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Dr Michelle Phillips
PhD (Cantab.), SFHEA, ACA (she / her)

X (Twitter) handle: @___Michelle___
RNCM staff profile: Michelle Phillips - Royal Northern College of Music (

Short biography

Michelle is a Senior Lecturer in Music Psychology and Head of Enterprise (Academic) at the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester, UK). Her research interests include audience response to live and recorded music, neurological response to music listening, music and time, perception of contemporary music, entrepreneurship, and music and Parkinson’s. Michelle’s research on ‘what makes live music special?’ was recently featured in UK Research and Innovation’s series ‘101 jobs that change the world’. Recent publications include a co-edited volume entitled ‘Music and Time: Psychology, Philosophy, Practice’. Michelle founded the Music, Audiences, Neuroscience, Cognition and Society (MANCS) research centre, which is a collaboration between scholars at the RNCM, University of Salford, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. Michelle gives regular invited talks nationally and internationally, most recently at the Association of British Orchestras (Leeds, UK) and Orchestras Now! (Wrocław, Poland) conferences. She is an Associate Editor for the journal Psychology of Music. Michelle completed her PhD (funded by a Domestic Research Studentship awarded by the University of Cambridge) under the supervision of Professor Ian Cross, Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge.

Michelle was recently Principal Investigator of the £1million StART Entrepreneurship Project. Michelle is a trustee of the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) and a Fellow of Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK).

Michelle has appeared on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, ITV News, BBC News online and ITV Granada Reports. She recently worked with the Science and Industry Museum on their ‘Turn It Up: The Power of Music’ exhibition.

Michelle is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and Chair of the RNCM Research Ethics Committee. She set up and leads the RNCM Music Psychology Reading Group. Michelle is also a saxophonist ( and chartered accountant, and is fluent in German.

Extended biography


Michelle completed her PhD with Professor Ian Cross in the Centre for Music and Science at the University of Cambridge, following a Bachelor's and Masters by Research degree (funded by the AHRB, now AHRC) at the University of Nottingham. Past and current consultancy work includes external examiner roles at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, Bath Spa and the Open University, and consultancy for AdvanceHE’s Degree Standards project. Michelle was also a consultant for the Academy for Musicology and Musicianship Amsterdam (AMMA) project, and is currently an advisor on the AHRC-funded Networked Innovation in Classical Music project, led by SPARC and the Maastricht Centre for Innovation in Classical Music (MCICM), with the aim of to bringing together classical music researchers, practitioners and audiences in seven cities across the UK, The Netherlands and Austria. She is also part of the Live Well and Dance with Parkinson's network in Greater Manchester.


Over the last 6 years, Michelle has received over £1million in funding for her research on various projects. Michelle has received research grants for work on music and earworms (awarded by the AHRC), behavioural, neurological and physiological response to live and streamed music performance (awarded by the Centre for Cultural Value), and music and Parkinson’s (awarded by SEMPRE). From 2020 - 2022 she was Principal Investigator for the StART Entrepreneurship Project, funded by a grant of £902,153 from the Office for Students and Research England and with partner institutions Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and University of the Arts London.


Michelle feels passionately about working with, and sharing, research with everyone, and actively seeks opportunities to disseminate research not only in scholarly journals, but also in other forms, such as blogs (e.g. these two Science and Industry Museum blogs on her work on music and time: 'Can Music Make Your Life Feel Longer?' and 'Can Music Make us Time Travellers?'). She has discussed her research with various groups of people, from the late Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, to an audience interested in the science behind the TV show Doctor Who. Michelle wrote a show about music and acoustics (‘Good Vibrations’) for families which was staged as part of the University of Cambridge Science Festival in 2011, and an RNCM Family Day in 2016, she has worked with primary school children to develop a play about music and time, and she has been invited to present at public science events in Edinburgh ('Harmonic Function'), London and Manchester. Michelle regularly runs music and science experiments with museum visitors (for example as part of the Science Museum London’s ‘Live Science’ programme, and a ‘Platform for Investigation’ family day on musical earworms at the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester) and has acted as a gallery consultant for these museums, and the Moscow Science Museum, for their music and science exhibitions. Michelle has featured on Russian TV discussing UK research in music and science, and was invited by ITV to appear on the news to discuss ABBA’s summer 2020 announcement of their new album. Michelle has hosted multiple live and live streamed concerts at the RNCM, for example as part of their #LiveFromTheRNCM series in Autumn 2020.


