Staff Profile


Dr Maria Varvarigou

Academic Sessional

School: Academic Sessional

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 923745

Profile summary

I have been performing as solo singer, oboist and chorister for many years and I have participated in several recordings of Greek traditional songs. I completed my Ph.D. in 2009 as scholar of the A.S Onassis Foundation and since then I have published extensively on playing by ear from recordings in groups and in one to one lessons. I have presented my research in the UK and internationally (Japan, China, Brazil, Poland, Greece). I am also passionate about music making in the community with a focus on health and wellbeing and I have co-authored the book 'Active Ageing with Music' with Andrea Creech, Susan Hallam and Hilary McQueen. The book discusses the benefits from engaging in active music making on the health and wellbeing of older people.

At the university I have developed a Pathway on Music Psychology, Health and Education for students who wish to the develop skills, knowledge and understanding of leading music making activities in schools, the community and with vulnerable populations. The Pathways contains: At Undergraduate Level - two modules on Music Education (Music Education in Schools and the Community; One to One Instrumental and Vocal Teaching); two modules on Music for Health and Wellbeing (Music for Health and Wellbeing with older people; Music with Vulnerable Populations for Therapy and Education); one module on Practical Musicianship; one module on Choral Conducting and the option of a Dissertation on Music Education/ Health and wellbeing. At Postgraduate Level - a module on Music Psychology and Education; a written dissertation and a Creative Project in the Community.

I welcome MA and PhD proposals on music for health and wellbeing; playing by ear and informal learning; intergenerational music making; group and one to one instrumental and vocal teaching; and choral conducting education.

Research and knowledge exchange

Current Research Projects

1. Mapping the Musical Lifecourse (Forthcoming international expert seminar held at the Université Laval; funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada - Leader: prof. Andrea Creech) (2018-19)

2.Nurturing a versatile, boundaryless career in music (2013 - Present)

3. Intergenerational Health Musicking (2015 - present)

Completed Research Projects Project 

(With Prof. L.Green)

 - Ear-playing in the instrumental lesson: an approach based on popular musicians’ learning practices (funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation)

(with Prof. S. Hallam and A. Creech)

1. Maximising the benefits of participation in music amongst older people: Developing a skilled workforce (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council - ESRC)

2. Promoting social engagement and wellbeing in older people through community supported participation in musical activities (funded by Economic and Social Research Council - ESRC)

3. Greater London Authority Audit of Music Education Provision in London

4. EMI – Music Sound Foundation KS1 Project

5. London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) Evaluation Report (2nd Year)

6. Practising as a predictor of learning outcomes in instrumental music

Current Doctoral Students

1. Debbie Rodgers – ‘Community music as a vehicle for tackling mental health-related stigma’

2. Moira Azzopardi-Barbieri – ‘Music Theory Pedagogy in Higher Education in Malta’

3. Sefkat Saglamer – ‘Piano Accompaniment Playing in undergraduate programmes in Turkey and Northern Cyprus’

4.Michael Heinen – ‘Analysis of the Pharaonic and Greek impact on Coptic sacred music, its lyrics and melodies’

Students who have completed

1. Eleni Keventsidou – ‘Max Reger’s Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme op. 73: Issues of musical structure, performance practice and interpretation’ (2016)

2. Kerry Boyle (EdD) – ‘Understanding the development of professional identity in instrumental teachers’ (2018)

3.Zita Hernandes Contreras – ‘Musical Engagement and its relationship to wellbeing’ (Visiting PhD student from Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Mexico)

Teaching and subject expertise

BMus Modules

  1. Practical Musicianship (Playing by Ear) (Year 1)
  2. Music for Health and Wellbeing  with Older People (Year 2)
  3. žMusic Education in Schools and the Community (Year 2)
  4. žChoral Conducting (Year 2)
  5. žMusic With Vulnerable Populations for Therapy and Education (Year 3)
  6. žOne to one Instrumental and Vocal Teaching (year 3)
  7. žIndependent Study (BMus Dissertations) (Year 3)

MMus Modules

  1. žMusic Psychology and Education
  2. žCreative Project
  3. žResearch Project

PhD Examiner for
1. UCL - institute of Education (2016)

2. Victoria University, Australia (2016)

3. McGill University, Canada (2017)

Community Activities

  • Music making sessions at Pilgrim’s Hospice Canterbury for people with terminal illness (2016 and 2017)
  • The Lion King – musical at St. Nicholas Special School (2014-15)
  • ‘Under the Sea’ – CD produced in collaboration with the music specialist of St. Christopher’s Primary School (2014-15)
  • Joseph and the Talking Camels – musical at St. Nicholas Special School (2013-14)
  • Live Performances at Pilgrim’s Way Primary School, Canterbury (2013-14)
  • Music workshops at Pilgrim’s Way Primary Schools, St Nicholas Special School and St. Christopher’s School (2013-15)
  • Music workshops at Age UK, Canterbury (2012-15)

