About Us

Emerging Voices music charity enables adults with mental health problems to reach their potential as musicians in a collaborative and friendly environment.

Our Vision

Is to promote social inclusion and empower people who experience mental ill health through music.

Our Mission

Is to provide quality music-making opportunities. Through such musical participation, we will support individuals to improve their general wellbeing and realise their musical aspirations. Whatever your goal is, from joining a choir to recording an album, we can support you through the following ways:

  1. Specialised mentoring with experienced musicians.
  2. Music groups, choirs, workshops and short courses.
  3. Support in accessing local music groups, choirs and courses including further/higher education.
  4. Performance opportunities.
  5. Recording opportunities.

Meet the Team


Lucy Coleman (Chair)

Lucy Coleman is a classically trained soprano and qualified occupational therapist who coordinates the music courses and opportunities on offer at Converge, a not for profit organisation based at York St John University that provides education for recovery to adults with lived experience of mental ill health. She taught singing and violin peripatetically and privately for several years alongside her performance work prior to working at Converge, touring with opera companies across the UK and Ireland and as a singer for Music in Hospitals. Lucy still performs, most recently as a soloist for Prima Choral Artists. She is currently studying an MA in Music Psychology in Education, Performance and Wellbeing at the University of Sheffield.

Dr Michael Bonshor

Dr Michael Bonshor is an experienced conductor, performer, singing teacher, workshop facilitator and music psychologist, specialising in musical wellbeing, positive psychology for performers, and managing performance anxiety. Michael has worked as a Visiting Lecturer at York St John University, the University of Sheffield and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He currently teaches on Sheffield’s MA in Music Psychology course for distance learners, and is a registered trainer for the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine. Ongoing projects include research with the Music Libraries Trust and workshop leadership in collaboration with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Arts Council England. Michael’s book, ‘The Confident Choir: A Handbook for Leaders of Group Singing ’ contains psychological, philosophical, pedagogical and practical approaches to confidence building for choir leaders and singers.

Dr Laura Jones

Dr Laura Jones works as a freelance music teacher, accompanist and performer, giving 1-to-1 tuition in piano, oboe and theory of music and accompanying for various choirs and events in the York and Sheffield areas. She plays for the classical violinist Lucy Phillips, providing musical entertainments in venues such as Bettys Tea Rooms and Castle Howard. She also accompanies for Music in Hospitals and Silver Song Box, delivering short concerts and interactive musical sessions for people with dementia and mental health problems. Laura has performed on piano and oboe with diverse ensembles, from South Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra to the James Chadwick Swing Sextet. In her other life, Laura has pursued a course of postgraduate study at the University of York, completing her doctoral thesis on Shostakovich opera, Towards a Differently Politicised Shostakovich, in 2012. She has taught on the undergraduate programme at York University and lectures on music appreciation for the WEA.

Catherine Birch

Catherine Birch is a Senior Lecturer in Music: Education and Community at York St. John University, UK, and is a regular practitioner for the York St. John Prison Partnership Project. As a community musician, Catherine works primarily as a vocal leader, and has worked with all ages across the education sector as well as in community settings. Catherine is currently a PhD researcher through the International Centre for Community Music, supervised by Professor Lee Higgins. The central research theme explores the use of vocal music as a means of promoting social change in complex community music settings with initial explorations seeking to unpack the processes by which participants can find their voice and the impact this can have on a renewed sense of identity, belonging and self-worth.


Holly Sloan (Administrator)

Holly Sloan is a Drama: Education and Community graduate from York St John University. Towards the end of her degree, she focused her work on the history of mental health and theatre, conducting a research project into why people with lived experience of mental ill health engage with theatre. As part of this, she volunteered with the theatre class at Converge; an organisation based at York St John University who offer educational opportunities for people who have accessed mental health services. Holly now works for Converge, as their Events and Volunteers Coordinator. Holly also jointly runs a Sunday Coffee Club for mental health charity York Mind, and is a member of the board of trustees at York Theatre Royal.

Wayne Dawson (Harrogate Wellbeing Choir Director)

Having completed his music degree in 2019, Wayne now runs a number of choirs throughout York. This includes a singing and signing choir for people with learning disabilities, and LGBT choir, a pop choir at York College and a dementia friendly singing group in Pocklington. Wayne undertook his teacher training after completing his degree and he now works in a number of educational settings. He is also part of a pop duo group along with having a strong passion for song writing.

Aaron Soon (Music Tutor and Showcase Manager)

Aaron is a music educator and community musician based in York. Apart from holding a BA (Hons) Music: Education and Community at the York St John University, he also holds NQF music diploma and certificates in piano, vocal, music theory and composition. Aaron has working and volunteering experiences in various local music charities, and now works in a number of educational settings. Aaron is also studying an MA in Music Education: Instrumental and Vocal Teaching at the University of York, exploring teaching strategies for andragogy, music performance anxiety, special educational needs (learning difficulties), and mental ill health.’  

Oct 2020