The University of Sheffield
Department of Music

Professor Stephanie E. Pitts BA, MEd, PhD, PGCE, FHEA

Image of Stephanie Pitts

Department of Music
The University of Sheffield
Jessop Building
34 Leavygreave Road
S3 7RD

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 0481
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 0469

email :


I have research and teaching interests in musical participation, concert audiences and music education. I currently hold the role of Director of Student Experience in the music department, which involves supporting outreach, study days and other activities designed to help students get the most from their time at university. I have previously served a year as Acting Head of Department (2011-12) and three years as Assistant Director of Learning and Teaching for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

I first came to Sheffield as a PhD student (1995-98), researching the historical development of music education in secondary schools. I had completed my undergraduate music degree at the University of York, where I was inspired by Professor John Paynter to be interested in the practice, research and aims of musical education. Alongside my PhD studies I trained as a secondary school music teacher, and then spent a couple of years teaching part-time in a secondary school in Derbyshire, and also working as a freelance researcher and writer for the National Foundation for Educational Research. I became a lecturer in the music department in 1999, so joining the many people who come to Sheffield as students and decide to make their home in this welcoming, hilly city.

I enjoy teaching and research equally, and benefit from the connections between them too. I contribute to MA teaching in psychology of music, and was awarded a HEFCE grant to redesign the department´s distance learning MA in Psychology for Musicians and to introduce the MA in Music Psychology in Education. At undergraduate level, my modules include Music in Education and Music in the Community, both of which give students opportunities to undertake research placements in local schools and arts organisations, providing experiences that often shape their future careers. My commitment to teaching is demonstrated in my Senate Award for Teaching Excellence (2006), a Student Union award for contributions to student employability (2010), and the leading of Faculty projects on student feedback, employability and undergraduate research.

I have around eight postgraduate research students working on projects within music education and social psychology – and a similar number have completed their doctoral research with me in recent years. Current and completed students include the following: Sarah Price and Lucy Dearn, working on ‘Music, place and people’ with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Music in the Round, respectively; Jo Miller, Teresa Rombo, and Michael Bonshor, all considering aspects of musical performance, from the performance practices of Scotland and Portugal to the development of adult singers’ confidence; Tim Robinson and Miranda Cournane, looking at informal learning; and Chris Brammeld, Daphne Bryan and Mary Hawkes, researching instrumental learning in various ways, including the application of attentional focus techniques from sports psychology.

With two other PhD graduates of mine, Melissa Dobson and Kate Gee, and Professor Chris Spencer (Dept of Psychology), I founded the Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre (SPARC) in 2010, and this initial research team undertook a study of performer and audience loyalty with a regional orchestra. The SPARC team has now been joined by two doctoral students, working on AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award projects with Music in the Round and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

My current research explores various aspects of lifelong engagement in music, with my latest book taking a life history approach to understanding the long term impact of music education: Chances and Choices: Exploring the Impact of Music Education (OUP, 2012). With support from an AHRC Cultural Value grant, I am also working on a study of lapsed musical participation, building on my case studies of amateur performing groups and audiences, published as Valuing Musical Participation (Ashgate, 2005). Other books include A Century of Change in Music Education (Ashgate, 2000), Music and Mind in Everyday Life (OUP, 2010, co-authored with Eric Clarke and Nicola Dibben), and Becoming a Successful Early Career Researcher (Routledge, 2012, co-authored with Adrian Eley, Jerry Wellington and Catherine Biggs). My research on music in higher education and on audience experiences of live musical events has been funded by PALATINE and the British Academy, respectively.

From 2002-7, I was joint editor of the British Journal of Music Education, and continued as review editor until 2011. I am external examiner for the BA in Primary Education with Music at the University of Reading, and have previously been external examiner for the MA in Community Music, University of York (2008-11), and for BEd and PGCE Music courses at Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln (2004-7). I am the international advisor on the ‘Music Generation’ project, which is currently exploring the funding and provision of performance education in Ireland.

Outside the department, I enjoy hill-walking and gardening, as well as music-making on piano and cello: I contribute regularly to music at a local church and give occasional recitals as a piano accompanist.

Research Interests

View Stephanie Pitts' research page

Current Projects

Recent Grants

Selected Publications

Pitts, S. E. (2012) Chances and Choices: Exploring the Impact of Music Education. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pitts, S. E. (2007) Anything Goes: A case study of extra-curricular musical participation in an English secondary school. Music Education Research, 9 (1): 145-165.
Pitts, S. E. (2005) Valuing Musical Participation. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Pitts, S. E. (2005) What makes an audience? Investigating the roles and experiences of listeners at a chamber music festival. Music and Letters, 86 (2): 257-269.
Pitts, S. E. (2003) What do students learn when we teach music? An investigation of the `hidden´ curriculum in a university music department. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 2 (3): 281-292.

View a full list of Stephanie Pitts’ publications