iMerc Research The Centre is involved in wide-ranging research into all aspects of musical development, as well as music education, music teacher education and subject-specific fields of inquiry.

Many such projects involve collaboration with partners from across the voluntary and higher education sectors at home and abroad. Collaborative research partnerships include work with leading UK Research Councils such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), grant-making foundations and charities such as The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Royal National Institute of the Blind, the Amber Trust, Soundabout and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Government agencies and departments (such as DfES, QCA) and also the European Union. Sponsorship has also been received from the British Council and British Academy for overseas scholars to visit the School.

Usability of Music for the Social Inclusion of Children (UMSIC)...

UMSIC project collaborating parties The aim of the European Union-funded (Seventh Research Framework Programme [FP7]) collaborative research project 'UMSIC-Usability of Music for the Social Inclusion of Children' (grant FP7-ICT-2007-2) is to develop and use modern music-focused technology to support children's social inclusion.

Whilst intended for all children, UMSIC aims particularly to support, through music, those children who are at increased risk of being marginalized. These include children with social or emotional disorders (or both), those with moderate learning disabilities, and those who are immigrant and with no or limited host country language skills.

There is a growing body of neurological and related research evidence that the promotion of early competences in music and language are interwoven and thus, in UMSIC, music is designed to help children to develop language skills, whilst positively affecting their emotional, social, and intellectual development.

The UMSIC project (2008-2011) is focused on the design, implementation and evaluation of a system that creates a hand-held interactive environment for children to communicate informally with their peers by using familiar modern technologies.

The research collaboration is led by the University of Oulu (Finland), in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UK), University of Zurich (Switzerland), University of Jyväskylä (Finland), Systema Technologies (Greece), Lappeenranta University of Technology (Finland), Institute of Education, University of London (UK) and Nokia.

The overall project co-ordinator is Professor Maija Fredrikson (Oulu).

Professor Graham Welch leads the Institute of Education research contribution.

UMSIC project partners

Related information

Annual Parliamentary report on R&D in Assistive Technology published: The latest Parliamentary report is on the Department of Health website here and is available on the FAST website, together with previous reports, via this link.

contact information

· UMSIC official website

National Singing Programme...

National Singing Programme research The National Singing Programme (2007-2011) 'Sing Up' is part of a UK Government initiative to support the development of musical activities under the umbrella of its 'Music Manifesto'.

Included in the intentions of the Programme are that Primary school-aged 'children experience high-quality singing, both within and without their daily school curriculum, on a daily basis' and that 'Every school has a teacher committed to facilitating high quality singing and vocal work for the whole school'.

The 'Sing Up' National Singing Programme was launched in November 2007 and a team from the Institute of Education, University of London, led by Professor Graham Welch, were appointed to undertake a research evaluation of key elements of the Programme. Two prime foci have been identified:

(i) to undertake an initial baseline audit of singing in randomly selected schools and

(ii) to link this baseline data collection to a pre- and post-impact evaluation of particular 'Sing Up' Programme interventions with children and adults (teacher, parents and other professionals involved in promoting singing in community contexts).

project team...

The core research team for the National Singing Programme are:

selected project public output...

Peer education on the internet for social sounds

Good VibrationsOPEN Sounds is a Leonardo da Vinci (TOI) project that offers a new dimension in training on the Net: the possibility to produce and share music remotely within communities: a transnational virtual studio.

Through Open Sounds students and teachers can:

Project team...

project contact details...

OpenSoundS project website

Good Vibrations

Good VibrationsGood Vibrations is a registered charity that helps prisoners, secure hospital patients, ex-prisoners and others in the community develop crucial life and work skills, through participating in intensive gamelan courses.

This project builds on previous research investigating positive change through participation in a Good Vibrations Javanese Gamelan project. The aim of the project is to identify the learning processes within the gamelan and investigate aspects of the project that could contribute to the development of attributes associated with desistance from crime.

