Michelle Phillips

Photo of Michelle Phillips

Head of Enterprise (Academic)

BA(Hons), MA, ACA, PhD (Cantab), SFHEA, FCA, FEEUK

Email: [email protected]

  • Senior Lecturer in Music Psychology: research and teaching (undergraduate and postgraduate) in the field of music psychology (applied music psychology, music and live audiences, music perception, music and time, music and Parkinson’s, music acoustics)
  • Head of Enterprise (Academic): responsibility for knowledge exchange and entrepreneurship (research and teaching)
  • Supervision of Masters dissertations
  • PhD supervision (4 current PhD students, plus 2 external), examination and chairing
  • Chair of RNCM Research Ethics Committee
  • Membership of Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee, and Research Degrees Committee

Dr Michelle Phillips Head of Enterprise (Academic) and a Senior Lecturer in Music Psychology at the RNCM. Her research interests include audience response to live and recorded music, neurological response to music listening, music and time, perception of contemporary music, entrepreneurship, and music and Parkinson’s. Michelle’s research on ‘what makes live music special?’ was recently featured in UK Research and Innovation’s series ‘101 jobs that change the world’. Recent publications include a co-edited volume entitled ‘Music and Time: Psychology, Philosophy, Practice’. Michelle completed her PhD (funded by a Domestic Research Studentship awarded by the University of Cambridge) under the supervision of Professor Ian Cross, Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge.

Michelle was recently Principal Investigator of the £1million StART Entrepreneurship Project. Michelle is a trustee of the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) and a Fellow of Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK).

Michelle has appeared on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, ITV News, BBC News online and ITV Granada Reports. She recently worked with the Science and Industry Museum on their ‘Turn It Up: The Power of Music’ exhibition.

Michelle is a professional saxophonist (http://www.equinoxsax.org.uk/) and chartered accountant.

X (Twitter) handle: @___Michelle____

Website: WhyHumansNeedMusic.com

Personal Website

Current and Future Research

One focus of Dr Michelle Phillips’ current work is the live music experience, and how this compares to recorded or livestreamed performance. She is working on projects with interdisciplinary teams from the Universities of Manchester and Salford, and members of Manchester Camerata, to examine the live music experience using surveys, and by measuring brain and body responses.

A further part of Michelle’s work at the moment is with an international team from the Universities of Manchester, Cambridge, and Lorraine, examining whether amateur music making may lead to evidence of neural coupling. This research uses a complex hyperscanning task – scanning two brains at once and looking for evidence that the neurons may be firing at similar rates. This project seeks to explore the possibility that making music together may lead to evidence of social bonding, and that music may be a more powerful tool for this than other art forms or activities.

Another area of Michelle’s research with researchers from the University of Manchester, Exeter, and Lucerne University of Applied Arts and Sciences examines how people with Parkinson’s use music, and how this features in their everyday lives, including in relation to their symptoms.

Michelle is also working on publishing recent research on music and entrepreneurship (including barriers to access and creative skills), following the StART Entrepreneurship Project, of which she was Principal Investigator, which was awarded £902,153 from the Office for Students and Research England. She is preparing further publications on music and time, music and silence, and a project which sought to represent process of genetic mutation in a new piece of contemporary music.

Research Areas

  • Music psychology
  • Live music and audiences
  • Music and time
  • Music and Parkinson’s
  • Music and entrepreneurship

External Research Roles

  • External member of doctoral programmes review panel, Royal College of Music (2023)
  • External Examiner (postgraduate), University of Sheffield (2021-)
  • External Examiner (postgraduate), Open University (2019-2021)
  • External Examiner (undergraduate), Bath Spa University (2018-2022)
  • External assessor (undergraduate music psychology), University of Cambridge (2021)
  • External PhD supervisor, University of Liverpool (music and dementia research project) (2022)
  • External PhD supervisor, University of Coimbra, Portugal (music and time research project) (2020)
  • Writer and director of ‘Good Vibrations’, a show about music and mathematics staged as an RNCM Family day (2016) and as part of the University of Cambridge Science Festival (2010 and 2011)



Research Funding

Summary: £1,043,017 funding total over the last 6 years, including the following selected projects:

  • £15,098 UKRI Talent and Stabilisation Fund for research on music and hyperscanning
  • £10,000 Centre for Cultural Value, University of Leeds (AHRC) for a project on behavioural, physiological and neurological responses to live and livestreamed music
  • £902,153 Research England and Office for Students, ‘StART Entrepreneurship Project’

Undergraduate Teaching


  • Artist Development 1: sessions on Belonging, Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity, and tax and finance
  • Artist Development 3: sessions on quoting, invoicing and finance
  • Year 3 and 4 electives: Applied Music Psychology, Music Acoustics, Music Perception, Music and Time, mentoring of Independent Creative Projects, Professional Placement (Creative Innovators)

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Postgraduate
    • Freelance Musician: sessions on quoting, invoicing and finance
    • Supervision of minor and major dissertations
  • PhD supervision

Research Supervision

Current supervision of PhDs:

  • Jacob Barns, The Effectiveness of Self-Compassion Inductions on Music Performance Anxiety and Musicians’ Levels of Self-Compassion
  • Akiho Suzuki, Development and testing of an online practice intervention for tertiary piano students
  • Dan Baczkowski, ‘How research into music perception can inform the use of the golden section as a compositional tool’
  • Xiaoxiao Huo (University of Liverpool), ‘Music in eldercare and dementia care: Hit the right note: Identifying actionable strategies to engage effectively with UK Chinese communities in music-based interventions’
  • Lígia Silva (University of Coimbra, Portugal), ‘The Apperception of Music’s Temporalities: Experimental Research and Musical Analysis on Listeners’ Estimates of Musical Duration’

Completed PhDs:

  • Melvin Tay, ‘Re-realising opera performance for chamber ensemble’
  • Jo-Yee Cheung, ‘The role of parents in the development of metacognition in children during musical learning (primary supervisor)’
  • Tuula Jääskeläinen, ‘Students’ experienced workload in higher music education (ERASMUS exchange student based at RNCM for six months)’
  • Keith Phillips, ‘A Neuropsychophilosophical Investigation of Musical Improvisation’


Selected Outputs

Selection of journal articles:

  • Silva, L. B., Phillips, M. E., & Martins, J. O. (2023). The influence of tonality, tempo, and musical sophistication on the listener’s time-duration estimates. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 17470218231203459.
  • Poliakoff, E., Young, W., Phillips, M., Bek, J., and Rose, D., Vividness and use of imagery related to music and movement in people with Parkinson’s: a mixed-methods survey, Music & Science [in press]
  • Rose, D., Poliakoff, E., Young, W., and Phillips, M. (2023), The use of music for mood and movement management among people with Parkinson’s: A mixed methods, Music & Science
  • Rose, D., Hadley, R., Guerin, S., Carapellotti, A., Young, W., Phillips, M., and Poliakoff, E. (2023). ‘Levelling the playing field: the role of workshops for to explore how people with Parkinson’s use music for mood and movement management as part of a patient and public involvement strategy’, Frontiers in Rehabilitation Special Issue: Patient and Public involvement in Disability and Rehabilitation Research
  • Pennill, N., Phillips, K., & Phillips, M. (2022). Student experiences and entrepreneurship education in a specialist creative arts HEI: a longitudinal approach. Entrepreneurship Education5(4), 399-423.
  • Phillips, M., and Krause, A., ‘Preferences for live and livestreamed music performance: Is there any evidence for changes in behaviours and attitudes following the COVID-19 pandemic?’, Frontiers in Psychology [in preparation]
  • Phillips, M. and Sergeant, M. (eds,) (2022). ‘Music and Time: Psychology, Philosophy and Practice’, edited collection, Boydell & Brewer
  • Jääskeläinen, T., López-Íñiguez, G., and Phillips, M. (2020). ‘Music students’ experienced workload, livelihoods and stress in higher education in Finland and the United Kingdom’, Music Education Research, 22(5), 505-526.
  • Phillips, M., Wilcoxson, M., Howard, E., Du Sautoy, M., Willcox, P., Jones, L., Stewart, A., and De Roure, D. (2020). ‘What musical features influence perception of section boundaries in contemporary music? A live audience study with a bespoke data capture application’, Frontiers in Psychology11, 1001

Selection of keynote and invited talks:

  • October 2023 – Plenary Speaker and Scientific Board for MA2023, Música Analítica conference in Coimbra, Portugal
  • Sept 2023 – International Orchestras Conference, Poland, talk on ‘Music and the Brain’
  • Mar 2023 – Grand Challenges Lecture, Keele University, ‘What Makes Live Music Special?’
  • Feb 2023 – talk on audience research with Centre for Cultural Value and Manchester Camerata, Association of British Orchestras
  • July 2022 – Panellist at Royal Philharmonic Orchestra ‘Sounds and Stadiums’ panel series during the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Arts Programme, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Panel Series 5th July 2022

Professional Activity

  • Podcast interviews
    • Aug 2023 – ‘In My Veins’ episode 5, podcast by Carol Jarvis
    • Aug 2023 – ‘Music Mavericks’ episode 2, podcast by Miche Robinson
    • Oct 2022 – ‘High Point’ episode, podcast by Marc Fuzellier
  • Aug 2023 – interview for BBC news article on ‘post-concert amnesia’ at Taylor Swift concerts: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-65765368
  • Jun 2023 – UKRI selected Michelle’s research for their ‘101 jobs that change the world’: What makes live music special? | How our brains react to live performance – YouTube
  • Jul 2023 – two interviews for CBC Canada (the Canadian equivalent of the BBC) on Taylor Swift and Beyonce concerts
  • Jan 2023 – BBC Breakfast discussing the power of music, and music and dementia
  • Oct 2022 – BBC Radio 4 World Tonight (interview on Science Museum exhibition ‘Turn It Up: The Power of Music’ which Michelle co-designed)
  • June 2022 – ITV Granada Reports coverage of ‘Playlist for Parkinson’s LIVE’ event
  • External PhD examination, University of York, Leeds and Oslo
  • Consultant for Academy for Musicology and Musicianship Amsterdam (AMMA): Artistic and scholarly development in one programme
  • Jan 2020-2023: Chair and committee member, MusicHE (formerly NAMHE)
  • Advance HE consultant on the HEA Calibrating Degree Standards in Music Higher Education Performance Assessment project (2017)