Interview – Anneli B.Haake

Dr Anneli Haake
Anneli B. Haake completed her BA (Hons) at Stockholm University in 2003. Her major was musicology, but she also studied 1 year of music psychology at Uppsala University, for Prof. Alf Gabrielsson and Prof. Patrik Juslin. She then worked for 6 months for a research institute in northern Sweden called Sonic Interactive Institute, specialising in music psychology matters. After travelling in New Zealand, she came to the UK and did her PhD at Sheffield University.


For her doctorate thesis, she studied the experiences of music listening in office environments in the UK, and has been awarded the Young Research Award by ESCOM for her article “Individual music listening in workplace settings: An exploratory survey of offices in the UK”. The article is the first ever survey of listening patterns among employees in UK office environments.  Parallel to her PhD studies, she did a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, and also started her own business as a Swedish language tutor and translator. She is currently furthering her career as a self-employed music psychology advisor and language tutor, and is curious to see whether the two can be combined at some stage in the future.

1)       When and how did you first find out about music psychology?

When I was 18, I did a special project at school about music therapy, and I met with a music therapist and spent a day with him as he worked with people who had special needs. I was absolutely fascinated, so I got in touch with Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where you can study music therapy. After speaking to an advisor, I found out that there was a course called music psychology at Uppsala University. I went there for a seminar, which was open to the public. I saw Prof. Alf Gabrielsson speak, and got hooked!

2)       What lead you to want to study music psychology for yourself?

I have had several strong experiences of music, so to begin with I was interested in understanding more about how music listening affects people. But once I started studying music psychology, a whole world of interesting topics opened up and I got interested in many different areas.

3)       What did you enjoy studying the most in music psychology? Is there any area you wish you could have studied more?

I really enjoyed covering the whole area in the beginning of my studies, and seeing what’s out there. I would have loved to study more music therapy-related, as I find it fascinating to see how music can help people with special needs. If I was more mathematically minded, it would be interesting to understand more about neuroscience, but that is just not possible for me! In general, I love studying how music is experienced in the daily life of people. 

4)       What are your current areas of focus/study and how did you come to work in these areas?

I have focused on experience of music listening in a very specific environment – offices. I think there’s too little research focusing on music listening, as most music psychology research has focused on music performance – although it is slowly changing. I also think there has been a particular focus on studying effects of classical music, at the expense of popular music-related studies. I want to highlight the everyday listening activities, which most people take part in – musically trained or not. For me, office environments were particularly interesting as they are so common; most employees have computers and can therefore listen to their own self-selected music. It is also interesting, given that many employees report high levels of stress at work, and the fact that music is often reported to be relaxing.

5)       What is your proudest moment as a music psychologist?

I think getting through my Viva, but that was perhaps more a personal achievement. I always feel a little bit proud when I talk about music psychology-related topics to people from other disciplines, as I feel I am representing a very interesting yet unusual topic of study.

6)       Who inspires you most in the field of music psychology?

In general, researchers who take a cross-disciplinary approach in their research and do not just stick to one kind of methodology or design. For my thesis topic in particular, Dr. Teresa Lesiuk and Prof. Stig-Magnus Thorsén were a great inspiration.

7)       Do you have a favourite book about music psychology?

I still enjoy Sloboda & Juslin’s “Music and emotion: theory and research”, as it is such a nice collection of chapters on music and emotion from many different disciplines.

8)       What do you think might be a future, exciting challenge for music psychology?

Perhaps how to integrate the many different disciplines into something useful, to bridge gaps between different sub-disciplines and enhance interaction: psychology, sociology, musicology, neuroscience, anthropology, and medicine…

9)       What music do you like to listen to in your spare time?

 Crisp, clear yet heavy indie pop a la Temper Trap, or dirty, sad, acoustic country a la Gillian Welch/Ryan Adams. Beautiful harmonic melodies from Fleet Foxes, and cool Scandinavian ladies with attitude – Robyn, Lykke Li, Veronica Maggio.

10)   Do you have any advice for future, budding music psychologists?

Don’t get stuck in one narrow track when it comes to methods and approach. Mix your methods if you can. Read outside of your own particular sub-disciplines. Think about how your results can be useful in ‘the real world’.



Music at work website:

Swedish language website:

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