Head of Music, Health and Wellbeing
BA, MA (Music Composition), PhD, MA (Music Therapy), FHEA
Email: [email protected]
Having trained as a composer and a music therapist, John has gradually moved into transdisciplinary research across the fields of music education, music therapy, and the health humanities. From 2009 to 2016, he was Senior Lecturer in Music at Coventry University and in 2017 joined the RNCM as its first Head of Music Education. In 2021, he became the College’s Head of Music, Health and Wellbeing. Along with a group of colleagues, John founded the International Conference of Dalcroze Studies (ICDS) in 2012 and chaired its Scientific Committee until 2023. He is currently Extraordinary Associate Professor in the MASARA (Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications) research entity at North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa (2018-2025).
Current and Future Research
John’s research focuses on the relationships between music and movement, and how – as a resource – these can help people of all ages and abilities to learn, feel better and flourish.
A major recent project (2015-2020) investigated spiritual experiences in music education and led to a series of five journal articles, co-authored with Dr Liesl van der Merwe, Associate Professor at North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa (see below).
Current research includes:
- A book, co-edited with Professor Emerita Selma Landen Odom (York University, Toronto) and Dr Johanna Laakkonen (Theatre Museum, Helsinki), and titled Mapping Dalcroze practice: Music and Movement in Pedagogy, Therapy, and Performance. Under contract with Boydell & Brewer.
- A book on the pioneer music therapist Priscilla Barclay (1905-1994). A Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities grant (2015-16) and a Gladstone Library Scholarship (2016) helped to develop this research in the initial stages, including archival work in the UK, USA, and Switzerland.
- An oral history project working with the oldest surviving generation of graduates from the British Dalcroze training programmes, 1945-1960 (first output was a conference paper in summer 2019).
a. Books: single authored and edited
Habron-James, J., Laakkonen, J, & Odom, S. L. (eds.) (under contract). Mapping Dalcroze practice: Music and movement in pedagogy, performance and therapy. Boydell & Brewer.
b. Book chapters
Habron-James, J. (in preparation). Priscilla Barclay’s practice: Transforming Dalcroze Eurhythmics at St Lawrence’s Hospital, England. In J. Habron-James, J. Laakkonen & S. L. Odom (eds.) Mapping Dalcroze practice: Music and movement in pedagogy, performance and therapy. Boydell & Brewer.
Van Der Merwe, L. & Habron, J. (2017) A conceptual model of spirituality in music education. in J. Boyce-Tillman (Ed.) Spirituality and Music Education: Perspectives from Three Continents. Oxford: Peter Lang, 19-48.
Habron, J. (2017) ‘Through music and into music’ – through music and into wellbeing: Dalcroze Eurhythmics as Music Therapy. In S. Del Bianco, S. Morgenegg & H. Nicolet (Eds.) Pédagogie, Art et Science: L’Apprentissage par et pour la Musique selon la Méthode Jaques-Dalcroze – Actes de congrés de L’Insitut Jaques-Dalcroze, 2015. Geneva: HEM – Haute école de musique de Genève, 37-56.
Greenhead, K., Habron, J. & Mathieu, L. (2016) Dalcroze Eurhythmics: bridging the gap between the academic and practical through creative teaching and learning. In E. Haddon & P. Burnard (Eds.) Creative Teaching for Creative Learning in Higher Music Education Oxford: Routledge, 211-226.
Habron, J. (2015) Sonorous air: the transcendent in Ferruccio Busoni’s aesthetics of music. In Férdia J. Stone-Davis (Ed.) Music and Transcendence. Farnham: Ashgate, 35-48.
Tomlinson, J., & Habron, J. (2022). How music-for-health practitioners’ decision-making processes inform their practice in paediatric hospitals. Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy, 14(2), 210-226.
Vogler, A., & Habron, J. (2021) Soft hands: A mid-career percussion teacher’s professional development journey. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 230, 64-85.
Habron, J., & Van der Merwe, L. (2020). Stories students tell about their lived experiences of spirituality in the Dalcroze class. British Journal of Music Education, 37(2), 125-139.
Van der Merwe, L. & Habron, J. (2020). Exploring lived experiences of spirituality amongst five Dalcroze teachers. Psychology of Music, 48(2), 163-181.
