Timbre Aims to Explore to Music and the Brain

When Catherine Jordan, PhD, MSc, returned to Ireland to become an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, she was surprised to find the research area of music and neuroscience did not exist in Ireland, despite it being a well-developed area across the world. During her clinical rotations, she began to see incredible work happening around music, both in clinical care and research settings. However, many individuals who were doing this work were not aware of one another and there was no common network to connect.

Jordan began to have conversations with music organisations, including the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) and the National Concert Hall, as well as clinicians who provide music-based services and researchers interested in the area. In July 2018, she organised a meeting in the RIAM where it was clear there was a keen interest to develop this area. The meeting consisted of 30 individuals from a range of backgrounds including independent musicians, composers, conductors, clinicians, music therapists and researchers. From there, The Irish Music Brain Research group (TIMBRE) was established.

TIMBRE is an inclusive network that brings Irish researchers and practitioners together to explore the relationships between music and the brain from both theoretical and applied perspectives, combining musicianship with advanced research methodologies.

The network is multidisciplinary and multi-institutional, with members coming from major institutions across Ireland, including University College Cork, the University of Limerick, Queens University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons, Maynooth University, the National Rehabilitation Hospital, MISA St James’ Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin, RIAM, and the National Concert Hall.

On October 18, 2019, TIMBRE launched to a full house of 100+ attendees at the RIAM. The launch included live performances from classical pianists from the RIAM, La Cheile, a youth orchestra for musicians with disabilities, as well as the La La La choir, directed by Sam Kavanagh, and an improv community choir.

The launch event also included talks by Hilary Moss, PhD, Senior Music Therapist and lecturer at the University of Limerick, who spoke about the role music can play in a healthcare setting; and Jordan, who spoke about her work as an Atlantic Fellow and the potential music can offer to persons with dementia, as well as some of the current research work of TIMBRE members in Ireland.

TIMBRE will be hosting biannual symposiums highlighting the current work in Ireland, the first of which will be held in spring 2020. TIMBRE is always looking for new members, so if you are interested or know of someone who may be interested, please contact Catherine Jordan.