Dr Victoria Williamson


Department of Music

Lecturer, Music Psychology

Director of Music and Wellbeing


Full contact details

Dr Victoria Williamson
Department of Music
Jessop Building
Leavygreave Rd
S3 7RD

I completed my honours degree in Psychology at the University of York (UK) in 2004, gained an MA in the Psychology of Music at the University of Sheffield, and went on to be awarded a University of York Doctoral Studentship to study musical memory with Profs. Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch. I funded my education by working as a professional music teacher (classical guitar). During my doctorate I qualified as an Associate at the Higher Education Academy and in 2012 I gained my PG Cert in the Management of Learning and Teaching from Goldsmiths, University of London.

In 2008 I won an ESRC Fellowship to move to Goldsmiths and study memory function in people with congenital amusia (tone deafness). I spent 2011-12 working as a course co-director of the MSc in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths. From 2012-2013, I worked as a Leverhulme Research Associate on a project investigating potential causes and cures of earworms (tunes that get stuck in the head).

In 2013 I moved to Switzerland to work as Visiting Professor of Performance Science at the Lucerne University of Applied Science and Arts. In 2014 I became the Vice Chancellor’s Fellow for Music at the University of Sheffield, becoming a Lecturer in 2017. In 2015, I launched Music & Wellbeing, a research centre for people to study the effects of music on both everyday (learning, memory) and extraordinary (physical and mental health, poverty) wellbeing challenges.

Research interests

My centre, Music & Wellbeing, is a hub for research studies into the impacts of music on physical and/or mental wellbeing. These include the impacts of music performance for amateur musicians, experiences of depression and anxiety in training musicians, and the provision of music in residential dementia care.

Another research interest is the power of music in human memory. I have ongoing projects with collaborators and students on earworms (tunes that get stuck in the head), musical life memories, and musical memory ability in people with perfect (absolute) pitch.

Finally, since my role as Visiting Professor of Performance Science (2014-2015) I have co-directed research with performance specialists in a Swiss conservatoire (Hochschule Luzern). Our research focuses on the critical evaluation of music performance. We ask, how is professional music review created and received, and how does it impact on the modern world of classical music?


Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Korte M, Cerci D & Williamson VJ (2018) Going beyond the rhetoric of the 'mad creative' myth – musicians and mood disorders. ICMPC15/ESCOM10: Abstract Book (pp 282-283), 23 July 2018 - 28 July 2018. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Korte M, Cerci D & Williamson VJ (2018) Autopilot revisited – differences in emotion regulation between university based music and non-music students, and music college students. ICMPC15/ESCOM10: Abstract Book, 23 July 2018 - 28 July 2018. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Korte M, Cerci D & Williamson VJ (2017) ‘Playing on autopilot’. New insights on emotion regulation in music students. 25th Anniversary Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music: Book of Abstracts (pp 17-18). Gent, 31 July 2017 - 4 August 2017. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
Research group
  • Michaela Korte (2015 - 2019) Depression in performing musicians: experiences and services.
  • Jessica Crich (2015 - 2019) – Impact of live music performance on dementia residential care settings from a multi-stakeholder perspective. Funded by a Julian Payne Scholarship.
  • Kathryn Emerson (2014 - 2018) - The use interactive gestures in speech, music and choral conductors (Second supervisor). Collaboration with Professor Ray Wilkinson (Sheffield; Communication Sciences).
  • Jennifer Sims (2015-2017) - DClinPsych – The impact of working memory ability on experiences of involuntary musical imagery and obsessive intrusive thoughts. Collaboration with Dr Lisa Marie Emerson (Sheffield; Psychology)
  • Larissa Padula Ribeiro da Fonseca (2012 - 2015) – Auditory memory in young orchestra musicians (NEOJIBA - State Youth and Children's Orchestra Centers of Bahia) (Second supervisor) Collaboration with Professor Diana Santiago. Funded by Brazilian Government.
  • Elena Alessandri (2011 - 2014) - Evaluating recorded performance: An investigation of music criticism through Gramophone reviews of Beethoven piano sonata recordings. Collaboration with Professor Aaron Williamson (Royal College of Music) and Professor Olivier Senn (Hochschule Luzern).
  • SNSF large research grant (Co-I) - £295,000 (2016-2020)
  • RIS IIKE grant - £24,535 (2015)
  • WUN Research Mobility Grant - £2,500 (2015)
  • EPS Small Grant - £2,500 (2015)
  • Vice Chancellors Fellowship, University of Sheffield - £10,000 (2013)
  • Gerry Farrell Travelling Scholarship - £1500 (2013)
  • Leverhulme grant (2nd author & named associate) - £250,000 (2012)
  • British Academy research grant (CI) - £7,324 (2012)
  • British Academy research grant - £7,492 (2010)
  • ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship - £81,948 (2008)
  • Doctoral Studentship, University of York - £36,000 (2005)
Professional activities
  • Associate Editor for Psychology of Music
  • Accredited status with the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • BBC online and radio consultant
  • Member of the Experimental Psychological Society
  • Member of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (USA)
  • Member of the Economic and Social Research Council Peer Review College
  • Member of the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (UK)