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Dr Alan Watson  -  PhD


Telephone:+44 (0)29 208 75156
Fax:+44 (0)29 208 74486
Location:Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Research Overview

Book cover: Biology of Musical Performance and Performance Related Injury

Current research in the lab is focused on various aspects of spinal cord circuitry. This includes presynaptic inhibition of sensory neurones and the effect of ageing on pathways that control the lower pelvic viscera and pelvic floor. The latter is directed at changes in the central and peripheral components of autonomic visceral innervation, the somatic innervation of the pelvic floor, and the descending pathways that control them.

I am also involved in public engagement in science. My particular interest is in providing courses for musicians on the biological principles underlying performance and performance-related injury. This also includes research projects into respiration in musicians. My book on the Biology of Musical Performance and Performance Related Injury was published in 2009.

This work received a Maximising Impact Award from the School in 2010.

Reviews of the book

"The best book in its field yet to be published … highly recommended for those in any discipline who are committed to the performance health of musicians. Besides being a pleasure to read, the book is a scholarly work …... a unique and outstanding book that readers will find to be good reading as well as informative. Unquestionably, it belongs in the libraries of all universities where music is taught and in music conservatories…. should be required reading for instrumental and vocal teachers alike, whereas for those concerned with the medical well-being of musicians it is a near encyclopaedic source of information applicable to patient care, both preventive and therapeutic."  2010, Music Reference Services Quarterly

"This may be the book that many readers have been waiting for . . . it attempts to bridge the chasm, more often successfully than not, between the scientist/health care professional and the musician. . . . The author's writing is straightforward and clear. . . . Overall, I can highly recommend The Biology of Musical Performance and Performance Related Injury." March 2010, Journal of the American Medical Association

As a one-stop introduction to understanding the sources of strain, stress and injury, and useful techniques to avoid or ameliorate them, this book proves to be a impressively detailed yet accessible and useful resource. This book has much to offer every active musician and those who teach them”  May 2009, Classical Music

Public Engagement

I have a strong involvement in public engagement activities related to music biology and music medicine. I run a module on Biology for Musicians at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and have given presentations at venues such as the DANA centre of the London Science Museum, the Wellcome Collection, the National Museum of Wales, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Wrexham Science Festival, Cardiff Science Café, Bath Clinical Society, Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition, British Flute Society Convention, Cheltenham Music Festival, Royal College of Music and at music education and music medicine conferences. I also give regular seminars for the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine and am involved in a new postgraduate Performing Arts Medicine degree at University College London.

Alan Watson and Kevin Price of RWCMD discuss one of their collaborative projects on 

Research Division