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Monkey and me

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Kate Panayi started her working life as an actress. Here, the South Woodford resident and Monkey Music franchisee explains how her career path changed after becoming a parent

Soon after moving to South Woodford in 2007, my husband and I became parents to two boys, Daniel and Jack (who are now much older than I remember – 10 and eight respectively!), and I started rethinking my plans regarding work.

I came across Monkey Music, which seemed to encompass everything I love about the arts. I loved all the beautiful songs and instruments it exposes children to – and I was so impressed that the curriculum has been tailored to start with gentle sounds for babies of only three months and then cleverly develops alongside little ones through their preschool years, finishing with teaching four-year-olds about the orchestra. And the fact it wraps it up in a bundle of such fun was the cherry on top! My eldest son attended classes, but by the time my youngest son came along, it had stopped running in South Woodford.

Before I knew what was happening, I was interviewing to buy the local franchise, and the rest, as they say, is history!

I launched classes in September 2013, the same week my older son started Reception and when my youngest had just turned two. Suffice to say, the first year was the toughest thing I have ever done! Learning the hundreds of songs in the curricula (Monkey Music write their own, original content), as well as being responsible for the business side of things was incredibly challenging – especially as I had no previous business experience. However, things went well and after finishing my first year, I took on another teacher and started to expand.

Classes now run every morning of the week, including two lots of classes on Mondays and Thursdays, so seven weekly morning sessions in total. And there are now three of us in the teaching team – myself, Jo and Carla, which is lovely and we are a really close and supportive team. I am also very proud of the fact that we have nearly 300 wonderful customers who attend our classes each week.

I absolutely love my job – it is such a joy to be able to sing for two hours a day, which is incredibly uplifting in itself. But more than that, the happiness which is written all over little ones’ faces during class, witnessing their progression throughout the terms and years they spend with us, seeing their delight as they hear or play an instrument, watching their bond with their carer – all of those things are so special and it is a privilege to be part of their lives in this way. Not to mention the fact children are so wonderfully entertaining and charming – they make me chuckle every single day – what more can you ask for from your job than that?

Kate runs Monkey Music classes in South Woodford, Woodford Green, Loughton and Buckhurst Hill. For more information, call 020 8989 7017 or visit swvg.co.uk/monkeymusic
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