that Lilya would be in good hands.
We: Would you recommend a YMT skills course?
Liz Rameshni: Yes!!!
Our brilliant alumna Hannah Nuttall could be a perfect example of a young person with a dream who made it come true through her hard work, persistence and outstanding talent. After several YMT Summer Skills Courses Hannah Nuttall was involved in three Youth Musical Theatre productions: Force 9 and a Half, Great Expectation and A Winter Tale. She graduated from London School of Music Theatre and continues to build her career as a musical actress.Theatre credits include: Happily Ever After from Teatro Technis, Made in Corby and many more.
We asked Hannah to share her memories about her time in YMT with us.
What was your favourite thing about time at YMT?
I don’t think I could pick just one thing! I have so many amazing memories from my time at YMT, from my first Skills Course with Eddie Latter and Jimmy Jewell, to my final performance of A Winters Tale at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. I remember when I got to perform the title song of A Winters Tale accompanied by the composer himself, Howard Goodall. I still to this day cannot believe I was given that opportunity, and I still have the photo! Something else very special about YMT is that you really do make friends for life. That fact that I get to see my friends from my Skills and Project courses perform in such amazing shows and venues, is something absolutely priceless.
Overall I would say that YMT allows you to work in an environment with professional directors, choreographer and musicians. They were all very keen to make sure we were professional in the rehearsal room, and respected each other, which was something I was taught at a very young age thanks to YMT. YMT definitely matured me, from a 13-year-old who had never been away from home, to a 16-year-old who understood what it was like to be in a professional environment. That is what makes YMT so unique.
Can you describe your experience of YMT including our Skills Courses?
The Skills Courses are very unique. You’re there for just under a week, and create a brand new piece of theatre. You get the opportunity to work very closely with the artistic staff. It was my first time away from home, and I didn’t know what it would be like. But as soon as you get there, you completely forget about all the worries you had, and just have fun! All the staff at YMT are lovely, and are always on hand if you have any troubles. All the participants on the course are there for the same reasons you are, and you really bond as a group. I must’ve enjoyed it, because I went on to do five more within the space of three years! After my first Skills Course, I auditioned for the projects that go on throughout the summer. Being accepted onto a YMT Production was a very big step. Having auditioned for 3 years and being unsuccessful, once I got into my project I finally understood why it took time for me to gain a place. I then went on to participate in three projects, Force 9 1/2 in 2007, Great Expectations in 2008, and finally A Winters Tale in 2009. I then began my drama school journey.
What benefits did it bring you?
I can honestly say my performing career wouldn’t have been possible without my experiences with YMT. Even from a young age, they taught me about professionalism. It took me 3 years to get into a production; every year I would come back, never giving up on the dream. YMT has definitely given me a lesson for a lifetime; if at first you don’t succeed, always pick yourself up 10 times stronger.
Would you recommend it to someone else and if so why?
Absolutely! The experiences you gain whilst on a YMT Skills Course are invaluable. YMT is a family, I gained friends for life, and skills that will never be forgotten. I am where I am today because of my experience with YMT, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
I chose to do YMT purely for enjoyment as I love playing in pit bands and it seemed like a great experience
Thank you to Molly for sharing this really inspiring story with us, and best of luck at Uni!
I wanted to share something about my experience with YMT that has been super important and great for my life!
I was part of the production of The Legend of White Bear Lake in August last year (before starting my final year of A Levels), I played clarinet and bass clarinet in the band. The show was incredible, it was inspiring to be with such talented musicians and creative people – especially Caroline Wigmore (writer) and Gen Green (composer) and the whole creative team.
I chose to do YMT purely for enjoyment, as I love playing in pit bands and it seemed like a great experience. I had no idea until two months later, when I received a certificate through the post, that we would receive Grade 8 Musical Theatre in Production for being part of the show!
