Two franchisees explain the positive impact that music has played on the wellbeing of families in their local areas over the past year and how the demand for their classes continues to grow
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Monkey Music has continued to play a key part in the wellbeing of pre-school children and their families, providing a safe, supportive and nurturing environment to meet and enjoy interactive musical activities.
A recent report highlighted links between music and mental wellbeing and how it can be a great mood booster. Music has an incredible ability to help people of all ages, whether you’re dancing, singing or moving to music. It can reduce stress, build social connections, as well as be a fun way to stimulate your brain.
Music plays a pivotal role in a child’s life, so the earlier children are exposed to it the better it will be for their personal, social and musical growth. By taking part in a music group, such as Monkey Music or another music-related activity, children will develop social skills, boost confidence and self-esteem, as well as improve their brainpower and memory functions.
When the first national lockdown happened last year, the Monkey Music network of 150 teachers all jumped online, an incredible feat, allowing their customers to maintain their bespoke teacher relationship and the continuity of in-venue classes. Proving to be a success for many families, the classes became a channel for children and their parents to take a much-needed break from overstimulation and the whirl of daily life. With restrictions easing on 12 April, Monkey Music families reunited again in venues across the UK.
Two Monkey Music franchisees explain the positive impact that music has played on the wellbeing of families in their local areas over the past year and how the demand for their classes continues to grow.
Sally Williamson launched her Monkey Music franchise, covering Aylesbury and High Wycombe, just as the UK entered its first national lockdown.
“It wasn’t the most ideal timing, to say the least!” she says. “Ordinarily, when you launch your franchise, you organise open days and promotional events in your local area to build up your customer base and increase brand awareness, but I was unable to do any of this due to COVID restrictions. This didn’t stop me from getting the Monkey Music name out to my local community though. I used social media and offered free online sessions to give families a taste of what our classes would be like.
“My music classes officially started in venues in September 2020 when the government began to ease restrictions, but with it came increased anxiety among children and parents. From early on, I could see how music could become a powerful tool for many families struggling with stress or post-natal depression, helping them to regulate emotions and provide a much-needed break from their daily hectic schedules. By December, I had over 170 families attending 18 classes per week with their babies and toddlers. It was so rewarding to see how much the music classes were brightening up the lives of so many children and their parents. One mother told us that the classes had been a lifesaver for her. This was echoed by many, particularly those who had lockdown babies and were feeling lonely and isolated.”
Everything was going to plan until lockdown three dawned. Fortunately, due to all the hard work and dedication that Sally had put into her business in the previous months, the franchise was in a strong position and could continue to thrive.
“Online teaching has been fantastic, but I’m thrilled to be back delivering face-to-face classes so I can interact with the children again in person. It’s one of the best things about my job and it’s what I’ve missed most during the past few months. It’s equally important for the parents and carers to be back in the venue so they can socialise and have some sort of normality again,” says Sally.
Sally’s franchise continues to expand. She and her teacher now teach over 320 children over five days and the number of classes has doubled to 34 per week since last September. She has also had long waiting lists for some of the baby and toddler classes so is adding more where she can!
Flick Moorhouse of Monkey Music Oxford is another franchisee who has seen how music can positively benefit young children, helping them to improve their brainpower, build their confidence, inspire creativity and develop social skills.
“This last year has been challenging for many people, but we have been fortunate in that we could continue to teach music online and in person – a real lift for everyone’s mind, body and spirit,” she says. “When we moved online, we intentionally kept the structure of the lessons as close to our in-person classes as possible as we know children thrive on familiarity and repetition. We’ve also had to become more creative in our lesson planning so the children could still play their own musical instruments or household items and engage with each other.”
Flick has been involved with the Monkey Music brand for 15 years – nine years as a teacher in Cardiff and then six years as a franchisee. She has built up the business with her husband, Richard, and they now deliver 41 classes a week to over 400 children.
“In the first lockdown we did lose some of our Monkey Music families as not everyone wanted to attend the classes online but by September we had boosted the numbers back up again,” she explains. “They remained steady during the third lockdown as everyone realised how enjoyable and entertaining the music classes were for the whole family – siblings and dads included. Our classes became a group experience and, without a doubt, contributed to everyone’s wellbeing.
“Although we are back in our venue, I have kept one morning per week online as some families are still nervous to come back whilst others have moved abroad but recognise how music is such a valuable resource for them. I really believe that music has opened doors for many of our members and they are now using it across many other activities beyond our classes.”
Nobody knows what the post-pandemic era will be like, but children’s franchises need to achieve wider awareness of the positive benefits their activity can bring to families. Young children need social interaction and play opportunities to help them develop socially and this, in turn, will help prepare them for later in life. Monkey Music understands the vital role music is playing in children’s development and the contribution it makes to the wellbeing of so many families. Now is a great time to consider starting a business in this sector to make a real difference in children’s lives in your community.
Image: (L-R) Sally Williamson and Flick Moorhouse