Music and pleasure,  Music Psychology

Do I still like music?

Hello Dear Reader,

Here we are again, holiday times are coming!!

This is my last day of working before I settle down to spend time with my beloved families. First, a traditional Spanish Christmas Eve celebration of food (my freezer is full of fish) followed by a very British Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Then my husband and I will be heading to Spain proper to revel in the dry and brighter weather for a few days while meeting my new nephew Daniel, born just 3 weeks ago. I can’t wait.

In the meantime, here I sit in my office in Sheffield, updating all my work related websites and writing to you, Dear Reader.

With colleagues and friends
With colleagues and friends

Since last we spoke I have returned from my 2 month stay in the lovely United States of America. I enjoyed an interesting research project with my colleagues at the University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music and fulfilled my hopes to visit as many colleagues as possible in that area of the world. I managed to travel to Chicago (Northwestern), Boston (Tufts), Lewisburg (Bucknell), Ithaca (Cornell), and Buffalo.

I also saw the glories of Niagara Falls with my own eyes. A very special place.

While in the US I had an email from a student who reads this blog and was considering whether to study music psychology. He asked me a question that got me to thinking; do I still like music?

Has studying music psychology, in any way, ruined my enjoyment of music?

My first reaction was, ‘my goodness – I hope not’.

Then I thought about other professions where a person is lucky enough to combine one of their passions in life with their occupation. Does a chef cease to enjoy food? Does a racing driver experience reduced pleasure when driving his own car?

Siblings celebrating at Chartwell. Katie is on the far left
Siblings celebrating at Chartwell. Katie is on the far left

I thought about my little sister Katherine. She was always history mad as a child. Loved stories of the Kings and Queens of England, adored dressing up in historical costume, and chose to go to University at Durham to study history.

After a diversion into marketing and event promotion in London, Katie worked her way into the National Trust organisation and, through hard work and skill, moved up the ladder to her current position as custodian of Chartwell, the family home of Winston Churchill. She lives in the house itself while taking care of the house and collection for the National Trust, the Churchil family, and the nation.

Does our Katie still like history? Oh my… yes. Yes with a capital ‘Y’. She has an endless supply of books and films on historical topics and she knows the history of Churchill in particular inside out. She gives excellent lectures on his life and works, for example at the Science Museum this very year. Whether I agree with the politics involved is another matter that I won’t go into here, but it is a pleasure to watch someone speak with pleasure, interest and passion on their chosen subject.

Learning more about your favourite things in life might be a double edged sword in some cases. I can see the argument for wanting the ‘magic’ of something like music to remain a mystery.

So has learning about music and how it affects body and mind changed my love?

No. Not for one second. If anything my obsession with music only grows with every passing year, paper, discovery, exciting conference, and memorable student.

I want to know more. That is the thing; if music is one of the ultimate expressions of human creativity (and I believe it to be so) then we will never know everything because we are chasing a moving target. Music will always have something new to tell us about what it means to be human.

For me, what I have learned has only deepened my fascination for both music and for the human mind, and their very special relationship.

Here is the short reply I managed in response to the student who was kind enough to write to me and ask if I still liked music after studying music psychology for 11 years.


Hi Bryson

Sorry for the quick reply but I’m in transit across the US at present.

Thank you for your interest in my work, I’m glad to hear you enjoy the blog.

In answer to your question – my love of music has only deepened through my study of music psychology. I have been exposed to far more of the world’s wonderful music than I would have been without my job related curiosity and have met so many more wonderful musicians. I listen to a more exotic mix of music but I still jump around my house to my Beatles and Beethoven vinyls. Understanding what we know at present about how music affects the mind and body spoils nothing. It is not a magic trick! And the more you know, the more questions you find.

That is my experience. I can also tell you that in 10 years I never met a student or colleague who regretted choosing music psychology as a pathway of exploration.

All the best,



Happy Christmas from me and Oscar (my lovely husband)
Happy Christmas from me and Oscar (my lovely husband)

Right, that is me done blogging for the year.

Thank you for visiting this site over the past year, I hope to see you in 2016 for more summaries of the latest music psychology research.

In the meantime, I am going to put on some Bing Crosby and croon Christmas classics loudly while I upload this blog and wrap up my final pre-celebration work tasks.

I hope you are also looking forward to an enjoyable break as we move toward and into 2016. I wish you the best at this festive time, plus a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Happy holiday, Dear Reader; make it a good one 🙂


One Comment

  • Yune Lee

    Dear Vicky,
    Dear Vicky,

    Thanks for sharing the story!
    I agree with you and I see that my passion for music cognition research continues to grow.

    One thing that I want to say is though, someone may not like or even regret to study this field if they are more concerned about job stability or securing funding down the road in their career (at least in the US) than pursuing their genuine passion for music cognition.

    I decided to choose latter after going through a tough time of soul searching and I find myself much happier by sticking to my passion.
    I want him to join us and appreciate the joy of music psychology.