Ware, D., & Habron, J. (2020). The efficacy of music as a non-pharmacological intervention in the endoscopy setting: A literature review. Gastrointestinal Nursing, 18(1), S16-S24. https://doi.org/10.12968/gasn.2020.18.Sup1.S16
Ridout, R., & Habron, J. (2020). Three flute players’ lived experiences of Dalcroze Eurhythmics in preparing contemporary music for performance. Frontiers in Education: Educational Psychology, 5(18). doi: 10.3389/feduc.2020.00018
Van der Merwe, L. & Habron, J. (2019). The Dalcroze diamond: A theory of spiritual experiences in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Music Education Review. Online first: https://doi.org/10.1080/14613808.2019.1612340
Habron, J. & Van Der Merwe, L. (2017). A conceptual study of spirituality in selected writings of Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. International Journal of Music Education, 35(2), 175-188.
Habron, J. (Ed.) (2016). Special issue on Dalcroze Eurhythmics in Music Therapy and Special Music Education. Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy, 8(2), 100-235.
Habron, J. & Witoszynskyj, E. (2016). Memories of Mimi Scheiblauer and the development of Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a therapeutic practice: An interview with Eleonore Witoszynskyj. In J. Habron (Ed.) Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Music Therapy, 8(2), 202-212.
Habron, J. & Bachmann, M.-L. (2016). Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a psychomotor education for children with special educational needs: An interview with Marie-Laure Bachmann. In J. Habron (Ed.) Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Music Therapy, 8(2), 189-201.
Van Der Merwe, L. & Habron, J. (2015). A conceptual model of spirituality in music education. Journal of Research in Music Education, 63(1), 47-69.
Greenhead, K. & Habron, J. (2015). The touch of sound: Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a somatic practice. Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices, 7(1), 93-112.
Habron, J. (2014). ‘Through music and into music’ – through music and into wellbeing: Dalcroze Eurhythmics as Music Therapy. TD: The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa. Special Edition, 10(2), 90-110.
Habron, J., Butterly, F., Gordon, I., & Roebuck, A. (2013). Being well, being musical: Music composition as a resource and occupation for older people. British Journal of Occupational Therapy 76(7), 308-316.
Habron, J. (2022). Music and medicine: Musicological and medical-historical approaches [conference report]. Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Music Therapy, 14(2), 309-312.
Habron, J. (2021). Dalcroze: Music and movement for mental health. Music Teacher Magazine.
Habron, J. (Ed.) (2019). 4th International Conference of Dalcroze Studies: The listening body in action [programme handbook]. Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, Katowice.
Habron, J. (2019). Dalcroze and disciplinarity. Le Rythme 2019: Scientific perspectives, artistic research and theory, 90-102.
Habron, J. (2019). Book review: ‘Le rythme, une révolution! Émile Jaques-Dalcroze á Hellerau, Claire Kuschnig & Anne Pellois;100 Anys Fent Escola: 100 Anys de Rítmica, Àgata Olivella Roig; Practical Idealists: Founders of the London School of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Odom & Pope’. Journal of Historical Research in Music Education.
Habron, J. (2016). Editorial: Dalcroze Eurhythmics in Music Therapy and Special Music Education. Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy, 8(2), 100-104.
Habron, J. (Ed.) (2015). Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of Dalcroze Studies: The Movement Connection [programme handbook]. Vienna: University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.
Habron, J. (Ed.) (2013). Proceedings: The First International Conference of Dalcroze Studies [programme handbook]. Coventry: Coventry University.
Habron, J. (2013). Foreword to Selma Landen Odom and Joan Pope Practical Idealists: Founders of the London School of Dalcroze Eurhythmics – A Centenary Essay. Coventry: Coventry University.
Habron, J. (2013). Editorial: ‘A conversation without words’ – reflections on music therapy and dementia. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 12(1), 3-6.
Habron, J. (2012). Book review: Bio-Guided Music Therapy, Eric B. Miller. British Journal of Music Therapy 26/2, 34-39.
Habron, J., Barnhill, E., & Laakkonen, J. (eds.) (2021). The 5th International Conference of Dalcroze Studies: The listening body in action [programme handbook].
Habron, J., & Mathieu, L. (Eds.) (2017). 3rd International Conference of Dalcroze Studies [Programme handbook]. Québec City: Université Laval.
Habron, J., Jesuthasan, J., & Bourne, C. (2012). Moving into Composition: The experiences of student composers during a short course of Dalcroze Eurhythmics [research project report]. York: Higher Education Academy.
Greenhead, K., & Habron-James, J. (2023). The touch of sound: Dalcroze Eurhythmics as a somatic practice . Hamburg Open Online University.
