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Music, health and wellbeing

Lead: Caroline Bithell (Music)


This research group is concerned with the diverse ways in which music making can enhance the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. It aims to develop theoretical understandings of the impact of music in specific socio-cultural contexts in a way that enriches professional practice and contributes to the strategic case for supporting musical interventions in community and healthcare settings. Informed by work in applied ethnomusicology, community music therapy, medical humanities and the social sciences, the group seeks to bring ethnographic and interpretative methodologies into dialogue both with social-scientific approaches and with the working methods and insights of practitioners as a way of exploring, theorising and presenting evidence for the use of music as a tool for individual transformation and social change.

Planned activities

The group will encourage research interactions between academics and practitioners with professional interests in the field by hosting a range of events, some of which will also serve as a forum for presenting this work to a wider public. Planned activities include:

  • Symposia and networking events at which group members will present work-in-progress, creative practice, case studies and research findings
  • Participatory workshops offering opportunities for group members to demonstrate and share methodologies and creative content with one another
  • Open training and workshop events focusing on skills and methodologies for those working in community, educational and healthcare settings 
  • Public showcases featuring presentations and demonstrations by group members and invited keynotes, with invitations extended to a range of potential stakeholders and users
  • Co-authored publications that bring theory and practice into critical and creative dialogue
  • Online platforms for sharing information and publicising events


The group’s growing membership comprises both academics and arts practitioners and consultants based in Greater Manchester who work in diverse settings, including with e.g. children with acquired brain injury, older people with dementia, young offenders and refugees, as well as in the wider community.

Launch event

A one-day symposium and networking event, supported by an award from the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (Strategic Fund), is in preparation. This will be open to interested UoM staff and students as well as potential new members from Manchester and the Northwest. The day will feature presentations from existing group members, participatory workshop-style sessions, an invited keynote, and round-table discussion of critical issues and ways forward.