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

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

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 0481

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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

  • Musical participation
  • Audience experience
  • Extra-curricular school music
  • Music in secondary education
  • Music in higher education
  • School-university transition
  • Lifelong engagement in music

View Stephanie Pitts' research page

Current Projects

  • The impact of music education: investigations of the long-term impact of music learning in school and beyond, with cross-cultural comparisons of education systems and their effects.
  • Audience experience of live listening: the effects of venue, audience expectations and social factors on concert-going experience.
  • Teaching and learning music in higher education: investigations of student experience in relation to assessment, study skills and school-university transition.

Recent Grants

  • 2013 Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (£37,532) Cultural Value project: ‘Dropping in and dropping out – exploring experiences of lapsed and partial arts engagement’
  • 2013 Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (£109,056) Collaborative Doctoral Awards: two funded studentships on ‘Music, place and people’
  • 2012 University of Sheffield Arts Enterprise Fund (£8050) – Investigating the impact of Music in the Community
  • 2011 PALATINE Development Award (£6400) – Engaging music students in non-assessed activities
  • 2010 Santander Research Mobility Award (£1,200) – Investigating audience experience at the Granada chamber music festival
  • 2010 University of Sheffield Knowledge Transfer Fund (£9,809) – Performer and audience loyalty in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
  • 2010 University of Sheffield Divisional Director’s Award (£997) – Building research networks in audience research
  • 2009 Yorkshire Forward Business Link (£3000) – New audiences for classical music: recruiting listeners in the 21-30 age group
  • 2007 University of Sheffield Divisional Research Fund (£300) – Research visit to Bologna and Padova: musical life histories in Italy
  • 2007 Worldwide Universities Network International Research Mobility Scheme (£776) – Research visit to University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign: music education and life histories in the USA
  • 2007 British Academy (£4,974) – Audience experience at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (with Dr Karen Burland, University of Leeds)
  • 2005 HEFCE Innovation Fund (£9,097) – Redesigning the Psychology for Musicians MA for web-based delivery
  • 2004 PALATINE Development Award (£2,490) – Fostering study skills with first year music undergraduates
  • 2003 British Academy (£3,330) – Music, identity and belonging: a case study of the Music in the Round chamber music festival

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