Odom, S., & Habron, J. (2019). Charlotte’s unsung partner. Les Entretiens, Spring 2019, 1-3.
College and External Research Roles
- Head of Music, Health and Wellbeing, RNCM (2021-)
- Head of Music Education (2017-2021)
- Member (RNCM): Research & Knowledge Exchange Committee; Research Ethics Commitee (Vice-Chair); Research Degrees Committee; Academic Appeals Panel; REF Advisory Group; Human Resources Committee (Deputy academic representative)
- Extraordinary Associate Professor, Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications (MASARA), North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa (2018-2025)
- Scientific Committee Chair, International Conference of Dalcroze Studies (2013-2023)
- Deputy Institutional Representative (RNCM) on the CUK Research Ethics Committee (2017-2022)
- Member editorial board: International Journal of Music Education (2016-2022)
- Member: International Society for Music Education (ISME); Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE); British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT); Dalcroze UK; Dalcroze Society of America (DSA); Spirituality and Music Education (SAME) network; Medecine de la Personne
John’s research has been funded by several bodies, including the RNCM, Manchester Camerata, the Music Therapy Charity, the Higher Education Academy, the Society for Education and Music Psychology Research (SEMPRE), the Wellcome Trust, Coventry University, the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze, and Gladstone’s Library.
- Music in Context 2 (Music, Health and Wellbeing)
- What is Music Pedagogy?
- Music Education Pathway Elective
- Music for Health
- Independent Research Project
- Research Methods in Music Education
- Dalcroze in Context
- Masters research projects (major / minor dissertation)
I welcome enquiries from individuals wishing to research into music education or music and wellbeing at MPhil or PhD level. My interests include, but are not limited to: the theory, practice, and history of music education and music therapy; music and movement; Dalcroze Eurhythmics; lived experiences.
PhD supervisees (RNCM)
Ellen Casey, The meaning of Alexander Technique for musicians: An ethnographically informed study of learning and application in the context of musical practice (Principal Supervisor).
Eleanor Guénault, The influence of positive role models on professional female brass players (Principal Supervisor, RNCM-funded).
Naomi Kayayan, Exploring the dynamics of dynamic teaching: A qualitative study into pedagogical practices in a conservatoire piano department (First Supervisor).
Rosalind Ridout, A musician moving with the earth: An autoethnographic exploration of how Dalcroze Eurhythmics shapes a musician’s eco-literate performance and teaching practice (Principal Supervisor, RNCM-funded).
Jennie Hartley, Critical areativity: Nurturing creative autonomy in A-level Music Composition students (Principal Supervisor, NWCDTP-funded).
Joy Meyer (North-West University, South Africa), Moving towards social cohesion through a Dalcroze-inspired approach: A multisite case study (Co-Supervisor).
David Cane, Representations and intersections of queerness in the stage works of Benjamin Britten (Co-Supervisor, NWCDTP-funded).
Keith Phillips (Postdoctoral Research Assistant): Work-integrated learning in the music academy (WILMA); collaborative project between RNCM and CEMPE, Norwegian Academy of Music (2019-2021). (Supervisor, CEMPE-funded)
Jo-Yee Cheung (PhD, RNCM): The role of parents in the development of metacognition in children during musical learning, 2021 (First Supervisor).
Dale Ware (Visiting Scholar Fellowship, RNCM): The effects of music on the patient experience when undergoing endoscopic procedures, June-November 2019 (Supervisor, NHS-funded).
As a leader in the transdisciplinary field of Dalcroze Studies, John helps to galvanise an international community of scholars, practitioners and artists to develop research collaborations, publish widely and increase its impact. He convenes the International Conference of Dalcroze Studies (Coventry University, UK, 2013; University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria, 2015; Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada, 2017; Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, Katowice, Poland, 2019; online, 2021) and related events, such as ‘Dalcroze Eurhythmics: Moving through the Archive’, a symposium at the National Resource Centre for Dance, University of Surrey in collaboration with Professor Emerita Selma Landen Odom, York University, Toronto, Canada (2015).
John’s interest in music pedagogy led to a PALATINE (Higher Education Academy) event at CeReNeM, University of Huddersfield: ‘Teaching Composition, Engaging Students: A Big Conversation’ (2010) and, as Principal Investigator on four research projects, he has collaborated with practitioners and researchers in various disciplines, leading to a variety of outputs and publications, including research evaluations of innovative practice in the fields of music education, community music and music therapy:
- Songlines (2013-15)
- Music in Mind (2012-13)
- Moving into Composition (2011-12) (see also)
- Being well, being musical (2010-11)
John publishes widely and in 2015-16 was Guest Editor of Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Music Therapy. The resulting special issue, focusing on Dalcroze Eurhythmics in music therapy and special music education, was the first of its kind.
