Singing in Balance: WRoCAH fund a trilogy of PhD projects

Images of people singing in different contexts

The White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities have funded three new collaborative PhD projects designed to perfectly balance research and practice, commencing in September 2023. ‘Singing in balance: tuning and supporting socio-musical dynamics in group singing’ comprises interlinked doctoral projects supervised by a network of academic and partner organisations: Prof. Renee Timmers (University of Sheffield) with Mir Jansen (Arts in Health, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals); Dr Freya Bailes (University of Leeds) with Kate Wareham (Choir with No Name); Prof. Helena Daffern (University of York) with Emma Baylin (Shared Harmonies).

Craig Robertson speaks at forum for Music and Mental Health

Craig Robertson, one the directors for the Music for Healthy Lives Research and Practice Network, was invited to participate on a panel at a forum for Music and Mental Health, hosted by the School of Music at the University of Manchester. The event featured presentations and music by composer, visual artist and filmmaker Jim Aitchison (Falmouth University), whose video composition Contrapunctus focuses on mental-health issues, and composer Maria Palapanidou. In both cases, the artists explored how their creativity was in part inspired by mental health issues. Craig acted as a respondent as did drummer and director of the Kaleidoscope Orchestra, Steve Pycroft. The focus was very much on the mental health of the musicians and composers and ways people deal with mental health issues. There were many students in attendance at this online event, and many were concerned about how professional and artistic pressures affected the mental health of practitioners. Craig provided an alternative sociological perspective about the societal systems that have emerged over the centuries to form the professional musician class and the problems that have developed alongside that and noted how music can be and has been used for promoting good mental health when used in other less strenuous contexts such as community music and music therapy. Participants were encouraged to explore the Music for Healthy Lives Research and Practice Network and the work of its members and look out for an upcoming seminar series on Music and Prevention: Self-Care, which will be advertised on the network in due course.

Cloth Cat Showcase for Music for Healthy Lives Network

Cloth Cat is a music/education charity based in inner city Leeds supporting those at most disadvantage living in neglected parts of the city. They help people to gain control over their lives and find avenues into employment, further education and other positive social activity by providing a range of inclusive and creative projects, courses and events so that people gain the opportunity to learn a range of musical and personal skills.

Prior to the UK-wide lockdown of society due to the Covid-19 crisis, Cloth Cat had been fulfilling their mission through a youth music education and mentoring project, called Get Your Act Together; a music and art course for men suffering from depression and low mood called Man About Town; and providing a variety of other music courses and open mic sessions for their beneficiaries and the wider community.

After lockdown was announced, Cloth Cat, like every organisation, had to decide how to respond and adapt. They decided to not take advantage of the government furlough scheme, opting instead to continue to meet the needs of their beneficiaries as best as possible. They did this by very quickly adapting their practice and gaining the support of their funders. For the Get Your Act Together project, Cloth Cat decided to continue with a second term with all the course material being broadcast live on YouTube for the enrolees. This material is now available everyone for free on their YouTube channel. To date, all the youth who originally enrolled on the programme have continued in this fashion. New enrolment has stalled, however, highlighting the importance of establishing a relationship in person before moving completely online.

The Man About Town project was more difficult to continue online, but those involved have continued to stay in touch and have continued to write songs together. One event was held on Zoom. The focus here is on maintaining their social contacts and developing their social networks so that they feel able to develop music and art on their own.

Being a small organisation with a clear mission statement and a largely digital-savvy client-group, Cloth Cat has been able to be agile in its practices while still fulfilling the criteria stipulated by their funders. They continue to provide social connection and encouragement to their beneficiaries through music in the online world, which has been especially important during this isolating time.

Find their YouTube channels here:

Cloth Cat Leeds

Cloth Cat GYAT Music Sessions


Good wishes from the Music for Healthy Lives Research & Practice Network

Like everyone else, we’ve spent the last few weeks adapting to life online and to the various challenges presented by the pandemic and lockdown life. We have seen the difficulties facing our friends and colleagues working in the performing arts industries and wanted to let you know that we’re thinking of you all and trying to think of ways that we might be able to help once the country slowly begins to move towards some kind of normality. We’re sure you’re all aware of the various sources of support that are available, but there are some quick links to some websites below that you may find useful.
We’d love to hear from you, with news of any activities you have moved online or any other stories about how you’ve been affected by the pandemic. If you’d like us to share these on our website then please let us know.
Take care everyone, and we hope to see you soon.
Karen, Freya and Craig

Free CPD Opportunity – MOT: Musicians working in Challenging Settings

MOT: Musicians working in Challenging Settings

Weds: 11 March – Mon 16 March 2020

Snape Maltings, Suffolk


Snape Maltings Creative Campus is curating a 5-day residential course of rejuvenation, inspiration and support for experienced music leaders working in challenging settings.


