Celebrating the success of Little Voices pupils

 

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Training children week after week in drama and singing is what we do however we really care about their development and their achievements. There is quite an alumni of past Little Voices pupils that have attended lessons with us at Little Voices and gone on to tread the boards of TV, theatre and film. Ciara Baxendale was a pupil and has gone on to RADA at age 18 years, starred in films, BBC dramas and MY Mad Fat Diary. Several children have gone on to Theatre School and lots of individuals have gone to fulfilling careers outside of the arts in law, medicine, media and banking. Whilst not every child is heading for the bright lights of the professional career and we are about developing a child’s confidence and individual needs and aspirations it is important to celebrate successes.

This week we are proud to announce that one of the Little Voices Clitheroe pupils from the North West of England has received a scholarship to the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School. She attended a series of auditions along with hundreds of other young, talented people.

But what is it that this young girl has that makes her stand out?

Well it is an interesting question and there is no right or wrong answer but a core determination to succeed within, a burning desire to do this above and beyond anything else is certainly a necessity. There is a layer of natural talent that cannot be taught and yet it needs to be present and then a child needs to have access to the right tutors, appropriate audition material and expertise. Don’t forget that it is about what someone is looking for too not just what you have to offer!

Nothing happens without supportive parents, schools and groups of people that really believe in an individual.

As the words of the song say “Don’t stop believing” and whatever your dream in life – GO FOR IT!

I hope that you have a superb week!

 

Samantha

Everyone is different at Little Voices however we all have our moment to shine!

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This month we would like to present a feature on one of our long term pupils ‘Emily’. Emily has been with us since launching Little Voices Putney in September 2012.

Emily has made a significant improvement in terms of her drama and singing development with us here at Little Voices since joining. She initially started in our ‘Mini Voices’ lessons where she excelled in 3 solo introductory exams achieving the highest mark possible ‘Distinction’. Within 1 year of being with us we felt she was ready to take the next step up, moving her to a more advanced group to focus on character work and more advanced technique in terms of her singing and drama skills. Since moving to this group she has come on heaps and bounds, she has taken a group musical theatre exam where she performed a piece of musical theatre with her peers taking on a character and and performing a song to a LAMDA examiner she achieved a wonderful ‘Distinction’ in this. She is now taking on her FIRST solo exam with LAMDA, this a huge jump in terms of working her way up the LAMDA syllabus – we have no doubt Emily will achieve another outstanding mark and excel once again!

Emily recently did a presentation at her school in front of her peers on Little Voices and how much she loves it, as a principal this was so lovely to see. Emily talked about what we do here at Little Voices, presenting photo’s of myself and her tutors and shared what she loves about the lessons. She expresses how she has made new friends, learned lots of new skills for life as well as sharing her achievements and love for the LAMDA exams and sharing our sticker reward system – where pupils can win prizes if they gain a certain amount with us.

A lovely quote from Emily herself  “Everyone is different in Little Voices however we all have our moment to shine. Its always fun no matter what we do!”

Thank you so much Emily!

What would you like us to cover?

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Little Voices is all about inspiring our next generation with educational drama and singing lessons as you know. 

In October one of the theatre weeks that was performed was all about Guy Fawkes and even the parents were fascinated with how much they learnt through helping their children with the script and watching the final performance.

Recently myself and our tutors were celebrating the life and works of a music icon, David Bowie and educating the children on his music and influence on the music culture in the UK.

I read the other day that another Principal and her tutors were celebrating Burns Night and the life and works of Robert Burns. He was a famous poet of course and also wrote Auld Lang Syne . The influences of his work is remembered every year on New Year’s Eve and again on Burns night itself. It still amuses me every year when I hear people muffling their way through the lyrics. It is one of those songs that we think that we know isn’t it? Do we really know every word and do we know what each word means? 

Traditions are so important and celebrations of a person’s life are so important but really understanding is the key to remembering and it is our job to educate the next generation so that long may they continue!

As we look to write the scripts for this year’s theatre weeks are there any composers, musicians, historical events that you would like us to cover in an educational yet fun vocal and dramatic way? Please let us know!

I hope that you have a fabulous week.

Ashlea

When the dreams of your son/daughter are crushed!

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It is at this time of the year that the older pupils at Little Voices are going for auditions and interviews for further education. Whether they are aiming for university courses, the workplace or drama school their Little Voices training comes in very handy and we have discussed the benefits and tips many times! Sadly however there are occasions when the audition, interview or selection process does not go to plan and there are times when we see very disappointed pupils. So what can we do as parents and teachers when a young person’s dreams are crushed and what they had their heart set on seems no longer within reach at that point for them.

