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Catherine Birch York St John University

PODCAST [24] Trauma-informed practices in community music and music education – with Catherine Birch, York St John University

In this episode, I’m talking with Catherine Birch, who is a senior lecturer in Community Music at York St John University.  She is currently researching, how trauma-informed approaches can benefit community music practice, through singing and songwriting work with women prisoners as part of the York St John Prison Partnership.

You can listen now below, or on Spotify (search for the name) and iTunes or your favourite podcast app.

What’s in this episode?

We talk about:

  • Catherine’s background as a peripatetic music teacher, secondary school teacher, and secondary music education lecturer
  • working with women prisoners for wellbeing and a renewed sense of self-identity, belonging and self-worth
  • the prevalence of trauma – which can happen as a result of, for example, adverse childhood experiences, and domestic abuse – and its impacts
  • using trauma-informed approaches as part of the ‘toolkit’ of being a music tutor or community musician and improving people’s experience of music learning or participation
  • and we finish with two pieces of advice and a call to action for  music educators and community musicians

Links for this episode

Film of Catherine speaking about her research: Hidden Voices – toward a trauma-informed framework of community music practice

Catherine Birch, senior lecturer in community music, York St. John University – staff profile 

International Centre for Community Music


Conlon, R. (2020). The Meeting Place: Collaborative Learning in a University–Prison Partnership. In McAvinchey, C. (Ed.) (2020), Applied Theatre: Women and the Criminal Justice System (pp. 173-186). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Covington, S. (2016). Becoming Trauma-Informed: Tool Kit for Criminal Justice Professionals. One Small Thing.

Etherington, K. (2004). Becoming a Reflexive Researcher. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Harris, M. & Fallot, R. D. (2001). Using Trauma Theory to Design Service Systems. Jossey-Bass.

Herman, J. (1992, 1997). Trauma and Recovery. Basic Books.

Higgins, L. (2012). Community Music in Theory and in Practice. Oxford University Press

Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma. Penguin.

About the music for education & wellbeing podcast

Listen in each month to get ideas, inspiration and practical advice from people involved in music education, community music, music therapy and more. Learn how you can break down barriers to music, through communications, advocacy and inclusive practice.

The music for the podcast was created by Otis Hynds, a young person working with Noise Solution.


Music for Education & Wellbeing podcast [24] TRANSCRIPT: Catherine Birch


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