Facilitated by musician /coach Katherine Zeserson (, this MOT is an immersive retreat consisting of reflective sessions, creative workshops and other interactive activities designed to help musicians build resilience and take stock of their working lives. Participants need to be experienced music leaders currently working with people who are living in challenging circumstances. Contexts of work might include care homes, prisons, hospitals, hospices or other relevant community settings. There are 8 places available.


The MOT will take place at Snape Maltings from lunchtime to lunchtime, 11-16 March 2020. There will be no fee to take part and we are able to cover any UK travel costs. Accommodation and meals will be provided.


Feed back from last year’s delegates:


‘To share this amount of time with 7 other like minded but all very different people while being skillfully guided by Katherine and sublimely supported by the Snape Team has undoubtedly had a profound and sustaining impact not only on my professional work but also my personal life. The holistic nature of the course was congruent to my way of thinking and so the whole experience has already begun and will continue to have far reaching effects.’


‘I think the course gave me some perspective on the true challenges of the work I have been doing and by helping me redistribute my priorities I will be doing stronger, better work and taking better care of myself.’


‘The facilitation was wonderful, so supportive and exploring with space to do this was amazing. The group was so lovely – I felt safe straight away. Just really eye opening and something that I think I will keep looking back on to help me reflect.’


Full details on how to apply are on our website. Closing date for applications is Mon 6th Jan 2020. Successful applicants will be notified by 24th January 2020, when further programme details will be confirmed.


Kind regards



Dr. Amy Mallett

Programme Development Manager, Creative Campus

01728 687207 or 07748070647


See the source image


Visit our Digital Campus to explore the breadth of work developed at Snape Maltings

Music on Prescription: Musical Connections & York Medical Group

Fiona Chapman, Project Director at Musical Connections, writes about the impact of the Music on Prescription initiative which was co-run between Musical Connections and York Medical Group.

For over 10 years, Musical Connections has run music groups and choirs for older people, particularly those who are vulnerable and at risk of social isolation, in care and community settings across York. Feedback from participants is consistently positive, with over 90% saying that their involvement has improved their wellbeing by giving them opportunities to connect with other music-lovers in a supportive and sociable environment.

York Medical Group were keen to bring the benefits of this work to their patients, and senior staff worked with Musical Connections to make it happen – they contributed to funding bids, made space available for the groups to take place at two of their GP surgeries, and made a concerted effort to promote the benefits of this work to staff and patients.

Thanks to funding from the Postcode Community Trust, the groups were able to begin in September 2018, and since then, a total of 48 patients have taken part, with 28 attending regularly (ie for a minimum of 5 sessions, but usually much more often). Undoubtedly, recruitment has benefited not only from recent efforts in the media to promote singing for mental and physical health, but also from the obvious enthusiasm of some of the doctors, who have sung alongside their patients in Tower Court’s waiting room on more than one occasion!

So far, 22 participants have completed feedback questionnaires, with very positive results:

  • 21 said that taking part in their group had improved their overall wellbeing
  • 19 said that it had specifically improved their physical wellbeing (5 of these said greatly)
  • ALL said it had improved their confidence
  • ALL said that participating in their group made them feel generally happier and positive about life (15 said this was to a great extent)
  • 5 said they had gone to their GP less since joining their group

Several have articulated specific benefits:

‘It’s fun and you don’t have to be able to sing well! It’s socialising for older people – it gets you back going again. I’ve been widowed for nearly 2 years, and I came here after the first year, and it made a difference. You’ve got to have a reason to get up and that’s what this does for you’

‘My blood pressure is high on a normal day – when I see the nurse after this, it’s good. The nurse asked what had I been doing and I said ‘singing’!’

Group participants do not have to have any musical training and there is no pressure to perform, although several chose to do so at Musical Connections’ recent 10th anniversary concert at the National Centre for Early Music. Given that they had only been singing together since September, this was a fantastic achievement and a reflection of the confidence and relationships that have developed during weekly sessions.

