Mary McBain

Name: Mary McBain

MSc by Research Thesis Title: Viewing Disability as a Resource in Musical Performance, Composition and Education.

Departments: Reid School of Music

Supervisors:  Dr Katie Overy (Music) and Dr Audrey Cameron (Deaf Studies)


Research Interests:

Mary is particularly interested in how musicians with hidden disabilities, such as d/Deaf and neurodivergent musicians, experience and create music.  She is passionate about Garland-Thomson’s proposal of viewing disability as a resource. She also wishes to investigate the relevant barriers faced by such musicians as a result of their disability and help devise and facilitate more accessible platforms and methods of teaching for all.


MSc by Research:

In September 2021, Mary commenced an MSc by Research at the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Dr Katie Overy and Dr Audrey Cameron. This research seeks to highlight inaccessible aspects of music and music education, utilising comparative methods regarding the practices in other countries, such as Australia. Investigation of teaching methods and music practices will also include interviews of those with lived experience of hearing loss. There will be particular reference to the notion of ‘Deaf Gain’ and Mary will be further pursuing Garland-Thomson’s approach of viewing disability as a resource. She will also address how hearing people can learn from members of the d/Deaf communities and further assist the facilitation of more accessible musical platforms.



Mary grew up in Queensland, Australia. She was the recipient of the Lindsay Statham Music Scholarship at Fairholme College and attended the Young Conservatorium at Griffith University for both Trumpet and Voice. She returned to Scotland in 2014 to complete a Bachelor of Humanities and Social Sciences in French and Italian at the University of Strathclyde, which she obtained in 2017. Thereafter, she obtained her Bachelor of Music (Hons) degree at the University of Glasgow in 2021. It was during her second degree that Mary recognised a significant gap in research regarding how disability is represented and facilitated within the arts, specifically within musical contexts such as performance, composition and in classroom settings. Her honours dissertation ‘Do the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities have sufficient access to the universal language? An investigation of music accessibility in society’ made an initial foray into the issue, which she hopes to address further in her ongoing research. Alongside her research pursuits, Mary is an accomplished singer, having received an extensive classical education in voice, performing both as a soloist and in larger groups, she is currently studying for a Fellowship of Trinity College London exam in Voice. She also enjoys playing the trumpet and rollerblading and is currently learning British Sign Language.