Look for the positives. In the case of drama schools they are looking for something quite specific and there are so many factors to take into consideration. Often maturity and life experience are very much on the list of their prerequisites and with the best will in the world teenagers have not had very much life experience on the whole!

I always encourage a pupil to reflect and try to discover what went wrong, what they could have done better or what has the process taught them? This way it is not all doom and gloom and the pupil can start to feel hopeful and constructively focus on how to improve or change. It could be the repertoire or one particular discipline that let them down. It is crucial at this point to put a plan together for next steps! All is not lost and the determination to keep going and to try again is the attitude that is needed. This will be the first of many knocks that they take in life especially following a performing arts career path. A thick skin is much needed!

We have all been there and felt disappointed, totally gutted, devastated even when something has not gone our way but there is generally always a reason why we end up on a different path and only time reveals what that ‘why’ is.

So as a parent you can only be there to listen, help to construct a new plan of attack and help your son/daughter to brush themselves down and move on with focus and determination.

Dreams do become a reality but they rarely come without heartache along the way and it is just a learning curve!

We hope that you have a great week!It is at this time of the year that the older pupils at Little Voices are going for auditions and interviews for further education. Whether they are aiming for university courses, the workplace or drama school their Little Voices training comes in very handy and we have discussed the benefits and tips many times! Sadly however there are occasions when the audition, interview or selection process does not go to plan and there are times when we see very disappointed pupils. So what can we do as parents and teachers when a young person’s dreams are crushed and what they had their heart set on seems no longer within reach at that point for them.

Look for the positives. In the case of drama schools they are looking for something quite specific and there are so many factors to take into consideration. Often maturity and life experience are very much on the list of their prerequisites and with the best will in the world teenagers have not had very much life experience on the whole!

I always encourage a pupil to reflect and try to discover what went wrong, what they could have done better or what has the process taught them? This way it is not all doom and gloom and the pupil can start to feel hopeful and constructively focus on how to improve or change. It could be the repertoire or one particular discipline that let them down. It is crucial at this point to put a plan together for next steps! All is not lost and the determination to keep going and to try again is the attitude that is needed. This will be the first of many knocks that they take in life especially following a performing arts career path. A thick skin is much needed!

We have all been there and felt disappointed, totally gutted, devastated even when something has not gone our way but there is generally always a reason why we end up on a different path and only time reveals what that ‘why’ is.

So as a parent you can only be there to listen, help to construct a new plan of attack and help your son/daughter to brush themselves down and move on with focus and determination.

Dreams do become a reality but they rarely come without heartache along the way and it is just a learning curve!

We hope that you have a great week!

Ashlea.

We Really Care!

 

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It is really hard to explain sometimes that we don’t do huge ‘shows’ or ‘productions’ to people that enquire about Little Voices.

When someone thinks of ‘drama’ and /or ‘singing’ they naturally think ‘performance’! However a performance is only one element of ‘drama’ and ‘singing’. Little Voices is all about individual attention and training rather than a performance based organisation so we are the people to prepare your child for performances and presentations in all areas of their life. To really supplement their educational journey. It is really important that your son/daughter has fun and is happy in their group because from this foundation their confidence will grow and we can really nurture their vocal and dramatic talents from this point. Little Voices is for every child not just the ones that want to be a professional actor, singer or performer.

I often speak to our parents and recommend amateur dramatic societies, casting agencies and other performance based companies if that is what they are looking for as an alternative or in addition to Little Voices lessons. Constant performing is what some parents are looking for and exams and formal training is not for everyone and we totally understand that. Equally there are many parents who are keen to investigate the auditioning and paid professional work for their child and gain a place on the books of a children’s agent. We are always happy to chat to parents about these avenues. it is not at the core of what Little Voices is about but we can help to guide you and help you to know if these routes are right for your son/daughter. We can assist in the best choices post GCSE’s and A Levels and it is an honour to be able to help families at this stage of decision making. I have had several conversations recently with different pupils and parents about their next steps in education and what to follow at university or college. We have a whole host of children that are on different agent’s books, those that have gone on to full time drama school and worked and are still working in the industry. Always feel happy to ask us at any time for help and advice. At the heart of Little Voices we care!

It is all about care and attention to each individual child at Little Voices working towards examination. The exams are fantastic preparation and training for life and the structure of our lessons not only promote the core skills and techniques of singing and drama but also life skills. The importance of voice projection, eye contact, handling adrenalin in pressured situations, preparation and practise so that career interviews and work presentations in the future are manageable! They are a fantastic way to promote confidence and pack a CV from a very early age – after all the examination board LAMDA has been going since 1863 and so the kudos on a CV or application form is quite special for your child.

Never hesitate to ask and talk to your Principal. It is what we are here for.

Have a great week!

Samantha xxx

Is reality TV destroying or building confidence for your child?

