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From Access to HE to graduate: Kelly Hart's journey with dBs Plymouth featured image
Sam WillisMay 3, 2024 10:46:49 AM8 min read

From Access to HE to BA graduate: Kelly Hart's journey with dBs Plymouth

Many students at dBs, like Kelly Hart, have been with us for years, from Level 3 to their BA, graduation and on to a master’s. Find out more about Kelly’s journey and how dBs Institute has had a huge impact on her life and her career.

At dBs Institute, we like to think of our staff, students, technicians and everyone else on campus as a family. We’ve helped students from the very earliest stages of their music production or game development education through to graduation and onto postgraduate study. 

Kelly Hart, a dBs Institute Plymouth student who is just finishing her BA (Hons) Electronic Music Production degree and has been with dBs since her Access to HE course, is one of those students. She joined with very little knowledge of music production but had an iron-clad passion for music and the motivation to learn. She is now finishing her bachelor’s, is considering applying for our MA Innovation in Sound degree and attributes much of her development to dBs Institute - from our tutors to her coursemates and the structure of the course content. 

Find out more about her journey and what she had to say about her time at our Plymouth campus here.

Kelly Hart Image 2Hey Kelly! Please introduce yourself and what you’re studying here with us at dBs Plymouth!

Hi, I'm Kelly Hart. I've been studying at dBs since the Access to HE course in Music Production. I've continued on to the BA (Hons) Electronic Music Production degree. I'm now in my third year and deciding whether I want to do the Innovation in Sound Master’s at the moment. I finish in May so it's all go for our final module! My projects are looking very exciting, as are everybody else's on my course. We've got a fabulous, very talented bunch of people on my course. 

What are you working on for your final project?

For my product delivery, I am doing an EP called Cyber Soldier. I got the idea from a guy on YouTube who believes he's from 2050 and he's been sent here, a bit like Terminator, to change the world. I thought it was a good idea to raise some environmental issues and address AI and cybernetics within the music. For my honours project, I'm looking at sound and how it affects animals. I also run a dog grooming salon and a lot of my customers have issues with their dogs during Fireworks Night and the trauma that it causes. So the thinking is that I could highlight the issue through my work and maybe approach my local council to try and make a difference if we can get enough people together.

What are you hoping to get out of your degree? 

Psychedelic music is my heart. Psytrance and anything to do with the psychedelic genres, I absolutely love and adore. So if I can continue on that route, that'd be great. Studying at dBs has been a really good stepping stone. I couldn't produce at all when I started the Access course. So it's been good for me.

So you’ve been at dBs for several years now from Access to HE through to completing your BA. What has it been like?

It’s been amazing, right from the first day I came for the interview with Matt Radley. I left school with no grades at all and I'm older. When I applied for the access course, I was 41. I really wanted to get into producing. My partner produces and it was just my dream. I made up a USB with some of the bits I'd put together and I got my interview. Matt let me in, had faith in me and we've gone from there really. I did the best I could and then getting onto the degree was an absolute dream. The tutors are amazing. I've learnt so much.

You’ve mentioned the Access course. What was it like in that early stage?

At the very start, it was very, very daunting. I'd looked at Ableton and Logic, but I literally only ever used my computer and the internet to buy things and use Facebook so I was a complete newbie. In that year, I got distinctions for most of my work and that was due to Matt Radley's excellent teaching. I really enjoyed my access course. The information is there if you're willing to receive it. You get out what you put in. I just learnt so much in that year. I had nothing and then I could put a tune together. It's just been such a rewarding experience from start to finish. I'd urge anybody who hasn't got grades and wants to get into music production to do that Access course. It was amazing. 

Kelly Hart Images

How would you describe the level you’ve got to now?

I'd say I'm at the higher end of intermediate. I’ve still got a hell of a lot to learn. I started behind everybody else, but I've still had such a positive experience. The people around me have inspired me to try a lot harder and push myself. I've had to cram in a lot of information in a short period, but the tutors are there and there is that one-to-one feel to the course. I think we are very lucky at dBs Plymouth because we have so much one-to-one tuition. The tutors really do care about what they're doing and about us as individuals, you know? It's been a wonderful experience.

How hard was your step up from the Access course to the degree?

I had many meltdowns in the first year. I think the crowning part of it was trying to do Max on top of doing the sound design module. I’m very glad I did it so my advice to anybody else doing it is just to bear with it. I loved Phin’s lessons, too. They were very in-depth and quite challenging, but that's what I went to uni for! That's the experience. Those lectures were fantastic. Phin is such a great teacher and a fascinating person.

Would you say the Access course sets you up for the BA effectively?

I would never have been able to do the degree without the Access course. There are going to be people who are more experienced applying to the degree, but I really did think that the Access to HE course gave me the grounding I needed.

You said you're thinking about studying an MA. What are you currently learning that you think will help prepare you for that?

I’m thinking about developing my honours project for the MA Innovation in Sound course. I think academically, that's what's prepared me to be able to do a Master’s. It’s not just the music production side of things, they really do help you with the academic side.

Is there anything specific that you think studying at dBs has helped you with?

Something I found very, very hard before dBs was speaking in front of people and doing presentations. I think the degree makes you more rounded as a person. Everything about the course has made me a better person for sure.

What about the facilities and staff have you found useful?

The facilities are amazing and we have got as much access as we could possibly need to the studios and equipment. Matt, Pete, Alan and Stu have been such amazing tutors to us throughout the three years, so invested in us all and so supportive. Each module of this course has been taught and structured so well that it has fully prepared us for our futures in the music industry.

Kelly Hart Featured Image

Is there anything specific about Plymouth that makes it a good place to study?

The advantage is that we do get one-to-one tuition more here. The classes aren't as big. I think Plymouth sometimes gets overlooked because we're down here in the South West. More people should give Plymouth a try. I think for anybody who lives in Plymouth, it's right on your doorstep, you should be giving dBs a go! If you love music production and that's what you want to do, this is the place to be.

What do you think about alumni like Sammy Wightman who runs Strobe and has stayed in the city and helped shape the scene here?

I mean, he's had a massive impact on the scene. He really has. The fact that he's looking after all the dBs students, I just think that's fantastic. He's doing something for all of us, but as well as that he’s doing something for Plymouth.

Is there any advice you would give to a potential student thinking of joining dBs Plymouth?

I would just say get in there and do it, to be honest. Give it your best shot. It's a very special place. The tutors push us all to get ourselves out there. They sometimes push you off the edge of the cliff a bit sooner than you want to go, but it's all for your own good. It's all positive.

Listen to Kelly's album Cyber Soldier here: 

Learn more about our Access to HE Diplomas, Undergraduate degrees or another one of our Music Production Courses or visit us at a dBs Plymouth Open Day!