Bahrain drama teacher Lydia Martin wants to bring music and theatre to life
Time Out Bahrain staff
‘I have this quite unique motto,’ music and drama teacher Lydia Martin says when we meet her in the Budaiya-based Inspire Bahrain headquarters. ‘In convincing others of your confidence, you’ll eventually convince yourself.’ Essentially, this is what her new music and arts company is all about – inspiring confidence in individuals and the community. When Lydia came up with the idea last spring, that’s what inspired her. ‘I wanted to do something that brought people together,’ she tells us. ‘The community, different people from different backgrounds, churches, from all walks of life.’
Lydia has in fact been a pillar in the music and arts scene in Bahrain for some time now. After working in a teaching post at St Christopher’s School early on, she opened her own music school, Saar Music Centre, but in 2011 it was forced to close down due to unrest in the area. She then became the performing arts director at the British School of Bahrain where, during her three years there, she set up a London Academy for Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) programme.
Now it’s her turn again and so, at the beginning of September 2014, she launched Inspire with a big arts festival that swept the nation. Since then, Lydia has been growing her portfolio of offerings and now she’s got 120 students, both kids and adults, attending her classes which range from singing lessons to a community choir session, music theatre initiatives, the LAMDA programme and even corporate drumming events.
‘It’s really a kids and adults thing,’ Lydia explains. ‘I also try and do activities that bring kids and adults together. We’re all about activities – not so much about teaching and classes. We leave that to the institutes. We’re all about providing an amazing experience that will inspire you.’
And inspire people she has. With programmes for people aged two to 80, Lydia finds ways to bring natural born talents out of their shells and into the limelight. For instance, for children, she teaches them simply how to say their name. ‘The way you say your name is so important. Your name is probably the single most important thing you’ll ever say. It identifies who you are. So when you identify yourself, you want to make sure how you say your name is how you want people to see you.
‘This is how I always start when I’m getting to know people. I always pride myself on knowing everybody’s names. I don’t want to be one of these people that has students coming to my class and I don’t identify with each of them personally. People should feel important, people should feel valued and in order to do that, they must have self value.’
She also believes that absolutely anyone can sing. In fact, Lydia couldn’t sing at all when she was younger. ‘I remember crying my heart out because I didn’t get into the choir!’ she laughs. ‘So every night I’d practise with my mum trying to get the first three notes right. Because she persevered, I eventually got it.’ Lydia’s three-and-a-half year old son, on the other hand, is pitch-perfect. ‘Everyone is like “he takes after you!” but I couldn’t do that when I was his age!’
Luckily for us, that’s no longer the case and now Lydia is spreading her talent, passion and enthusiasm for the arts to every corner of Bahrain. This includes children that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. ‘When I left the British School, this was a big thing I wanted to do, to enable more socially disadvantaged kids to benefit from the programmes that I run,’ Lydia explains. So she set up a dedicated fund which can actually support these children in their talents. ‘We’re actually looking for more sponsorship for this fund as well,’ she adds.
At the end of the day, for children, it’s all about offering opportunities outside of a school setting. ‘I think it’s so important for kids to do things out of school,’ she says. ‘That you get the experience of mixing with people from different cultures and different social classes so that we’re all learning from each other.
‘Be inspired is kind of like our motto. If you feel at all that you’d love to be on stage or you’d love to sing and you think you can’t then I say you can. It’s like anything in life, if you think you can’t do it because it’s outside your comfort zone, don’t limit your beliefs. I believe anything is possible. You just have to have the right people to help you.’ Enter, stage left, Lydia Martin. Registration for the next term at Inspire is open until mid-May. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org. Avenue 67, Jannusan (3904 7734).
Inspire in brief
With so many activities, we thought we’d put it in a nutshell for you…
Singing There’s the community choir which is free and open to anyone interested on Monday nights. Vocal coaching is also available to kids and adults, as well as a ladies singing group on Sunday mornings.
LAMDA (London Academy for Music and Dramatic Art) Lydia approaches LAMDA classes a bit differently to the rest. Within a term she tries to cover all the different aspects of LAMDA so students will be acting and learning monologues, learning short poems and devising drama - to name a few.
Drumming Inspire have just started a drumming class which is meant for all the family. They also offer corporate team-building using theatre skills and African drumming. They’re partnering with Learning Plus and 338 Garden Restaurant for a twilight family drumming event.
Community There is a fund for socially disadvantaged kids to attend Inspire. She has also set up a Build-A-Band project, funded by the US Embassy, offering girls the chance to be a part of a band for free.
Inspire Festival It was so successful last year that Lydia is bringing the Inspire Festival back this November. It brings art and music together, offering everything from art classes and workshops to live concerts.
Cats As part of MASK, Music and Stage for Kids (another initiative by Lydia), they’re putting on a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical Cats. It’s set to be staged from December 10-12 at the Bahrain Rugby Club.
Summer camp ‘Build a production in a week’ summer camp is planned for the last week of August for ages six to 13.