JDT Music Academy Team Photo

The JDT Team 2019

About JDT Music Academy


Janel Spalding

Creative Director

Kit Fit Instructor | Drum Tutor | Arts Award Advisor

Janel started playing the Drums at the tender age of 15. Having picked up the instrument very quickly, she was keen to join her Brother’s band and they were soon gigging across the county. The band evolved into the well-known local group ‘The Weasles’, embarking on several European Tours in the late 1980’s. Janel went on to become a professional session drummer and joined up-and-coming signed American funk/soul band ‘The Eleventh Hour’ who released two singles and toured the UK circuit alongside pop songstress, Gabrielle. Janel’s wealth of experience and knowledge put her in an ideal position to begin teaching and she soon became a well-known tutor in schools across Norfolk and Suffolk as well as setting up private tuition from both her home and a friend’s farm. In 2000 she had the opportunity to make her dream of owning a music school a reality, and JDT Music Academy was born shortly after! Janel’s proudest career achievement to date was leading her team through the trials and tribulations of smashing the Guinness World Record for Longest Drumming Marathon by a Team no less than FOUR times! These took months of preparation and training, and given the opportunity, she’d do it all again in a heart beat.

“My journey as a musician has allowed me to meet so many amazing and talented people who have both inspired me and become friends for life. My aim for JDT has always been to break down the barriers, to ensure that music is accessible, fun and universal. I have learned that no matter who you are or what you’ve been through, music gives you the freedom to be whoever you want to be. I am blessed to be able to continue this journey alongside my super talented drummer son, Neo- a chip off the ‘ole block in many respects!”

Nia Howe BA (AKA Tiggy!)

Managing Director & Centre Manager

MinivoX & RockavoX MD | Vocal Tutor | Arts Award Advisor

Tiggy immersed herself in music from an early age, thanks to her musical infused upbringing! She has never shied from the stage, performing from the age of 7 with the Co-op Juniors in Ipswich, continuing her dance studies at Busybodies Stage School until 1997 and going on to perform with Dereham Operatic Society, De Montfort Theatre Company in Leicester as well as the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society. Tiggy took vocal lessons with former BBC Singer, Geoff Davidson, and performed regularly around the UK with well-known ‘40’s swing group ‘Close Harmony’ and vocal ensemble ‘Songbyrd’.  She also enjoyed a number of years singing and soloing for the Mid-Norfolk Singers until finally starting her own independent rock choir, ‘RockavoX’, at JDT in 2012.

Tiggy has been involved at JDT from the very beginning, coordinating the build of the studio back in 1999 once she’d completed her A-Levels. She took a few years out from her work to study an Arts Management Degree at De Montfort University in Leicester, before returning to manage the studio full time once she graduated in 2004.

“JDT is literally my home from home. It is a privilege to go to work every day surrounded by such a talented team and a joy to share my love of music and singing with our special community. Behind the scenes, my job is to ensure everything at JDT is running as smoothly as possible, supporting Janel and our team while covering everything from scheduling and planning to HR and marketing. However, I’m blessed to be able to keep my creativity flowing through my teaching and running our choirs- trouble is, there just aren’t enough hours in the day!”

Aaron Houseago

Studio Manager | Drum Tutor | Arts Award Advisor

Aaron has been part of the JDT team for many years, starting off as a student in 2002 before going to college to study to be a performing musician. He is now Head of Drums at JDT as well as being the centre’s Studio Manager. Aaron has a wealth of experience teaching people of all ages and abilities and from a variety of backgrounds, from delivering regular one-to-one drum lessons to providing Samba and Percussion sessions to groups through workshops and intensive instrumental courses.

Aaron has been playing the drums for about 22 years, performing with numerous bands all over England, including the Birmingham NEC Arena. Through JDT he has also performed abroad in New York and Paris. He is a confident player in most styles of music. In the past he has performed in small groups such as a 4-piece jazz band, backing a choir, to playing in a classic heavy rock band. He currently plays with 2 groups, one as a ‘Northern Soul’ covers band and the other is on the wedding function scene. His achievements include Grade 8 distinction certificate on drums and holds the current world record, with past friends and colleagues of JDT, for the longest drum marathon by a team.

