Chris Bartram

Practising Community Musician and Music Educator

Chris has been a practising community musician and music educator for the past 25 years, in which role he has worked with many well-known community, education and arts organisations (see below).

As part of the team for the new YSJU International Centre for Community Music (ICCM), Chris’ primary research focus is on the uses of music for promoting health and wellbeing. He has a particular interest in the physical, mental and social benefits of singing. In this context, as part of Converge (a YSJU/NHS partnership developing creative projects for mental health service users), he directs ‘Communitas’, a community choir for mental health service users and York St John students.

As an experienced trainer in music and education work, Chris’ other key interest in the ICCM is in the development and implementation of CPD packages for people working with music in community.


Community & Education

As a community musician Chris has worked on many music and theatre projects, including for organisations such as Opera North, Phoenix Dance Company, Northern Ballet Theatre, the National Centre of Early Music, Accessible Arts & Media, and York Theatre Royal. A project Chris led for Manchester Camerata and Royal Exchange Theatre, working with young people with Asperger’s Syndrome, was reviewed in The Guardian newspaper (“Having a Blast”, Guardian Education supplement, 2nd December 2008). The project was longlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society community arts award. Chris was for many years the Artistic Director of ‘Hands and Voices’ (for Accessible Arts and Media), a singing and signing community choir for people with communication and learning difficulties, work which included the co-devising of several large-scale multimedia stage productions involving singing, dance, music technology and video.

As an educator, Chris has been a peripatetic instrumentalist, a full-time primary class teacher, a secondary school music teacher, a teacher in special needs, and a tutor in adult education.

As a trainer in music community and education Chris has led a wide variety of workshops - shadow puppet plays, music and movement, junk instruments, music and education, early years - for organisations such as Musicleader, NYMAZ, etc. He has been a Facilitator for Vocal Force, part of the National Music Manifesto Singing Campaign Sing Up, working in a wide range of primary schools in the York and Selby areas. He has also worked as a Trainer for the Trinity College/Guildhall KS2 Music CPD Programme (Wider Opportunities). In August 2009 Chris travelled to Tokyo to work for MuseKK, a Japanese community arts company. He led Japan’s top music educationalists in practical workshops on general music work, and on devising music theatre with people with learning disabilities.

York St John Work

Chris’ practical community music and education background provides the rationale for his work at York St John University, where he leads modules in Music in the Community, Improvisation, Drumming, and Music Ensembles, as well as teaching on a broad range of other modules.

He directs the music department’s two samba bands.

In 2012 he travelled to Malaysia to support the current development of York St John’s music degree at SEGi College, Kuala Lumpur.

Chris is a member of the University’s Arts as Social Engagement group, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Chris studied music at the University of York (1981-84). He later trained and worked as a primary teacher. In 1999 he received his Masters in Music in the Community from the University of York. Other significant music training includes study in Orff Schulwerk at the Orff Institute, Salzburg, Austria, and training in voice leading workshops with Frankie Armstrong (co-founder of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network).

Other Music Interests & Activities

Chris is a composer and arranger, trumpeter, guitarist and vocalist. He plays trumpet with the soul and blues ensemble Jeromes, and sings and plays guitar in the acoustic duo To the Blue. He has extensive music experience performing in classical ensembles, jazz groups, rock bands, and also extensive experience conducting orchestras, choirs and other ensembles.