Big thank you from

Simon Hylands

Simon HylandsSimon Hylands, 25, from Maghaberry is a speech and drama teacher who recently set up workshops in the local area. He also works as a local primary school teacher.

He is studying for a diploma in teaching and drama from the London College of Music and is working towards grade 8 in in musical theatre and grade 6 in piano. He already has achieved grade 8 in speech and drama. This is a remarkable achievement considering he didn't get into drama until the age of 19 when he was involved in a college production. He teaches from home as well as taking classes in Moira and Lisburn.

I take my classes in the evenings and during the weekends. Usually they last between one hour and an hour and a half. I cater for children as young as P1 right through to school leaving age. Class times are 6:15pm-7pm for Pl-P3, 7:00pm - 8:00pm for P4 - P7and 8:00pm - 9:15pm for High School. I start with warm ups which include fun games and are as enjoyable as possible. I might do some speech work, practice sounds, read poems and and then do relaxation breathing. The students learn movement and vocal skills, text work, play devising, role play and improvisation. Drama games help build confidence, trust, concentration and memory as well as being lots of fun. It unlocks the imagination and provides a framework in which talent can grow. Classes are relaxed and supportive with an emphasis on encouragement and the development of each students' individual creativity. With the older students I also cater for acting and script work. There's normally about 14 altogether so the classes are not too busy. My lessons promote enjoyment and fulfillment through participation, enquiry and discovery when working individually, in a group or as a whole class. Everyone can benefit from developing their voice and speech. Speech training is no longer what used to be called 'elocution' where students were taught to talk 'properly' or without a regional accent. It is about using clear and expressive communication in everyday life and the student is also taught how to appreciate and interpret poetry and prose, both in reading for performance and from memory. Drama gives the student ways of understanding themselves, ways of communicating with others and encourages them to become confident in expressing their feelings and ideas. With the use of poetry and prose the students work on creating vocal contrast between moods and thoughts, narrative and dialogue. They learn how to vary pitch, intonation, pace, volume, tone colour and intensity. Memory and listening skills are also developed. It is all focused on increasing confidence and self esteem too.

I like to work towards a short production at the end of each term so there's always lots going on. The private lessons I give have children coming to my house in pairs. We practice theory how to speak, breathing, methods of modulated speech. delivering work and also concentrate on exam pieces.

As well as doing my own studying, I have to prepare lessons for my school pupils and for the workshops I teach.

I am always busy but really enjoy it. Studying for my own teaching and drama diploma from the London College of Music keeps me busy. I never get a minute to be bored. I am passionate about my work. The fact that it didn't come to me straight away, I hope inspirers others. It is great to see people come out of themselves.

Simon can be found on Facebook at Simon Hylands Theatre Classes and grades.

Ulster Star