Bolton teacher started drama lessons during Covid pandemic

March 30, 2021

A TEACHER and mum-of-three has made it her mission to help improve children’s wellbeing by introducing them to the world of performing arts. Laura Hanlon began a new Little Voices franchise in Bolton at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, running drama and singing lessons for children aged four to 18.

 
With venues due to reopen in April, the primary school teacher wants to spread the message and help as many children as possible after what has been ‘a difficult year for young people’.

In aid of supporting young people who may be struggling with their mental health as a result of Covid-19, Laura and her team have kept children engaged during lockdown with free video workshops and weekly lessons.

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Laura, 33, who lives in Lostock, bought the Bolton franchise in April 2020 during the first national lockdown but has been determined to help it grow. She also runs the Bury franchise of the national performing arts training organisation.

She said: “At first it was a really stressful time as I tried to get my head around taking over a new business and growing it, as well as taking our lessons online.

“It was so important for our pupils to still have structure and normality in a confusing time in their lives.

“I met most of my pupils for the first time while we were online. Every time we went back into venue following a lockdown, more pupils joined and amazingly we are going from strength to strength.”

Founded in Blackburn in 2007, Little Voices grew nationally, with more than 50 franchises dotted across the UK, from Bolton to London.

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The group prides itself in having small classes and putting students through their London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) exams.

Laura added: “I wasn’t going to be defeated as I knew I had such a strong support network of fellow principals around me and parents who were calling out for some positivity and fun in their children’s lives.

“Performing arts is perfect for this as it really boosts children’s wellbeing – allowing them to believe they can do it. I love watching their confidence grow.

“I have spent most of this year seeing my pupils through a computer screen and there is now a real buzz that we are heading out of this and we will be back into our venues finally.”

Laura has big hopes for the future, with plans to put pupils through their LAMDA exams soon while welcoming more youngsters.

By Sam Ormiston

Source: The Bolton News

Using their ‘little voices’ to sing in support of mental health

May 31, 2020

Little Voices, a scheme that teaches lessons in drama and singing, has been keeping children engaged during lockdown with a series of free video workshops.

In aid of supporting young people who may be struggling with their mental health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lessons guide children through skills in performing arts from trained professionals.

 
Mum-of-two Rachel Bradshaw bought the Preston Little Voices franchise in 2014, and has since welcomed the classes to nine venues across Preston, Chorley and Leyland.

“As soon as the schools closed, we wanted to begin our lessons online. It was a rush but it was important that our children were able to continue taking part in their lessons and seeing their friends” said Rachel, 41.

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“It’s so important for them and their mental wellbeing to have a sense of normality and structure. We wanted anyone to be able to join, not just our pupils, to make a positive change during this difficult situation.”

The mental health issues that young people are facing during the lockdown have been highlighted by Childline, who announced they are offering one counselling session every five minutes on average.

One in five children in Lancashire have experienced problems with their mental health by the age of 11.

The ‘Little Voices’ franchise have over 70 principles nationwide and have all introduced online workshops to support young people with the power of music and performing. Children across Preston, Leyland and Chorley can now take part in the video lessons to help develop their passion for the arts in lockdown.

Other locations include Lytham St Annes, Clitheroe, Blackburn, Wigan and Accrington.

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“The Preston groups have also launched LVTV, a Facebook Live that we stream every day during the school holidays and then on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. We incorporate singing, crafts and drama to keep them feeling positive and entertained,” said Rachel, from Buckshaw Village.

“Through our workshops, we let them talk about their emotions and channel them through character and song, which is a great way for them to be open and address if they are struggling.

“It’s amazing at building their confidence because many of our students who have struggled with low moods or self esteem completely change when they get to see their friends. Their faces just light up.”

Rachel now has plans to continue the free workshops after lockdown restrictions are lifted to continue giving children mental health support for families who may be struggling financially.

“Our tutors are passionate about teaching and are doing this on a voluntary basis,” she said.

“They make sure they get every child involved and integrated into the call.”

Families wanting to be involved in the free online workshops should email preston@littlevoices.org.uk or phone 07480 064828.

