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Staff Profile

Catherine Birch

Senior Lecturer: Music

Profile image of Catherine Birch

Catherine Birch is a Senior Lecturer in Community Music at York St John University, UK.

As a regular practitioner for the York St John Prison Partnership Project, she facilitates singing and song-writing sessions for the Emerging Voices project, using trauma-informed practice as a pedagogical framework.

As a community musician, Catherine has worked primarily as a vocal leader, with all ages, across the education sector as well as in community settings.

Catherine is currently a PhD researcher through the International Centre for Community Music, supervised by Professor Lee Higgins, exploring how working in a trauma-informed way, particularly using the voice in singing and song writing, can be impactful as a tool in trauma recovery.


Having worked in HE since 2011, Catherine's main areas of teaching have been in Community Music and Music Education. She oversees all the undergraduate music courses in Education and Community and inputs into the MA in Community Music.


Catherine is currently a PhD researcher through the ICCM, supervised by Professor Lee Higgins. Her PhD title is 'Emerging Voices - trauma-informed community music practice as an aid to trauma recovery.'

This thesis asserts the notion that trauma-informed community music practice (specifically using singing and song-writing) can aid in trauma recovery. On the basis of trauma statistics worldwide, this thesis also asserts that trauma-informed practice needs to be fully integrated into the practice of community music as a necessary and integral part, whether practitioners are knowingly working with trauma survivors or not.

Professional Activities

As a current researcher with the ICCM, Catherine is involved in partnerships both nationally and internationally, contributing to student symposiums with Teacher's College, Columbia University, New York, The Free University of Bozen in Italy and this coming May with the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany. Catherine is also one of the Research Associates for the Ethno Research Company, formed to deliver a three-year research project that will be carried out by the International Centre for Community Music. The study will focus on the impact that Ethno has had on the lives of young musicians, personally and professionally, over the past thirty years.


Birch, C. (2020). Case Study: Ethno Denmark. Building Bridges and Making Connections: Personal Encounters at Ethno Denmark, 2019.

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