Prior to that, I had been really struggling with what to do at university – I loved music but since I hadn’t done the A Level it wasn’t really an option for me. There was nothing else that really appealed, so I was going to leave applying to university until next year – until I got that certificate in the post. This made me realise that Music at university was an option as I now had a grade 8 qualification! This made me so happy, and I started researching universities straight away. I am really happy to say that I now have received offers from 4 universities to study Music, and this is basically all down to YMT. Molly Clark, YMT Company of 2016
If you missed YMT's National Audition Tour 2017 - fear not! We have ONE FINAL day of MUSICIAN AUDITIONS on Saturday 25 March 2017 and ONE FINAL day of PERFORMER AUDITIONS on Saturday 8 April 2017, follow the links for more info and how to book.
Choreographer and Independent Dance Artist Rachel Birch-Lawson has a wealth of professional experience, here are Rachel's AUDITION TIPS for all of you taking part this year in the YMT National Auditions 2017 (21 Jan - 19 Feb).
We try and make the auditions as fun and enjoyable as possible. Whatever happens, you will go away having learnt something, having met some new people and having tried something you wouldn’t otherwise have tired.
All we ask is that you come and you are brave, and you give everything a really good go! Listen to Rachel's message here on YouTube
It doesn’t matter if you’ve had lots of performing experience, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never danced before. What we want to see is that you really try and give everything one hundred percent commitment, that’s really what we’re looking for in our company, for people who really give everything a go, because the harder you work, the better you become.
1. Don’t apologise for anything you do in the audition room.
2. Be brave and be bold
3. Give everything a really good go!
And you can listen to Rachel's special message here on our YouTube channel.
Rachel Birch-Lawson is an independent dance artist, Rachel’s work spans dance, opera, theatre, and music theatre. Trained at London Contemporary Dance School, she was then selected for European choreographic programme Dance Beyond Borders.
Rachel is supported by organisations including Arts Council England, the British Council, South East Dance, and Lambeth Arts and has created works for companies including Tangled Feet, Opera a la Carte, Garsington Opera, and numerous independent projects. She has taught extensively in the UK, Europe, and Africa and is artistic director of Tall Tales Big Moves.
Step forward onto the stage and kick-start your career in performing arts with YMT. Auditions are booking now, from Sat 21 Jan - Sun 19 Feb 2017, touring 24 cities from Edinburgh to Manchester and London to Dublin and everywhere in-between. Take a look at the full list of dates and times here.
Continuing our Audition Tips series, hear from Musical Director, Pianist and Vocal Coach, Gemma Hawkins! She'll be on the panel for the audition workshops (21 Jan - 19 Feb) and has some great advise for all of you coming through this year.
1. Be Yourself - don’t try to be a different person. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses; that’s what makes music theatre so interesting!
2. The panel are on your side! We’ll want everyone to do their best and show us what they have to offer.
3. Nerves can strangely be a very good thing! They’re a sign that you want to do well, and the adrenaline sometimes helps you produce things you didn’t know you were capable of.
4. Stay hydrated; it will help your energy and concentration. Sip water for a few hours before your audition and keep topping up through the session. Bananas are also a good source for energy and good for calming the nerves.
Gemma Hawkins was the Assistant Musical Director for the Disney / Cameron Mackintosh 2015-17 tour of Mary Poppins, and before that the Barnum UK Tour starring Brian Conley. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Music’s Musical Direction course, having studied oboe and piano accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Credits as MD include The Snowman (UK Tour), Great Expectations (YMT), The Last 5 Years (Barbican, London), Pippin (BRIT School), Side By Side By Sondheim (Edinburgh Fringe) and the Fingask Follies.
Gemma has worked frequently in several of the UK’s leading performing arts schools including the Guildhall, Royal Academy of Music, Urdang Academy and BRIT School, where she has musically directed and arranged for many projects and showcases.
Step forward onto the stage and kick-start your career in performing arts with YMT. Auditions are booking now, from Sat 21 Jan - Sun 19 Feb 2017, touring 24 cities from Inverness to Plymouth and London to Dublin and Belfast, and everywhere in-between. Take a look at the full list of dates and times here.