External activities

Visiting Professor

  • University of Macedonia, Greece – Department of Music Science and Art, Masters in Music and Society, Modules: Topics on the Pedagogy of Music; Approaches to Music Education Research (2018)

Selected Invited Lectures

  • Projeto Guri and Jeunesses Musicales, São Paulo, Brazil – Musical Autonomy in children and young people through playing by ear from recordings (June 2018)
  • UCL Institute of Education - Playing by ear in one to one tuition and in group Higher Education (January 2018)
  • National and Kapodestrian University of Athens, Greece – BMus Programme, Module: Music Education (December 2017)
  • American College of Greece (Deree) – BMus Programme, Modules: Music in the Community; Practical Musicianship (October and November 2017)
  • The Arts College of Xiamen University, China – Group playing by ear in higher education: the processes that support imitation, invention and group improvisation’. The presentation was part of ‘New Directions for Performance Music Teacher education – A symposium on university music education in China’. (November 2016)
  • Academy of Music, Wroclaw, Poland – Who tutors our choral conductors? (October 2016)
  • Webinar – 2016/17 Global Leaders program (YOA Orchestra of the Americas) – Academic Curriculum – Playing by ear in one to one tuition. (October 2016)
  • Mary Immaculate College, Ireland – Peer learning and group creativity through playing by ear in formal music education. (June 2016)
  • Kingston University  - Informal learning practices of popular musicians in music classrooms and in one to one tuition. (January 2016)
  • Royal College of Music - Informal learning practices of popular musicians within music classroom and in one to one tuition. (March 2015)

Editorial Roles

1. Assistant Editor for Psychology of Music (2017 – 2020)

2. Guest Editor with Hilary McQueen at London Review of Education (Volume 15, Issue 3, 2017) – Special Issues: Music Education in Context


  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA)
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • International Society for Music Education (ISME)
  • Greek Society for Music Education (GSME)
  • International Music Education Research Centre (iMERC)

Reviewer for

  • Arts and Humanities in Higher Education
  • British Journal of Music Education
  • BPS Psychology of Education Review
  • International Journal of Community Music
  • Journal of Music and Dance
  • Perspectives of Public Health
  • Psychology of Music
  • Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise
  • Research Studies in Music Education
  • Μουσικοπαιδαγωγικά (Greek Edition of ISME)

Publications and research outputs


Creech, A., Hallam, S., Varvarigou, M. and H. McQueen (2014) Active Aging with Music: supporting wellbeing in the Third and Fourth Ages. London: Institute of Education.

Selected Articles

Varvarigou, M. (2017a) ‘Group Playing by Ear in Higher Education: the processes that support imitation, invention and group improvisation’. British Journal of Music Education, 34(3), 291-304.

Varvarigou, M. (2017b) ‘Promoting collaborative playful experimentation through group playing by ear in Higher Education’. Research Studies in Music Education. 39(2), 161-176.

Varvarigou, M. (2016a) ‘Collaborative playful experimentation in Higher Education: A group playing by ear study’. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, Special Digital Issue. August, pp. 1-16/

Varvarigou, M. (2016b) ‘I owe it to my group members who critically commented on my conducting…’ – cooperative learning in choral conducting education. International Journal of Music Education. 34 (1), 116-130.

Varvarigou, M. and Green, L. (2015) The Ear-playing Project: musical learning styles and strategies in the instrumental music lesson. Psychology of Music. 43(5), 705-722.

Varvarigou, M., Creech, A. and Hallam, S. (2014) ‘Partnership working and possible selves in music education’, International Journal of Music Education, 32(1) 84–97.

Varvarigou, M., Creech, A., Hallam, S., & McQueen, H. (2013) Different ways of experiencing music-making in later life: Creative music sessions for older learners in East London. Research Studies in Music Education. 35 (1), 103-118.

Book Chapters

Hallam, S., Creech, A. and Varvarigou, M. (2017) ‘Wellbeing and leisure music activities through the lifespan: a psychological perspective’, In R. Mantie and G.D. Smith The Oxford Handbook of Music Making and Leisure. New York: Oxford University Press, 31-60.

Durrant, C. and Varvarigou, M. (2015) ‘Perspectives on choral conducting: theory and practice’, The Oxford Handbook of singing. Online version.Eds. Welch, G. Howard, D. Nix, J


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Last edited: 13/12/2018 18:48:00