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Dr Catherine Grant, PhD (Chancellor's Award), B.Mus.St.(1st class Hons), B.Arts, L.Mus.A. (distinction)

Catherine Grant

Catherine Grant has worked with the Indigenous Miriwoong people of the remote Australian East Kimberley, teachers and masters of traditional Khmer music in Cambodia, and the urban ca trù community of Hanoi, Vietnam, among other communities. Her award-winning doctoral research investigated ways to help communities like these around the world keep their music strong in the face of pressures from the changing global and local environment, by examining precedent from language maintenance. Her book, Music Endangerment: How Language Maintenance Can Help, was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. Catherine's research and activism into the global phenomenon of music endangerment has featured in a variety of media, including the Boston Globe, The Australian, The Conversation, The Cambodia Daily, and several national radio stations in Australia.

Catherine received her PhD in Ethnomusicology from Griffith University in 2012. Since completing her PhD she has continued her research on music vitality and viability, first as Research Fellow on the Australian Research Council-funded project Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures: Towards an Ecology of Musical Diversity (2009-2013), led by Griffith University. In early 2014, Catherine commenced a Joy Ingall Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the School of Creative Arts, University of Newcastle. Her postdoctoral research project, entitled "Vital signs: Assessing Music Vitality and Endangerment," will assess the sustainability of 100 music genres across the world, according to a framework she develops and presents in her monograph.

In June-July 2014, following earlier preliminary fieldwork, Catherine travelled to Cambodia on an Australian Academy of the Humanities Fellowship, to further investigate cultural revitalization in post-conflict contexts. Since 2011, she has also spent 3 months in the remote Kimberley of northwest Australia, supporting the Aboriginal Miriwoong community in their cultural preservation and maintenance efforts. Through her academic and applied work, Catherine aims to benefit communities by encouraging new ways of thinking about, and taking action against, the loss of music knowledge and practices. In 2013, she led a successful crowdfunding campaign to sustain a highly endangered Khmer funeral music genre. Her community-oriented work supports communities in their aims and efforts towards cultural sustainability, while her public advocacy aims to raise awareness and understanding of the consequences of the loss of cultural practices across the world.

To date, Catherine has published over 25 articles and book chapters, including articles in the International Journal of Intangible HeritageInternational Journal of Heritage Studies, Ethnomusicology Forum, as well as the entry on ‘Music Sustainability’ in Oxford Bibliographies Online. She has given over 20 conference presentations, lectures and seminars in Australia, the UK, the USA, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia, in fields including musicology, ethnomusicology, linguistics, intangible cultural heritage, and performing arts healthcare. In 2014 alone, Catherine has presented on her research at the South-East Asian symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music (Denpasar), the international conference of the Association for Critical Heritage Studies (Canberra), the Centre for Khmer Studies (Phnom Penh), the national conferences of the Australian Linguistics Society and Australian Musicological Society (Newcastle and Melbourne), and at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC – the latter an invited presentation at a working meeting on Smithsonian’s high-profile “Recovering Voices” project. 

In Australia, Catherine has coordinated and lectured courses on advanced Western music theory, history, and literature, and has managed a number of projects relating to teaching and learning music in higher education contexts.  At the University of Newcastle, in addition to her research she presents guest lectures and seminars in undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and supervisors research higher degree students in musicology. A pianist by background, Catherine has also performed in various ensembles and was harpsichordist for the innovative chamber group Brisbane Baroque Players. She is a frequent reviewer for academic publications, and has served on the national executive committees of the Musicological Society of Australia and the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare. 


  • PhD, Griffith University, 01/05/2012
  • Bachelor of Music (Honours), Griffith University, 01/12/2006
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Queensland, 01/12/2003


Research keywords

  • ethnomusicology
  • intangible cultural heritage
  • music endangerment
  • music sustainability

Research expertise

Catherine Grant is a music researcher with expertise in applied ethnomusicology, specialising in the endangerment and revitalisation of music genres of Indigenous and minority peoples. She has a growing international reputation in the field, particularly through her book 'Music Endangerment: How Language Maintenance Can Help', published in 2014 by Oxford University Press.

As postdoctoral researcher at University of Newcastle, Catherine Grant is conducting the project "Assessing the vitality and endangerment of music genres: Towards a global map". The project aims to produce a sample of comparable data on the levels of vitality or endangerment of a sample of the world’s music genres. In this way, it will provide a foundation for generating verifiable claims about trends in the vitality and endangerment of music genres. This is an important step towards responding to UNESCO’s ongoing call to support cultural heritage in urgent need of safeguarding, including music.

