SHELLY joined the Changing Tunes team last summer but due to Covid-19 restrictions at HMP Drake Hall, she has had a long wait to get started. We recently took the opportunity to find out some more about Shelly and how she’s been preparing for her new role.
Hi Shelly! Welcome to Changing Tunes. Why did you apply to work for us?
Firstly, thank you for the warm welcome from everyone at Changing Tunes! When I discovered the job advertised for Changing Tunes, I had moved from teaching singing one-to-one to working more with groups and particularly adults within community settings. I was particularly enjoying working with people with little to no musical experience. I was also at the beginning of studying for a University Certificate in counselling skills which I did on an integrative course of various theories of therapy to add to my skills as a musician and teacher. As I was doing project work, it seemed like a great challenge and rare to have something come up that was more long term in nature, so I was very interested in that aspect as well. I have actually applied for the position twice! The first time I was offered the job but unfortunately, it clashed with my performing work, so naturally, I applied again when it came up a second time.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your musical background?
I always loved to sing and started formal lessons in both piano and singing at an early age. I went through the Classical ABRSM exams, studied Performing Arts and Theatre Studies at College and then went on to do a BA in Music and Popular Music. I have performed for various bands, productions and theatre shows as a professional vocalist and also always written my own singer/songwriter music. I currently tour UK theatres with a fun show based on Country and the music of Nashville. I try and still do singer/songwriter gigs when I can and I’m currently doing an MA in Songwriting with Bath Spa University and discovering where my research interests lay within the songwriting world from therapeutic to commercial songwriting.
What has the training and induction process been like so far?
As I am not in my prison yet because of COVID restrictions, I have done some training and shadow sessions with three different Musicians-in-Residence. It has been interesting to see the general way the prisons run as well as the sessions specifically. I think the participant-centred focus has been valuable to my training and to see firsthand the respect for everyone’s musical contribution. This has developed my understanding of how Changing Tunes is able to focus on long term work. Due to the long wait to start my own sessions, it has also been wonderful to see the progress and confidence built in particular participants over a period of time by dropping into sessions at a later date.
What are you most excited about as you start your new role?
I think most of all I am excited to celebrate small achievements and spark creativity in people who perhaps previously hadn’t realised it was within them.
If you’d like to find out more about Changing Tunes and current job opportunities, head to our website: www.changingtunes.org.uk.