The project was carried out via participant observation, with follow up interviews six-weeks after the project ended. It was decided to use participant observation so as to conduct a deep investigation of the learning processes in order to understand the transformative effects reported by previous research. Participant observation has not been used to investigate a Good Vibrations project before, and so this methodology provided a different research perspective. The project uncovered the shared learning processes between musical development and social development, identifying links between musical participation and attributes associated with desistance from crime. Furthermore, it provides a strong case for the use of participant observation in research into arts projects within the criminal justice system.

Project team...

The project was carried out by Dr. Jennie Henley, Institute of Education, University of London.

selected project public output...

Investigating Musical Performance (IMP): Comparative Studies in Advanced Musical Learning

funded by the ESRC: Teaching and Learning Research Programme under award RES-139-25-0101

IMP project logo The Investigating Musical Performance [IMP]: Comparative Studies in Advanced Musical Learning research project was a two-year comparative study of advanced musical performance which began in May 2006 and is funded by the ESRC under their Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP -

The project had been devised to investigate how classical, popular, jazz and Scottish traditional musicians deepen and develop their learning about performance in undergraduate, postgraduate and wider music community contexts. The project was conceived as a multi-site, multi-methods research project that draws equally on the strengths and expertise of the four higher education partners (the Institute of Education, University of London; University of York; Leeds College of Music; and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow).

Included in the research methodology was a specially-devised questionnaire, linked electronically to a 623 field database, that provided a comprehensive, short-term, longitudinal comparison of participants' (n= 280+) backgrounds, attitudes and approaches to advanced performance learning over a twelve month period. This data was complimented by interviews, individual case studies, focus groups and digital video analyses of studio-based instrumental lessons.

Preliminary analysis of the questionnaire data obtained from the first phase of data collection (July-October 2006) produced evidence of significantly different developmental profiles for classical and non-classical musicians. Classical musicians tended to have begun their engagement with music at an earlier age, and were influenced musically by family history, instrumental or vocal teachers and formal groups. Conversely, non-classical musicians were more likely influenced by well-known performers and informal groups. There was some evidence of the influence of private vs. state-maintained education; of those who had attended independent schools, the majority were classical musicians. Differences were also found relating to participants' beliefs about expertise in music teaching and performance and in their perceived musical self-efficacy and performance anxiety. Whilst classical musicians tended to spend more time practising alone and rated themselves more highly on musicality and expressive skills, non-classical musicians appeared to manage performance anxiety more effectively and experienced more pleasure, overall, from their musical activities.

'Typical' profiles of classical and non-classical musicians were presented at the national TLRP conference (November 2006, Glasgow) and at research seminars in London (Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, UCL and Institute of Education, both March, 2007), as well as the international Music Education Research conference in Exeter (April, 2007). Presentations highlighted points in the musicians' developmental paths when significant influences and choices may have contributed to the formation of "classical" or "non-classical" musical identities. Important points of similarity and differences were discussed and the implications of these two musical trajectories for teaching and learning were explored.

Related data on differences between instrumental musicians and singers was presented as an invited keynote at the national Finnish Music Educators conference in Oulu, Finland (March, 2007) and informed a keynote at the World Creativity Summit in Hong Long, China (July, 2007).

The research methodology embraced aspects of research approaches adopted in earlier funded research for the ESRC (Hargreaves & Welch, 2002-2003) and AHRB (Welch, 2002-2003; Howard & Welch, 2003-2004). In addition, a funded research link 2007-2009 had been established with the University of Tasmania, funded by the Australian Research Council.

project team...

The award holders are Welch, Duffy, Potter and Whyton and the two-year research project (2006-2008) commenced in April 2006.

selected project public output...

project contact details...

TLRP project website and

VOXed: the meaningful application of technology in the singing studio (2003-2004)

funded by the AHRC, Innovation Award scheme (referenceB/IA/AN8885/APN15651)

VOXed project logo The VOXed project, initially funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under its Innovation Award scheme (reference B/IA/AN8885/APN15651), was designed to evaluate the usefulness, or otherwise, of the application of real-time visual feedback technology in the singing studio. The basis for the research was a multi-disciplinary approach that drew on voice science and acoustics, the psychology of singing and voice education. Participants were based in two different singing studios, one in the north of England and the other in the south. They catered for two different adult singer client groups, ranging from skilled amateur to advanced professional. An action-research methodology was adopted in which the two participant singing teachers and their adult students were seen as co-researchers in the research activity.

