The Malta Independent 7 December 2019, Saturday

The Malta Visual and Performing Arts school - A different kind of school

Wednesday, 13 November 2019, 09:21 Last update: about 23 days ago

The Malta Visual and Performing Arts school (MVPA) is an educational institution for students who would like to further their studies in art, drama, media, music and dance. It has an intake of 48 annually. It was established three years ago and is already highly regarded an effective secondary school which excels in nurturing students’ academic, social and creative potential. Simone Attard , Head of School of the Malta Visual and Performing Arts, writes

The school aims to develop critical thinking, aesthetic knowledge and understanding of art practices, through observing, researching and responding. All helps to instil self-confidence.

A balance is struck between the academic side and the art side. This includes good time management, setting high standards for oneself, the importance of thinking about other people's tastes, persevering even when there are difficult moments, concentrating on one's work, keeping calm and ensuring the show goes on and multitasking, sticking to deadlines, analysing mistakes and trying to correct them and learning how to deal with constructive criticism. The MVPA believes the more difficult the task, the greater the satisfaction gained from mastering it. The environment is based on working with, respecting, and trusting others.  Through the arts one can make many contacts and friends - in fact the arts are a language in themselves, where people are understood universally.

The school has a multidisciplinary approach and continually strives to integrate academic subjects.  Being able to combine the academic subjects with the performing arts is such a great experience for our students. Learning poetry and literature, through art forms such as music, dance, media and drama, is much more fruitful than just memorising something for a short time. If fractions were taught through music, it would be much easier and more meaningful. The same could be said when music is integrated with physics for certain topics (sound, movement), or art (spectrum) or dance (gravity).  History is such a lovely experience when reference is made to different schools of painters, musicians and dance practices which have been influential through the years. Learning languages through music could be so helpful, especially as languages are not so popular as in my day. These are just examples of how academic subjects can become more appealing when linked with the performing arts.

Students have been involved in various productions such as those with ZfinMalta and Trikkitrakki.  This year the MVPA has been asked to take part in the National Christmas Mass, at St John's CoCathedral, for which students from all five performing arts will participate, as well as for a Kreattiv Project together with ZfinMalta. The students will also have various workshops in the near future, one towards the end of this month involving members of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. Other speakers will work with the other four performing art forms. MVPA students have also been selected to participate in a song writing competition which has been organised by St Benedict's College.  As from this year, besides singing the Maltese National Anthem, all the music students will be placed in different chamber groups.

The school not only celebrates the performing arts, but also celebrates every piece of academic work, done either on an individual basis or as a team. These are recorded through photos and videos.

Students are encouraged to attend concerts in our theatres, for which they can use the Culture Card, and take the opportunity to visit theatres and churches during Notte Bianca and other special days.

The courses offered by the school are carefully built on practice. Thus, apart from their personal and social development as engaged citizens, students are being equipped to acquire further life-long skills and be geared towards employability. They are provided with the necessary knowledge, expertise and attitudes that can help them find employment later on, maybe even professionally, as actors for stage and camera work, dancers, painters and sculptors, musicians and digital artists. Each art form focuses on its practices, terminology and unique ways of looking at the world. The school is geared to operate on a dual pathway system, meaning that apart from artistic possibilities, students also have the option to pursue a career in fields away from the arts.

As most of our students have experienced, being able to combine schooling as we know it together with the performing arts is not easy, however if they experience this kind of life from a very early age all becomes natural to them.  When one is into a performing art form, this helps him/her to concentrate on more important things in life, keeping him/her away from modern temptations, such as continuous use of a mobile and other technological devices, undesirable friendships and bad influences. There are sacrifices involved, but it will be worth it in the end. A career revolving around the performing arts, besides giving one great satisfaction, means achieving that special feeling of excitement, fulfilment and pleasure which comes from touching the hearts of others. 

This article was first publish in the Noli Supplement which was distributed with The Malta Independent on Sunday on 10 November.

 



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