This project will be useful for communities, researchers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders in cultural sustainability: it will enable diagnosis of situations of music endangerment, and determine the urgency to implement maintenance or revitalisation initiatives. It will also indicate appropriate action to support endangered music genres, since assessing the factors causing endangerment will help establish focus and priorities for sustainability initiatives. Finally, the project will provide a knowledge base on which the efficacy of any efforts to maintain or revitalise a music genre may be later evaluated.

As yet, no systematic research has been undertaken to identify and assess levels of music vitality or endangerment across the world. This project therefore also represents a significant international advance in current understanding of music sustainability.

Fields of Research

190409Musicology And Ethnomusicology50
210202Heritage And Cultural Conservation30
190401Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Performing Arts20


Body relevant to professional practice.

  • Member - Musicological Society of Australia
  • Member - Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare
  • Member - International Council for Traditional Music
  • Member - Society for Ethnomusicology
  • Member - Endangered Languages Fund
  • Member - Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages
  • Member - Cultural Survival



2014Joy Ingall Postdoctoral Research Scholarship
University of Newcastle (Australia)
Competitive grant to undertake research in one of the areas of research strength in Music within the School of Creative Arts, University of Newcastle.
2014Travelling Fellowship
Australian Academy of the Humanities (Australia)
The Travelling Fellowship supports early-career researchers working in the humanities to undertake research overseas.
2013AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society
American Musicological Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (United States)
Publication subvention for costs associated with the book 'Music Endangerment: How Language Maintenance Can Help'
2012Chancellor’s Medal for Excellence in PhD Thesis
Griffith University (Australia)
Award for highest-ranking PhD across Arts, Education, and Law faculty of Griffith University
2012Graduate Award
Oxford Bibliographies Online (Australia)
Award based on doctoral research, leading to invited publication in Oxford Bibliographies Online: Music.
2009Musicological Society of Australia postgraduate award
Musicological Society of Australia (MSA) (Australia)
Award for best student presentation at national conference


Catherine has collaborated with researchers, organisations, and communities in the areas of music vitality and endangerment, safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, music education and performing arts healthcare. She has co-published several papers across a range of academic areas, and is currently collaborating with Cambodian Living Arts on a project that assesses the vitality of three Khmer music traditions. In 2014 she was invited to attend and present at an international working meeting of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.


Administrative expertise

Catherine Grant has a variety of university and sector administration and service expertise. She has been peer reviewer, editor and sub-editor of several academic publications, and has convened several major conferences, including the Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures international working conference (Brisbane, 2013) and the Third National Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare (Brisbane, 2009). In 2012 she was project manager for an evaluation of Opera Australia community partnerships programs in Western Sydney and Aboriginal community Yarrabah in far north Queensland, and in 2013, Mirima Language and Culture Centre (Kununurra, Western Australia) engaged Grant as consultant for a local social tourism enterprise in Keep River National Park, Northern Territory. From 2012-2013 she was project co-ordinator for the Transformative One-to-one Learning and Teaching (TOTAL) project led by Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, which investigated innovative, collaborative and transformative approaches to instrumental and vocal tuition in conservatoriums.

Catherine Grant has held several executive and board roles in local and national societies and organisations, including the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare (2008-2012), the Musicological Society of Australia (2007-2009), and Multicultural Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing (2012-2014). In addition to her academic activities, she engages directly with Indigenous and minority communities on cultural revitalisation projects and activities, maintaining close links with the three communities with which she has worked most closely - the ca tru community of north Vietnam; the masters, teachers, and students of Khmer traditional music in Cambodia; and the Miriwoong community of the East Kimberley region of Western Australia.


Teaching keywords

  • ethnomusicology
  • music theory
  • research methods
  • western art music
  • world music

Teaching expertise

Catherine Grant's tertiary music teaching experience includes baroque, classical, and 19th century art music studies, to advanced music theory and 20th century music analysis. She has guest lectured on topics including ethnomusicology, music sustainability, musicians' health and wellbeing, and Western art music history. Grant has supervision experience and several years' experience as teacher and teacher-trainer of English as a Second Language.

Catherine Grant's involvement with teaching and learning projects includes the role of project manager for the OLT project "Pro-active music higher research degrees" (National Teaching Fellowship of Prof Scott Harrison; 2012-2013); co-ordinator for the project "Investigating the one-to-one conservatoire teaching model" at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University (2012-2013); and member of the reference team for an Australian Learning & Teaching Council-funded project to embed healthcare awareness within the tertiary music curriculum in Australia (2010-2011).