Michelle regularly presents at national and international conferences, and is invited to give keynote talks and talks as part of university research fora. She publishes her work in journal articles and book chapters (see list below). Michelle acts as a journal article reviewer for journals including Psychology of Music, Music and Science, and Musicae Scientiae, and has been involved in running conferences including ESCOM 2015 and SysMus (she remains part of the SysMus Council). She was invited to be part of the organising committee for the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) Music in Maths conference which took place in July 2022.


Michelle teaches various subjects within the field of music and science, including music acoustics, music perception, music and time, and applied music psychology. She supervises Masters projects and PhDs, and currently has 5 PhD students. Michelle also teaches subjects linked to her accountancy expertise, including tax, budgeting, project management, and entrepreneurship. Michelle is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


From 2019 - 2022 Michelle was Chair of MusicHE, the UK’s subject association for music. Michelle is a qualified chartered accountant, having trained with KPMG in Leeds and London. She has previously held voluntary accountancy roles with the charities KJV Community Children’s Choir and Ladder to the Moon. In 2021 she was elected a trustee of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE). Michelle is a saxophonist with the Equinox Saxophone Ensemble.

Current research projects


This is a series of research projects with an international research team, exploring the ways in which people with Parkinson's use music


This project with a team of collaborators explores how two people making music together may lead to neural coupling (two brains showing evidence of neural connection, which has been linked to social bonding)

Music neuroscience piano.jpg

Photo by Robin Clewley

Photo by Robin Clewley

MANCS is a research group formed of academics from the Royal Northern College of Music, the University of Manchester, the University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University.


Photo by Robin Clewley

Photo by Robin Clewley

The Time Perception Lab is based at the University of Manchester and lead by Dr Luke Jones. Dr Michelle Phillips is a member of this group.

Owain and Michelle Phillips at Music Makers.jpg

Photo by Robin Clewley

Playlist for Parkinson's LIVE (funded by a SEMPRE Arnold Bentley Award) involved the sharing of our music and Parkinson's research in live music events at the RNCM and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne, Switzerland.

An exhibition on music and science which Michelle Phillips helped to design. This ran from October 2022-23 at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, and is currently at the Science Museum, London.


  • Silva, L. B., Phillips, M. E., and Martins, J. O. (2023). EXPRESS: The influence of tonality, tempo, and musical sophistication on the listener’s time-duration estimates. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 17470218231203459.

  • Poliakoff, E., Young, W., Phillips, M., Bek, J., and Rose, D., Vividness and use of imagery related to music and movement in people with Parkinson’s: a mixed-methods survey, Music & Science 6

  • Rose, D., Poliakoff, E., Young, W., and Phillips, M. (2023), The use of music for mood and movement management among people with Parkinson's: A mixed methods, Music & Science 6

  • Rose, D., Hadley, R., Guerin, S., Carapellotti, A., Young, W., Phillips, M., and Poliakoff, E. (2023). ‘Levelling the playing field: the role of workshops for to explore how people with Parkinson's use music for mood and movement management as part of a patient and public involvement strategy’, Frontiers in Rehabilitation Special Issue: Patient and Public involvement in Disability and Rehabilitation Research

  • Pennill, N., Phillips, K., & Phillips, M. (2022). Student experiences and entrepreneurship education in a specialist creative arts HEI: a longitudinal approach. Entrepreneurship Education, 5(4), 399-423.

  • Phillips, M. and Bloxham, S., ‘The usefulness and effectiveness of a sector-wide workshop discussing calibration of degree standards in relation to music performance’ [in press, invited Routledge book chapter]

  • Phillips, M., and Krause, A., ‘Audiences of the future – how can streamed music performance replicate the live music experience?’, MCICM's Edited Collection on Futuring Classical Music [in press]

  • Phillips, M. and Sergeant, M. (eds,) (2022). ‘Music and Time: Psychology, Philosophy and Practice’, edited collection, Boydell & Brewer

  • Phillips, M., and Podgorski, A., 2023. "Best Practice Considerations for Arts Educators When Developing Intensive Online Courses for Creative Industries Higher Education Students," FGF Studies in Small Business and Entrepreneurship, in: Joern H. Block & Jantje Halberstadt & Nils Högsdal & Andreas Kuckertz & Helle Neergaard (ed.), Progress in Entrepreneurship Education and Training, pages 183-197, Springer.

  • Phillips, M. and McCabe, H. (2022). ‘Socially distanced work experience in a music degree programme’, in: Employability, Enterprise, and Entrepreneurship: Solving Wicked Problems, Advance HE

  • Jääskeläinen, T., López-Íñiguez, G., and Phillips, M. (2020). ‘Music students’ experienced workload, livelihoods and stress in higher education in Finland and the United Kingdom’, Music Education Research, 22(5), 505-526.

