‘Being a child of the 70’s I grew up on large doses of wacky and gregarious tunes and characters.. Several members of my mother’s family worked in the film industry and our lives were filled with laughter, love, singing and playfulness. When I was a teenager mum worked with children with learning disabilities. I'd sometimes be able to spend time at the school volunteering and found the multi-sensory therapeutic elements of teaching fascinating, particularly through music.
“After I left school I started training to become a nurse, as much as I loved caring for people, it just wasn’t proving to be the right career for me. So I moved into the world of corporate travel for a while, in a role servicing a lot of music industry clients. It was hard work and all the travelling was great fun, but my second pregnancy meant the endless travelling and commuting didn't make sense any more. I had reached a cross-roads in my life and the desire to work with people in a meaningful way was calling me, so I started training to become a psychotherapist with a view to reviving my fascination with musical and creative therapies.
At the same time I was enjoying working part time with MENCAP at a Saturday club for children, along with a day centre for adults with learning disabilities. Music played a large part at both locations, particularly Friday afternoons as the only musician on the staff, I was tasked with the job of running a musical session. I started the sessions by playing a mix of popular songs on my guitar, the energy in the group immediately lifted and the sense of fun was immense. What resinated with me was that ALL the group could participate in their own way, music is truly universal and touches us all. This inspired me to make MORE of this delicious environment and I started creating stories set to music.
I made good use of whatever props that I could find in the well equipped multi sensory room, we added a host of musical instruments to the mix and our first ‘Musical Story’ - The Three Billy Goats Gruff – came to life. It was amazing fun, we all sang, laughed, played, imagined and more, and that was it - I was absolutely hooked.
Shortly after my second daughter was born, I started working as a part time fundraiser for a community centre in West Watford, A densely populated part of Watford, made up of families from many cultural backgrounds. I was tasked with the job of creating a new focus for an under attended parent and toddler group. Meeting twice weekly, it was felt by the management committee that the larger community was not being attracted to the group. I started a music session for local families, adding creative movement/dance, story-telling, dress-up, sensory props, puppets and lighting effects resulting in a highly interactive multi-sensory wonderland. It was a joy and I knew immediately that I'd found my calling, the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Rumour has it that one of the CDs from those early sessions is still played at the community centre!
Ever since that first magical moment, Hartbeeps has been my passion. I love that it makes such a difference to people’s lives. Hartbeeps has never been about building a business. It's about building a community and sharing the things I've learned with families up and down the country.”
‘With the help of music producer and primary school teacher Rob Johnson, we composed and recorded a collection of songs and musical backing tracks. We visited traditional rhymes and popular children’s songs and took them back to their routes, honouring their cultural heritage (no matter how grim the stories often were – I satisfied myself in the knowledge that they simply reflected a dark side to all of us) and breathing fresh life into them. We then extended the songs, giving them an intro, perhaps a new chorus and at times we would draw out the sounds or rhythms within the songs. Next came the 4/4 beat, a tempo that I feel is innate in all of us, from being part of the beating of our mothers heart before birth, to living life and the rhythm all around us.
“My first classes were aimed at toddlers. But when my youngest, Charlie, was born I soon became engrossed in
the ‘rapid baby development stage’ and created Baby Land, two baby-focused programmes, Baby Bells (tm) and Baby Beeps (tm). Most of the songs were written (or at least sung) in the bath, out and about, during meal times, bed times, up and down the stairs and while playing all sorts of games with Charlie. His reactions showed me when I got it right and when I missed the mark. I discovered babies can sing word sounds before they can form and speak words, and the Hartbeeps Soundplay System (tm) was born.
The Hartbeeps Soundplay System (tm) is a series of ideas and methods incorporated into songs and rhymes to create an environment rich in communication for babies. The brain kicks in fast and before they can even walk, babies soon become skilled sound explorers (tm). At Hartbeeps we never stop innovating, never stop learning. I'm determined that when my children take their children to one of our sessions they don’t feel it needs to be dragged into the twenty first century. It's relevant to them right now.”
‘I love that our 'little Hartbeepers’ and their grown ups leave our sessions singing our songs and that they become part of their family memories..
We accept every child for who they are. Nobody feels excluded or unwanted. We welcome their differences. Parents appreciate that we engage with everyone and never tell children how to behave – we just have fun. .
We're different. We are not doing what every other music group is doing. We constantly push the boundaries, push ourselves, and are not afraid to put ourselves ‘out there’
A Hartbeeps session takes everyone to a place where magic happens, where parents and children play and enjoy each other’s company, where real life doesn’t intrude, where they dance and sing. Our sessions are enchanting, extraordinary, fascinating, wonderful... and magical!
For us being modern means understanding what parents and their little ones see on TV and social media and making sure our sessions reflect contemporary issues and feelings, the things that matter to the current generation. We constantly review and update our sessions in line with current thinking.
There's a very special moment before you begin a class. It's busy and chatty as the group settles. Then we begin, and everyone is immediately engaged. You should see the looks of disbelief on the faces of parents when their usually shy, reserved or disruptive child is instantly immersed. There's a very real sense of awe in the room.
Many of our Imaginators are parents who've enjoyed Hartbeeps themselves. We get what it is to be a parent and empathise with how they're feeling, especially new parents.
Grown-ups and children leave our sessions happy and smiling, relaxed and energised, having had a wonderful time totally immersed in our activities.
Hartbeeps classes are always delivered with kindness. We're on parents' side, there to support them, going the extra mile to help them enjoy special moments with their babies and children.
We create innovative, multi-sensory and highly interactive productions for the very young. By transforming everyday environments into colourful, tactile ‘wonderlands’ we invite our participants to join us in a world of the imagination.
Using clever state of the art music production, original music composition, sound effects, songs and sound plays, lighting effects, innovative props and puppetry, together with a vast array of multi-sensory techniques, we create original and highly specialised experiences for our young Hartbeepers.
Sarah started trialling sessions in the local community centre in Watford, Hertfordshire. Going under the name Heartbeat Productions…the children simply called it ‘Hartbeeps’ and the name grew with us.
Hartbeeps launched its first session at the Cafe Cha in Cassiobury Park, Watford and quickly grew to 4 sessions a day, 5 days a week.
Sarah gave birth to her third child and during this time she wrote Baby Land a specialist two part programme for pre-mobile and mobile babies.
The Hartbeeps team grew from 2 to 8; delivering specialist sessions from newborn and up to 5 years, parties, productions, outdoor events, courses for children’s centres and nurseries, along with bespoke one off sessions for children with additional needs and children in hospital locally in and around a 10 mile radius of Watford.
The Hartbeeps team were delivering 95 weekly sessions, the love was spreading and it was the right time for Hartbeeps to move further afield. The result - a low cost, organic franchise model was developed and implemented by several new franchisees Our first franchisees were Ruth Colin, Anna Hallard, Suzanne
Mahoney and Natasha Starr and we are delighted to say that they all still work with us today . During the next four years, just as we have carefully developed our programmes and the content, we have carefully developed a business model that is robust, honest and fun, it is realistic, ethical, rewarding and totally flexible. To find out more visit www.hartbeeps.com/franchise
Over 60 franchisees now operate here in the UK, Scotland and overseas…yes we have exported our UK brand to Australia, Dubai, Spain and Hong Kong….Music is truly universal and no matter how we differ in culture we all play to discover when we are children.
130 and growing, franchisee's running their own fabulous businesses here in the UK and overseas, with a reach of 30,000 + we are spreading the magic and loving every day!
Work begins on the new Hartbeeps.com website.
170 fabulous franchisees growing and flourishing their Hartbeeps businesses world wide.