Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Paul Fernie

Clinical Research Fellow/PhD Student

Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research

Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Creative Industries
Areas of Expertise:
Music therapy
Research Supervision:

Indicative thesis title: Utilising music production technology in music therapy sessions and in the analysis of musical interactions.

Paul’s current research activities focus upon on how music production technology and sound engineering tools and techniques can be effectively utilised in music therapy practice and in improving individual well-being.

[email protected]


Supervisory team: Prof Jörg Fachner (1st), Dr Clemens Maidhof (2nd), Dr William Campbell (3rd)

Paul has a formal education in music production and sound engineering. Following completion of his BA, Paul undertook an MA in Music Therapy.

Paul's PhD research aims to address a gap in the profession's understanding of how music production technology and techniques can be utilised in practice to benefit the well-being of individuals receiving music therapy.

Paul is exploring how a wide range of music technologies can be utilised with a wide range of client groups. These range from utilising electronic music production to support young people, enabling them to work with a wide range of preferred genres, to using DJ technology with persons with dementia (PWD) to develop an understanding of how changes to the tempo of preferred music impacts upon heart rate variance, supporting the reduction of agitation.

Furthermore, Paul is working collaboratively with colleagues at several educational institutes, developing new areas of research that also seek to further our understanding of the role of music production technology and techniques has in improving well-being, and to develop music technology specific educational models for music therapy educators.

Research interests
  • The utilisation of music production technology in music therapy practice.
  • Understanding how music production tools benefit the therapeutic process.
  • The importance of the timbral features of sound in the representation of emotional experience.
  • Music production as tool to develop musical representations of lived experience.
  • The importance of meaningful music in later life, especially for individuals with cognitive impairment.
  • Correlation between heart rate variance (HRV) and changes to the tempo of preferred music in reducing agitation.
  • The education of trainee music therapists in the application of music technology in clinical practice.
Areas of research supervision

Paul supervises the research of students on ARU's MA Music Therapy.


MA Music Therapy – Principles of Music Therapy

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)
  • MA Music Therapy
  • BA Music Production and Sound Engineering
Memberships, editorial boards
  • British Association of Music Therapists
  • Society for the Study of Addiction
  • HCPC Registered Music Therapist
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Consultant to Prof Dr Josephine Geipel, Program Lead MA Music Therapy, Universität Augsburg. Development of Music Therapy Education with emphasis on the application of music production technology in clinical practice.

Collaborator within a team from CIMTR, Cambridge University and Roehampton University exploring the development of music therapy specific tools for smart technology (iOS and Android).

Selected recent publications

Fachner, J., Maidhof, C., Murtagh, D., De Silva, D., Pasqualitto, F., Fernie, P., Panin, F., Michel, A., Odell-Miller, H. (2022, in review) 'Music therapy, neural processing, and craving reduction: An RCT protocol for a mixed methods feasibility study in a Community Substance Misuse Treatment Service', Addiction Science and Clinical Practice.

Fernie, P. (2019) 'The Imposter Within', Leading Note.

Recent presentations and conferences

Fernie, P. (2022) 'iPads in Group Music Therapy for Individuals with Substance Use Disorder', spoken word presentation, abstract accepted for presentation at the World Congress of Music Therapy Conference 2023, Vancouver.

Fachner, J., Street, A., Fernie, P., Muller, L., Kirke, A., Odell-Miller, H., Farina, N., Moffat, D., Venkatesh, S., Di Campli San Vito, P., Brewster, S., Banerjee, S. and Miranda, E. R. (2022) 'Interactive radio, biomarker and music (therapy) responses to reduce agitation in dementia', spoken word presentation, abstract accepted for presentation at the World Congress of Music Therapy Conference 2023, Vancouver.

Fernie, P. (2022) 'Early thematic analysis of the therapist and participant experiences of music therapy where music technology is the primary instrument', spoken word presentation at European Music Therapy Conference, Edinburgh. Abstract in: Dowling, M., Hussey, C., Maclean, E. and Tsiris, G. (2022) 'Abstracts of the 12th European Music Therapy Conference', British Journal of Music Therapy, Online Special Edition, pp. 188.