  • Jääskeläinen, T., López-Íñiguez, G., & Phillips, M. (2022). Music students’ experienced workload in higher education: A systematic review and recommendations for good practice. Musicae Scientiae, 10298649221093976.

  • Phillips, M., Wilcoxson, M., Howard, E., Du Sautoy, M., Willcox, P., Jones, L., Stewart, A., and De Roure, D. (2020). ‘What musical features influence perception of section boundaries in contemporary music? A live audience study with a bespoke data capture application’, Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1001

  • Phillips, M. (2019). Rethinking the role of the golden section in music and music scholarship, Creativity Research Journal, 31(4), 419-427.

  • Phillips, M. (2014). A discussion of the effect of musical context on perception of succession of musical events, and its relevance for philosophical models of temporal experience. Empirical Musicology Review, 9(3-4), pp. 230-35.

  • Phillips, M., and Cross, I. (2011). About musical time – effect of age, enjoyment, and practical musical experience on retrospective estimate of elapsed duration during music listening, in: A. Vatakis et al. (Eds.): Time and Time Perception 2010, LNAI 6789, pp. 125–36.

Music and time cover.webp

Invited and keynote talks

  • October 2023 - Plenary Speaker and Scientific Board for MA2023, Música Analítica conference in Coimbra, Portugal

  • Sept 2023 – Creative Industries AHRC Network 2-day conference (I am an advisor on the project)

  • Sept 2023 - International Orchestras Conference, Poland, talk on ‘Music and the Brain’

  • June 2023 - Ivors Academy and #TheWrd one day careers event panellist

  • May 2023 - University of Liverpool Music Analysis Reading Group, talk on music and maths

  • May 2023 – speaker at Media City event from by UoM and the Creative Industries Network (talk on audience response to live and recorded music)

  • May 2023 - Music and Parkinson’s event at Lucerne University of Applied Arts, which showcased the research I have undertaken with collaborators (one of whom is based at Lucerne)

  • Mar 2023 – Grand Challenges Lecture, Keele University, ‘What Makes Live Music Special?’

  • Feb 2023 – talk on audience research with Centre for Cultural Value and Manchester Camerata, Association of British Orchestras

  • Jan 2023 – Panellist at Liverpool Philharmonic ‘Careers Fest’ for young people considering careers in music

  • Dec 2022 – Sibelius Academy talk on the findings of the StART Entrepreneurship Project

  • Nov 2022 – ‘Music and Time: Psychology, Philosophy, Practice’ research forum talk, University of Manchester Music Department

  • July 2022 – Panellist at Royal Philharmonic Orchestra ‘Sounds and Stadiums’ panel series during the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Arts Programme, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Panel Series 5th July 2022

  • Jul 2022 – Invited speaker as Chair of MusicHE at City University Conference

  • Jul 2022 – Advance HE annual Teaching and Learning Conference Teaching in the spotlight: Where next for enhancing student success?, Northumbria University, Newcastle [invited panellist, forthcoming]

  • Jul 2022 – ‘The value, role and importance of entrepreneurship education for music students’, International Benchmarking Group, Royal Northern College of Music [invited speaker]

  • May 2022 – ‘Entrepreneurship education for students of the creative industries’, EU SMART Composer webinar on cross-cutting issues, as part of ‘European Network for Opera, Music and Dance Education’ [invited webinar speaker]

  • May 2022 – ‘What do classical audiences of the future want and expect in a live vs a livestreamed performance?’, Keele University Postgraduate Student Conference [invited keynote speaker]

  • Mar 2022 – ‘The post COVID-audience - attitudes and behaviours around live and streamed performance’, 9th International Conference on New Music Concepts March 26-27, 2022, organized by the Music Academy “Studio Musica” (Italy) [invited keynote speaker]

  • Mar 2022 – ‘Audience response to live and recorded music’, RNCM Research Forum [invited speaker]

  • Feb 2022 – NERUPI event on ‘Access and Widening Participation in the Creative and Performing Arts’ invited panellist on arts, entrepreneurship, society and freelance careers [invited speaker]

  • Nov 2021 – ‘The creative arts entrepreneur: Training students for a post-COVID arts industry’, RNCM Research Forum (with co-authors Dr Nicola Pennill and Dr Keith Phillips) [invited speaker]

  • Nov 2021 – ‘Experiences of live vs online performance​ &​ The StART Entrepreneurship Project’, Newland Lecture in Music (University of Hull) [invited speaker]

  • Nov 2019 - 'Time changes in experiences of music and dance' symposium, Hamburg, 28-30th Nov 2019 [invited speaker]