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Reality TV is an interesting topic and one that I would love to hear your thoughts on…….

Is it a positive or negative influence for a child? Is it a realistic goal and/or a worthwhile one? Is it about the love of performing and the gift they have been given OR becoming ‘famous’? These are really interesting questions to consider if your child dreams of auditioning for a programme of this nature or has aspirations to perform professionally in this arena. They are certainly the questions that we occasionally find discussed in Little Voices lessons.

Since the emergence of reality TV  shows in the 1990’s there has been a whole surge of children wanting to become the next big star. For me and my team, as teachers, it is important to lay the foundations of good dramatic and vocal technique as well as give advice on the best route to take if a child is determined to follow a path in the industry. The industry is not reality TV!! But sadly it is so influential these days that this is what some children believe to be the case.

You see in the eyes of a child they are filled with confidence from watching Reality TVs shows. In their minds Cheryl Cole managed to do it and the likes of One Direction and therefore children are really very influenced by these ‘performers’. They see no reason NOT to seek the same. But what about the hundreds of others that have appeared – often won – these shows from Pop Idol, to Fame Academy, to Popstars the Rivals, Britain’s Got Talent, X Factor and more recently The Voice. What have they gone on to do after the cameras stopped rolling. How are those individuals feeling now?

The reality is sadly not fame for all or a life of performing. The only winners are the producers and the likes of Simon Cowell’s bank account. The individuals that have lived a whirlwind few months are often left crushed and lacking in confidence to pursue their passion.

This makes me very sad and as myself and my team of tutors work incredibly hard every week in the academic term time to build children’s confidence and nurture talent. I am very realistic when a child approaches me with dreams of auditioning for programmes (businesses) such as X Factor.

I always say that reality TV is incredibly entertaining for the British public and makes great family viewing on a weekend but that is where it should stop for most children, on the whole.

The Co Founder of Little Voices taught Diana Vickers drama at school and we obviously followed her journey on X Factor with great interest. This was a positive experience on the whole and therefore there is a flip side to every debate. No right or wrong answer but ultimately it is down to the individual child. We get to know your child really well in our lessons and will always give honest feedback and advice with your child’s best interests at heart!

Samantha xxx

5 Top Tips to Beat the Nerves!

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Picture the scene. You’ve been preparing for months for a performance and finally the day is here. You have rehearsed the scene thousands of times in your mind and when you’re alone, you know you could rival the Leonardo Dicaprios of the world for the Oscar! However, the reality is not what you had rehearsed. Your palms are sweaty, your heart is pounding and every part of you wants to run away and get yourself out of the situation! Suddenly your mind isn’t on the task at hand – you’re starting to question how you look, why there is sudden phlegm in your throat and why you your voice is wavering. This is not at all what you planned!

 

We’ve all been there. Any performer will tell you that EVERYONE suffers from stage fright. But believe it or not, you can employ simple techniques to help turn those negative symptoms into things that actually help you! No really! Here’s how…

 

  1. Adrenaline is your friend

 

At the time those feelings of your heart racing and butterflies in your stomach feel like such a handicap, but the simple truth is, if you learn to use them, they can be your best friend! All that’s happening in your body is adrenaline is spiking to help you deal with the situation at hand. So use it! Your body is helping you. Those notes WILL come out and you will remember your lines because your body is giving you extra energy to do it!

 

  1. Deep breathing

 

You may find your breathing will become quite prominent when you’re nervous. What you need to do is slow it down. Purposefully slowing your breathing down to a steady rate will not only lower your heart rate, but it will give you something else to think about instead of the nerves. Take a deep breath in for 4, hold for 4, and breathe out for 6. It will also warm up your breathing muscles. Win win!

 

  1. Practice makes perfect

 

Have you heard the saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’? This couldn’t be more true! Knowing that you are ready to perform and being sure of your ability in rehearsal is half the battle of giving a good performance. Practice anywhere and everywhere. Practice in front of a small audience of trusted friends or family. The more times you prove to yourself that you can do it, the less nervous you become. Knowing in your heart that you know your lines and you can perform your song perfectly will give you the extra confidence you need.

 

  1. Mind over matter

One of the best tips I was ever given for getting into the right mindset for performing was this handy little trick: a week or so before your performance, close your eyes and imagine yourself in the performance space. Really visualise how the room looks, where the audience are sitting, what it smells like, what you can hear etc… Now imagine you are cool, calm and collected and are giving the BEST performance you have ever given. Imagine the look on the audiences face, imagine the rapturous applause, imagine how brilliant you feel knowing you have done such a brilliant job. Now make everything louder, brighter and bigger. When you are feeling fabulous, touch together your thumb and 1st finger. Do this a number of times over the week always touching your thumb and 1st finger together when you have the feeling of doing a great job. Now, without closing your eyes, touch together your thumb and first finger – you should immediately return to that state of pride and happiness. If done correctly, you should find that whenever you touch your finger and thumb together, you immediately revert to that confident, proud and happy place. Just the feeling you need before you perform!

