Jane Ginsborg

Photo of Jane Ginsborg

Associate Director of Research

PhD, BA (Open: Psychology), BA (York: Music), ADipGSMD, C.Psychol., AFBPsS, FHEA, FISM

Email: [email protected]

Associate Director of Research

Programme Leader, Research Degrees

Director, Centre for Music Performance Research



Professor Jane Ginsborg read music at the University of York and studied singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Following a successful career as a singer, she graduated in psychology from the Open University, and undertook her ESRC-funded doctoral research at Keele University under the supervision of John Sloboda. During this period she won a British Psychological Society award to study with Anders Ericsson at Florida State University. In 2002 she won the British Voice Association’s Van Lawrence Award for her research on singers’ memorizing strategies. Between 1999 and 2005, when she started working at RNCM, she taught psychology at the University of Manchester and Leeds Metropolitan (now Beckett) University, and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Sheffield University; there, she contributed to and edited a book on language and social disadvantage (Clegg & Ginsborg, 2006). She taught developmental psychology for the Open University for 14 years. Her AHRC-funded project “Interactive performance for musicians with a hearing impairment” (in collaboration with the University of Liverpool) was shortlisted for a THE Best Research Project (2013) and she was Principal Investigator for the “Better Practice” strand of the Conservatoires UK-wide AHRC-funded Musical Impact project (2014-2018), which sought to promote healthy lifestyles and practice for musicians from the earliest years throughout their education and training and into the profession. In addition to her research, supervision and teaching, Jane is much in demand as a speaker. She was Orion Visitor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in February 2023, where she gave several lectures, and in the last year she has also spoken at the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London. She regularly gives keynote lectures; is often asked to review articles, books, book proposals and grants; and is currently Editor-in-Chief of Musicae Scientiae.

Current and Future Research

Professor Jane Ginsborg is currently involved in several collaborative research projects. One, with Dr Susanna Cohen (Bar-Ilan University, Israel), follows up a study of the experiences of self-employed freelance orchestral musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2022), and focuses on the experiences of older professional musicians and their transition into retirement, with the aim of making recommendations that can be implemented by employers, managers and promoters as well as musicians themselves. Another, with members of the Health Literacy Consortium, an international team of musicians, educators and researchers, follows up the construction, development and validation of the Musicians’ Health Literacy Questionnaire (MHL-Q19), which was designed specifically to measure health literacy for music performance. The purpose of the project, which is being conducted in Australia, is to improve the training of musicians for long and healthy careers.

Research Areas

  • Social and cognitive processes underlying expert musicians’ individual and collaborative rehearsal and performance
  • Memorization of music and, specifically, the words and music of songs
  • Musicians’ health and wellbeing
  • Older musicians and those involved in supporting musicians’ transition from the music profession into retirement
  • Research methods (e.g., observational and experimental methods to investigate relationships between practice, rehearsal and music performance; self-report, diary and interview methods to explore individuals’ qualitative experiences of music making;  longitudinal case studies)

External Research Roles

Editorial responsibilities

Editor-in-Chief, Musicae Scientiae

Associate Editor, Music Performance Research

Associate Editor (Music Performance), Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies

Review Editor, Frontiers in Psychology (Performance Science)

Member of Editorial Board, Psychology of Music

Member of Editorial Board, Music and Science


Committee responsibilities

Chair of the Psychosocial Working Group of the Medical Committee, British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM)

Member of Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE) Committee

Member, Research Advisory Board, Help Musicians

Chair, Music in the Third Age: Practice and Research, 25 November 2015 at RNCM

Chair, Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, 17-22 August 2015 at RNCM

President, European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM) 2012-2015

Chair, Conservatoires UK (CUK) Research Ethics Committee, 2011-2013


Research Funding

Professor Jane Ginsborg has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for two major projects, the Leverhulme Trust for an International Academic Fellowship, and the Colt Foundation, among others.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Level 1 (Year 1): Artist Development 1: Health and Wellbeing for Musicians
  • Level 2 (Year 2): Music in Context 2: Introduction to Music Psychology
  • Level 3 (Year 4): Performance Studies
  • Level 3 (Years 3 and 4): Elective: Applied Music Psychology: Theory, Practice and Research
  • Level 3 (Year 4): Practical Pedagogy
  • Level 3 (Year 4): Independent Research Project

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Research Methods in Music Psychology
  • Supervisor: Music Psychology Projects Major (12,000 words) and Minor (8,000 words)
  • Lecture Recital
  • Programme Leader, Research Degrees (MPhil and PhD, validated and awarded by Manchester Metropolitan University)

Research Supervision

Current postgraduate research supervision

  • Akiho Suzuki: AHRC-funded (full-time): Development and evaluation of an online course on practice and performance preparation for tertiary piano students (2021-2024)
  • Ellen Casey (part-time; secondary supervisor): Integrating the musicians’ mind and body. An ethnographically informed study of Alexander Technique learning and application in the context of musical practice (2021-2027)
  • Eleanor Guenault: RNCM-funded (part-time; secondary supervisor): Gender balance in brass playing and the influence of positive role models (2020-2026)

