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Helen English

Helen English researches how we use music for wellbeing and identity, both historically and today. Her recent book is Music and World-Building in the Colonial City (2022).

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Helen English is Associate Professor in Music at the University of Newcastle, Australia, and currently an Australian Research Council Early Career Research (ARC) Fellow. She is also a member of Healthy Minds, a research group at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI). Since her PHD on music in nineteenth-century coalmining communities, her research has moved to the benefits of creative activities broadly and music specifically as we age. As an ARC fellow, she is exploring what makes engagement with music transformative for older adults through conducting a series of case studies in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland with a comparative study in London, UK. She also leads a creative-ageing research team at the University of Newcastle, investigating the effects of engagement with song-writing and art-making courses for older adults. Both research projects seek to uncover the approaches and practices in music groups that enable transformation for participants.

Helen is passionate about widening participation in creative activities for older adults. To further this she initiated an Australian extension of the UK’s successful Art in Care Homes in 2023 with Dr Michelle Kelly, a clinical psychologist specialising in dementia. She also formed a dementia-inclusive choir in 2023, again with Dr Kelly, which performs regularly and has been featured on local ABC radio. Helen is currently preparing a webinar on creativity and dementia for Dementia Australia and working with a team at HMRI to develop a project that brings together teenagers and adults in residential care for a creative project.

Helen English

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