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Margareta Burrell

As an Early Childhood Music specialist and Music Therapist I have worked in a wide variety of settings. Initially I trained as a primary school teacher (Switzerland), Dalcroze specialist (Geneva) and oboist, then later as a Music therapist (Bristol). After some years building a private music practice for young children in Glasgow, I worked as a music therapist in a SEND school (Canterbury) and was part of the CAMHS Team (Dover). For twelve years, at the Thomas Coram Centre (London), I was able to use my skills both as an Early Childhood Music Specialist and a Music Therapist.  I then went on to lead the Early Years Team at Berkshire Maestros (Music Hub).


“Stepping into Music” was an accredited national training course for Early Years  music teaching (Dalcroze based), which I co-directed. I have run training workshops for many organisations and at conferences in Great Britain and abroad. As one of the MERYC England team from early days, I was inspired and encouraged by meeting colleagues and making friends at many MERYC Conferences across Europe.


Barbara Cavanagh

I am an Early Childhood music practitioner/researcher, a musician, and a mother. This gives me a wealth of knowledge, experience and understanding to bring to my work over the past 16 years.

I am passionate about giving children the opportunity to have their innate musicality heard and valued.

I believe we are all born musical and I have a desire to share this passion with educators and parents.

I recently completed a 3 year MA in Early Childhood Music Education.

I currently work on a freelance basis combining my practical and academic skills through evaluation work, mentoring and project delivery. Through my studies and practical experience I aim to bridge the gap between research and practice, to promote the importance of music in early childhood.


Stephen Grocott

Stephen Grocott

I am a qualified teacher, professional performing musician and a composer who specialises in music and storytelling in the Early Years and Key Stage 1.

During a long and highly enjoyable career I have appeared with various bands on television, radio and concert venues throughout the country. I have recorded more than a hundred songs, rhymes and stories that go down well with both children and adults.

I have given practitioner training for over twenty local authorities and universities, specialising in providing people who are not trained musicians with practical materials and ideas that boost their confidence when making music in their settings.

I continue to work with children and parents in nursery schools, giving me the opportunity to keep observing how children grow with music.

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Dr Julia Partington

I am a Lecturer in Music at Newcastle University where I work with undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in early childhood music making, community music, and music education in schools. My research interests include the potential benefits of music education in early childhood to address disadvantage and promote the wellbeing of young children and families, especially those in challenging circumstances. 


For a number of years until 2016, I held the role of Programme Leader for Early Years and Family Learning at the Glasshouse International Centre for Music (formerly Sage Gateshead) and it was here that I became passionate about the magic, value and benefits of music for all young children and their families. In this role I was very lucky to work every day making music with children, families, and educators across the North-East of England.  Highlights of this role include developing and performing regularly in a family concert programme strand, collaborating with national organisations such as Sing Up! and working in Sao Paulo, Brazil with music education and social pedagogy organisation Guri Santa Marcelina as part of a 3-year British Council funded exchange programme for music educators. 


I also work as a singer, narrator and presenter for organisations such as Opera North. I am delighted to be a trustee for MERYC England, an organisation whose values and aims align so wonderfully with my own. 



Dr Jessica Pitt

My practice in the field of early childhood music began with the birth of our children, having trained initially as a secondary music teacher, I became fascinated in young children’s interest in and natural enjoyment of sound and music play and the ways that I, as a parent, could connect with our children through music. My Muziek op Schoot training, undertaken whilst living in The Netherlands, gave me a firm foundation to begin work as an early childhood music practitioner, trainer, lecturer, education consultant and researcher.

I now work part-time as lecturer in music education at the Royal College of Music. In addition, I lead the MA pathway in early years music at CREC (Centre for Research in Early Childhood). I am Director of Magic Acorns an early childhood music-arts company that works to nurture, develop and value co-creative processes between young children, artists and educators.

My involvement with MERYC-England began in Cyprus, in 2007, as we had dinner as the English contingent at the European Network MERYC conference. We discussed how we might meet together and develop a network to continue discussing and reflecting on research and practice in early childhood music education. And the conversations continue!

For a list of recent publications and activity please see my RCM research profile



Professor Chris Pascal OBE

I am a Director of the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), an independent charitable research centre, based at the St Thomas Children's Centre in Birmingham.

I was a teacher in primary schools in Birmingham from 1976 to 1985, before moving into the university sector and specialising in early childhood research and evaluation projects. I have been Director of several national research projects and evaluations and am currently President of the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) and a Vice President of the British Association for Early Childhood Education (BAECE)

I have undertaken extensive work at government level to support the development of early years policy, sitting on a number of national committees, serving as a ministerial advisor, and an Early Years Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education.

I have written extensively on early childhood development and the quality of early education services and served as an Expert Advisor to Dame Tickell’s review of the EYFS in England.

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Carol Bowden

Hi. I'm Carol Bowden and I'm honoured to have joined esteemed colleagues on the MERYC England Board of Trustees. I am the creator and host of The Community Musician podcast. I have been a community musician for almost two decades and am a performer and educator based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I have a Master's Degree from the International Centre of Community Music (ICCM) at York St John University.


