Professor Keith Swanwick receives the ISM Lifetime Achievement Award Jump to main content

Professor Keith Swanwick receives the ISM Lifetime Achievement Award

British academic, musician, writer and educator, Professor Keith Swanwick has been presented with an ISM Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his internationally-renowned work in music pedagogy, performance psychology and musical experience, in a career spanning six decades.

Presented on extremely rare occasions, the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ (ISM) Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for individuals who have committed their lives to making an extraordinary impact on the advancement of music and music-making in the UK, through composition, performance, musicology or education.

After graduating with distinction from the Royal Academy of Music, Professor Swanwick taught in various schools and universities. His PhD was a study of Music and the Education of the Emotions (1974) and since then, this and related areas have been the central focus of his research. Alongside John Paynter, Professor Swanwick was editor of the British Journal of Music Education, and in 1987 he became the first Chair of the British National Association for Education in the Arts, going on to chair the Music Education Council from 1991 to 1995.

Since the publication of his book A Basis for Music Education in 1979, Professor Swanwick has been a major influence on the theory and practice of music education. Recognition of his work internationally resulted in invitations from over twenty countries to give presentations, conduct workshops and advise as a consultant. He is Professor Emeritus, University College London, Institute of Education, having previously held the positions of Professor of Music Education and Dean of Research.

In 2011, the Brazilian government provided Brazil's music teachers with copies of Professor Swanwick’s book Ensinando Música Musicalmente (‘Teaching Music Musically’). He is the editor of Music Education, (Routledge 2012) a four-volume collection of significant work in the field, and in 2016, Routledge published A Developing Discourse in Music Education, a selection of his key writings.


On learning of the award, Professor Swanwick said

‘It certainly doesn’t feel like a lifetime! I have been fortunate that my work has allowed me to follow various musical strands, reflect upon these significant experiences, and engage with many musical and academic communities around the world. Where necessary, I have taken issue, as clearly as possible, with ideas in music education that seemed to need addressing. Throughout my career, I have been stimulated and encouraged by countless friends and colleagues, from Iceland to South America. I have gained so much more than I have given in these relationships, and, in a very real way, I see this ISM Lifetime Achievement Award as being for all of us. On that basis, I am deeply honoured to accept it.’



ISM Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts said:

‘Professor Swanwick’s writings and teachings have had a lasting influence on many involved in music education, and have contributed significantly to a wider understanding of the role of music within human development. His work is still highly relevant today, perhaps even more so, as we see Government policy continue to focus on a rather narrow approach to music education, underpinned by an assessment regime which marginalises music in our schools.

As the pandemic starts to ease it has never been more appropriate to recognise the importance of music in our children’s education and the achievements of one of music education’s greatest champions.’


Professor Swanwick was presented with the award by Ros Asher, Creative Leadership and Performance consultant, in a private ceremony at his home in June 2021.

Header Image: Professor Keith Swanwick receives ISM Lifetime Achievement Award © ISM / Marc Gascoigne 2021

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