  • Nov 2019 - Leeds Music Research Colloquium and NeMUR one day symposium, University of Leeds, 7 November 2019 [keynote]

  • Sept 2019 - New Models of Psychological Time are Needed to Account for Structural Coherency of Events, European Society for Cognition and Perception, Tenerife, 25-28 Sept 2019 [invited panellist]

Media appearances

  • Aug 2023 – interview for BBC news article on ‘post-concert amnesia’ at Taylor Swift concerts

  • Aug 2023 – interview for a Canvas8 online article on the live music industry post COVID-10

  • Jun 2023 – UKRI selected Michelle’s research for their ‘101 jobs that change the world’: What makes live music special? | How our brains react to live performance – YouTube

  • Jun 2023 - UKRI article on Michelle Phillips' research 'What makes live music special?'

  • Jul 2023 – two interviews for CBC Canada (the Canadian equivalent of the BBC) on the notion of ‘post-concert amnesia’ in Taylor Swift and Beyonce performance and what makes live music special

  • Jan 2023 – appearance on BBC Breakfast to discuss the power of music, and music and dementia

  • Jan 2023 – appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss the power of music, and music and emotion

  • Jan 2023 – appearance on BBC Manchester to discuss the music and dementia

  • Nov 2022 – LinkedIn livestreamed interview with music entrepreneur David Taylor entitled ‘Creating the Musicians of Tomorrow’ on the subjects of ‘how careers have changed, what challenges we face in training students for this new world, and how RNCM's StART entrepreneurship programme has helped prepare musicians to become entrepreneurs’

  • Oct 2022 - BBC Radio 4 World Tonight (interview on Science and Industry Museum exhibition ‘Turn It Up: The Power of Music’ which I co-designed)

  • June 2022 – ITV Granada Reports coverage of ‘Playlist for Parkinson’s LIVE’ event, showcasing international research on music and Parkinson’s in an RNCM performance

  • Summer 2022 – ITV News invitation to speak on ABBA’s announcement of a new album and performance venue

Podcast interviews

Current and past PhD supervision

Current supervision of PhDs:

  • Jacob Barns, 'The Effectiveness of Self-Compassion Inductions on Music Performance Anxiety and Musicians’ Levels of Self-Compassion'

  • Akiho Suzuki, 'Development and testing of an online practice intervention for tertiary piano students'

  • Dan Baczkowski, ‘How research into music perception can inform the use of the golden section as a compositional tool’

  • Xiaoxiao Huo (University of Liverpool), ‘Music in eldercare and dementia care: Hit the right note: Identifying actionable strategies to engage effectively with UK Chinese communities in music-based interventions’

  • Lígia Silva (University of Coimbra, Portugal), ‘The Apperception of Music’s Temporalities: Experimental Research and Musical Analysis on Listeners’ Estimates of Musical Duration’

Completed PhDs:

  • Melvin Tay, ‘Re-realising opera performance for chamber ensemble’

  • Jo-Yee Cheung, ‘The role of parents in the development of metacognition in children during musical learning (primary supervisor)’

  • Tuula Jääskeläinen, ‘Students’ experienced workload in higher music education (ERASMUS exchange student based at RNCM for six months)’

  • Keith Phillips, ‘A Neuropsychophilosophical Investigation of Musical Improvisation’

Funding received


c. £77,766

AHRC North West Consortium PhD Programme Collaborative Doctoral Award for research to be undertaken by PhD researcher Alex Chapman on auditory sensitivity in neurodivergent listeners in live music settings



UKRI Talent & Stabilisation Fund funding for music and hyperscanning project investigating whether making music together may result in neural coupling



Centre for Cultural Value, University of Leeds funding, with Manchester Camerata, for project exploring behavioural, physiological and neurological responses to live, livestreamed and recorded music





SEMPRE Arnold Bentley Award for ‘Playlist for Parkinson’s’ concert      

Office for Students and Research England Knowledge Exchange funding for 'StART Entrepreneurship Project. Principal Investigator Michelle Phillips RNCM, with partners Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and University of the Arts London. @StARTcreatives



AHRC funding for Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship music and imagery, postdoctoral researcher Dr Ioanna Filippidi



University of Cambridge

PhD (full scholarship awarded by the University of Cambridge), supervised by Professor Ian Cross, Centre for Music and Science, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge.



Chartered Accountancy (ACA) qualification.


University of Nottingham

MA (by Research) in Music and German (full scholarship awarded by the AHRB, now AHRC).


University of Nottingham

BA (Hons) in Music and German. First class honours with distinction in spoken German.

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