Rucksack Music Adds Pebble to its Bag of Tricks!

Activity software streamlines bookings and payments for children’s music club.

Rucksack music began its journey back in 1997. As a trained teacher, Amy Maguire was surprised by the lack of quality children’s activity groups in her area. Taking matters into her own hands, she started an informal music group in her local church hall. The concept was simple – a bold move away from soft, subtle baby music to an “organised chaos” approach, where children could follow their instincts, dance, bash and enjoy the music.


In 2006, after attending Rucksack Music with her own daughter, Cathy Walker found herself slowly getting absorbed into the Rucksack family.


Cathy explains, “I was in class one day with my daughter, and Amy wasn’t feeling great. I offered to step in, and soon found I was jumping on buses to cover classes in different areas of London. I loved it. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing the children enjoying shakers and swaying or stomping in the middle of the group. And we put a lot of effort into making it a great experience for the parents, too!”

A fun music class for kids 

With a passion for music, a strong desire to give children a safe space to explore their creativity, and allow parents to socialise, Cathy started up her own class in Blackheath. 


“Rucksack Music is meant to be fun. I hope that comes across in our name, which came from the fact that we carry a rucksack full of instruments. It is not meant as a serious music lesson, although I’d say it is stealth learning – arguably the best sort, where musical skill and confidence are absorbed rather than imposed” Cathay explains, “The emphasis is on enjoyment; socialising – especially for new babies and parents – and getting to know lots of songs to sing with children in the bath, in the car, anywhere you can!”


Pre-booking – an essential tool for kids clubs 

Cathy’s warm, friendly and informal approach saw the popularity of the Blackheath class grow. The thrill of seeing families return with their second and third children spurred Cathy on with the group, even as her own daughter headed into adulthood. Until, in March 2020, lockdown hit, and the classes ground to a halt. 


“Up until the pandemic, the classes really met a need in terms of being drop-in; parents could just turn up when they wanted to. The pandemic totally shifted how we worked”. Cathy explains, “We tried Zoom, but it just didn’t have the same appeal as the busy, fun, sociable space we had created before. When we opened our doors again post-pandemic, it was amazing to see people come back – but there was a big shift in the way we had to operate.” 

Pebble’s online booking system reduces complex admin 

The days of the no-need-to-book approach were over. Cathy needed to find a way to manage the numbers, as well as keep detailed and robust records of who was coming through the Rucksack doors.


“The record-keeping wasn’t something I relished, but it did offer me insights into how many people were coming and when, which was actually helpful in terms of planning the groups”, Cathy explains. “So, when I heard about Pebble, it seemed like the ideal solution to get more block bookings ahead of time, manage payments, and keep a record of my Rucksack Music families.” 


Since signing up to the Pebble activities portal, Cathy has significantly reduced the admin required to run Rucksack Music. Her website and social media accounts direct parents to Pebble, where they can find information about the classes, as well as book and pay online. 


“I tend to use Pebble for my block bookings” Cathy continues. “It has massively reduced my admin time and helped me to plan my income. It means that taking bookings and payments is far simpler. I no longer have the administration associated with cash, and I  have a record of everyone who attends. It also gives parents a very simple way to pay, without having to worry about carrying cash.” 


Huge opportunities for growth 

The marketing engine behind Pebble and the scalability of the Pebble platform also offer Cathy, and businesses like hers, room to grow. Pebble’s marketing and business development team drive parents to the portal, giving Rucksack Music the opportunity to be seen by thousands of people who are actively seeking new classes. 


There’s also the option to integrate Pebble fully into the Rucksack site in future, allowing Cathy to capture attendee lists or fill out registration paperwork – all without adding administration time to her business. In addition, the team behind Pebble has bold expansion plans. As well as extending the geographic reach of the portal, the Pebble team is continually adding functionality that gives activity providers tools to grow their revenue streams and create operational efficiencies. 

Cathy concludes, “Using Pebble has really helped me to manage bookings and streamline the admin associated with them. I’m not currently using the full functionality of the system, but what I am using works well for my business. The Pebble team is really supportive and there’s no pressure at all. For me, just using the booking and payment portal has really built up Rucksack Music, and reduced my admin. For a creative person who loves the classes and has very little passion for paperwork, it is a great tool!”

By becoming a member of ICAP you’re joining a community of like-minded professionals and business owners in the children’s activity sector working towards excellence

Pip Wilkins

Pip Wilkins is the Chief Executive of the British Franchise Association (bfa). With 25 years’ experience in the franchise sector, Pip has worked her way up within the Association, gaining insight from all areas of the business and the franchise industry. She is well-known and highly regarded in franchising for her dedication and depth of knowledge. Pip regularly speaks at conferences and seminars both domestically and internationally, as well as writing on franchising matters for national, local and franchising trade press. Pip is also a regular judge for the annual bfa HSBC Franchise Awards, the Franchise Marketing Awards and Global Franchise Awards. Pip represents the UK at both the European Franchise Federation (EFF) and World Franchise Council (WFC). The bfa has grown to be one of the largest franchise associations in Europe, and one of the most successful associations in the world.

Theo Millward

Theo Millward is a graduate of Lancaster University with a BBA in Management. In 2016 Theo purchased UK swim school, Swimtime from the founders which teaches 20,000 children a week. Following a multi-award- winning digital transformation, during the global pandemic, Theo and his team founded Franscape, a saas that digitally transforms Franchise brands. FranScape won New Business of the Year at the UK Business Awards.

Andy Georgiou

Andy is the Founder of ICAP and a leading UK Franchise Business Consultant. He is fiercely committed to helping children’s activity providers build successful and profitable businesses. With qualifications in Business Management, Digital Media and Marketing, he has helped build, advise and grow leading 6 and 7 fiqure children’s education, sports and activity brands in the past 17 years.

Frank Sahlein

Frank has been active in the Children’s Activity Center industry as an athlete, coach, business owner, consultant and business broker. He is a native of San Mateo, California and graduated from San Jose State University in California (USA).
Frank was a pioneer of the Children’s Learning Opportunity Center concept from 1976 – 2016 at the Wings Center in Boise, Idaho (USA) – a blend of Sports Instruction, Arts, Education, Entertainment and Outreach programs.
As a business management innovator, Frank has delivered over 1,000 presentations for a variety of Children’s Activity Center industries such as gymnastics, swimming, cheerleading, dance, martial arts/ninja and child care/education.
3rd Level Consulting is a Business Development and Service Provider Partner for private industry companies, associations, and organizations in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Panama.
Two-time recipient of the National Business Leader Award from USA Gymnastics, Frank is the author of “Building Your Business Potential” and “Designing Your Empowered Life”. He is the creator of the SmartEDGE™ Business Applications and Management Certification Courses. He is the co-founder of LEAP Learning and the MetaSpheres Corp, and is the founder and Executive Director of the International Association of Child Development Programs.
His passions include his beautiful wife Lourdes Gonzalez, family, friends, fitness training, transformational reading and travel.