As a community musician, I am passionate about working with diverse and at-risk communities, creating a welcoming and pedagogical space. I believe that music can be transformative, support health and wellbeing, build communities and support family relationships through trauma and recovery. I worked extensively at the Glasshouse International Centre for Music (formerly Sage Gateshead) across their Learning and Participation Programme as a Programme Leader and Musician for their Early Years, Loud & Clear Foster and Adoptive Families and CoMusica Programmes. I have collaborative working partnerships with Blue Cabin, where I am an Associate Artist, We Make Culture, The Great North Children's Hospital, North East Autism Society, Children North East, Darlington, Durham, Gateshead and Newcastle Fostering and Adoption Services, Family Intervention Services and Music Services (HUBS) within Primary Education, SEND and PRU across the North East of England.



I have designed and delivered training in Early Years & Family Learning, Inclusive Practice and Working With Young People With Autism for musicians and other professionals and believe that everyone's musicality can be nurtured. I specialise in early years and SEND and run Treble Time, my own business in music-making sessions for babies to under-fives and their grownups.


I was the vocalist and percussion player with Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, a four-piece contemporary folk/acoustic band based in Newcastle. Gaining widespread acclaim, we received radio play on BBC 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 Music, playing live sessions for Dermot O'Leary, Tom Robinson and Radio 4′s Loose Ends, and performed on multiple stages at the legendary Glastonbury Festival, having beaten over 8,000 contenders to win the 2013 Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition. I am also a Board Director for Sound Sense, the UK professional association for community music and a Compere at Cambridge Folk Festival.

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Ryan Humphrey

Hello, I am Ryan Humphrey, a Lecturer in Arts and Cultural Management at the University of Manchester, specialising in community arts and cultural policy. I am excited to join the MERYC England board as a Trustee, supporting the charity in developing its work and helping build a network supporting practitioners, researchers and practitioner-researchers. 


I hold a PhD from York St John University in community music and cultural policy, and prior to this, I completed an MA by Research in community music. Before beginning work in Manchester, I held a position as a Teaching Fellow in Music Education and a Knowledge Exchange Fellow in Cultural Policy at the University of Aberdeen and a Tutor in Community Arts at the University of Edinburgh. 


Alongside my work in academia, I work as a community musician delivering a range of music-making programmes, most prominently with children between the ages of 0-7 and their families. I held the position of Training Manager and Programme Leader at The Glasshouse International Centre for Music (formerly Sage Gateshead), where I was responsible for leading a yearly training programme for the 96 musicians working across the organisation whilst also leading the development and delivery of the Youth Music funded Loud and Clear family programme working with care-experienced children (0-11) and the key adults in their lives. I have also been responsible for leading and delivering a range of music-making programmes across the Northeast, working with care-experienced families for organisations such as MUSINC and ARC Stockton and working with Durham Music Trust as a music teacher specialising in early years delivery. 


I am also a Trustee for the charity Blue Cabin, an organisation dedicated to nurturing meaningful relationships between care-experienced individuals and the people and organisations who are part of their lives through creative activity. 

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Stephen Grocott

Vanessa Stansall

Hello, I'm Vanessa Stansall, a music teacher, researcher and producer. I have an MA in Education (Early Childhood Music) from the Centre for Research in Early Childhood, a PGCE in Music from the Institute of Education and am currently studying for a PhD at the Royal College of Music where I am an RCM Studentship holder. My research takes a matricentric feminist approach and explores the meaning of music or new mothers.   


Having qualified as a secondary school music teacher, I soon returned to my first love which is early years! I subsequently worked as both a general and music-specific teacher/practitioner in a number of early years and primary settings in England, a teacher of performing arts in Spain and early childhood piano teacher. I currently work for the organisations Creative Futures as a Creative Producer and Sound Connections as Early Years Lead.


I have gained so much from MERYC England seminars and conferences, learning and developing my practice and thinking as well as finding a supportive community of other practitioners/researchers – I'm really pleased to join the board and help continue its work. 

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Danielle Ballantine-Drake

I am head of Early Years and Voice at Berkshire Music Trust where I specialise in teaching music from birth to 7yr olds. I enjoy leading two teams of teachers and also regularly offer CPD training for EY practitioners and KS1 teachers. 

I have a BSc in Music and am also a qualified primary teacher. I began my career teaching all subjects but soon realised my heart was really in teaching music, so I specialised and then worked in a variety of schools, nurseries and community settings. While my own two children were young, I ran lots of local music sessions for families with under 5’s. 

I have always enjoyed composing in my spare time and am delighted to have a song published in the NYMAZ Early Years Songbook ‘Songs for Modern Childhoods’ (plus I even have an MA in Composing for Film & TV!) . I studied singing at Guildhall School of Music, and as a hobby now play lever harp. 

I am a big believer in everyone being born musical and want every child to experience the joy and benefits of singing from an early age. These days you can usually find me with a guitar or  bouncing teddies or playing peek-a-boo with scarves! I am passionate about the vital role live music can play in nurturing development right from the very start of life.

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