Rosie Rushton

Doctoral Researcher 

Research Topic

Exploring the impact of music on the play experiences of children and young people with Profound and Multiple Learning Rosie RushtonDisabilities 

Research Overview 

Individuals with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) often explore the world in unconventional ways and as a result, opportunities presented for conventional play, are difficult to access and frequently obsolete. However, music and vocal-play appear highly motivating and fundamental to the well-being of individuals with PMLD. 

This PhD research provides an opportunity to investigate and evidence the impact of using music as a medium to facilitate play, and develop a framework of guidelines and principles for teaching staff to embed Musical Play within their practices. It aims to investigate the impact of Musical Play on the engagement and playfulness of learners with PMLD and their peer relationships.  It will also consider the effects of Musical Play on the attitudes of staff who support and facilitate play for learners with PMLD. 

Research interests

  • Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities
  • Severe Learning Disabilities
  • Music Education
  • Special Education
  • Play
  • Play Interventions
  • Creative educational approaches 

Research Supervisors

Dr Lila Kossyvaki and Dr Emmanouela Terlektsi 


Rosie is a researcher and music facilitator based in the West Midlands, where she has established herself as a specialist in music provision for individuals with learning disabilities. Rosie collaborates nationally in projects with schools, charities and communities in order to devise, facilitate and evaluate accessible and meaningful musical experiences. She is director of the charity Melody and Co-Director and founder of the Community Interest Company Big Top Musical Adventures. Shortlisted for the National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN) Inspirational Teacher of the Year Award (2018) Rosie’s practical experiences continue to inform, motivate and inspire her research interests. 

When not making music Rosie enjoys painting, camping and the great outdoors! 

Professional Memberships

  • ISM- International Society of Musicians
  • ISME- International Society of Music Educators 

Conference Papers 

Spoken Presentation: We all play music: Musical Play for children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. International Society of Music Educators World Conference, ISME Commission on Special Music Education and Music Therapy, Finland [Online] (2020). 

Poster Presentation: HELP ME SING: Promoting vocalisations in music sessions with learners with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. Cripping the Muse Conference, University of Leeds (2018) 


Rushton, R. and Kossyvaki, L. (2020) Using Musical Play with children with profound and multiple learning disabilities at school. British Journal of Special Education.   

Rushton, R. (2016) HELP ME SING: Promoting vocalisations in music sessions with learners with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. SLD Experience. 75: 3-9. 

Rushton, R. (2015) In Harmony Telford and Stoke-on-Trent: Engaging Children with Special Educational Needs Evaluation report on accessibility, inclusivity and impact for children with additional needs. National Foundation for Youth Music.

Source of Funding

ESRC 3+1 programme

Contact Details


Twitter: @RushtonRosie