Dr Renee Timmers

Renee Timmers profile picture

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.

Administrative roles

  • Director of Graduate Studies
  • Director of the distance learning MAs (MUST03 and MUST35) Psychology for Musicians and Music Psychology in Education.

Academic Roles

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

  • Expressive nonverbal communication in ensemble performance (WRoCAH Network)
  • The role of cross-modal information in inter-performer communication (with Peter Keller, and Jennifer Macritchie).
  • Music for sleep induction (with SleepCogni)
  • Synthesised and live performed music for film (with Richard Ashley).

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.


  • Ashley, R. & Timmers, R. (Eds.) (2017). Routledge companion to music cognition. New York: Routledge.
  • Fabian, D., Timmers, R., & Schubert, E. (Eds.) (2014). Expressiveness in music performance: Empirical approaches across styles and cultures. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Timmers, R. (2002). Freedom and constraints in timing and ornamentation: Investigations of music performance. Maastricht: Shaker Publisher.

Journal articles (selection)

  • 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., & 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.
  • Schiavio, A., & Timmers, R. (2016). Motor and audiovisual learning consolidate auditory memory of tonally ambiguous melodies. Music Perception, 34, 21-32.
  • 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, 645.
  • Timmers, R. & Crook, H.L. (2014). Affective priming in music listening: Emotions as a source of musical expectation. Music Perception, 31, 470-484.
  • 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.

Book chapters (selection)

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 (pp. 453-489). Oxford University Press