Dr Michael Bonshor


Department of Music

University Teacher in Music Psychology

Course Director: MA Music Psychology in Education, Performance and Wellbeing

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Full contact details

Dr Michael Bonshor
Department of Music
Jessop Building
Leavygreave Road
S3 7RD

In my early life, I had a career as a professional singer with international contracts, after which I developed a longstanding portfolio of work as a performer, piano accompanist, teacher, conductor, choral arranger, director and workshop leader. Before starting my academic career, I also ran my own professional theatre company, opera group and jazz ensemble, alongside maintaining a well-established private teaching practice.

At the University of Sheffield, I am the Course Director of the MA in Music Psychology in Education, Performance and Wellbeing, and an Honorary Research Fellow. For my MA research, I explored performance anxiety in singers, and my PhD research focused on confidence building for singers and conductors. Since completing my Phd, my book The Confident Choir: A Handbook for leaders of Group Singing, has been published by Rowman and Littlefield International.

My current portfolio of teaching includes lectureships at several other Higher Education Institutions, including Leeds Conservatoire, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and University College, London. I have previously led the Music and Wellbeing module at York St John University, and taught extensively in primary and secondary schools, and Further Education colleges.

I am a longstanding Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (recently renamed as the Independent Society of Musicians) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Editorial roles have included reviewing for Routledge, Psychology of Music, the International Journal of Community Music, and Frontiers in Psychology: Performance Science. I have also been a trainer for the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine, and PhD examiner for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

My research interests include performance anxiety management; confidence building for performers; music and wellbeing; ensemble leadership; and group dynamics in musical contexts. I have a special interest in the practical applications of research, and regularly lead public engagement and training events based on my research, teaching and professional experience.

As part of my public engagement profile, I have designed and led participatory workshops, including voice training for transgender and non-binary people; group singing for people who self-identify as ‘non-singers’; using singing-related skills to support people with respiratory conditions and vocal disorders; music and wellbeing sessions for mental health service users; national musical leadership training; practical applications of performance psychology for singers, conductors and choir leaders; and developing confident performance in a wide range of musical and non-musical settings.

Other current activities include membership of the Music Department’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee at Sheffield, and providing consultancy for Making Music’s INCLUDE project for increasing equity, diversity and accessibility in leisure-time musical participation.

Research interests

My research interests have principally been inspired by my professional experience as a musician, and my research projects have resulted in practical applications for performers, teachers, conductors and clinicians. I have published research on managing performance anxiety, confidence building, wellbeing in brass bands, singing and mental health, choir leadership, and music libraries in the UK and Ireland. My book, ‘The Confident Choir: A Handbook for Leaders of Group Singing’, brings together some of my research findings, along with an exploration of relevant psychological frameworks, and evidence-based practical strategies for developing confident performances.

Previous research has included collaborative projects with Brass Bands England, York St John University, Leeds College of Music, and the Music Libraries Trust. I was Co-investigator on the University of Derby’s recent study of singing, choir leadership, and mental health, which has led to an open-access set of online resources for choir leaders.

For my collaborative research with Brass Bands England, I was granted a SEMPRE Gerry Farrell Travelling Scholarship and, for my choral research, I was awarded an Early Career Fellowship with the Institute of Musical Research, Royal Holloway, University of London. During this Fellowship, I organized an interactive choral research conference which gave emerging scholars an opportunity to demonstrate some of the practical applications of their research.

Ongoing research interests include performance anxiety management; confidence building for performers; music and wellbeing; ensemble leadership; group dynamics in musical contexts; and using singing-related skills to build confidence in a range of different contexts. As part of an interdisciplinary project with the NHS and Arts Council England, I have recently been leading a programme of workshops exploring the use of singing-related strategies to support outpatients with respiratory conditions and vocal disorders. This project has been extended to introduce our findings and practical applications in workshops with respiratory physiotherapists and speech and language therapists.

Other practical applications of my research have included running music and wellbeing sessions for Sheffield’s Researcher Development Team, the Faculty of Social Sciences, Human Resources (Juice Health and Wellbeing), and the Faculty of Engineering. I also regularly lead workshops and provide presentations in wider education, business, and community settings, with sessions on performance anxiety management; using performance psychology in presentations; developing confident performance; music and wellbeing; and group leadership and teambuilding.