By James Holt

Source: Lancashire Post

Little Voices making a big difference in Preston and Chorley

August 19, 2019

Founded in 2007 by current CEO Jane Maudsley, Little Voices is all about the holistic when it comes to performing arts. Something of a national phenomenon, the group – started in Jane’s home town of Blackburn – now has over 50 franchises dotted across the entire UK. From Newcastle to Bath, drama and singing lessons with distinction are never too far away.

The award-winning group also includes eight branches in Preston and Chorley alone, offering the North West’s up-and-coming talent access to tuition from the age of four to 18. And that expert teaching not only covers the classical elements of performance arts, but also in invaluable life lessons in team-work and social skills.

 
“Children who come to Little Voices build fantastic friendships and confidence for later life,” explained Jane. “With the world moving into a technical age of social media, we can’t get away from the fact that we all need good communication skills; here, children are used to walking into a room and making eye contact, shaking people’s hands, and presenting themselves.

“It’s physical, social, and mental,” added Jane, who read Music at the University of Sheffield, trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and now lives in Leyland. “It gets them out – they’re not sat watching TV or on their computer or phone. It’s all about using life-skills learned through drama and singing to pursue dreams in whatever career they choose.”

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And those careers include some real stars. At 22, M+LKPLUS founder Camilla Ainsworth was The Apprentice’s youngest ever finalist last year, while KidzBop member Mia Mcloughlin recently played Amanda Thripp in ‘Matilda The Musical’ in the West End and Cosette in Les Misérables in Dubai. The Little Voices touch is working wonders.

A core tenet of the group’s mantra is small classes. Whilst studying and training for their LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) exams, children are never taught in groups of more than eight so as to ensure that pupils get the benefits of both individual tuition and the skills which arise from working in a collective setting.

“I absolutely love educating children, and I saw a real need for kids to be taught in small groups in which they can be nurtured but also allowed to build team-skills and confidence,” said Jane of the group’s ethos. “I know we change their lives and make them feel happy and confident. And with funding for drama not what it used to be, we’re there to make a difference to the 9.1m children in the UK.”

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Rachel Bradshaw – the principal of Little Voices venues in Chorley, Leyland, and Preston – works with around 150 children every week on top of her work as a full-time secondary teacher. “I absolutely love it,” she said. “The small classes are a massive bonus: in some organisations they have up to 30 in a class and children just get lost. We really get to know the children and if anyone’s nervous, they soon come out of their shell.

“It’s lovely to get a message to say they’re the lead in the school play or they’ve got a report from school saying they’ve started reading out in class – we help them socially as well,” added Rachel, who lives in Buckshaw Village. “I got a lovely email this week from the parent of a child who was really shy. They were on holiday and her son had gone out and started chatting to them at the holiday club.

“She said he would never had had the confidence to do that before Little Voices. We let them believe in themselves.”

Now enrolling for September, Little Voices has and will always be about the kids. “I’m welling up just speaking about them,” says Jane. “We didn’t franchise to grow a big business, we grew the business to make a big difference.”

By Jack Marshall

Source: LEP

Little Voices will open a new franchise at St Andrew’s School, Pangbourne

August 9, 2019

A NATIONAL award-winning performing arts organisation is opening a new franchise in West Berkshire, it has been revealed.

Little Voices will start its drama and theatre workshops at St Andrew’s School in Pangbourne from September and will become the school’s Performing Arts Community Member.

 
Little Voices operate in four locations in West Surrey and are delighted to be opening another in West Berkshire.

Classes will be run from the school’s Old Hall on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Samantha Obiorah, Little Voices Principal said: “As a former painfully shy child myself, I truly understand and believe in the difference that Little Voices lessons can make to a child.

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“My life truly changed when I was able to find a way to express myself through my performing arts lessons.

“I regularly see children terrified to perform on their own in lessons, yet stand so confidently less than a year later, onstage, performing solo pieces – highlighting just how much they have grown in confidence.

“Every child is unique and we seek to nurture them through our small class sizes, which helps ensure that every child is given individual attention each week.

“Previous experience or special talent in singing or acting is absolutely not necessary, just a desire to learn and have lots of fun doing it!

