Your child excelling in their Christmas Production or nativity or struggling with the enormity of it all! – from a parent and a teacher’s perspective!
It was during the Christmas period that my own voice was really spotted at my Junior School, Heathfield! We were performing the nativity “He’s Only a Baby” and I was chosen to be Mary. I sang solo for the very first time and my parents and grandparents were there to watch, stunned and amazed. All the other parents were apparently coming up to them afterwards saying “Oh my goodness her voice is outstanding where does she have singing lessons?” I didn’t have singing lessons, I didn’t really even know that I was that good a singer. But I was, it seemed, and from that performance on I was bitten by the singing bug and the love of performing. It gave me the confidence to pursue singing lessons and it gave my parents the foresight to channel my passion and something that I was good at. It is thanks to them that my talent for performing was nurtured from this point on! Little did they know that the cost would run into thousands and thousands years on and two degrees later!
It is always at this time of year that you are invited into school to see the Christmas Nativity or School Production as a parent or you are in the midst of frantically pulling a performance together as a teacher.
I believe that it is at this time of year that potential in children is spotted as parents and teachers alike see a child in a different light. They see them cope with the nerves, the pressure, the excitement and the challenge of performance. Those children that have been hiding their light under a bushel bubble to the surface! They achieve new things and every child pushes their comfort boundary and rises to the challenge.
I saw this only last night when I found myself in a dual role as teacher and parent. My own daughter was performing in her school Christmas nativity performance; however, as the teacher in charge of the choir I was very much a part of the production too.
As a parent I know firsthand how it feels to see your child standing on stage performing, you only have eyes for them. However, last night, in my teacher role, I accompanied and observed children of all ages excelling in their performances both sung, spoken and dramatically on stage in the most beautiful church. I was so proud and I could see pride in all of their parent’s faces too in the audience of several hundred. To be honest I couldn’t really see my own child from where I was positioned with the piano and so I couldn’t be parent last night, sadly!
Several children sang solo for the first time and they were absolutely stunning in their composure and vocal delivery. This may be the start of their singing bug……..it may be the first time that the parents think, “gosh we have to channel this talent and look for singing lessons and drama lessons for our child.”
Among a school performance the success is not just about the ‘stars of the show’ it runs so much deeper than that. There are many less confident children involved too and their success is often just in being able to stand in front of such a mass of people. For some, performing is a really daunting experience but I absolutely know that the benefits of learning how to perform and learning in a fun environment are immense. The benefits for them in later life are immeasurable; we all have to communicate to strangers in our workplace, we all have to learn to project our voices and have the confidence to deal with interview (scary) situations. It is so important that children are given the skills to be able to deal with these life situations.
When I see a child on the stage struggling to cope with the attention and daunting situation or not clearly enunciating their words it is equally a child that I want to help and work with to develop the skills through drama and singing to perform. This is as important to me as wanting to help those with talent shining through.
If this rings true with you and anything I have said has touched you, or sounds like your child this December then I urge you to find something next year to help your child to grow. It is the perfect time for parents to look for an after school activity that can help them develop their confidence next year or develop their talent. You will witness the growth of their confidence in all areas of their life in the future.
My little 7 year old is a bundle of energy and excitement as the adrenalin kicks in and she is keen to get on stage and perform. This is no doubt because she has it in her blood, I suppose, but also because she has had it nurtured for so many years at Little Voices. Starting the company was the best thing that I ever did all those years ago, I have the best of all worlds and seeing children develop is the most rewarding of all!
When do you decide to stop chasing the career as a professional singer / actress and make some firm career decisions for the future?
This is a very hard question and one that I imagine everyone that has studied at Drama School or Music Conservatoire has mulled over at some time in their lives.
If I am being completely honest with myself I knew whilst at college and very soon afterwards that the life of a fully fledged professional Mezzo Soprano was not for me. I think that I followed my dreams through university and beyond because:
- Music was what I loved most and people said I had a beautiful voice– I had to choose a university course so I chose Music
- I didn’t have any other idea about what it was that I wanted to do in life – I had a limited understanding of the different career paths that I could follow and a limited grasp on what opportunities were out there in the big wide world
- I loved the idea of being commercially well known like ‘Lesley Garrett’, Kiri Te Kanawa, Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson, Alfie Boe
- My mum said ‘Jane do what you love doing.’