  • Bonshor M (2017) The Confident Choir A Handbook for Leaders of Group Singing. Rowman & Littlefield. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


Book reviews

Professional activities and memberships


Bonshor, M. J. (2021). A survey of music library staff and music library users in the UK and Ireland: Current concerns and potential developments. Brio, the IAML (UK and Irl) journal, 58 (1), 12-27.

Bonshor, M. J. (2021). Collaborative learning and choral confidence: The role of peer interactions in building confident amateur choirs. Music Performance Research. Oxford Conducting Institute Special Edition, 10, 38.-56. http://musicperformanceresearch.org/

Bonshor, M. J. (2020). Communication for conductors: Insights from qualitative research. Choral Directions Research: International Research Journal of the Association of British Choral Directors, 1 (1). 

Williamson, V. J. & Bonshor, M. J. (2019). Wellbeing in brass bands: a new view on the benefits and challenges of group music making. Frontiers in Psychology: Performance Science https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01176/abstract

Bonshor, M. J. (2017). Conductor feedback and the amateur singer: the role of criticism and praise in building choral confidence. Research Studies in Music Education. DOI: 10.1177/1321103X17709630

Bonshor, M. J. (2016). Confidence and choral configuration: the affective impact of situational and acoustic factors in amateur choirs. Psychology of Music, DOI: 10.1177/0305735616669996.

Bonshor, M. J. (2016). Sharing knowledge and power in adult amateur choral communities: the impact of communal learning on the experience of musical participation. International Journal of Community Music, 9 (3). 291-306.


Bonshor, M. J. (2017). The Confident Choir: A Handbook for Leaders of Group Singing. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538102787/The-Confident-Choir-A-Handbook-for-Leaders-of-Group-Singing


Kreutz, G. & Bonshor, M. J. (2020). Ensembles for Wellbeing. In F. Bailes, H. Daffern and R. Timmers (Eds.), Together in Music. Oxford: OUP. (In press).

Bonshor, M. J. (2020). Conductors as teachers: The effects of verbal feedback on singers’ confidence, enjoyment, and performance quality. In H. Meissner and R. Timmers (Eds.), Sound Teaching: A Research-Informed Approach to Vocal and Instrumental Music Learning and Teaching. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis/Routledge. (In press).

Bonshor, M. J. (2014). Confidence and the choral singer: the choir as a community of practice. In U. Geisler and K. Johansson (Eds.), Choral singing: histories and practices. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 185-207.


Bonshor, M. J. (2013). Collaboration in the choral context: the contribution of conductor and choir to collective confidence. Proceedings of The International Symposium on Performance Science (ISPS 2013) held at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. 749-754.

Bonshor, M. J. (2013). Choral confidence: some effects of choir configuration, cohesion and collaboration. Proceedings of The Phenomenon of Singing International Symposium IX, held at Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland.


Bonshor, M. J. (2017). The Oxford Textbook of Creative Arts, Health, and Wellbeing by S. Clift and P. M. Camic. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Psychology of Music, 45 (6), 910 - 912. doi.org/10.1177/0305735617727649 

Bonshor, M. J. (2017). Singing in the Lower Secondary School by M. Ashley. Oxford: Oxford University Press. British Journal of Music Education, 34 (1), 115-117. doi: 10.1017/S0265051716000437.

Bonshor, M. J. (2016). Playing Scared: My Journey through Stage Fright by S. Solovitch. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Psychology of Music, 44 (6), 1522-1524.

Bonshor, M. J. (2016). A Different Voice, a Different Song: Reclaiming Community through the Natural Voice and World Song by C. Bithell. New York: Oxford University Press. British Journal of Music Education, 33 (1), 119-122.

Bonshor, M. J. (2016). Advanced Musical Performance: Investigations in Higher Education Learning. Editors I. Papageorgi & G. Welch, G. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited. Psychology of Music, 44 (1), 148-151.

Bonshor, M. J. (2014) A History of Singing by J. Potter and N. Sorrell (2012). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. British Journal of Music Education, 31 (2), 236-238.

Bonshor, M. J. (2011). How High Should Boys Sing? by M. Ashley (2009). Farnham: Ashgate. British Journal of Music Education, 28 (30), 396-397.