From Falmouth to the West End
12 April 2022
Popular Music graduate Kelly has landed her dream role as a bassist for Six the Musical.
Kelly’s progress since her graduation from Falmouth has been remarkable, and the musician credits Falmouth’s Popular Music course for developing the transferable skills she needed to land a role in London’s iconic West End.
Away from her work on the stage, Kelly has also been developing her own creative material. The singer-songwriter has now released her debut single, Nothing is Clear, which is steadily gaining traction on Spotify.
We caught up with the Falmouth graduate to discuss her experience of working on a West End production, as well as her artistic development and musical aspirations.
What skills did you learn on the Popular Music course, and how did it help to prepare you for life after graduation?
The list of skills I learned on the Popular Music course is truly endless. I leaned towards song writing, performing, recording, studio engineering, and live sound engineering as the focus points of my studies, but each of those has a wide variety of different skills connected to them.
When I started at Falmouth University, I had interests in so many areas of creating music. I aimed to become a well-rounded and knowledgeable musician, which I’d like to think I achieved.
Even though I didn’t choose to have any tuition specific to bass playing, I gained so many transferable skills during my time on the course. Receiving and implementing constructive criticism is a skill I developed at Falmouth, and this was imperative to demonstrate in the sessions I had with the music director of Six, showing her that I could understand and act upon the feedback she was giving me.
How did you land the role as bassist for Six The Musical?
I stumbled across the role advertised on Instagram completely by chance. Six is one of my favourite modern musicals so I couldn’t let the opportunity pass!
I was invited to an audition and given roughly three days to learn the required music; I had to learn it all by ear as reading music is not a skill I’d ever taken the time to fully acquire.
After finding out that I was successful in my audition, I was asked to participate in a two-hour 1-1 session with the music director for which I needed to learn, and eventually memorise, every song in the show (about 19 individual pieces).
Not only did I have to learn how to play the songs, I also had to learn how to read the sheet music… at least well enough to transcribe the notes in a way that I could easily follow!
In the week I was given to prepare for the session, I spent around five hours a day practicing, splitting my time between learning how to read the music and learning how to play it.
The session itself went really well. I think I proved to the music director how hard I’d worked to get to that point and that my high work ethic would continue in the role. I was subsequently offered a four-week trial period in the show, and by the end I was offered the contract full time!
What’s the best thing about working on a West End show?
The best thing about working on this particular show is that I get to be on stage! I don’t have any experience with being in an orchestra pit but being on stage is familiar to me and it’s so much fun. I have a costume, a character name, and I get to interact with the cast and band as part of the performance. I really look forward to going to work.
I love the music and the powerful message that Six sends to its audience; being able to see the smiles on people’s faces at the end of the show is a huge bonus, it’s an absolute privilege to be a part of.
What are you hoping to do once the show finishes?
Honestly? I don’t know. Earning my part in the show and moving to London all happened so quickly that I haven’t stopped to think about what will happen next for me. Six is essentially a pop concert, and as such it’s a very good career-starting platform for me to grow and keep learning.
I’m hoping to use my time in the show to improve my stage presence and self-confidence, continue to progress with my techniques as a bass player, and network with people in the theatre industry and beyond so that I can move onto other shows when my time with Six comes to an end (but I hope that isn’t any time soon!).