Fourth Meeting at the RNCM

25 March 2021

Schedule for NEMuR at Royal Northern College of Music (online)

on 25th March 2021


  • 10am-11am – short updates from each dept on recent activity (7-8 mins from each of the member institutions: RNCM, Leeds, York, Keele, Durham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull)

  • 11am-12noon - 4 15-minute papers (Durham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull – depts. to choose which research project to present, and who to present) – 10-12 min papers plus 2-4 mins of questions

  • 12noon-12.45pm - Launch of Performing Music Research: Methods in Music Education, Psychology, and Performance Science – an opportunity to meet the authors.  Aaron Williamon (RCM), Jane Ginsborg (RNCM), Rosie Perkins (RCM), and George Waddell (RCM) will be joined by Linda Merrick (RNCM), Colin Lawson (RCM), Barbara Kelly (RNCM), John Sloboda (GSMD), and Eleanor Guénault (RNCM), who will be representing the students without whom the book would never have been written. For more information about the book, visit its companion website, from which it can be pre-ordered (; the RNCM website, or the RNCM Facebook page. To attend the launch, click here.

  • 12.45pm-1.30pm: Lunch (Zoom room for launch will stay open so that people can talk to the authors and play with the website)

  • 1.30pm-2pm – breakout rooms for one-to-one discussions between students and more senior scholars

  • 2pm-3pm – 4 15-minute presentations (RNCM, Leeds, York, Keele - depts. to choose which research project to present, and who to present)

  • 3pm-4pm – keynote given by Dr Jennifer MacRitchie: Making music for health and wellbeing in later adulthood (abstract and biography below)

  • 4pm-4.30pm – breakout rooms for discussions between students and more senior scholars

  • 4.30pm-5pm – New and emerging methods – knowledge sharing and discussion of best practice

The Zoom details needed to join are:

Meeting URL:

Meeting ID:

954 7186 2892

Keynote given by Dr Jennifer MacRitchie:

Title: Making music for health and wellbeing in later adulthood

Abstract: In striving for a better future, improving health and wellbeing underpins the majority of the United Nations’ 17 sustainability development goals (SDGs). The goal specifically dedicated to good health and wellbeing is “to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”, but how do we consider that truly across the lifespan into later adulthood, and what role does music have to play?

Older adults’ wellbeing is positively linked to repeated and sustained engagement with the arts, and emerging evidence shows a raft of cognitive, social and emotional benefits from learning to play a musical instrument, as well as participating in general musical activity. Yet there are limited opportunities to engage with music, in particular for those who may not have had that experience already in their childhood, as well as those whose physical and cognitive capabilities may change due to neurodegenerative disease such as dementia.

As we enter the World Health Organisation’s decade of action on healthy ageing (2021-2030), we look to examine how we can support capability in music-making for older adults as a tool to promote health and wellbeing. Specifically, which contexts, activities, tools and technologies might assist.

In this presentation, I will detail some recent research I have conducted with collaborators at Western Sydney University that examines the cognitive benefits of music instrument lessons in later life, with particular reference to the current Active Minds Music Ensemble longitudinal project funded by the Australian Research Council. Building on previous experimental work considering the effects of instrument layout features on the rate of musical learning, I will also describe the co-design process we undertook with residents in an aged-care facility in Sydney to design and adapt new musical interfaces for group music-making.

Our results confirm that older adults with different physical and cognitive abilities are interested and capable of using music technology, responding positively to a co-design process in thinking about how they want to make music. This points the way towards how we might develop new tools to specifically support musical engagement for people living with dementia, which will be the focus of my fellowship at the University of Sheffield.

Biography: Dr Jennifer MacRitchie is currently a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the University of Sheffield, exploring how musical tools and technologies can be designed to increase accessibility and consequently wellbeing for people living with dementia.

Jennifer completed her PhD at the University of Glasgow's Science and Music Research group in 2011, following on with postdoc positions at the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, Switzerland, in 2011 and the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at Western Sydney University in Australia in 2014. She moved to a Senior Research Fellow in Health and Wellbeing position in Western Sydney University in 2017, working across the schools and research institutes to further research into the benefits of music instrument learning for older adults.

With a background in electrical engineering, music, and cognitive science, Jennifer’s research focuses on the acquisition and development of motor skills in instrumental performance, and how these can be used to promote health and wellbeing. She has conducted research in a variety of environments and typically collaborates with academics across fields from engineering, music psychology, music therapy, physiotherapy and nursing, and external industry partners including those in aged care, music education, and local health.