The resultant research data consisted of research diaries, observations and interviews, supplemented by multimedia recordings (audio and video) of actual singing behaviours over time. Data analyses indicate that new technology can impact positively on teacher behaviours and student experiences by providing more meaningful feedback through an enriched pedagogy. This offers the possibility of expanding the professional knowledge and skill base of both groups.

project team...

The VOXed project principal investigators were Professor David M Howard, Media Engineering Research Group, Department of Electronics, University of York and Professor Graham F Welch, School of Arts and Humanities, Institute of Education, University of London

selected project public output...

project contact details...

Netvotech: EPSRC Network 'Technology and the healthy human voice in performance' (2005-2007)

with Professor David Howard, University of York (reference GR/T21240/01)

Netvotech project logoThis was a two-year funded research network in voice and technology under the EPSRC Culture and Creativity Programme. It built on an earlier (2003-2004) £50,000 Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRC) Innovations research grant on the use of technology in the singing studio (see above). The network's main aim has been to deliver innovative research proposals in the area of technology and the human voice in performance, designed to enhance (i) professional vocal performances (spoken and singing) and (ii) the audience experience during live vocal presentations. The network embraced vocal performers, teachers, ENT consultants, speech and language therapists, vocal hygiene specialists, child and adolescent voice specialists, phoneticians, linguists, voice scientists, engineers, musicians and choral conductors from the UK and overseas.

The network held various one-day voice technology workshops in York and London, as well as international network meetings at the 2005 Pan European Voice Congress in London and the 2006 III Physiology and Acoustics of Singing Conference in York. Related presentations have been made to the Australian Voice Association (Sydney, 2005) and to graduate students at the Beijing Conservatoire (2006).

project contact details...

EPSRC website

The "Visually-impaired musicians' lives" (VIML) project

AHRC logoThe "Visually-impaired musicians' lives" (VIML) project is a UK national investigation into the musical practices, participation and learning experiences of blind and partially-sighted people. VIML is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) at the Institute of Education, University of London, and has two official partners, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Royal Academy of Music, London. Dr David Baker is the Project Leader and Professor Lucy Green his Co-Investigator and Mentor. Through an online questionnaire and confidential interviews, VIML will investigate the experiences of all types of visually-impaired musician, including instrumentalists, singers, composers and music teachers. We are interested in both amateurs and professionals, even adults who have just begun to learn an instrument. Participants will be invited to a conference, where findings will be shared, and exciting "music days" of practical music-making in London will be created as a collaborative undertaking with the Open Academy.

If you are a visually-impaired and an instrumentalist, singer, composer, music teacher, or active as a musician in some other way, please visit our website or make contact for further information. Please let us know if you would like to participate in this exciting venture as an interviewee, "music day" performer or composer, or conference delegate.

Website and blog:

The Ear Playing Project (EPP)

The Ear Playing Project (EPP) logoThe Ear Playing Project is a research project led by Professor Lucy Green (Institute of Education, London University), who devised and developed the informal learning model of Musical Futures.

The research is aimed at classically-trained instrumental teachers who would like to find new ways of helping their students play by ear, improve their aural and improvisation skills, and play with increased confidence and musical feel. The research team are currently seeking participants.

Participants will be invited to attend one of the project's free seminars at the Institute of Education. Here they will be given an introduction to the teaching and learning strategies, and free access to all the materials needed in order to try out the approaches with their students. After the seminar, it will be entirely the participants' choice whether or not they wish to try them.

Dr David Baker and Dr Maria Varvarigou are the Research Officers.

