'It's the best feeling in the world to be back': Preston's life-changing performing arts studio Little Voices feeling loud and proud

Rapidly recognising that, during lockdown, what kids would need most is a heady dose of normality, fun, and human interaction, Little Voices Preston moved quickly in March 2020. They knew children would need their help, and so they got to work.

By Jack Marshall
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 10:45 am
Updated Thursday, 31st March 2022, 5:32 pm

A branch of the hugely-successful performing arts franchise started by Jane Maudsley in her hometown of Blackburn, Little Voices Preston is led by principal Rachel Bradshaw. Having been in post for almost seven years now, Rachel has seen it all, but nothing like Covid.

“It was make or break, really,” says Rachel, who lives in Buckshaw Village. “We moved lessons online during the pandemic and haven’t missed a single session right from the first lockdown, which is great.

“We’ve had some lovely feedback from parents about how we’ve helped their kids with their mental health during lockdown with the classes,” she adds. “Having a constant is invaluable for kids. We were there for them all the way through, ready to support them with free workshops and sending little things out to them in the post.

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Little Voices members with Rachel Bradshaw (left) and Heather Suffolk

“Anything just to keep them occupied and positive.”

All about the holistic when it comes to performing arts, Little Voices offers up-and-coming talent access to tuition from the age of four to 18, instilling not only a foundation in the classical elements of performance arts, but also invaluable life lessons in team-work and social skills.

What’s more, whilst studying and training for their LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) exams, Little Voices Preston alumni are never taught in groups of more than eight so that tuition can be as bespoke and personalised as possible.

During Covid, the school has also bought its own premises, having previously relied on rented church halls or school gyms. “People saw it as a big commitment, but we’ve made it work and it was the best decision we made,” says Rachel. “We’ve got our own base and the children love having their own space.

Students at Little Voices pose for the camera.

“We were decorating the new place whilst in lockdown so that it’d be ready for when we came back,” Rachel adds. “We also ended up recruiting loads of new pupils as well, which is absolutely amazing. Getting back in the studio was absolutely amazing - I actually cried!

“We had a big party for the kids with balloons and cupcakes for everybody so they could meet the new members face-to-face,” continues Rachel, who is assisted at the school by five other tutors. “It was so lovely to be in our own place for the first time; just the best feeling in the world - comfortably in my top 10 ever!”

“I’m enjoying the work now more than ever because we’re growing, because we’ve been through a lot, and because we’ve learned a lot as a group,” explains Rachel. “And we’ve got the best team we’ve ever had - they’re all amazing, highly-trained, and enthusiastic. It’s great to work with such nurturing, kind, and brilliant people whose lessons are top-notch.

“It’s just been lovely since we came back - it’s been great to see it so busy.”

Students at Little Voices sing along as teacher Heather Suffolk plays the piano.
Students at Little Voices
Students at Little Voices pose for the camera