We are SO proud!

My blog for this month has been written by our founder Jane after being nominated for a national award.

“There are lots of moments throughout the last 10 years that have filled me with pride and every child’s experience with Little Voices and the numerous stories that hear about on a daily basis fuel me to drive forward with Little Voices year upon year. I know what we do through our singing and drama lessons has such a positive and fundamentally important effect on a child’s all round education.

Helping children to achieve their dreams and secure places at university to study law or accounting or a place at drama school is so fulfilling. We then keep in touch and I remember hearing about the first pupil we had ever taught that landed their first TV role another that got a job in the media with Sky TV, someone else that had started their own business and hearing from pupils who have gone on to study so many different subjects; veterinary surgery, law, business studies, not just performing arts. We like to celebrate our pupils GCSE and A Level results, the secondary school that they are accepted into, how their hard work in their SATS has paid off.

At Little Voices it is really important to us how a child is progressing in all areas of their life. We get to know our pupils really well and as a result share their successes. Its thrilling to see the youngest Mini Voices children enter the LAMDA exam room with a spring in their step and a confidence to show the examiner their poem, chat about their favourite toy and highlight their big voice, excellent posture and high level of communication skills that are so important to everyone at any age! We can lay those foundations for life and it is all learnt from a fun drama and singing lessons each week.
Tutors learn so much from their pupils too and I imagine that every tutor has an abundance of stories and anecdotes to share with you of children they have taught at Little Voices and how they have felt proud. I have so many proud moments that it is hard to pin point one or two as they have all been special in their own way.

I am incredibly proud of our tutors. All of the tutors share one passion and one goal and that is to care for each individual pupil that attends Little Voices. I witness how keen they are to equip the pupils for the big wide world and handle whatever life throws at them. They aim to be the teachers that pupils remember far into their adult life – we all remember those teachers!! This is achieved through the medium of lessons, the way we collectively care for the pupils as individuals and the excellent delivery of vocal and dramatic techniques.

I have spent the morning talking to parents and it is really fantastic to hear about all the other activities that children take part in and their achievements and development through the years. Lots of parents are keen to express the benefits of Little Voices and what they feel that their child has got out of the lessons, why they see them continuing for years to come and what sets us apart from other organisations. They talk about how much fun their child has, how they feel looked after and special, that it is the one activity that they can arrive feeling flat after a long day at school but come out after their lesson jumping with energy and a beaming smile on their face, the one activity that they know as parents has a knock on effect to all areas of their child’s life and development and they are gaining such valuable life skills to help them in whatever job role they go into!

It is great to hear all of this feedback and I am so flattered, we all are. However for us we do what we do because we care. We know that every single child is unique and has something special to share. When a child feels safe and comfortable they will flourish and we want to play a role in helping each child to be the best that they can be. There is no better feeling than seeing child’s face light up when they receive their examination result, or they tell us that they have got a role in the school play, that they used their knowledge of breathing taught to them by our singing teachers in biology at high school, that they knew how to handle nerves in the audition or taking their SATS wasn’t so scary because they have done loads of exams with Little Voices.

Every parent wants their child to be happy and to succeed in life. It is a pleasure to be part of that journey for each and every child and family. I am blessed to have proud moments every day in my job!!”

 

I fully believe in everything Jane says here.  The reason I do what I do, is to watch children grow and develop in confidence.  I truly believe in the way we run, to make all children feel listened to and cared for.

 How drama enhances a child’s life

I was chatting to a friend of mine last night over dinner and she was talking about how she blushes in lots of situations and how it has affected her her whole life. She said that anxiety and panicking was something that came over her at work, in personal situations and has a huge impact on her life. This made me incredibly sad. I know that drama tuition from a young age instils a level of confidence in a child that sets them up for life to deal with almost any situation with confidence and self-belief. It made me upset to think that we could have helped years ago if she has been a Little Voices pupil!

 

It is so important that a child is given the coping mechanisms and skills for life. Drama lessons are fun and whilst a child is having fun they are learning fundamentally important life skills that will serve them so well throughout their adult years. Drama lessons are not just for aspiring actors but often that is what people can believe! I feel passionately that it is our job to educate everyone on the benefits of drama tuition for their child. It enhances a child’s life in so many different ways and should be one of the activities that continues into the late teens.

