Jenny England

Name: Jenny England

PhD working title: Music, Movement, and Dementia: can mimesis combined with personalised music contribute to communication skills and quality of relationship in dementia caregiving dyads?

Department: Rural Health, University of the Highlands and Islands in collaboration with the Department of Science of Education, Roma Tre University, Italy.

Supervisors: Sarah-Anne Munoz, Leah Macaden, Ania Zubala


PhD Research

Jenny’s research project builds on a body of existing research in the field of personal music and dementia with an additional element involving movement. She has a particular interest in the use of the body as an expressive tool and how this impacts connection and communication for a ‘couple’. In this case the couple will be the person living with dementia and a loved one, friend or care giver. The term mimesis is being used to express an embodied action of becoming similar in gesture or movement and arises out of research at Roma Tre University (Italy) on the use of mimesis as a pedagogical and therapeutic tool to learn, understand and creatively express.  Thematic analysis will be used with experiences charted through video, interviews, and questionnaires. Embodiment, mirroring, and synchronicity of movement are some elements she will explore in the context of interpersonal relationships. The research will take place in rural areas in Scotland and Italy with the aim to make cultural comparisons particularly concerning gesture and movement. Harnessing experience from the pandemic some couples will be supported through online video technology; and the research will consider if this is a viable option when being together in presence is not possible. Jenny’s PhD studentship is funded by the Alzheimer’s Society.


Jenny comes to music and dementia research after a career in music education and wellbeing within various sectors. She worked as the primary music-co-ordinator in Argyll and Bute from 2006-1017, devising music training programmes for teachers and pupils. Her focus has been on emotional wellbeing outcomes as well as using the body as a core resource to learn and create music. She enjoys using improvisation frameworks to support self-expression whilst creating community and belonging.

In 2002 she won an award to train in hand drumming and world percussion, going on to deliver large scale drumming workshops in community and school settings. Her samba drumming programme continues to be delivered in Argyll and Bute schools. She led and designed the project “My Shoes Your Shoes” (2010-2013) which explored the capacity for empathy through the creative arts. This project delivered a series of workshops in over fifty schools as well as offering teacher training.

She is a saxophone and piano player with a certificate in instrumental teaching from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, teaching piano for many years throughout her career. Her most recent qualification is an MA in Music and the Environment (2018) with the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Jenny has come into research in the field of music and dementia through the rich lived experience of supporting her mum who had dementia.


2007-2022: Regular training for teachers and musicians in facilitating creative and inclusive music-making within the primary music sector

2017-2020: Visiting lecturer, Pedagogy of Expression Masters, Roma Tre University, Rome

2007-2022: Leading workshops in various sectors, most recently teaching music workshop skills for an Erasmus social theatre project

2018-present: Collaborative project with Roma Tre University, Seoul University of the Performing Arts, and La Mama Experimental Theatre New York, exploring creative collaboration across cultures and the digital space.