Dr Renee Timmers

image of Renee Timmers

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

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 0477

Email : r.timmers@sheffield.ac.uk


I am Reader in Psychology of Music, Director of Graduate Studies, and I coordinate the distance learning MAs in Psychology for Musicians and Music Psychology in Education. I teach psychology related modules at UG and PG level including Music Psychology in Everyday Life and Psychology of Performance. With Prof. Dibben, I established the research centre “Music Mind Machine in Sheffield” to promote collaboration and exchange across faculties and disciplines between people with shared interests in music and cognition. This interdisciplinary collaboration is also present in the WRoCAH network on ensemble performance that I direct, which includes collaborators from the universities of York and Leeds. I am committed to establish an active research-led teaching and learning community, where students of different levels can blossom by learning from each other as well as from internal and visiting academics, and by learning through close encounters with successful research.

My first degree was in Musicology (MA), which I studied in Amsterdam. Thereafter, I pursued a PhD in Psychology (Social Sciences) at the Radboud University Nijmegen. As a member of the Music Mind Machine group, I was involved in collaborative research combining perspectives and methods from psychology, computer science and music theory to investigate perception and cognition of music. My main focus was on (cognitive) rules that underlie the expressive timing of music, but also the freedom that performers have within these rules.

After my PhD, I was a postdoctoral researcher for six years at institutes in Italy (University of Genoa), Austria (OEFAI), the UK (Kings College London), the Netherlands (Radboud University Nijmegen) and the USA (Northwestern University). I worked at departments of music, psychology and computer science gaining relevant cross-disciplinary experience. My research focused on the communication of emotions through music performance, including a comparison of emotional expression in early and later recordings of Schubert songs, and the development of automated visual feedback on expressive performance.

My current research projects investigate ensemble performance, cross-modal perception of music, and perception and expression of emotion in music. My aim is to work towards applications of music psychological findings, including investigations of perception of emotion in listeners with hearing impairment, and ways to improve teaching and learning of expressive performance of music.

Academic Roles

  • Vice-president of European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music
  • Associate editor of Psychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain.
  • Member of editorial board Empirical Musicology Review, Journal of New Music Research, and Psychology of Music

Research interests

  • Expressive performance of music, including ensemble performance
  • Emotional responses to music
  • Embodied cognition and cross-modal correspondences with music
  • Music perception and cognition

Current projects

  • Routledge Companion of Music Cognition (with Richard Ashley)
  • Expressive nonverbal communication in ensemble performance (WRoCAH Network)
  • The role of cross-modal information in inter-performer communication (with Peter Keller, and Jennifer Macritchie).
  • Development and exploration of a meditative binaural music therapy (with Daniel Blackburn, Annalena Venneri, and Nigel Humberstone).

PhD student projects

Jonathan Ayerst. The psychology of improvisation. Charles Bryar Scholarship.
Caroline Curwen. Music-colour synaesthesia and memory for music.
Ioanna Filippidi. Involuntary musical imagery as conditioned by everyday musical listening.
Henrique Meissner. Teaching expressive performance to children. AHRC funded.
Shen Li. Conceptions of piano timbre in a music performance and pedagogy context. Funded by Chinese Scholarship Council.
Tim Metcalfe. Communicating with the environment through artificial ears: Perception of emotion in music and speech by cochlear implant users. Funded by White Rose College of Arts and Humanities.
Nicola Pennill. Teaching and learning of ensemble communication. Funded by White Rose College of Arts and Humanities.

Past PhD student projects

Yuko Arthurs (graduated in 2016). The creation of consonance: How musical context influences chord perception.
Marilyn Blank (graduated in 2013). Communication and coordination in piano duos
Andrea Schiavio (graduated in 2014). Music in (en)action: Sense-making and neurophenomenology of musical experience.

Selected grants

2016 Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship (£21,703) for research visit to MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney. The role of cross-modal information in inter-performer musical communication.
2015 WRoCAH PhD network, 3 PhD positions at Sheffield, York and Leeds.
2012 British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme (£27,230) with Zohar Eitan – Cross-modal perception of music.
2012 Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Music Performance as Creative Practice (£1,800). Research visit Oxford University and King’s College London. Expressive performance in contemporary music.
2011 University of Sheffield, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Research & Innovation Grant (£1,500) with Harriet Crook - Influences of emotions on perception and attention to auditory patterns.
2010 University of Sheffield, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Research & Innovation Grant, (£1,500) with Lawrence Parsons - Interpersonal coordination of rhythmic action in music: Psychological and neural aspects.
2009 British Academy Small Research Grant (£7,500) - The influence of emotional responses on attention and expectation in music perception.

Selected publications

Arthurs, Y., Timmers, R. (2016). On the fluidity of consonance and dissonance: The influence of musical context. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 26(1), 1-14.
Timmers, R., & Granot, R. (2016). Letter from the guest editors of the special issue on “Music as a Multimodal Experience”. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain, 26(2), 101-102.
Timmers, R., & Li, S. (2016). Representation of pitch in horizontal space and its dependence on musical and instrumental experience. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain, 26(2), 139-148.
Clarke, E.F., Doffman, M., & Timmers, R. (2016). Creativity, Collaboration and Development in Jeremy Thurlow’s Ouija for Peter Sheppard Skærved. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 141(1), 113-165.
Gerson, S.A., Schiavio, A., Timmers, R., & Hunnius, S. (2015). Active drumming experience increases infants’ sensitivity to audiovisual synchrony during observed drumming actions. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0130960.
Fabian, D., Timmers, R., & Schubert, E. (2014). Expressiveness in music performance: Empirical approaches across styles and cultures. Oxford University Press.
Timmers, R., Endo, S., Bradbury, A., & Wing, A. M. (2014). Synchronization and leadership in string quartet performance: a case study of auditory and visual cues. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, Article 645.
Timmers, R. & Crook, H.L. (2014). Affective priming in music listening: Emotions as a source of musical expectation. Music Perception, 31, 470-484.
Timmers, R., Sadakata, M., & Desain, P. (2012). The role of visual feedback and creative exploration for the improvement of timing accuracy in performing musical ornaments. Music Perception 30, 71-88.
Eitan, Z., & Timmers, R. (2010). Beethoven's last piano sonata and those who follow crocodiles: Cross-domain mappings of auditory pitch in a musical context. Cognition 114, 405-422.
Juslin, P.N., & Timmers, R. (2010). Expression and communication of emotion in music performance. In Juslin, P.N. & Sloboda, J.A. (Eds) Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, and Applications. Oxford University Press (pp. 453-489).