 

This is why it is such a shame that the curriculum has so little opportunity these days to develop the arts. A confident, happy child will succeed and if they get this confidence through drama it will have a positive knock on effect to all other areas of their life and all other subjects. It is sad but true that as the arts are axed more and more from our core education system it is down to parents to search for the right drama facilitator for their child and this is where Little Voices fits.

 

It is not an activity that runs on the weekend breaking up family time, it is not a daunting large group of over confident talented children striving for a place on the West End Stage, it is a lesson each week in a small, safe and friendly environment with likeminded children of similar abilities working to their strengths and building their CV from a very young age with fabulous LAMDA exams. A child feels comfortable to share and explore their capabilities and make friends for life with those in the group. Of course we have some pupils that are super talented and will pursue a professional career but this is the minority rather than the majority.

 

We believe that all children have the opportunity to reach their dreams and fulfil their potential given the right support and that everyone has something special to share. If the learning is fun and a happy experience everyone can be inspired to be the best that they can be!! This is what defines us at Little Voices and so if you are looking for an activity that channels your child’s dramatic talents or that may be able to help your child to shine bright as an individual look no further.

We’re 10 years old this month!!

 

 

What do you learn after 10 years training #children in drama and singing and at the same time building a national #franchise business?

I cannot believe that this month we celebrate our 10th Birthday at Little Voices. Little did I know that 10 years on from that conversation in a Blackburn coffee shop with fellow co founder Holly Hammond that Little Voices would be a national success, our 100% pass rate in all exams would remain across the country and I would be surrounded by the most caring, passionate and driven people striving to sustain our core beliefs every day.

In 2007 we did not start with the end goal in mind in fact quite the opposite. We had in our minds the word ‘excellence’. That was it. We wanted to provide ‘drama and singing lessons of distinction!’ We would do every element to the best of our ability and provide excellent tuition. We shared a passion for training children well in drama and singing, caring and nurturing their skills, helping them to believe in themselves and truly believed in the power of tuition in drama and singing to impact a child’s entire life – being honest we also benefited from of a few extra pounds in our bank accounts each month. Honestly that was it! 10 years on we are still ensuring that EVERY child leaves EVERY lesson knowing one thing that they have done well and one thing that they need to improve upon and striving for excellence in every part of the company.

A business really can grow from very humble beginnings and a couple of core elements despite a roller coaster 10 years with challenges galore I believe that we have kept what made Little Voices special at the heart of all that we do today.

We truly believe:

  • In gaining life skills to follow your dreams
  • That each and every person has something amazing to share
  • In inspiring everyone to be the best that they can be!
  • In being positive & happy – “You’re never fully dressed without a smile”
  • Learning should be a fun and a happy experience

And we are passionate about building confidence and nurturing talent

We do this by working with the most fantastic tutors and franchisees one could wish to know. I always say that there is no ‘I’ in team and there isn’t. We want to make a positive influence on as many children’s lives as possible and this is impossible to achieve alone. By franchising and recruiting excellent Principals and Tutors we have been able to bring Little Voices to so many more families across the UK and we are still growing!

We have shaped Little Voices to really stand out of the crowd. We are not a theatre school or a performance based training organisation. They exist in towns and cities across the country and they play an important part in a child’s development but fundamental to a child’s success is their belief in themselves and the nurturing of their individual strengths and weaknesses. They need individual attention, care and the time to have their skills nurtured.

We have worked hard to now shout from the rooftops that we sit in the education industry and provide inspirational music and drama education to all children working in partnership for the most part with schools. We work alongside schools both in the school day and as an activity accessible after school for those parents that want to ensure their child has life skills and the confidence to pursue any career that they choose to and all of this is done in a fun, structured way in a very small group. Every child takes examinations with L.A.M.D.A. and this helps them to embrace an examination situation in a positive way as well as building their CV from a very young age. As L.A.M.D.A.’s second biggest customer, globally, we are clearly doing something right both for the children and those that work with us.We take away the fear away from that word ‘exam’. Young people are assessed and examined throughout their school life and we can help children to approach this in a fearless way, positively and with confidence. At the same time children and parents are unknowingly building their child’s CV from a very young age and equipping them for interviews, presentations, meetings and a life of success in whichever career they choose!