I read Music at Sheffield University and then took a year out. I worked for my father in the logistics business and really enjoyed the office/business environment when I think back BUT I was hell bent on being a singer. I was going to Music College when my voice was ‘mature enough’ and nothing was getting in my way.
All my family and friends knew I was going to be a singer. With hindsight now I had no idea what ‘being a singer’ really meant! In reality I had a pretty good voice and I love to sing and perform so hence I was heading to be a professional singer. How naïve!!
After running the London Marathon and raising thousands of pounds for charity as a result in my ear off surely I should have had an inkling that ‘organisation’, ‘leadership’ and ‘business’ was going to be my calling. No, no, no……. one of the charity events I was singing in (that I had organised) I was going to be a ‘singer’ it was a Last night of the Proms, big dress, brass band, huge auditorium –type event ! I was going to be a professional opera singer! Surely then did I not realise that it was not an ‘opera singer’ that I was going to be – I was liking the commercial element not the Covent Garden or Opera on a shoe string element to the career.
Sadly, Music Conservatoire had to wait another year as I had an incredibly life threatening recovery process to endure following straight forward surgery and was left on crutches for a further 12 months. But I was thrilled when in 2002 I finally reached the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and embarked upon my Masters training to become a professional Opera Singer!
I had a ball at college and trained with the best! But I think that I knew in my deepest heart of hearts then that I couldn’t be an ‘opera singer’. BUT I could not have admitted to ANYONE at college that it was the commercial singing that I loved and strived for. I didn’t even really know this was what it was then! And remember my family and friends all knew Jane was going to be an ‘opera singer’. The pressure……that I had created………for myself……geez………
I graduated 2 years later, I was engaged to be married and I moved back to my home town, Blackburn. Dreams of becoming an opera singer still intact!
Then BUMP…..REALITY…….LIFE! I got a house, needed to pay for council tax and bills and a mortgage. Auditions? Opera Singer? Er……..I think not! What can I do …………………mmmmm TEACH! That dirty word from college that no one would ever admit that they would do full time: teach singing! SO I started teaching and I didn’t look back – with lots of singing at concerts, weddings and funerals in between (which I LOVED).
I saved for a wedding, I got married, I fell pregnant………………….. and then guess what…..I got a big audition! I bottled it. I didn’t go. That was NOT what I wanted!! I didn’t want to go through that audition process, that going to London, the rejection or indeed the offer of a role and then the move away from home. I was pregnant, I was a home bird. This opera career thing was not for me. I knew it in my heart – but could I voice it to others or tell my family and friends that that was how I felt – NO ABSOLUTELY NOT! I couldn’t!!!!
My husband left me for someone else when 6 months pregnant and then life became all about my baby and teaching to keep a roof over our heads. No one asked me about my career as an ‘opera singer’ – it was insignificant to others in the grand scheme of things.
I had no maternity pay, no help from anyone else financially (but lots of help emotionally) and several days after my beautiful daughter was born I went back to teaching singing across the Lancashire county. I could only do this with the help of my amazing family though.
Teaching was how we survived, the odd wedding, concert and funeral performance here and there. But I was not fulfilled, there was something more inside me and in 2007 Little Voices was born.
I didn’t know how Little Voices was going to revolutionise my life. But it did. I am happy. I am in my right role and the future is bright. Better still after 4 years of learning every mistake in the book, streamlining how a successful singing/drama business should operate, continuously learning and self developing myself as a marketer and successful business owner of a National company I can know help others to find themselves, run their own successful business in the right way and change their future, whilst still staying true to themselves and their personal goals!
And do you know what in 2014 I made the transition and admitted to myself and feel comfortable having an open conversation with anybody about singer verses teacher verses what career path to explore and follow. And what is even better I can have both. A successful business and a commercial career, singing! It is all about having your vision, your targets, your goals and being true to yourself and your beliefs.
The ethos of Little Voices mirrored exactly the principles behind my 1:1 teaching – OUTSTANDING, HIGH QUALITY, THE VERY BEST TUITION IN SINGING AND DRAMA, CONFIDENCE FOR ALL DELIVERED THROUGH LESSONS, CARE AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND EACH INDIVIDUAL. This ethos comes from the top and emulates through every pore of Little Voices, nationally.
I would love to hear your comments and journey so far……..
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Christmas Gift Vouchers for Drama and Singing Experiences
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Little Voices drama and singing lessons
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