The Postcode Community Trust funding comes to an end in July, but new funds have been secured, to ensure that the groups can continue beyond this period. We continue to work closely with York Medical Group to understand the impact of this work on their patients.

by Fiona Chapman
Project Director, Musical Connections

Network event: Evaluating the impact of music

Evaluating the Impact of Music
30th April 2019

We look forward to hosting a network event dedicated to ‘evaluating the impact of music’.

Guest speakers include Angela Harrison, Commissioner for Public Relations at the World Federation of Music Therapy, and Simon Glenister, Director at Noise Solution.

All welcome. Please book your place via Eventbrite.

4.30-6.30pm | School of Music, University of Leeds

Aesop and Canterbury Christ Church University launch new course for arts and health professionals.

A new training course for busy Arts and Health Professionals who wish to develop and run successful arts in health programmes has been launched by Aesop and Canterbury Christ Church University.

Aesop Institute 2019 is aimed at those who wish to devise and run successful arts and health programmes and will enable professionals from both sectors to develop the values and beliefs, knowledge, skills and competencies required to achieve this.

In a speech earlier this month to the King’s Fund, Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, spoke of the life-enhancing benefits of the arts and social activities, and how as a society we should be making greater use of their power to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.

The Health and Social Care Secretary said the arts are an ‘indispensable tool’ for the NHS, adding that social prescribing can be used to “help shape our health and social care system” and should be seen as fundamental to preventing the over-use of medicines and offer a cost-effective treatment that is “better for patients, and better for society”.

Aesop is a bridge-builder, connecting the worlds of health and the arts. A charity and social enterprise, the organisation’s mission is to help health harness the powers of the arts, and help the arts gear up to deliver health improvement.

Aesop’s Chief Executive and Founder, Tim Joss, said: “I was in the room when Matt Hancock spoke and asked him how to make the indispensable tool of the arts available to all. He started listing elements of the Aesop Institute curriculum! We clearly need many more health and arts professionals expert in linking these two sectors. We need artistic quality and health improvement advancing hand in hand. And we need university accreditation to boost the status and quality of this important work.”

For over a decade the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health at Canterbury Christ Church University has conducted research on the benefits of participation in the arts to the quality of life and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Professor Stephen Clift, Director of the Centre, said: “I am delighted that Canterbury Christ Church University is collaborating with Aesop in creating this innovative module in arts, health and wellbeing. It will give both arts and health professionals an opportunity to explore issues of direct relevance to their ongoing work and development in this field, and gain university accreditation.”

This newly designed course will start with a three-day residential school in Folkestone in May 2019, with a two-day follow-up residential in Canterbury in September 2019.

Researchers and experienced innovators in arts in health will provide current perspectives on developments in the field during the programme. From May to September Aesop Institute students will develop and deliver arts and health programmes, fully supported by the Aesop Institute team.

The course is accredited by Canterbury Christ Church University and students who successfully complete the programme will be awarded academic credits at Level 4 through 7 dependent on highest level of qualifications.

For further information about Aesop Institute and how to apply visit:

For further information on the work of Aesop visit here.

You can find further information on the Sidney De Haan Research Centre visit here.

World Class Research in the University of Derby College of Health and Social Care

The College has developed a reputation for proactive, innovative and responsive development of programmes of education to meet the requirements of the current and future health and social care workforce, from Foundation Degree to Masters level. This has been recognised and endorsed by the Executive of Health Education England who see the University of Derby as a ‘go to’ institution to develop and operationalise new ideas and ways of working, and support the University with new projects and commissions. We are the only HEI represented on the national NHS Constitution Delivery Group.

The College continues to have a strong regional focus and impact in terms of ensuring local people are educated for local employment. The College is committed to ensuring that the health and social care student body reflects the demographics of those they care for, and are proud to have grown student numbers and maintained diversity in terms of age, socio-economic status and race despite the removal of bursaries. Regional health and care providers consider the College as integral to their future workforce planning.

In terms of research, the Health and Social Care research centre, part funded by NHS England and regional Clinical Commissioning Groups, is developing a reputation for delivering applied research that is making a regional difference. They are building reputation in order to bid for larger, nationally focussed projects going forward. The centre includes internationally renowned research in Compassion and Mindfulness, led by Professor Paul Gilbert, and in Arts and Health led by Professor Susan Hogan.

The College is pursuing opportunities with the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre in readiness for the move to Loughborough, particularly in the areas of health technologies, arts in health, and workforce development.