Of course we have had several children that have gone on to pursue a professional career in the industry but the vast majority of our children leave us prepared for the big wide world of work in a range of professions that also happens to include the acting/music profession.We exist to help add important layers to a child’s education. It is all about the individual child and ensuring that they become the best that they can be.

So what have I learnt and what can I share:

You never stop learning and neither should you! Teaching is a vocation and it is a two way thing. Embrace it – I do! I am hungry to learn constantly. Children teach you so much about yourself as well as you facilitating their learning.

It’s not easy – Every challenge that you face should be embraced as an opportunity to learn.

You get out what you put in and sometimes you are putting so much in and getting very little out that it takes a strong mental determination and passion to keep you going. Take the rough with the smooth as my dad always said!

There is never a quick win it takes blood, sweat and tears and practice makes perfect!

If you are interested in receiving our 10th Anniversary Newsletter and maybe even having a chat about any aspect of Little Voices – joining us on our national mission, sending your child to lessons, teaching for us et al. please don’t hesitate to send me an email and we can take it from there. jane@littlevoices.org.uk

Why choose GROUP exams?

 

lamda group exam pic

 

For generations LAMDA was renowned for it’s individual Acting examinations however the group exams have a multitude of benefits that cannot and should not be overlooked. They allow every child to shine, every child to play to their strengths and use their individual vocal and dramatic talents within the group piece. They are marked as a group. This is fundamental……..the success of any project is always a team effort and not individual performances. The Olympic cyclists and rowers and athletes pull together as a team and medals are won for Great Britain as a whole. Yes individual performances stand out but it is how the team works together that counts. It is the same on the West End stage. A review is written about the entire cast, the group together, this is theatre! TRUE Theatre. There will be individual star performances but it is a group, team, effort that attracts success. That involves not just the performers but the entire technical team and production teams too!

If you are going to follow a career on the stage you very rarely work ALONE – infact you don’t. Even a one woman show makes demands that you work with others in the theatre; the director, the stage manager, the crew! Sometimes things go wrong and it is how the team works together that enables the show to go on.

At Little Voices we are committed to building fundamental life skills in children and young people. Techniques and behaviours that will set children up for life…….of course this is inbuilt into singing and drama lessons in the most fun and highly structured way possible! However all of these skills are easily transferred into life in general and a career path into the arts!

We all have to work as part of a team within our job roles in later life and learning to work as part of a cast in a piece of Musical Theatre for a group examination really does teach the fundamental life kills of teamwork and playing to your strengths, being reliable and supporting each other.

Individual exams have their very important place but when weighing up the benefits the group exams have all the elements of solo exams and for children aged up to 13 years they provide a fantastic examination foundation in musical theatre or acting.

Hoping you have a great week!

What are the benefits of theatre weeks?

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What are the benefits of theatre weeks when my child already attends lessons every week?

Theatre Weeks are a completely different aspect to drama and singing learning and development. Your child is able to put all their training into practise and work at a tremendously fast speed to pull it all together in a very short space of time – 4 DAYS!

They make special friendships with children as young as 4 and as old as 16 years

-The teamwork that emerges is truly inspirational and outstanding to witness

-They work fast and as a team to pull the entire performance together in a matter of hour

-They have fun

-They socialise and develop not just vocally, dramatically and dance wise but as confident performers too

-They develop so much and the difference in confidence in the children that attend lessons the following term that have had a theatre week experience is really noticeable

-It is a great chance for you to see what they are capable of and watch a performance

-They are really stretched in terms of what they can learn and perform.

 

Here is what one parent said to us:

 

Samantha and the team have put together an amazing show with 28 children in less than 4 days. My daughter Alyssa loved every minute of it. It improved her confidence even more and gave her the opportunity to do what she loves best which is singing and dancing and being the centre of attention. We’re looking forward to the next theatre week!
Cherrie MendozaParent

 

 

If your child has enjoyed a theatre week with us please let us know the benefits that you have seen from their attendance alternatively if you want to learn more about the next one or simply as more questions about them please ring and ask at any time.