EPP project partners

contact information

· Ear Playing Project official website

Musical Futures: Informal Learning in the Music Classroom

funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the DfES and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

musical futures project logo The project focused on the school music classroom at Key Stage 3. It developed and evaluated new teaching and learning strategies drawn from the informal learning practices of popular musicians. Pupils directed their own learning in small friendship groups, selecting their own music and attempting to play it by ear from the recording. Teachers stood back and observed, with the aim of understanding and empathising with the goals that pupils set for themselves; they then acted as guides and musical models rather than instructors. As the year went by, pupils were given more structured materials, then returned to their relatively unaided strategies, composed their own music, worked as bands with community musicians, and applied the learning strategies to classical music.

The teachers agreed that overall motivation, enjoyment and cooperation increased above, and in many cases well above what would normally be expected; and that in general skill-acquisition was greater than expected and greater than normal. Pupils at all extremes of the ability spectrum were considered to benefit, as were those who took additional instrumental lessons. Most particularly, many pupils who had previously been regarded as either unable or unwilling to participate in music lessons, or who were identified as disaffected within the school generally, shone as enthusiastic group leaders and able musicians.

Over ninety per cent of the pupils said that they preferred the project's approach to that of the 'normal' curriculum (their word, not ours). The teachers unanimously agreed or strongly agreed to the statement: 'Using informal learning practices in the classroom has generally changed my approach to teaching for the better'. The strategies were not intended as an alternative, but a complement to traditional approaches.

The project formed part of the national 'Musical Futures' initiative. Its teaching strategies, materials, and a documentary film are downloadable from The strategies and materials include practical advice for teachers and audio resources; the film shows footage of pupils and teachers engaging in the project and talking about their responses. The project has been recommended by the government's Music Manifesto, and the [then] DfES has made it available to all schools through its website At the time of writing, over 2,000 people from schools and other sites have downloaded the materials. A detailed, more academic account of the findings is available in Lucy Green: Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy (Ashgate Press).

project team...

selected project public output...

Authored books

Short monograph

Research-based curriculum materials

Journal articles

project contact details...,

Sounds of Intent: assessing, recording and promoting musical development in children with profound and multiple learning difficulties

funded by the QCA, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the RNIB and the Amber Trust

Sounds of Intent project logo The 'Sounds of Intent' research project was set up in 2002 jointly by the Institute of Education, University of London with the Royal National Institute of the Blind. It grew out of earlier research undertaken by the same team which examined the provision of music in special schools in England (PROMISE).

The aim of Sounds of Intent is to investigate and promote the musical development of children and young people with severe, or profound and multiple learning difficulties ('SLD' or 'PMLD').

The framework of musical development is based on research with three main elements:

project team...

selected project public output...

project contact details...

The Nature and Development of the Female Cathedral Chorister

funded by the AHRB [now AHRC]

inside Wells Cathedral The purpose of the research was to clarify and understand better how the musical culture of a cathedral choir impacts on the musical development and performance of its female choristers with regard to an 'appropriate' sound. In particular, the proposed research sought to explore how the female choristers' experiences (including rehearsals and performances) shaped their musical behaviours and identities.

In accordance with the intended research methodology, three short intensive visits were made to Wells Cathedral in Somerset during the twelve-month period of the award. The prime elements of the research methodology were qualitative (through observation, semi-structured interviews, analysis of printed materials (such as music and service schedules)) and quantitative (different sets of acoustic recordings of singing behaviours in (a) the interview setting (a vacant practice room in Wells Cathedral School), (b) rehearsal spaces (the Cathedral Undercroft, Cloister and Nave), and (c) performance at Evensong. A senior research colleague with significant experience in the application of music technology provided assistance with the recordings and with the (ongoing) acoustic analyses.

Opportunity was taken during each visit to speak to individuals and small groups of female choristers, as well as significant adults, such as the cathedral organist and adult male singers from the choir (the 'Vicars Choral'), plus others with responsibility for the general welfare of the choristers (such as the Head of School). The participant choristers represented two overlapping populations because the research visits spanned two school academic years (2001/2002 and 2002/2003) and there is always some change of chorister personnel at the end of each summer term.

Across the year, (i) fifty-two individual female chorister recordings were made, each following an established protocol (see below); (ii) 23 hours were spent observing choristers singing in rehearsals, services and individually and (iii) an additional 15.5 hours was spent in interviews.

