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, and direct the onsite and distance learning MAs in Psychology of Music. I enjoy teaching at UG and PG level and supporting postgraduate researchers to realise their research ideas and ambitious. Much of my work is interdisciplinary, which is also reflected in the research centre “Music Mind Machine in Sheffield” that I direct, which promotes collaboration and exchange across disciplines and between people with shared interests in music cognition. 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. 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 to perform music expressively and creatively 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-sensory and emotional experiences of music, music perception in listeners with hearing impairment and music for sleep and relaxation. My aim is to work towards applications of research findings, including implications for music education, music therapy, and music businesses.

Academic Roles

  • Director of postgraduate research in music
  • Director of the onsite MA in Psychology of Music, and the distance learning MAs Psychology for Musicians and Music Psychology in Education.
  • Director of Music, Mind, Machine in Sheffield
  • President of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music

Research interests

Ensemble performance, musical expression and communication, multimodal and embodied perception of music, emotion, music for sleep and relaxation, hearing impairment and music.

  • Expressive performance of music, including ensemble timing and coordination
  • Emotional responses to music
  • Embodied cognition and cross-modal correspondences with music
  • Music perception and cognition
  • Music for sleep and relaxation
  • Music and hearing impairment

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).

Event organisation (selection)

2018 Sound Teaching. One-day interactive conference for instrumental teachers and musicians
2018 Together in Music: Expression, performance and communication in ensemble performance.
2015 International Conference on the Multimodal Experience of Music

Current PhD supervision

Jonathan Ayerst. The psychology of improvisation. Charles Bryar Scholarship.
Caroline Curwen. Perception of music in music-colour synaesthetes.
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.
Nicola Pennill. Teaching and learning of ensemble communication. Funded by White Rose College of Arts and Humanities.
Alexander Stamatiades. Well-formedness and expectation in musical melodies.

Past PhD project supervision

Yuko Arthurs (2016). The creation of consonance: How musical context influences chord perception.
Marilyn Blank (2013). Communication and coordination in piano duos
Ioanna Filippidi (2018). Involuntary musical imagery as conditioned by everyday musical listening.
Tim Metcalfe (2017). 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.
Andrea Schiavio (2014). Music in (en)action: Sense-making and neurophenomenology of musical experience.

Selected grants

  • 2016 Leverhulme Trust International Academic Fellowship 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 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)

  • Timmers, R. George Lee-Harris, Nigel Humberstone, Daniel Blackburn (2018). Music for Relaxation: A Comparison Across Two Age Groups, Journal of Music Therapy. thy016, doi.org/10.1093/jmt/thy016
  • Meissner, H., & Timmers, R. (2018). Teaching young musicians expressive performance: an experimental study. Music Education Research. 10.1080/14613808.2018.1465031
  • Arthurs, Y., Beeston, A. V., & Timmers, R. (2018). Perception of isolated chords: Examining frequency of occurrence, instrumental timbre, acoustic descriptors and musical training. Psychology of Music, 46(5), 662-681.
  • Filippidi, I., & Timmers, R. (2017). Relationships between everyday music listening habits and involuntary musical imagery: Does music listening condition musical imagery?. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 27(4), 312-326.
  • 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.