“You’ll be surprised at what can emerge when a child receives the right kind of support and tuition in a safe environment alongside their friends.”

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Jon Bartlett, Headmaster of St Andrew is excited for the addition to the school.

He said: “We are delighted and extremely excited to have Little Voices here at our School for the wider community to benefit from.

“We feel it is so important that the local community can use our fantastic facilities, as well as our children and really hope that children from all around the area will take up this opportunity to enrol with Little Voices.”

By Alice Knight

Source: Reading Chronicle

Fast Growth Performing Arts Franchise In Newcastle Lands Gig At St James’ Park

November 18, 2018

Youngsters from Little Voices, a fast-growing performing arts school in Fenham are tuning up for a special festive appearance at St James’ Park in Newcastle this weekend.

St James’ Park Festive Fayre takes place at the home of Newcastle United Football Club on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th November (10am – 5pm) and pupils from Little Voices, the award-winning performing arts school franchise based in Fenham, will sing Christmas songs to raise money for Newcastle West End Foodbank.

Newcastle West End Foodbank first opened back in 2013, providing invaluable support to those living in poverty within the region, and has since grown to be the largest Foodbank in the UK. The Foodbank provided food parcels for in excess of 40,000 people in Newcastle last year.

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Jenni Evans, principal at Little Voices Newcastle, said:

“The children are very excited to be performing at such a great event and hope to raise as much money as they can. We are proud to have been invited to perform and it gives our pupils a good audience to showcase their talents to, as well as helping the community this Christmas.”

The weekend also hosts an array of local traders and a variety of traditional Christmas food and drink.

Tickets for the St James’ Park Festive Fayre are £3 per person when purchased in advance or £5 on the door.

Little Voices in Newcastle provides singing and drama lessons in small groups for boys and girls aged 4-18. Pupils gain official qualifications though LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art).

Related: Little Voices Reports Booming Demand For Drama And Singing Lessons As Business Expands UK Franchise Footprint

The business was established by professional opera singer Jane Maudsley in 2007.

Little Voices now has a franchise network of 72 centres operated by 25 individual franchisees who often have a background in professional teaching, acting or singing.

The business is targeting 60 franchisees before the end of 2020 and is also planning international expansion into the USA market.

Source: Business UpNorth

Little Voices Reports Booming Demand For Drama And Singing Lessons As Business Expands UK Franchise Footprint

September 21, 2018

Little Voices, the national drama and singing lesson school headquartered in Lancashire is gearing for more growth as it continues to expand its franchise network in England and Wales.

Little Voices provides singing and drama lessons in small groups for boys and girls aged 4-18. Pupils gain official qualifications though LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art) where grades count towards UCAS points for entrance into university

The booming business was established by Lancashire-born professional opera singer Jane Maudsley in 2007 with a single site in Blackburn.

Little Voices now has a franchise network of 72 centres operated by 25 individual franchisees who often have a background in professional teaching, acting or singing. This week it introduced two new franchises in Hampstead and Wiltshire and the business says demand is high from parents and children.

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The business is targeting 60 franchisees before the end of 2020 and is also planning international expansion into the USA market.

Jane Maudsley, managing director of Little Voices, said:

“As the education system continues to reduce the emphasis on the importance of performing arts we are succeeding as a business by promoting the confidence, inspiration and friendships that it brings to young people.

“Parents recognise that confidence is a key life skill that will help their children get ahead not only during their school years but also later in life. Our franchisees are usually ex-teachers, television and film actors or people who can see the business opportunity in providing something which is very much in demand. We are keen to continue adding to our footprint of teachers and tutors across the North of England.

“We are on target to achieve our goal of having 60 individual franchise operators by the end of 2020 and we are already in discussions about bringing our ethos to key cities in the United States. We are always keen on talking to ex-teachers and actors who want to run their own business by joining our network. Parents continue to place great value on helping their children develop confident personalities. This, combined with cuts to art and drama budgets, has seen demand for our after-school lessons soar during the past few years. We are in a great place as a business and we are excited to support the launch of new franchises as we grow.”

Source: Business UpNorth