Staff profile

Dr Yoon Irons

Associate Professor of Arts for Health and Wellbeing

Yoon Irons standing at the front of a classroom in front of a projector screen that features a slide that reads 'Introduction to Music Therapy'.


College of Health, Psychology and Social Care

Research centre

Health and Social Care Research Centre, University Professorial Council





I am an Associate Professor of Arts for Health and Wellbeing at the School of Psychology, College of Health, Psychology and Social Care.

Teaching responsibilities

I supervise PhD and Masters students who are undertaking research in the field of music, music psychology, public health and long-term health conditions. I teach creative connections module for counselling students.

Professional interests

My expertise includes developing, delivering and evaluating creative programmes/interventions (e.g., social prescribing). 

Research interests

My research to date has significantly contributed to the field of Arts for Health and Wellbeing. I have conducted the first randomised controlled trial on the singing intervention for young people with cystic fibrosis and the first international research project involving people with Parkinson's. I received a competitive research grant to explore group singing for mental health, which produced the first toolkit for group singing facilitators. Currently, I'm working on AHRC project, which focuses on promoting social prescribing for people from ethnic minority communities. Further, I'm a Co-Investigator for the ESRC-funded UK and South Korea Research Networking project, exploring research and practice around social support for families in the UK and South Korea. Further, I conduct systematic literature reviews on related topics, including Cochrane Systematic Reviews.

Membership of professional bodies

I'm a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an adjunct research fellow at Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre and the Hopkins Centre (research for rehabilitation and resilience) at Griffith University, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. 

I'm also a research associate at Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, UK. 

I regularly provide peer-review for international journals (e.g., Arts for Health) and am on the editorial board of Journal of Music, Health and Wellbeing


Recent conferences

In 2022, I presented my research on group singing for older adults' wellbeing during the pandemic at Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre.

In 2021, I gave a talk at the York Ideas Forum (Music, Prevention and Public Health) about how songs can be used to promote important public health messages based on a recent systematic review.

In 2019, I attended a number of international and national conferences to present my research on singing:

Experience in industry

Previously, I worked as a music therapist at schools and hospitals in London and Australia. I also lectured at universities in China and Australia.

I provide consultancy work for health and social care and arts-based organisations. For example, I'm working with Singing for Our Minds funded by the Baring Foundation on the training programme for music leaders from ethnic minority communities. I'm a steering group member for Scotland's Singing for Health Network. Additionally, I contributed to Essential Read “The value of group singing” for Centre for Cultural Value project, which supports cultural activities promoting wellbeing for our communities.

I've also been supporting Sing to Beat Parkinson's charity through research-based training programmes for group singing facilitators.

I'm a trustee for Derby Music Centre, promoting music education for young people in Derby.  

International experience

I have worked with colleagues from Austria, Australia, China, Indonesia, South Korea, and Spain collaboratively.  

I led the first international singing study involving people living with Parkinson's in collaboration with colleagues from Australia, South Korea and the UK. 

I'm a speaker for international conferences.

Additional interests and activities

I have been contributing to musical calligraphic design for the German Music Therapy Journal (Musiktherapeutische Umschau) since 2002. I co-founded the University of Derby Staff Orchestra in 2018 to promote staff wellbeing through playing music. Since July 2021, I'm a deputy chair of the College Research Committee. I also support the Early Career Researchers' forum and the Early Career Academic community at Derby.

In the media

Recent publications

A full list of my publications can be found:

My recent publications are:

a choir singing

The Covid-19 pandemic has kept us apart from our friends and family, but many people have found comfort in unusual places. One of them is singing together. Dr Yoon Irons, Research Fellow at the University of Derby, explores why singing has helped some many people and what benefits it can offer.