Projects and Research

MIROR project, EU 7th Framework Programme: Technology Enhanced Learning, 2010-2013, Music Interaction Relying on Reflection.


Take Art, Somerset: (Funding, Arts Council England, Paul Hamlyn, Somerset LEA)  A project to develop the role of creative practitioners in children’s centres.  Action research project, 2009-2011.


Peers Early Education Partnership: PEEP (Funding, DCFS) Time to Play: Developing interculturally sensitive approaches to creative play in children’s centres serving majority Muslim communities.  Project total: £50,000.  2008-2009


Wigmore Hall, Chamber Tots in the Community, (Funding anonymous donor) Investigating the Chamber Tots programme with recommendations.  £10,000.  2009.


Karaoke Kids, a project to explore Karaoke Singing at home among girls age 6.10.  (Funding: SEMPRE: Society for Music psychology research)  £500.00


Stafford, YMAZ: Ready Settings Go (Funding, Adult learning partnership) Evaluation of the project with recommendations for future development.  £3,000.  2009.


Somerset Education Authority and Take Art, (Funding, Somerset LEA) Zest: Creative Dance in the Early Years, with Kerry Chappell and Shirley Larkin.  £5,000.  Spring 2007.


Gloucester Music (Youth Music Funding) Music in the Early Years: Action Research Project:  £2,000


North Edinburgh Arts Centre (Funding – NESTA) Starcatchers: Theatre for Under Three-year-olds.  Research into the development of the art form and children’s experiences.  £20,000 2007 – 2009.


Association of British Orchestras: Pilot music project for Children’s Centres: consultancy and evaluation.  April 2006 – September 2006.  Completed, report available.  £8,000.


London Symphony Orchestra, Early Years Project – Collaborative Action Research to develop models of practice between orchestral musicians and early years settings.  April 2005-April 2006.  £12,000. Completed


Single Applicant: Music One-to-One project, November 2004-November 2005: Developmentally beneficial music with under two-year-olds.  Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, £20,000, Youth Music £18,500.  Completed.


Single Applicant: RRiF project, January 2001-January 2002:  Developing models of practice with under-four-year-olds in a range of early years settings.  £20,000 Youth Music


Single Applicant: Case study of Oily Cart: participatory theatre for the under-twos January 2003-September 2003.  £2,000 from Arts Council and Esmee Fairbairn


Member of Research Team based at Centre for Research in Early Childhood, Worcester University College:  ‘How to Catch a Moonbeam and Pin it Down’, Birmingham Advisory Support Service and Birmingham Early Years development, the role of professional artists in early years settings.  September 2002-2004 Research funded by Arts Council funding.


Evaluation of various Early Childhood music projects: funding £500.00 – £1,000.

2000 – 2004



Why blog?

The decision to start a blog came after attending a one day conference on early childhood music education in May 2016.  The day was interesting and stimulating, but it raised for me a lot of questions and issues that I wanted to discuss further.  The usual short postings on Facebook don’t allow for any extended thinking and academic articles are usually too lengthy for most to read – besides they are not always written in the most accessible style. There is a need, then, for shorter discussion pieces which explore single, up-to-date issues and questions.  So a website is the best place –

Media reporting of studies

Just recently a new study has been circulating, posted from page to page on Facebook.  The title is ‘Music Improves Baby Brain Responses to Music and Speech’ and when I heard a conference keynote recently, sure enough, there was the same study presented to us on a powerpoint slide.

Rule number one – any media press release must be treated with a heavy dose of caution. University press officers are aiming to grab your attention and will be adding their own layer of hype to any study coming from one of their staff.

Rule number two – track back to the original study and read carefully what the researchers actually did, how many children they studied, who those children were and where and on what basis are they making their claims?  In the case of this study – there is only the one study (it’s not been replicated therefore), there were 39 babies (not that big a sample), who attended music sessions of around 15 minutes (very short), for one month (also a short period of time) to take part in some guided music activities.  There is a video clip on one website which shows these activities – parents seem to be holding the baby’s hand and tapping on drums in time to recorded music in triple meter.  This is a curious and untypical music activity to carry out with babies – apparently designed to ‘teach’ the babies to move to a rhythm they might find challenging.

They then tested the babies’ brain responses using magnetoencephalography (MEG).  Now I don’t know exactly what that is, and looking it up it seems to measure electrical activity more accurately than some of the other methods.  Apparently the babies who had taken the rhythmic music training, in comparison with a group of babies who had just played with toys, showed a greater response to speech and music rhythms that had a disruption. This COULD suggest that rather rigid rhythmic movement training might have some kind of connection with babies being able to tell when a rhythm in speech or music is disrupted.  There is a correlation – a possible connection.   The babies were tested a week after the last session finished – so there was possibly some lasting effect, but we don’t know how long that effect might last beyond one week.  That is a far cry from being able to claim that ‘music improves baby brain responses’ – but the media office, of course, jump on something that might attract positive attention for their university.