John was keynote speaker at the 67th International Conference Médecine de la Personne ‘Creativity and Giving Care’ (Woltersdorf, Germany, 2015) and guest speaker at ‘Music and Well-being International Conference’ (North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa, 2013). He has presented at research colloquia at the University of Bristol, University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art, RNCM, York University (Toronto), the University of York, Universitat Jaume I (Castellón de la Plana, Spain), and Bangor University.
John also regularly presents his research at peer-reviewed, international conferences, most recently at ICDS (Coventry, 2013; Vienna, 2015; Québec City, 2017; Katowice, 2019), ISME (Thessaloniki, 2012; Glasgow, 2016), EAS (Vilnius, 2016), EMTC (Vienna 2016), WFMT (Krems, 2015) and SAME (Potchefstroom, 2013; London, 2017), as well as:
- Dalcroze Society of America Conference ‘Dynamic Performance’, Florida International University, Miami, USA, 2020.
- 3rd International Scholarly Conference ‘Eurhythmics in education of musicians, actors, dancers and in rehabilitation’ at the Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy of Music in Łódź, Poland;
- Exploring the spiritual in music: Interdisciplinary dialogues in music, wellbeing and education, 4th Nordoff Robbins Plus Research Conference and 4th International Spirituality and Music Education (SAME) Conference, London, 2017;
- CORD+SDHS (Congress on Research in Dance and Society of Dance History Scholars) Conference ‘Transmissions and Traces: Rendering Dance’, Ohio State University, USA, 2017;
- ‘Rhythm as Pattern and Variation: Political, Social and Artistic Inflections’, Goldsmiths College, London, 2016;
- Congrès International Jaques-Dalcroze, Geneva, Switzerland, 2015;
- Dance and Somatic Practices Conference, Coventry University, 2013;
- ‘Setting the Tempo: The need for a progressive research programme on Music, Health and Wellbeing’, SEMPRE Conference, Canterbury Christchurch University, 2013;
- ‘The Arts in a Time of Crisis – Living and Dying Creatively in a Changing World’, St Christopher’s Hospice, London, 2012;
- ‘Music and Transcendence’, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 2011;
- ‘Music, Health and Wellbeing,’ SEMPRE Conference, Canterbury Christchurch University, 2011
Benefiting from the Erasmus+ staff mobility programme, John has been invited to teach at: the University of Pais Vasco, Campus de Vizcaya, Spain (2019); Jāzeps Vītols Academy of Music, Riga, Latvia (2019); Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, Katowice, Poland (2017); the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland (2016); the Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy of Music, Łódź, Poland (2015); and the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria (2014). He has also taught in Colombia (EAFIT, Medellín; Universidad Central, Bogotá), South Africa (North-West University, Potchefstroom), and Canada (York University, Toronto).
John is Editorial Board member for the International Journal of Music Education (2016-2022) and Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices (2013-) and was Advisory Editorial Board member for Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Music Therapy (2015-2019). He peer-reviews for many others, as well as for statutory bodies such as the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research, Wales.
He was External Examiner in music composition at the University of Huddersfield (2010-15) and has examined DMus, PhD and DProf theses for the University of Southampton, UK (2009), Royal College of Music, UK (2017), North-West University, South Africa (2018, 2019), Middlesex University, UK (2019) and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland (2020). For 2019-22, John was External Examiner (Postgraduate programmes: Musicology and performance) at Maynooth University, Ireland.
Currently, John is advisor on three international research projects:
- Rythmique Jaques-Dalcroze et découverte du piano: Le transfert des compétences de la motricité globale à la motricité fine. Collaboration between Institut Jaques-Dalcroze, Haute école de musique Geneve-Neuchatel, and l’Université de Genève (UNIGE-NEAD) (2018-2020).
- Social cohesion through community music engagement in South African Higher Music Education (National Research Foundation Grant, Human and Social Dynamics in Development programme) North-West University, South Africa (2019-2021).
- Music, Medicine, and Therapy in Vienna, ca 1820-1960 (Elise Richter-Grant, Austrian Science Fund) University of Vienna (2019-2022).
For more information on the International Conference of Dalcroze Studies, go to www.dalcroze-studies.com