The research formed part of a unique, ongoing longitudinal study of female chorister development at Wells, now
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in its 15th year.

project team...

selected project public output...

project contact details...

A Survey of the Views of the UK Academic Community on the Standing and Future of the UK Doctorate in the Arts and Humanities

funded by the AHRC

AHRC logoIn the Arts and Humanities Board's 2002 review of its postgraduate programmes, it was noted that the sector had concerns about "the nature and quality" of the UK PhD in the arts and humanities and that there had been a number of significant developments relating to the UK doctorate which the Board needed to address. These developments included growing attention to the role of training in the doctorate; new types of doctorate including the New Route PhD and the Professional doctorate; the growth of practice-led doctorates; and international developments such as the Bologna process.

In response to the recommendation of the review, the Board established a working group to consider a wide range of issues relating to the nature, scope and structure of doctoral study in the arts and humanities in the UK. The aim of the group was to undertake and publish a study reflecting on these issues and to develop a set of recommendations for the Board on how the AHRB should respond to the findings in the report. AHRB funding for doctorates was largely allocated through an annual open competition, with around 550 new awards made each year. A further 30 new awards were allocated each year as Project Studentships attached to larger research projects through the Board's Research Grants scheme.

As part of the group's consultation process, the Institute of Education, University of London was commissioned to survey opinion on current practice and possible futures of the arts and humanities doctorate in the UK.

Chair of the ARHC Doctoral Working Group was Professor Christopher Carey (UCL)

project team...

project report...

project contact details...

email:, telephone: +44(0)20 76126599, fax: +44(0)20 76126741

TIME: Teacher Indentities in Music Education

Effective Teaching in Secondary School Music: Teacher and Pupil Identities

Teacher Indentities in Music Education At the beginning of the century, previous research and official school inspection data suggested that a significant proportion of secondary school music was somewhat unimaginatively taught and perceived to be out-of-touch with children's interests. At that time, official school examination data indicated that only seven per cent of secondary school pupils took GCSE music at age 16 years (this has since risen across the decade to approximately 8% in 2009), and there was concern among significant proportions of teachers, pupils, inspectors and policymakers about the 'problem of secondary school music'. Paradoxically, this problem was being debated at a time when music has immense and increasing importance in the lives of many young people. The ESRC-funded study examined 'school music' in relation to 'out of school music', with particular focus on the interests and experience of music teachers. The findings showed that young teachers put increasing emphasis on the value of good communications and interpersonal skills, rather than musical ability, as they go through their first year of teaching (see executive summary and research report below for more details). Recently, data from this research project has been contextualised in the light of ongoing issues concerning teacher recruitment and the experiences of new music teachers as they begin their professional lives (see Welch, Purves, Hargreaves and Marshall, British Educational Research Journal).

Key findings

The vast majority of the 74 PGCE students surveyed followed the traditional academic path to teaching, via university. The older students often had additional performance or instrumental teaching diplomas, and sometimes higher degrees. Over 70 per cent had taught as instrumental teachers, whilst 15 per cent had given workshops or taken part in other outreach activities.

The majority of teachers played two to four instruments, and 90 per cent played the piano or had keyboard skills. They reported that the main influence on their musical lives had been their teachers or parents. They were less likely to have played in county orchestras or brass bands, and few had been active in jazz or pop music.

Teachers' rated possible personal and social aims of music education more highly than purely musical aims, such as providing a foundation for a professional career in music.

The most highly rated skills of music teachers were 'ability to enthuse' and 'good communication skills'.

Music students were more likely than music education students to the value of 'introducing pupils to the Western classical tradition' and 'to provide performers/musicians of the future' than of 'developing the whole personality'. Over the period of the study newly qualified teachers did not change their views of their own effectiveness as teachers or musicians, but they did change their attitudes to teaching. They increasingly emphasised communication and interpersonal skills rather than musical performance.

About the study

The research was conducted by Professors DJ Hargreaves (Roehampton) and Graham F Welch (IoE), with Ross Purves and Dr Nigel Marshall. The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and rated as 'outstanding'.

Selected public output

contact information

· ESRC website