I am a writer and I am also an advocate for the importance of strong speaking skills. For many years I taught in Vancouver at the Bolton Academy of Spoken Arts, the largest speech arts school in western Canada. In addition to teaching practical and theory classes to students in grades K-12, I also worked as the curriculum designer for the school, a role I now continue from my new home in Kelowna where I currently write and teach. Passionate about literature, performance, and creativity, I have performed speech arts from the age of seven and hold two diplomas in speech arts performance, an ATCL from Trinity College London and an ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. I also hold a BA (Honours) in English literature and writing from the University of Victoria and an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. My work as an educator has shown me that the performance of literature can help students gain the confidence they need to believe in the validity of their own ideas, and so alongside the reading, interpretation, and performance of the work of celebrated authors and speakers, I encourage my students to write and perform their own creative poems, stories, essays, and speeches on topics that interest them. I want to empower all speakers with the skills to make themselves heard and the knowledge they deserve to be heard.
WHAT IS SPEECH ARTS?
Speech arts is a wide-reaching discipline that includes speech writing and public speaking; improvisation; storytelling; literary analysis; and the dynamic and effective performance of poetry, prose, and drama. Speech arts includes the study of vocal variety, body language and physicality, eye focus, characterization, and emotional awareness, in addition to speech structure and the organization of ideas.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SPEECH ARTS?
Speech arts studies help individuals to gain the skills and techniques that will enable them to become more confident speakers in intimate and in public settings, and give them an increased awareness of the power and flexibility of their natural voices. Because speech arts uses the tools of literature and theatre to practice good vocal and performance habits, it also helps students become more critical and creative thinkers, more empathetic world citizens and encourages them to explore and express their creativity.
Learning speech arts gives students the skills and the confidence to be clear communicators in all kinds of speaking situations, from conversation to interview settings and professional presentations and appearances. The fear of public speaking has long been understood as the number one fear among individuals across society, and that kind of fear can make it difficult for even the most skilled, talented, and innovative individuals to take pride in their ideas. Speech arts studies helps students to channel and control that fear and give them the confidence that will make them stand out among academic, personal, and professional settings. Speech arts students gain a deepening awareness of the impact they can have on the world through the expression of their ideas.
WHOM IS SPEECH ARTS FOR?
Speech arts is for everybody—for children, teens, and adults of all ages! It is for anyone who wishes to improve their skills and their confidence in communication, and not just for students who wish to become actors or performers. Although speech arts certainly is helpful to students interested in pursuing drama, speech arts training benefits students who are pursuing any kind of career. The ability to effectively and confidently express ideas is important in all fields, including education, academia, business, law, medicine, science, engineering, technology, media, and the arts.
I teach speech arts for students from grades K-12. Students who stay in speech arts lessons throughout their school years see a marked improvement in their confidence in and outside the classroom.
I also lead workshops for writers, artists, academics, and other professionals looking to learn how to use their voices in more effective ways to communicate their ideas to their audiences.
For more information about the speech arts classes I offer, please see my Teaching page, which also includes information about my writing mentorships. All of my speech arts classes are complemented with some amount of original writing, depending on the needs and interest of the student, but I also teach separate classes specifically on creative writing.