 

  1. Smile

My final tip is probably the best one. Have you noticed how when you smile at people they can’t help but smile back? They say it takes 7 seconds to make a 1st impression. You DEFINITELY want your audience to think good things about you in that 7 seconds, so what better way than to send them a beaming smile! When you walk on stage, or into an examination room, walk with confidence and smile at your audience. Make eye contact if you can. They will immediately think you are confident and be on your side! They want you to do well as they have already decided they want to like you!

 

So go out there and knock ‘em dead! You know you can do it!

 

Helen

Principal Little Voices Hertfordshire West

Little Voices Tutor Stars In West End Show

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We are thrilled to announce that our very own Little Voices Tutor Brian Gilligan has landed an exciting leading role, in the show ‘Doctor Faustus’ at the Duke Of York Theatre, he will be playing the role of ‘Cornelius’/covering ‘Doctor Faustus’.

Brian has also played many roles including the defining role of Deco in the rock musical The Commitments which gathered critical acclaims at the Palace Theatre last September. He trained at the Royal Irish Academy Of Music holding a Bachelor of Arts in Music and has been a tutor at Little Voices South West London for over a year. He is an incredible tutor, endeavouring to always share his invaluable professional tips and techniques to many of the students.

According to Little Voices’ Principal Ashlea: “It is no surprise Brian has secured yet another amazing role, Brian has a huge talent and we are so proud of him,” she said. “At Little Voices we pride ourselves in providing outstanding tuition, expert guidance, support and traditional methods of teaching drama and singing, and Brian’s natural gift has helped many of our students flourish! We hope many of our students will be inspired by Brian’s achievements and go on to follow in his footsteps.”

Doctor Faustus opens on the 9th April at the Duke Of York Theatre this year.

Well done Brian!

Little Voices Tutor Stars In West End Show

 

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We are thrilled to announce that our very own Little Voices Tutor Brian Gilligan has landed an exciting leading role, in the show ‘Doctor Faustus’ at the Duke Of York Theatre, he will be playing the role of ‘Cornelius’/covering ‘Doctor Faustus’.

Brian has also played many roles including the defining role of Deco in the rock musical The Commitments which gathered critical acclaims at the Palace Theatre last September. He trained at the Royal Irish Academy Of Music holding a Bachelor of Arts in Music and has been a tutor at Little Voices South West London for over a year. He is an incredible tutor, endeavouring to always share his invaluable professional tips and techniques to many of the students.

According to Little Voices’ Principal Ashlea: “It is no surprise Brian has secured yet another amazing role, Brian has a huge talent and we are so proud of him,” she said. “At Little Voices we pride ourselves in providing outstanding tuition, expert guidance, support and traditional methods of teaching drama and singing, and Brian’s natural gift has helped many of our students flourish! We hope many of our students will be inspired by Brian’s achievements and go on to follow in his footsteps.”

Doctor Faustus opens on the 9th April at the Duke Of York Theatre this year.

Well done Brian!

Not just drama and singing lessons-skills for life!

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This week I wanted to tell you about a particular ex pupil that our Managing Director Jane bumped into last week quite unexpectedly and what I have learned about Little Voices from his point of view.

Jane was meeting a work associate at a hotel that has recently been built and as she was sitting down she spotted a young man serving drinks behind the bar. He looked familiar but she couldn’t place where she knew him from.

Jane happened to say to Paul who was an incredibly polite, friendly and approachable young man that she recognised his face from somewhere? He was such a smiley person and for a young 18 year old man he was a pleasure to talk to. Jane asked him which school he had attended and where he lived and it transpired that he had been a Little Voices pupil for 2 years (4 years ago). Jane had not taught Paul but could remember watching his exam as a mock examiner in a Little Voices centre. He was a fabulous actor.

He went on to tell Jane with such energy that his Little Voices training had helped him so much. His face was alight when he was chatting to her, telling her all that he had learnt about communication, eye contact etc and how his training had helped so much when serving customers and dressing up as Father Christmas in the festive season! He was so enthusiastic about how his lessons had helped him in his part time job and how he knew they would benefit him in the hospitality industry which he wanted to pursue at college. Jane was so thrilled for him and proud that the life skills that we use in lessons were proving so beneficial for him.

As we always say, Little Voices is not just for nurturing talented youngsters for a life on the stage, it is hugely beneficial for all young people  – to give them a head start in life!

With best wishes,

Samantha xxx