Prior to her time in the Wilmington Symphony, Shirley worked for the Air Force providing pilots with weather briefings. She has a degree in Atmospheric Science (she and her husband are both meteorologists and met while working at a private forecasting company outside of Boston in 2000).
She also loves cars and tarantulas! She drives a 2001 Impreza 2.5RS and performs the maintenance herself. Shirley and her husband once owned two dozen tarantulas.
When asked who influenced her to become a musician, she says "As far back as I can remember, I wanted to play the violin. My 6th grade and also high school orchestra teacher, Mark Cornell, was a talented violinist with the Albany Symphony. I will forever be grateful to him for the personalized instruction he provided me. When my skills had outgrown my student instrument, he loaned me one of his personal instruments until my parents were able to purchase a more suitable violin for me. At the age of 38, Mark Cornell was killed by a drunk driver on his way home from a high school pit orchestra rehearsal. Over a decade later, I still think of him from time to time, wishing he could see me continue to grow as a musician."
In addition to playing violin in the Wilmington Symphony, Shirley also plays at weddings and receptions and in pit orchestras with local theater companies, including the 2010 re-opening of Thalian Hall.