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 therapy, music psychology, public health and long-term health conditions. I also teach research methods (e.g., systematic reviews). 

Professional interests

My expertise includes developing, delivering and evaluating creative therapeutic programmes for people living with a long-term health condition. For example, I've led research into group singing for people with chronic pain, mental health, neurological conditions and Long-COVID. My expertise also includes providing training and education for group singing facilitators and healthcare professionals.

Research interests

I'm the director of Singing Research Lab, specialising in designing and evaluating singing programmes for people living with long-term health conditions. My research to date has significantly contributed to the field of Arts for Health and Wellbeing. In particular, I led and continue to research into both physical and mental benefits of singing using robust methodology: 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. Recently, I've been invited to lead Parkinson's research theme in SingWell, a Canadian Research project. I also received a competitive research grant to explore group singing for mental health (ESRC MARCH network), which produced the first toolkit for group singing facilitators. Additionally, I've been working on social prescribing research projects: SP4ALL - an AHRC-funded project, that 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.

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 am on the editorial board of Journal of Music, Health and Wellbeing and an Associate Editor for Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. Further, I regularly provide peer-review for international journals (e.g., Arts for Health).


Recent conferences

In 2023, I gave a keynote presentation at the Chartered Physiotherapists in Mental Health conference on the effects of music on mental and physical health and wellbeing.

In 2022, I presented my research on group singing for older adults' well-being 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 Austria, 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 well-being 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 work collaboratively with colleagues from Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Indonesia, South Korea, and Spain. 

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.

In the media

Recent publications

A full list of my publications can be found

My key 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.