John Habron

Head of Music Education

BA, MA (Music Composition), PhD, MA (Music Therapy), FHEA


Having trained initially as a composer, John has gradually shifted into transdisciplinary research across the fields of music education, music therapy and the medical humanities. From 2009 to 2016, he was Senior Lecturer in Music at Coventry University and in 2011 qualified as a music therapist. In 2013, John founded the International Conference of Dalcroze Studies with a group of international colleagues and has since chaired its Scientific Committee. He joined the RNCM as Head of Music Education in January 2017.

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.

His current explorations centre on Dalcroze Eurhythmics, a musically mediated pedagogical practice, with educational and therapeutic applications. Amongst the many histories and narratives to construct in this field, John is investigating how Dalcroze practice is interwoven with the development of music therapy. Having recently been awarded a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities grant (2015-16) and a Gladstone Library Scholarship (2016), he has been able to develop his research into the lifework of Dalcroze practitioner, craftswoman and pioneer music therapist Priscilla Barclay (1905-94), undertaking archival work in the UK and Switzerland. Besides a series of publications, John is working on plans for a collaborative, performance-based piece to disseminate the results of this project to a wider public, including current service users. 

A major recent project (2013-2018) has investigated spiritual experiences in music education (a series of five journal articles). Currently, John is developing several collaborative, Dalcroze-focused publication projects and related research networks.

Selective publication list

a. Books: single authored and edited

b. Book chapters

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, pp.35-48.

c. Articles

Van der Merwe, L. & Habron, J. (in review) The Dalcroze diamond: A theory of spiritual experiences in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Music Education Review.

Habron, J. & Van der Merwe, L. (in review) Stories students tell about their lived experiences of spirituality in the Dalcroze class. British Journal of Music Education.

Van der Merwe, L. & Habron, J. (2018) Exploring lived experiences of spirituality amongst five Dalcroze teachers. Psychology of Music. Online first:

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) Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Music Therapy, 8(2), 100-235. Special issue on Dalcroze Eurhythmics in Music Therapy and Special Music Education.

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.

College and External Research Roles

  • Head of Music Education, RNCM
  • Member (RNCM): Research Committee; Learning & Teaching Committee; Postgraduate Research Degrees Committee; Academic Appeals Panel
  • Senior Research Fellow, MASARA (Music Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications), North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • Scientific Committee Chair, International Conference of Dalcroze Studies (2013 – present)
  • Knowledge Exchange Fellow (2017-18), Nordoff-Robbins Scotland
  • Visiting Scholar (2017), Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester
  • Member journal editorial boards: International Journal of Music EducationApproaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Music Therapy; and Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices
  • Member: International Society for Music Education; European Association of Music in Schools; SEMPRE (Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research); British Association for Music Therapy; World Federation of Music Therapy; Dance Studies Assocaition; Dalcroze UK; SAME (Spirituality and Music Education) network

Research Funding

John’s research has been funded by several bodies, including Manchester Camerata, the Music Therapy Charity, the Higher Education Academy, SEMPRE (Society for Education and Music Psychology Research), the Wellcome Trust, Coventry University and Gladstone’s Library.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Principles and foundations of music education (research elective)
  • Arts-based educational research (research elective)
  • How music helps: Introduction to music therapy (research elective)
  • Professional placement
  • Creative project
  • Indepedent research project

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Practical pedagogy
  • Dalcroze in context
  • Performing research: Methods in music psychology and music education
  • Masters research projects
  • PGCE Specialist instrumental teaching

Research Supervision

Current supervisees (RNCM)

David Cane: Representations of disability in post-war British opera (second supervisor)

Jo-Yee Cheung: The role of parents in the development of metacognition in children during musical learning (second supervisor)

Miguel Coimbra Fernandes: Cooperative music making in the work place (second supervisor)

Current supervisees (external)

Beñat Ralla Yusta (Universidad del País Vasco, Spain): The Txalaparta and Dalcroze Eurhythmics (primary supervisor)

John welcomes enquiries from applicants wishing to research into music education and therapy at MPhil or PhD level.

My interests include, but are not limited to: music and movement in educational / therapeutic contexts; Dalcroze Eurhythmics (theory, practice, history) and related reform pedagogy movements; musical creativities; music education and spiritual experience; the history of music therapy; music in the medical humanities; music and dementia; and whole-person approaches to pedagogy and healthcare.

Professional Activity

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) 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 Dr Selma Odom, Prof. Emerita, 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:

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, is 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) and the University of York.

John also regularly presents his research at peer-reviewed, international conferences, most recently at ICDS (Québec City, 2017; Vienna, 2015; Coventry, 2013), ISME (Glasgow, 2016; Thessaloniki, 2012), EAS (Vilnius, 2016), EMTC (Vienna 2016), WFMT (Krems, 2015) and SAME (Potchefstroom, 2013; London, 2017), as well as:

  • 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 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 Advisory Editorial Board member for Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Music Therapy (2015-2019). He peer-reviews for several 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 and PhD theses for the University of Southampton, UK (2009), Royal College of Music, UK (2017) and North-West University, South Africa (2018). 

For more information on the International Conference of Dalcroze Studies, go to