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About Us

MERYC England is a registered charity committed to advancing the musical education of children aged 0 - 5 years in England. It organises a biennial conference in England where current research and practice is shared, discussed and disseminated. These are joyous occasions that bring researchers and practitioners together. MERYC England also awards small grants each year to facilitate further enquiry into early childhood music, with a view to developing practice through research and reflection. A Board of Trustees, with the relevant skills, knowledge and experience, runs and organises these activities, as well as overseeing its effective operation as a registered charity. In keeping with its origins, MERYC England connects with its European partners at EuNet Meryc, through conferences and collaborative projects.

our aims

  • to pursue inquiry into early childhood music education through research and critical reflection on practice
  • to foster collaboration between educators and researchers in Music Education practice with young children, that is mutually supportive between researchers and practitioners
  • to promote and articulate high quality inclusive practice and musicianship in practice
  • to conduct music education and research that recognises the cultural and social diversity of early childhood and childrearing practices in families in England and the UK.

our ethos

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Young children have the right to musical experiences which: 
  • are the highest possible quality
  • are developmentally appropriate
  • are child-centred and in the child's time
  • are progressive
  • value and respect cultural diversity
  • encourage inclusive participation
  • recognise a child's relationship with key people
  • are fun and engaging



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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EuNET MERYC: Origins and Aims 

In 2003 Susan Young (UK), Charlotte Fröhlich (Switzerland), and Sven-Erik Holgersen (Denmark) met in Copenhagen to plan the start of a European Network that would foster collaborations between European researchers and practitioners in early childhood music education.  The network became known as EuNet MERYC (European Network of Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children). 

Central to the purpose of the network was a focus on European research and practice.  The reason for this focus was to foster the distinctive characteristics and traditions of European research within diverse European academic and educational contexts.  The aim was to raise the visibility of European research in European languages to counter-balance the dominance of Anglo-American research and the English language.  Another reason for this focus was to ensure that practice would be informed by European academic activity of the highest quality.  Bringing research and practice together in constructive dialogue was a priority for the network’s activities.  To support these purposes the network holds a conference every two years, aiming, if possible to locate each conference in a different region of Europe, including former Eastern bloc countries.       

The EuNet MERYC Board initially consisted of the 3 founding members and the hosts of the first two MERYC conferences.  Each conference host becomes a board member and by this simple system Board membership gradually evolves, providing both continuity and new faces.

An English Sub-group Emerged

In 2007 the EuNet MERYC conference was held in Cyprus.  At this conference, a group of English delegates met socially one evening and decided to keep in contact once they returned to England.  From this simple beginning an English sub-group within the larger European network was formed.  This group continued informally at first under the title MERYC-UK and later formalised their activity as a charity under the title of MERYC-England. 

The intention of MERYC-England is to maintain links with its parent organisation; to support and foster the aims and purposes of Eunet-MERYC within a national context; and to provide a forum for dialogue and influence between distinctively British/European academic theorising and research, contemporary practice in all its varied forms and policy.  

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