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Personal profile

Personal profile

Dr. Karolien Dons is a teacher and researcher at the Prince Claus Conservatoire and its research group Lifelong Learning in Music of the Research Centre Arts & Society. Karolien’s expertise hovers at the interface of music and quality of life and the contribution that musicians can make here. She is interested in innovative forms of musicking for and with people within specific social contexts, specifically in health care. Her recent research activities were situated in care homes, refugee centres, nursing homes for people with dementia and hospital wards. Karolien studied musicology at Ghent University and music psychology at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland). In 2019, Karolien obtained her doctoral degree at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (London) with an ethnographic study into co-creative musicking with vulnerable elderly people. Apart from her research activities, she teaches music pedagogy, music psychology and research methodology at the conservatoire's Bachelor in Music, Bachelor in Music in Education and Master of Music. Currently she also acts as a project coordinator for the SIA/Raak-funded international research project ProMiMiC.


Musical learning, social psychology of music, new audiences, qualitative research methodology

Research Interests

Musical learning, professional musicianship, co-creative music making, new audiences, person-centred music making, ethnography

Professional Information

Member of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences Ethical Review Board (HEAC).

Education/Academic qualification

Music, Doctor of Philosophy, Guildhall School of Music & Drama


Award Date: 31 Jul 2019

Music, Master of Arts, University of Jyväskylä

Award Date: 31 Jul 2010

Music, Master of Arts, Ghent University

Award Date: 31 Jul 2007

External positions

PhD student, Guildhall School of Music & Drama


Vice-chair Working Group Youth, European Music Council

31 Dec 200831 Dec 2013


  • M Music
  • co-creation
  • person-centredness
  • new audiences
  • professional musicianship

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Research Output

De kunst van het loslaten: Forum in Groningen

Translated title of the contribution: The art of letting go: Forum in GroningenDons, K., Jun 2020, In : Boekman. 123, p. 50-52

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

If Music be the Food of Love, Play on: Meaningful Music in Healthcare

Smilde, R., Heineman, E., de Wit, K., Dons, K. & Alheit, P., 2019, Utrecht: Eburon Academic Publishers. 159 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBookAcademic

Open Access
102 Downloads (Pure)

Self-evaluation Report Frank Mohr Institute: Master of Arts in Fine Art and Design

Delfgaauw, L., Dons, K. & Haakma, I., 2019, 80 p. Academie Minerva.

Research output: Other contributionProfessional

The effect of music on postoperative recovery in older patients: a systematic review

van der Wal-Huisman, H., Dons, K., Smilde, R., Heineman, E. & van Leeuwen, B., Oct 2018, In : Journal of geriatric oncology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
  • Activities

    Exploring relationships between classical musicians and their audiences

    Karolien Dons (Speaker)
    11 Mar 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

    If music be the food of love, play on: meaningful music in healthcare

    Krista de Wit (Speaker), Rineke Smilde (Speaker), Karolien Dons (Speaker), Peter Alheit (Speaker)
    20 Jun 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation

    PhD defense

    Karolien Dons (Member)
    29 May 2019

    Activity: Other

    Storying diversity in educational spaces

    Margo Slomp (Speaker), Evert Bisschop Boele (Speaker), Kees van der Meer (Speaker), Ronald Schimmel (Speaker), Karolien Dons (Speaker)
    18 Dec 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation