Musical Participation


Making Music (2016)

A productive conference tea break conversation with staff from Making Music has led to a new project now underway, aiming to explore the impact of amateur music-making on its local communities. We began in December 2016 with an online survey, receiving an overwhelming 550+ responses which we’re still working through.

Youth Music Project (2014 - 2015)

Following our collaboration on the Arts Enterprise-funded project researching the impact of Music in the Community, Stephanie Pitts and Polly Ives worked together again on a Youth Music project exploring the links between music and language learning in children at risk of developmental delay. This exciting project brought a new collaboration with Sheffield City Council’s inclusion team and the ‘Every Sheffield Child Articulate and Literate’ (ESCAL) programme, which allowed us to track the children’s language development across a year of music workshops, and to consider whether and how musical activities have contributed to social interaction and language confidence. Arts Enterprise at the University of Sheffield provided some extra funding so that we could start the research straight away, so Stephanie Pitts and Katy Robinson visited four nursery settings in Sheffield throughout May and June 2014, and Kate Thompson took over research assistant duties for the remainder of the year. We observed workshops, talking to practitioners and parents, and expanding our research skills to understand the perspective of three year olds armed with percussion instruments! Publications from the project are now available, including an online article in International Journal of Education and the Arts

‘Dropping in and dropping out: investigating partial and lapsed arts engagement’ (2013)

Stephanie Pitts was awarded an AHRC Cultural Value grant to explore themes of ‘Dropping in and dropping out: investigating partial and lapsed arts engagement’. This work built on Stephanie’s book, Valuing Musical Participation (Ashgate, 2005), by asking challenging questions about why people stop attending concerts or belonging to amateur ensembles, and whether there is a potential crossover of audience loyalty from one art form to another. The project included several linked studies: ‘The violin in the attic’ which aimed to explore how the benefits and costs of musical participation are articulated by those who no longer actively participate, and ‘Loyalty and its limitations – exploring cultural value across art forms’, where the ‘audience exchange’ used in some of our later projects first took shape. Katy Robinson was appointed as research assistant to the project in October 2013.


Pitts – 2018 – Making music, making communities

Bonshor – 2017 – Confidence and choral configuration

Bonshor – 2017 – Conductor feedback and the amateur singer

Bonshor – 2017 – The Confident Choir

Hardcastle, Pitts & Arostegui – 2017 – A cross-cultural comparison of music education experiences and embitions in two Spanish and English primary schools

Pitts – 2017 – What is music education for?

Bonshor – 2016 – Sharing knowledge and power in adult amateur choral communities

Pitts – 2016 – Music, language and learning: Investigating the impact of a music workshop project in four English early years settings

Pitts – 2016 – “The violin in the attic”: Investigating the long-term value of lapsed musical participation. In The Oxford Handbook of Music Making and Leisure

Pitts & Robinson – 2016 – Dropping in and dropping out

Pitts – 2015 – Fostering lifelong engagement in music. In The Child as Musician: A Handbook of Musical Development

Pitts, Robinson & Goh – 2015 – Not playing any more

Bonshor – 2014 – Doctoral thesis – Confidence and the choral singer

Bonshor – 2014 – Confidence and the choral singer. In Choral Singing: Histories and Practices

Pitts – 2014 – Exploring musical expectations

Pitts – 2013 – Would you credit it?

Pitts – 2013 – Amateurs as audiences: reciprocal relationships between playing and listening to music. In The Audience Experience: A Critical Analysis of Audiences in the Performing Arts

Pitts – 2012 – Chances and Choices: Exploring the Impact of Music Education

Pitts – 2011 – Discovering and affirming musical identity through extra-curricular music making in English secondary schools. In Learning, Teaching and Musical Identity

Dobson – 2010 – Insecurity, professional sociability, and alcohol

Dobson – 2010 – Performing your self

Dobson – 2010 – Doctoral thesis – Between stalls, stage and score

Gee – 2010 – Doctoral thesis – Lives and careers in music

Pitts – 2010 – Musical education as a social act: Learning from and within musical communities. In Navigating Sound and Music Education