Nicky Haire joined the QMU Music Therapy team as a lecturer in December 2019. Over the last twenty years, Nicky has worked as a musician, educator and music therapist in a wide variety of contexts.

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Registered with Health and Care Professions Council (AS13446)

Full member of British Association for Music Therapy (7915)

Affiliated with the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD), Edinburgh

College of Art, University of Edinburgh

Member of the Centre for Creative-Relational Research (CCRI), University of Edinburgh 

Member of Music as Therapy International

Member of Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra 

Other useful links

Nicky Haire's website

Nicky's Soundcloud profile

Nicky's ResearchGate profile

Experience of injury as a musician early in her career led to a focus on embodied musical practices and healthful ways of making music. Understanding improvisation as a critically reflexive way of being in the world, and being-in-relation-with, underpins her approach to music therapy, teaching and research.

As a music therapist, her areas of practice are broad and include work with persons living with dementia; adults who have acquired brain injury and children and young people who are living with disabilities and mental health issues. For the past ten years, she has also led skill-sharing music projects in collaboration with local partners who are working with children living with disabilities in post-conflict communities in East and Central Africa. She has been joint co-ordinator of the British Association of Music Therapy (BAMT) Scotland area group, and the BAMT Improvisation Network co-ordinator. Three years ago she set up Space to Play, a regular monthly musical meeting place for music therapists to play and think together. Her doctoral study focuses on relational experiences and perceptions of humour in music therapy, specifically with persons living with dementia, and embraces arts-based critical reflexivity; thinking through improvisation.

Research Overview: Nicky’s central area of interest is improvisation and improvisational processes in music therapy and beyond, and most of the projects she is involved in connect to this in some way.

Nicky’s doctoral study used arts-based reflexivity - thinking through improvisation – informed by phenomenological philosophy (specifically Merleau-Ponty) to focus on embodied relational experiences and perceptions of humour in music therapy, specifically with persons living with dementia.

Active research interests:

  • Humour in music therapy
  • Thinking through improvisation
  • Self-experiences in musical improvisation
  • Music therapy and cross-cultural working
  • Experiential, embodied and arts-based knowing Using improvisation in supervision
  • Improvisation and psychoanalytic theory
  • Performative auto-ethnography

Research Methods:

  • Arts-based inquiry
  • Creative-reflexivity
  • Heuristic and phenomenological methods
  • Auto-ethnography

Nicky Haire 's research publications and outputs (QMU eResearch profile)

Centre for Person-centred Practice Research (CPcPR)

Affiliate member



In addition to her work as a lecturer in music therapy at Queen Margaret University, Nicky has taught as a visiting lecturer in various related programs of study, locally and internationally. Nicky has a specific interest in experiential approaches to learning and aims to bring a critically reflexive stance to teaching and learning. Some of her primary teaching areas include empathic improvisation, working with persons living with dementia, cross-cultural working, psychoanalytic theory and arts-based reflexivity.