You may have heard of Stagecoach before? They are a national network of performing arts schools offering dance, drama and singing lessons to children and young people throughout the world. Ben has been invited to join Stagecoach Oldham for a term and he had his first lesson last week.
Prior to Ben’s first lesson we were sent a welcome pack through the post. This consisted of an information booklet and an order form for the required jazz shoes and other assorted paraphernalia from branded t shirts to teddy bears. For his first week Ben wore a pair of tracksuit bottoms, his trainers and a Stagecoach t shirt which we had been gifted as part of our project.
The venue for our local Stagecoach school is large (relatively new built) high school, easily accessible and about 15 minutes from home. Although it was first thing on Saturday morning the car park was quite busy – a combination of different clubs and classes seem to use the school on a weekend as, alongside our little Stagecoach students, there were plenty of children in their sports gear too. (I’m SO glad I’m not the Mum standing on the sidelines in the freezing cold every Saturday morning . . . sport is not my thing at all!)
We were greeted by Dave who checked our emergency contact details and Ben’s medical information including his allergies, then gave us a quick tour of the facilities – the theatre, classroom and toilets – before introducing us to Sophie, the Managing Principal. And what a surprise – I had met Sophie before! You might remember a while back that I took part in a flashmob at the MAD’s the year before last – a moment of madness but lots of fun. The dance was choreographed by Stagecoach and we were taught our moves in two groups by local teachers over the space of a few months. Sophie was my dance teacher!
Once all the children had arrived in the reception area, Sophie called the register and the children lined up to go to class – leaving their parents free to go . . . (I found myself sat in a local McDonalds with a hot chocolate making notes for this post – it seemed pointless to drive the 15 minutes home again) I had expected that Ben might be a little nervous going off somewhere new, to do something new, with people he didn’t know. How wrong I was. He couldn’t have cared less! He was excited to see what was ahead and bounced off into class. My ever confident boy.
The “Early Stages”, for 4 to 6 year olds, are 1.5 hours long. The “Main Stages”, for 6 to 18 year olds, are 3 hours long with an hour of each discipline – singing, dancing and drama. At 6.5 years old Ben is on the cusp and could reasonably attend either class. My gut feeling was that the younger classes would probably suit him better as this is a completely new experience for him and he’s not exactly known for his mature and sensible behaviour (I also think 3 hours seems a long time to expect him to concentrate!) Having spoken to Kate (the Principal) about this before hand, we agreed to put him into Early Stages and let Sophie make a judgement after seeing him on his first day.
Before his class we talked a bit about the need to treat his Stagecoach lessons like school. I reminded him that he was there to learn as well as to have fun, that parents had paid a lot of their hard earned money for their children to attend the classes and this must not be wasted. I explained that although it would be a bit like being at school it would most probably be like a PE lesson, which he thought sounded like a lot of fun! (I also told him that I would be writing about his class so he needed to remember what he’d been up to!)
I had to pick Ben up a little early from his first session as he had a birthday party to attend but this wasn’t a problem. He came out to meet me with Sophie, full of beans and grinning like mad. He’d had a fab morning and was keen to return next weekend! We chatted a bit about what they’d done but he was a bit too over excited to get any sense out of him – going straight from Stagecoach to a Laser birthday party will do that to a six year old boy!
Ben is going to be attending our local Stagecoach school for a full term and I will of course be updating you as to how he’s getting on! I was interested to note on the Stagecoach website that alongside the obvious development of their drama, singing and dance abilities; students often benefit from growth in their-self esteem and communication . . . areas which Ben already shows great strength. I’m really excited to see what progress he makes, particularly as he has been keen to learn to break dance for a number of years now but doesn’t have the best coordination or rhythm. It will be interesting to see what effect professional dance tuition has on him and whether at the end of his term his passion for dance has grown!
Watch this space!
*Ben is attending our local Stagecoach franchise free of charge for the purposes of writing this review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*