 

We hope that you are having a great week!

The Educational Benefits of Singing

Singing

 

There are huge educational benefits of singing.

Singing encourages a child to express their emotions and sharpens their ability to communicate while exercising lip and tongue movement. But one of the biggest benefits of singing is the repeated use of the ‘memory muscle’.

Learning a piece of information attached to a tune embeds that information more rapidly in a child’s mind. The majority of children learn the alphabet not by simply saying the letters but singing them. I personally remember learning my times tables in the car on the way to school with my mum by singing along to a tape that contained lots of music!

As children get older the power of singing in their lives can still be extremely beneficial. Matthew Freeman, development manager of ‘Sing up’, a national singing project to help enhance music in children’s education, has found that singing can be a great teaching tool for children. It can be used as a creative and fun way to increase enjoyment and achievement in subject areas where children normally struggle. “Many children do not think of singing as ‘work’ and willingly participate in sessions,” he says, “Singing can be used as a tool to increase enjoyment and participation in a number of different subjects. A skilled singing tutor can cover subjects as diverse as English, numeracy, science, languages, and culture to name but a few.”

It is very true, music and singing embraces all of the subjects taught in school and at Little Voices we are keen to look at the historical context of the songs and musicals we are studying, the language and emotions contained within the songs and the themes running through the musicals. It really is about inspiring children and a broad spectrum of education through the fun medium of drama and singing.

Have a super week!

Let it shine logo

 

Who is watching Let it shine?

It was interesting a couple of weeks ago when one of the judges pointed out to an auditionee the three things that drama schools/performing arts institutions are looking for in a potential student. He was pointing out to this particular gentleman how fantastic his performance was because it contained all of these three things.

For our purposes we will call this week tip the three C’s! I felt that it was great advice for all of our pupils at Little Voices.

The judge said that you need to be:

-Confident
-Charismatic
-Comfortable
 
It is so true when we are preparing for a performance or an examination or presentation of any kind it is so important to be really comfortable with your material. You become comfortable by understanding what you are doing, practising what you are doing and enjoying what you are doing.

It is crucial that our personalities and true raw emotions are portrayed in our delivery so that we can really touch the audience. You can then draw them in to the piece and the performance comes alive.

And of course, at Little Voices we really care and take the time to build every child’s confidence and really ensure that they can present themselves professionally and their performances with poise and passion!

Hope you have a great week!

There is nothing better than children’s singing and their faces at Christmas time is there?

 

KIDS SINGING 2

 

Having watched several Little Voices showcases in the last few weeks, attended several carol services and absorbed the atmosphere around the towns and cities whilst shopping I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing better than watching children’s faces light up at this time of year and hearing their gorgeous voices enthusiastically singing carols and songs.

It’s critical that schools, parents and everyone gives lots of praise to every child all year round but particularly at this time of year!

I am a great believer that everyone can be taught to sing and everyone should be given the confidence to sing aloud as part of a group.

So many adults are afraid of singing at carol services, funerals, weddings and events because they were told at a very young age that they could not be part of the school choir at Christmas because they could not sing!

This is so damaging to a child and has such psychological damage with long term effects into adulthood!

It is also simply not true.

If you can speak and you have vocal cords you can be taught to sing and use your breathe correctly. It might not be the most beautiful tone that you produce and you may not be the lead soloist in ‘Walking in the Air’ but you can be trained to sing as part of a group!

So adults who are a little afraid of singing aloud, have a try at it this Christmas and lets all remember to be truly positive and full of praise for every child’s voice.

Its what we do at Little Voices. If a child feels comfortable and praised they will start to build confidence and even if they prefer the drama to the singing I guarantee that as we nurture their acting talents and their confidence builds in their abilities dramatically, their singing will improve.

Amazing West End discounts!

 

get into london theatre

This week I wanted to highlight this website that is run by the Society of London Theatres! You can get tickets to huge shows in January and February for £10, £20, £30 and £40!!!

Not to be missed and a great opportunity to take your son/daughter to see the shows that they are studying at Little Voices.

Here is the site!

http://www.getintolondontheatre.co.uk/

Please let us know which shows you manage to see!