Arts & Health Centre of Excellence

The arts and health centre of excellence was founded in 2018 to celebrate our achievements in offering the most extensive range of arts and health training in the UK and our commitment to producing world-class research and publications in the area of the arts and health. The centre houses our research clusters Arts & Health: Creative Ageing and the Arts and Health. The centre offers opportunities for PhD study and post-doctoral internships.

Therapeutic Arts subject area

The Therapeutic Arts subject area at the University of Derby has been in existence since 1993. It offers both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that focus upon the use of the arts within health and social care, education and a range of other settings. Our undergraduate courses prepare students to work in ways that facilitate creativity, wellbeing, communication skills and problem solving. Many students go on to work within an educational, arts in health or community arts setting. Our postgraduate courses are professionally accredited courses that entitle students to register with the appropriate regulatory authorities, and these courses are primarily aligned to the principles and practices of arts psychotherapy.

The undergraduate Creative Expressive Therapies programme is the only course of its kind in the UK to offer four distinct pathways in art, dance, drama and music. It gives students the chance to develop their skills and express themselves in the art form of their choice through specialist studio sessions, performances and exhibition work. At the same time, students learn about the huge potential of the arts to promote physical and emotional wellbeing. We explore how creativity can be applied therapeutically in community, voluntary, health, education and corporate settings. We also look at different therapeutic principles and the meanings of health and illness in the context of historical and cultural values.

Our post-graduate courses include: Art Therapy; Dramatherapy; Dance and Movement Psychotherapy and Music Therapy. We are one of the few universities within the UK to offer all four of these programmes. As such we are able to offer students a unique inter-disciplinary perspective on the use of the arts within psychotherapy.

Academics within the Therapeutic Arts subject area have a wide range of clinical expertise. Domestic violence and abuse; gender and women’s issues; creative ageing; art therapy theory, DMT with those with progressive neurological illness; eating disorders; body image; the arts as public health and the history and development of the arts therapies are among staff research interests.   Work in progress includes development work towards a grants looking at the transition to motherhood and the role of the arts and impacts upon infant development (building upon The Birth Project). Formal clusters include RAW (Research in Arts and Wellbeing) and Creative Ageing.

Centre for Excellence in Compassion, Mental Health & Wellbeing

The Compassionate Mind Foundation was founded by Professor Paul Gilbert and the foundation is working with the College of Health & Social Care and CLANS on its research projects. Since it was established in 2006, the Compassionate Mind Foundation has supported global academic research and hosted the Annual Global Conference on Compassion, bringing together leaders in the field. The CMF community has also worked to develop, practice and promote Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), now used by thousands of clinicians around the world.

Research into the beneficial effect of developing compassion has advance enormously in the last ten years, with the development of inner compassion being an important therapeutic focus and goal. Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is a process of developing compassion for the self and others to increase well-being and aid recovery and varies from other forms of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

Over the years, Professor Gilbert has developed many self-report scales that are now being used internationally, publishing in a number of areas of mental health difficulties particularly depression, shame and guilt and self-criticism and in recent years, he has been exploring the psychology and neurophysiology of compassion.

We have a large number of projects that we are developing including compassion interventions in schools for people with bipolar disorder, for individuals with narcissistic personality, and for forensic youth. Ours schools project won a grant for over £100,000. We are continuing to develop a range of measures including fear of compassion, the fear of mindfulness, the distinctions between kindness and compassion.


Professor Paul Gilbert is an internationally recognised researcher, speaker and trainer and received an OBE for his contribution to improving mental health in the 2011 New Years honours list.  This work has influenced many international research groups in the areas of shame, evolutionary psychology, self-criticism and shame. Gilbert has received over 25,000 citations on Google Scholar and has over 300 publications including journal papers, book chapters and books. The Compassionate Mind Foundation promotes wellbeing by facilitating the scientific understanding and application of compassion and is now an international recognised charity with people around the world attending our training and conferences, working collaboratively on research. We also have affiliated organisations around the world in America, Italy, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, France….

Professor Susan Hogan recently gave evidence at the all-party parliamentary group enquiry on arts and health and wellbeing and her monograph Healing Arts is widely regarded as world class. Her books are used internationally in the training of arts and health practitioners, as are books and articles by several staff in the therapeutic arts area. The European Consortium of Art Therapy Educators recently invited her to edit a book for their kite marked series on international research in the arts and health and gender issues. Her current research council funded research (AHRC) has been disseminated internationally and she is listed keynote speaker for the next International Health Humanities Conference.


Dr Paula Holt

PVC Dean, College of Health & Social Care