Wendy McMahon

PhD student

Wendy is a British citizen who has been living and working in the USA since 2001. She holds a BA in Music from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, (formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) and studied Music Psychology in Education through the University of Sheffield’s MA distance program. She is currently a student on the Nordoff Robbins MPhil/Phd program in Music, Health, Society.

Her professional background includes program design and development for a music education company in Washington D.C., who now franchises throughout the U.S.A. She created a unique system (the musical matrix) designed to integrate lesson plans, student progress data, teacher feedback, and media tools across a range of musical instrument curriculum (e.g. voice, guitar, piano, drums, etc.). The real magic in the matrix is the simultaneously linear and non-linear design which provides tools for establishing consistency across franchise locations without stifling the creative approach of teachers with extremely varied musical and teaching backgrounds. She also created several year-round early-childhood music programs designed to offer rich sensory environments and multi-modal educational activities, inspired by Montessori, Kodaly and Orff techniques and approaches.
These programs and curriculum infrastructure were conceptualized after 20 years of teaching private and group music lessons (cello, piano, voice, early childhood group lessons) and five years developing a music and literature course in a Montessori preschool environment.

PhD Research Project

Wendy’s current research project couples her interest in creativity and musical expression with adapting to change and the challenges faced by those of us who encounter illness and injury. This pilot project aims to study the many ways professional musicians develop workarounds and adaptive strategies to deal with physical and psychological challenges that make it difficult (or even impossible) to play our instruments in the ways we once could.

Specifically, she is interested in learning how professional musicians adapt after an injury or during a chronic illness. How do we continue making music at a professional level? What kind of workarounds do we use? Have we found a local support network or are we navigating these challenges alone?

Her project hopes to gather insight from creative and extraordinary musicians, makers and technicians and share some of these stories with the research community and within the music industry, both in the UK and USA.

If that’s you and you’re interested in participating, please get in touch by emailing wendy.mcmahon@nordoff-robbins.org.uk


Wendy McMahon profile photo