Dr Becky Dowson

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research

Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Creative Industries

Becky is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CIMTR and is currently working on several different projects. She is also a Music Therapist and gained her PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2020. She has a particular research interest in dementia.



Becky qualified as a Music Therapist at Anglia Ruskin University in 2012. She worked in dementia care settings and with children and young people with a range of needs in Oxfordshire for four years before moving to Nottingham to pursue her PhD in 2016, funded by the Alzheimer’s Society as part of the TAnDEM (The Arts and Dementia) Doctoral Training Centre. The focus of her PhD research was the evaluation of the CHORD manual, which was created by Dr Orii McDermott to provide guidance for people who wished to lead singing groups for people with dementia. After completing her PhD in 2020, Becky worked as Research Fellow for the PRESIDE study at the University of Nottingham, which was a randomised controlled feasibility study of community group singing for people with dementia and their carers.

Becky currently works in clinical practice for Chiltern Music Therapy, where she also supervises. She is involved with the organisation Companion Voices, a network of groups who provide bedside singing for people who are dying, and leads the song learning group for the Nottingham branch. She was previously a guest lecturer on the Music Therapy MA course at the University of Derby. She is currently on the editorial board of the British Journal of Music Therapy.

Spoken Languages
  • French
Research interests
  • Music and music therapy for people with dementia
  • Psychosocial interventions for people with dementia
  • Social care and care homes
  • Issues around outcome measurement and how we “measure” the effects of music
  • Active ingredients of music and music therapy
  • Music, dementia and technology
  • BA Music, University of Oxford
  • MSt Musicology, University of Oxford
  • MA Music Therapy, Anglia Ruskin University
  • PhD Sociology, University of Nottingham
Memberships, editorial boards
  • Member of British Association of Music Therapy
  • Registered with Health and Care Professions Council (AS14401)
  • Editor of British Journal of Music Therapy
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • Joint Lead Applicant, PRESIDE study, awarded 2022. Funded by NIHR (£338,276.00)
Selected recent publications

Dowson, B., Schneider, J., McDermott, O., & Orrell, M. (2023). Online Singing Groups for People With Dementia: Adaptation and Resilience in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Dementia, 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/14713012231179262

Dowson, B., Atkinson, R., Barnes, J., Barone, C., Cutts, N., Donnebaum, E., Hung Hsu, M., lo Coco, I., John, G., Meadows, G., O’Neill, A., Noble, D., Norman, G., Pfende, F., Quinn, P., Warren, A., Watkins, C., & Schneider, J. (2021). Digital approaches to music-making for people with dementia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: current practice and recommendations. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 1–17.

Dowson, B., Schneider, J., Guo, B., Bath, P. M., McDermott, O., Haywood, L. J., & Orrell, M. (2021). Pilot Randomised Evaluation of Singing in Dementia (PRESIDE): protocol for a two-arm, parallel-group randomised controlled feasibility study with waiting-list control. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 7(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40814-020-00759-y

Dowson, B., & Schneider, J. (2021). Online singing groups for people with dementia: scoping review. In Public Health (Vol. 194, pp. 196–201). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2021.03.002

Sousa, L., Dowson, B., McDermott, O., Schneider, J., & Fernandes, L. (2020). Music-based interventions in the acute setting for patients with dementia: a systematic review. In European Geriatric Medicine (Vol. 11, Issue 6, pp. 929–943). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41999-020-00381-4

Dowson, B., McDermott, O., & Schneider, J. (2019). What indicators have been used to evaluate the impact of music on the health and wellbeing of people with dementia? A review using meta-narrative methods. Maturitas, 127(June), 26–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2019.06.001

Recent presentations and conferences

Dowson, Becky, “A feasibility study of online singing groups for people with dementia: Findings and implications for future practice”. Oral presentation at European Music Therapy Congress, Edinburgh, June 2022.

Dowson, Becky, “Optimising online singing groups for people with dementia: guidelines based on current practice”. Poster at Alzheimer’s Disease International, virtual conference, December 2020.

Dowson, Becky, “Do the outcomes prioritised by research reflect the value of music and music therapy to people with dementia? Synthesis of findings from two literature reviews”. Oral presentation at European Music Therapy Congress, Aalborg, June 2019.