Why WHAM works BETTER for Parents!
Getting your kids into the right club can be exhausting, and expensive!
I'm Mark, founder of WHAM Theatre Schools! I wanted to write this, so you can get a personal insight into how and why I've set up WHAM.
As an ex-Franchisee of a Theatre School, I have been there, done that, and got the t-shirt! I've also had feedback from many parents on the practical elements of enrolling their children into activities outside of school time.
I'll be honest, I was left deflated after I hung my Principal shoes up after 6 years. As a franchised model, I was limited to the changes I could make at my schools, and I found it very hard to try and meet the needs of the varied student abilities I had. Bottom line is, I love seeing the younger generation progress with performing arts. It's my passion, and my career. That's why I wanted to try and create a model that would eliminate the stress for parents (again, as much as possible!).
DISCLAIMER: I am certainly supportive of a lot of franchised models, and I think this can work for a lot of students. There are some fantastic theatre schools out there, and I know some that are part of wonderful Franchise Networks. I'm just passionate about performing arts training, and I love how parents have different options to choose from.
After going solo, I did my research and asked parents to complete a survey. These were based on a 3 hour, carousel-style Theatre School on a Weekend. The students would have 1 hour each in Drama, Dance and Singing.The issues my parents faced were below:
Affordability - Often a term's payments for 3 hour sessions a week can be costly
Sessions running on a Weekend, which can eat into Family time
Students time can be affected, when they have allocated time with different parents, also causing transport issues
Children being too tired after a long week at school
Students being put under too much pressure to perform to a high standard, especially when it was their down time, and they just wanted confidence building sessions.
Students who did want to progress professionally, not getting the attention they require
I also asked parents specific questions, in order to try and gain an understanding on what works and what doesn't from a parents point of view. I've shared some of the results below.
What would you like your child to gain out of performing arts lessons?
83.64% said they want them to enjoy it, learn new skills, benefit from physical activity and increase confidence
16.36% said they would want them to become professional performers, with disciplined lessons, exams and high-standard showcases
What day of the week would you say is more convenient for both your child and your family life?
48.15% said: Weeknight - the weekend is free for family time and my child can switch off completely
31.48% said: Saturday Morning
11.11% said: Sunday Morning
1.85% said: Sunday Afternoon
What would you like your child to gain out of performing arts lessons?
83.64% said: I want them to enjoy it, learn new skills, benefit from physical activity and increase confidence
16.36% said: I would want them to become professional performers, with disciplined lessons, exams and high-standard showcases
How would you prefer to pay for your children's tuition fees?
60% said: Monthly by Direct Debit
21.82% said: Weekly by Direct Debit
18.8% said: At the Beginning of Term (10-12 weeks lump sum)
What is important to you as a parent when searching for Theatre Schools?
78.18% said: Value for Money & Quality and Care of Teaching
14.55% said: Quality of Teaching
7.27% said: Cheapest Option
How important are Shows / Showcases to you?
36.36% said: I would be happy with smaller studio showcases / plays / performances at local events so they have the opportunity to perform, and I can see their progression
30.91% said: I want my child to enjoy the classes as a priority, but would also like to see their progression regularly.
27.27% said: As long as my child is enjoying the classes, I am not bothered about showcases and performances
1.82% said: I expect a full, professional show every year, and would want my child to push themselves making this show a priority above everything
3.64% said: My child does not enjoy big performances, and just wants to attend classes, therefore, showcases may not be right for my child.
THE RESULTS ARE IN, WHAM IS BORN!
As you can clearly see from these survey results, the WHAM model is based very much on what parents told me they'd prefer. Again, it's hard to keep everybody 100% happy, and everyone has different preferences. However, what was taken from this was:
Parents wanted some Family time, and weren't keen on any sessions after a Saturday morning
Termly payments aren't preferred, a simple monthly contract would be more manageable for parents
The wellbeing and self-esteem of their children were priority for parents, and the reality of the Entertainment Industry can be explored further on down the line
Parents would like to see performances, but the need for large scale productions aren't always necessary.
Undertaking Physical Activity & Confidence Building is a must
So after much consideration, I took the decision NOT to hold our sessions on a Saturday, nor, to create a carousel-style 3 hour School (to begin with).
Musical Theatre is acting through song, which embeds Acting, Singing and Dancing, which tells a story. To provide our students with all 3 disciplines, we still offer all three at WHAM, but for a lesser time, and for a much smaller cost!
We're not putting to one side the students that do want to progress, and that's why we will offer the support and encouragement we can for their progression. We are partnered with a wonderful Children's Agency, Kitsch, who are especially interested in Musical Theatre Students for West End castings. Once our classes grow, we also offer external production participation. However, these rehearsals NEVER happen in our standard timetabled classes. I want to avoid the situation I was in before, some students feeling pressured to take part in long shows, learning lines, licensing, extra rehearsals, long days, and generally unhappiness. I remember watching students who loved coming to weekly classes, all of a sudden, become miserable because the stress of a long production run would have an affect on their mental health.
As WHAM grows, we will add different classes to our timetable, opening in different locations, as we do want to cover as much ground as possible. We WOULD like to run an elite academy, which would be for 3 hours, on a carousel basis. However, this would be for students that preferred the intensive-style tuition in performing arts.
So that's a little bit about how I started WHAM! We would love to see you at our sessions. We run sessions for 4 to 18 year olds currently in Dartford, and in Northern Ireland, with more opening very soon!
Visit us online to book a trial at www.whamtheatreschools.com or call 0800 689 4205.
Make sure you take a look at our Promo Video with a welcome from myself!
See you at WHAM very soon!