Alumni of the Month April 2008

Jim Nield (1990 Music/Psychology)

aom_Jim Nield 1. How did you get to where you are now?

After graduating in 1990 I spent a year based in Cornwall working for a professional singer/song-writer. Then I moved back to my home town (York) where I worked as a theatre technician and administrator in the Arts Centre, eventually becoming venue manager there in the late nineties. As the millennium approached I decided to have a change and partly revisit Psychology by enrolling to train as a mental health nurse. In the meantime I worked for a local town council (Pocklington) for six months programming and launching a brand new arts centre/cinema. In 2003 I qualified as a Registered Mental Nurse and began work in a specialist rehab unit for brain injuries. It was during my nursing course that I encountered and participated in Music Therapy. I realised that this was what I really wanted to do, and last year I completed a part-time postgraduate training in Music Therapy in Cambridge. I now work as a self-employed Music Therapist, semi-professional singer/song-writer and part-time mental health nurse.

2. What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Turning my life around over the course of ten years to the point where I now spend most of my working life involved in music making and helping people. My 40th birthday, the album and graduating in Cambridge all occurred within the last six months, so I guess these things symbolise the culmination of all of that

3. And your biggest mistake?

Spoilt for choice I'm afraid!! Mistakes are all part of life's learning process, but I do greatly regret losing touch with so many people from my earlier years.

4. What are your ambitions now?

Enjoy life, communicate, share, care and keep in touch with people who matter.

5. What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?

You cannot have too much life experience.

6. What made you choose Keele University?

The combination of subjects, beautiful scenery and the friendliest open day.

7. How has Keele influenced your life?

In numerous ways; Music and Psychology are central to what I do now. Keele was also the place where I matured from a bedroom rock guitarist into a performing song-writer. I did my first part-time work as a psychiatric care assistant while at Keele. I still enjoy returning to the area to walk in the countryside and catch up with old friends.

8. What is your favourite memory of Keele?

Spring sunshine on the bluebells while walking in the woods with friends.

9. And your worst? 

Almost going bankrupt half-way through.

10. Anything else you would like to add?

I almost wish I could do it all over again; I went to Keele straight from school as a rather gauche, arrogant 18 year old. I wish I 'd had a few years out first, I think I would have got even more out of it.

You can find out more about Jim's Keele-inspired album here:

The album is called "Leaves of Green" and can be found on MySpace. The album is a mixture of songs and instrumentals. I was very much inspired by the countryside around Keele and the turning of the seasons. Most of the songs were written while I was at Keele, between 1988 and 1990 when I lived off campus in a farm house near Betley. I often performed them at the folk club in the old KRA bar in the basement of Keele Hall. The instrumentals are live recordings of late night improvisations with other musicians, drawing on themes from that time, including a guitar piece which I performed in the Walter Moberly Hall as part of my finals composition submission.  The recordings were all made when I first moved back to York from Cornwall, during 1991-92. I distributed these to friends and audience members. After several years of arts administration and working in healthcare, I have recently been playing a lot more music again, including some of these songs. It's been a bit like opening up a time capsule, and the musicians I play with have encouraged me to re-release the old recordings as an archive of that time.