Completed PhD supervision

  • Nellinne Ranaweera: RNCM-funded PhD student (full-time): The role of leisure activities in the wellbeing of musicians (2016-2020)
  • Karin Greenhead: PhD student (part-time; secondary supervisor), Dalcroze eurhythmics and dynamic rehearsal techniques: Reflections on practice (2011-2019)
  • Raluca Matei: AHRC-funded PhD project student (Musical Impact: full-time): Better practice: Promoting health in the music conservatoire (2015-2018)
  • Anna Zabuska: RNCM-funded PhD student (part-time), Burnout in music performance students (2011-2017)
  • Naomi Norton: AHRC-funded PhD student (full-time): Health education in instrumental and vocal lessons: The teacher’s perspective (2013-2016)
  • Robert Fulford: AHRC-funded PhD student (full-time): Interactive performance for musicians with a hearing impairment (2010-2013)



Selected Outputs

Written Outputs


Williamon, A., Ginsborg, J., Perkins, R., & Waddell, G. Performing Music Research: Methods in Music Education, Psychology, and Performance Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.

Journal Articles

Chaffin, R., Ginsborg, J., Dixon, J., & Demos, A. ‘Recovery from memory failure when recalling a memorized performance: The role of musical structure and performance cues’, Musicae Scientiae 27(1) (2023): 94-116.

Cohen, S., & Ginsborg, J. ‘One year on: The impact of COVID-19 on the lives of freelance orchestral musicians in the UK’, Frontiers in Psychology Performance Science (2022): doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.885606

Guptill, C., Slade, T., Baadjou, V., Roduta Roberts, M., de Lisle, R., Ginsborg, J., Rennie-Salonen, B., Ackermann, B., Visentin, P., & Wijsman, S. ‘Validity and reliability of the Musicians’ Health Literacy Questionnaire, MHL-Q19′, Frontiers in Psychology (2022): doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2022.886815

Ginsborg, J. & Bennett, D. ‘Developing familiarity in a new duo. Rehearsal talk and performance cues’, Frontiers in Psychology: Performance Science Special Issue: International Symposium on Performance Science (2021): doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.645967

Cohen, S., & Ginsborg, J. ‘The experiences of mid-career and seasoned orchestral musicians in the UK during the first COVID-19 lockdown’, Frontiers in Psychology: Performance Science Special Issue Social Convergence in Times of Spatial Distancing: The Role of Music during the COVID-19 pandemic, 12 (2021): doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.645967

Matei, R., & Ginsborg, J. ‘Physical activity, sedentary behaviour, anxiety, and pain among musicians in the United Kingdom’, Frontiers of Psychology: Performance Science, 11(560026)(2020): 1-14.

Ginsborg, J.,’“The brilliance of perfection” or “pointless finish”? What virtuosity means to musicians’, Musicae Scientiae 22(4) (2018): 454-473.

Ginsborg, J., & Sloboda, J. A. ’25 years of ESCOM: Achievements and challenges’, Musicae Scientiae 22(2) (2018): 147-160.

Matei, R., & Ginsborg, J. Music performance anxiety in classical musicians – what we know about what works’, British Journal of Psychiatry International 14(2) (2018): 201-232.

Book Chapters

Ginsborg, J. ‘Memorization’, in Oxford Handbook of Music Performance, Volume 1, edited by G. McPherson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022, 234-253.

Ginsborg, J. ‘The singer as researcher’, in Routledge Companion to Interdisciplinary Studies in Singing, Volume II: Education, edited by A. Cohen, H. Gudmundsdottir, & C. Beynon. London: Taylor & Francis, 2020, 230-40.

Public Presentations

Ginsborg, J., ‘Issues in contemporary music culture’ [Keynote Lecture], 100th anniversary conference of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Tallinn (29-30 November, 2019).

Ginsborg, J. ‘Memory and music: Research and practice for performers’ [Keynote Lecture], Psychology and Music: Interdisciplinary Encounters, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia (25 October, 2019).

Ginsborg, J. ‘Working together: Collaborative research on collaborative music making’ [Keynote Lecture], Performance Studies Conference, Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China (14 June, 2019).

Professional Activity

Extensive experience as external examiner for research degrees in the UK (e.g. Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal College of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; Universities of Bangor, Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff Metropolitan, Edinburgh, London, Manchester Metropolitan; Sheffield) and further afield (e.g. Royal Irish Academy of Music, Queensland Conservatorium, Sibelius Academy, Sydney Conservatorium; Ghent University, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Trinity College Dublin, University of Queensland, Western Sydney University).

External examiner for taught programmes (e.g. University of Leeds, University of Chichester, University College London, Royal College of Music, University of Buckingham).

Public engagement: BBC radio and TV, The TimesThe Guardian and many other media outlets.

2019-2024 Chair, Artistic Sub-Committee; 2021-2022 Chair, Board of Trustees, Music in the Round, Sheffield