Jude Oularé

SEN Director | Saxophone & Vocal Tutor | Signalong Tutor | Arts Award Advisor

Jude started singing from the age of 7 in a junior choir, which led to taking private singing lessons from the age of 13 for 10yrs training as a soprano singer. Participating in amateur dramatics and playing several lead roles, she discovered a passion for drama too. At high school, Jude learnt to play the Tenor horn and was a member of Dereham’s Youth Band throughout her school years. Although she continues her love of brass instruments, she also plays Saxophone, Ukulele and has a passion for playing a variety of musical instruments.

Singing is Jude’s main instrument; whilst working overseas as a Holiday Entertainer and Rep, Jude worked semi-professionally as a singer performing in a variety of hotels in Tunisia. For the last 4 years Jude has been learning Opera; being a member of several local choirs has given her the opportunity to perform solos, duets and develop her technique in this genre.

Before starting work at JDT, Jude worked for 11yrs in a Special Educational Needs School, where she did her Trintiy Certificate of Music Educators. During her time at the school she ran music classes across all key stages, a weekly school choir as well as organising and running instrumental teaching which led to the introduction of a school orchestra comprised of 40 students with mixed needs who went on to perform at the Norwich music festival for several years.

Alongside her musical career, Jude is a Signalong tutor and has been for the last 10 years; delivering training courses, workshops and introducing Signing through songs with the hope to support those who may rely on signing to feel part of an inclusive community, a goal all at JDT share and promote.

“My role at JDT is mainly working with people with special educational needs and disabilities, supporting them to successfully access our facilities and the different programs we run. As a Signalong Tutor, I run training courses for anyone interested in learning this skill, these include workshops to Foundation 1 courses. At JDT we use Signing within Music Makes Me and our Musical Minds Choir, which was set up to support those with Dementia or who have suffered a Stroke that may have affected their communication. Our team have been learning to Sign as our goal is to encourage everyone to sign to help develop understanding of each other and create equal opportunity within the community. Music offers great opportunities to learn and I believe it is a vital part of life and development, it supports so much from our personal wellbeing to communicating and relating to others. My favourite quote says it all….”

“I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing” William James

Sam Baker

Guitar, Bass & Ukulele Tutor | Music Production Co-ordinator | Arts Award Advisor

From a young age, Sam has been obsessed with music. He fell in love with the Guitar when he was 11 and started writing his own music at 14. After finishing school, he went on to study Music at college and soon discovered other instruments as well as a passion for music theory. Sam continued his music studies at Kingston University in London where he played Guitar and Bass, performing in several different bands while developing his skills in composition and music production. Once he graduated, Sam discovered a passion for teaching. Sam’s favourite genres are rock, alternative pop and hip hop. He loves collaborating with other musicians and creating his own songs from his home studio.

“I think music is the most influential and powerful force in the world and I love being able to share it with other people.”

Holly Allton

Piano and Keyboard Tutor

As well as teaching Piano, Holly is a singer-songwriter and producer. A previous student at JDT, Holly graduated graduated from Leeds College of Music in 2018 with a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Performance. During her degree, she studied vocals, backing vocals, song-writing and piano. Highlights of her time in Leeds include recording vocals for the BBC and performing an original song with the Leeds Contemporary Choir. She performs her own material as Erin McKnight, with a dark electronic pop sound.

“I’m really excited to be joining the family at JDT. I remember how instrumental JDT was at building my confidence and helping me believe in my abilities and goals. I hope to use my experience to guide my students in exploring whatever music they want to make.”

Helen Howe

Administrative Assistant

Helen has been working at JDT Music Academy since 2013 and you will usually see her most Mondays at the front desk. She helps Tiggy with some of the administrative work, following up new enquiries, sending out general emails and manning the phone. She also supports the tutors, booking in students on arrival, taking payments and answering any queries they may have. Outside of work, Helen is an incredibly keen singer, performing with the Mid Norfolk Singers for almost 30 years as well as being a valued member of RockavoX at JDT. She thoroughly enjoys going to the theatre and watching live concerts, and even had the pleasure of performing in front of thousands at Blickling Hall in Norfolk a few years ago!

“I love my work at the studio, meeting and greeting parents and students as they come in for lessons. It’s great to be immersed in the enthusiasm they all have for music. I have been involved with music, orchestras and singing from an early age and being part of the “JDT Family” allows me to continue my love for this wonderful and fulfilling art”.

“where words fail, music speaks” Hans Christian Andersen

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