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Introducing MERYC England's New Trustees!

We are excited to welcome three new Trustees to the board of MERYC England: Carol BowdenVanessa Stansall and Ryan Humphrey. All three come with a range of experiences and expertise that will support the work of MERYC England. Find out more information about our new Trustees below: 



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.




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. 





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. 




We look forward to working with Carol, Vanessa and Ryan, particularly as we begin preparations for our upcoming conference in November.



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