The University of Sheffield
Department of Music

Dr Renee Timmers

image of Renee Timmers

Department of Music
The University of Sheffield
Jessop Building
34 Leavygreave Road
S3 7RD

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 0477
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 0469

email :


Having studied Musicology for my first degree (MA) in Amsterdam, I pursued a PhD in Psychology at the Radboud University Nijmegen. As a member of the Music Mind Machine group, I was involved in collaborative research combining perspectives and methods from psychology, computer science and music theory to investigate perception and cognition of music. My main focus was on (cognitive) rules that underlie the expressive timing of music, but also the freedom that performers have within these rules.

After my PhD, I was a postdoctoral researcher for six years at institutes in Italy, Austria, the UK, the Netherlands and the USA. I worked at departments of music, psychology and computer science gaining relevant cross-disciplinary experience. My research focused on the communication of emotions through music performance, including a comparison of emotional expression in early and later recordings of Schubert songs.

Since January 2009, I am a lecturer in Psychology of Music in Sheffield. I am directing the onsite and distance learning MAs in Psychology of Music and teach psychology related UG modules. With Prof. Dibben, I established the research centre “Music Mind Machine in Sheffield” to promote communication and exchange across faculties and disciplines between people with shared interests in cognition and music. I am committed to establish an active research-led teaching and learning community, where students of different levels can blossom by learning from each other as well as from internal and visiting academics, and by learning through close encounters with successful research.

Academic Roles

Research interests

Current projects

Participate in research
Please visit the Music Mind Machine pages to check for possibilities to participate in ongoing research:
Music Mind Machine

Recent grants

2012 British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme (£27.230) with Zohar Eitan – Cross-modal perception of music.
2012 Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Music Performance as Creative Practice (£1.800). Research visit Oxford University and King’s College London. Expressive performance in contemporary music.
2011 University of Sheffield, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Research & Innovation Grant (£1,500) with Harriet Crook - Influences of emotions on perception and attention to auditory patterns.
2010 University of Sheffield, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Research & Innovation Grant, (£1,500) with Lawrence Parsons - Interpersonal coordination of rhythmic action in music: Psychological and neural aspects.
2009 British Academy Small Research Grant (£7,500) - The influence of emotional responses on attention and expectation in music perception.
2003 TALENT stipend from NWO (£8,600). - Research visit to School of Music, Northwestern University, USA – The emotion of ornamentation in Baroque music.

PhD students

Past PhD student

Selected publications

Fabian, D., Timmers, R., & Schubert, E. (forthcoming). Expressiveness in music performance: A crosscultural and interdisciplinary approach. Oxford University Press.
Timmers, R., Sadakata, M., & Desain, P. (2012). The role of visual feedback and creative exploration for the improvement of timing accuracy in performing musical ornaments. Music Perception 30, 71-88.
Eitan, Z., & Timmers, R. (2010). Beethoven's last piano sonata and those who follow crocodiles: Cross-domain mappings of auditory pitch in a musical context. Cognition 114, 405-422.
Juslin, P.N., & Timmers, R. (2010). Expression and communication of emotion in music performance. In Juslin, P.N. & Sloboda, J.A. (Eds) Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, and Applications. Oxford University Press (pp. 453-489).
Timmers, R. (2007). Vocal expression in recorded performances of Schubert songs. Musicae Scientiae XI (2), 237-268.
Timmers, R. & Ashley, R. (2007). Emotional ornamentation in performances of a Handel sonata. Music Perception 25 (2), 117-134.
Timmers, R. (2002). Freedom and constraints in timing and ornamentation: Investigations of music performance. Maastricht: Shaker Publishing.