Highlighted Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

2014Grant CF, Music Endangerment: How Language Maintenance Can Help, Oxford University Press, New York, 224 (2014)


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.

Book (1 outputs)

2014Grant CF, Music Endangerment: How Language Maintenance Can Help, Oxford University Press, New York, 224 (2014)

Chapter (1 outputs)

2009Grant CF, 'Letting it go: An autoethnographic account of a musician¿s loss', Musical autoethnography: Creative explorations of the self through music, Australian Academic Press, Bowen Hills, QLD 121-135 (2009)

Journal article (15 outputs)

2014Grant C, 'Participating in arts- and cultural-sector governance in Australia: Experiences and views of people with disability', Arts and Health, 6 75-89 (2014)
2014Grant CF, 'Perspectives of Culture-Bearers on the Vitality, Viability and Value of Traditional Khmer Music Genres in Contemporary Cambodia', The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 15 26-46 (2014)
2014Carey G, Grant C, 'Teacher and student perspectives on one-to-one pedagogy: practices and possibilities', British Journal of Music Education, (2014)
2014Grant C, 'Endangered musical heritage as a wicked problem', International Journal of Heritage Studies, (2014)
2013Grant CF, 'Developing a triage system for sustaining intangible cultural heritage', The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, 9 11-22 (2013) [C1]
2013Grant CF, 'First inversion: A rationale for implementing the "flipped approach" in tertiary music courses.', Australian Journal of Music Education, 2013 3-12 (2013) [C1]
2013Carey GM, Bridgstock R, Taylor P, McWilliam E, Grant C, 'Characterising one-to-one conservatoire teaching: some implications of a quantitative analysis', MUSIC EDUCATION RESEARCH, 15 357-368 (2013) [C1]
2013Bendrups D, Barney K, Grant C, ' An Introduction to Sustainability and Ethnomusicology in the Australasian Context', Musicology Australia, 35 153-158 (2013) [C3]
2013Grant CF, 'Drums on the Red River [DVD Review].', The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 14 293-294 (2013) [C3]
2013Carey G, Grant C, McWilliam E, Taylor P, 'One-to-one pedagogy: Developing a protocol for illuminating the nature of teaching in the conservatoire', International Journal of Music Education, 31 148-159 (2013)
2013Grant C, 'Developing a triage system to determine approaches to sustaining intangible cultural heritage', International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, 9 11-22 (2013)
2012Grant C, ' Analogies and links between cultural and biological diversity', Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, 2 153-163 (2012) [C1]
2012Grant C, ' Rethinking Safeguarding: Objections and Responses to Protecting and Promoting Endangered Musical Heritage', Ethnomusicology Forum, 21 31-51 (2012) [C1]
2011Grant C, 'Key factors in the sustainability of languages and music: A comparative study', Musicology Australia, 33 95-113 (2011) [C1]
2010Grant CF, 'The links between safeguarding language and safeguarding musical heritage', International Journal of Intangible Heritage, 5 45-59 (2010) [C1]
Show 12 more

Review (1 outputs)

2013Grant CF, 'Music Sustainability (2013) [D2]

Conference (2 outputs)

2014Matthias PV, Whaleboat T, Grant C, 'Sacred songs from the Torres Strait Islands', Charisima of Dissonance, Melbourne University (2014)


2014Carey G, Grant CF, 'Teachers of instruments, or teachers as instruments? Moving from transfer to transformative approaches to one-to-one pedagogy', Proceedings of 20th International Seminar of CEPROM, Minas Gerais, Brazil (2014)

Report (4 outputs)

2013Grant CF, 'Garn-ngooning Tours: Enterprise Plan', Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring, 43 (2013)
2012Harrison S, Bartleet B-L, Bendrups D, Grant CF, 'Opera Australia Community Projects Evaluation Report', Opera Australia, 38 (2012)
2012Grant CF, 'Governance Development for Cultural Practitioners, Artists and Arts Administrators with Disability or who are Deaf', Arts Access Australia (2012)
2008Flenady L, Flenady T, McPherson S, Grant CF, 'Change and sustainability in ethnomusicological publications: An overview 1983-2008.', Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre (2008)
Show 1 more

Grants and Funding


Number of grants10
Total funding$138,925

- Indicates that the researcher may be seeking students for this project.

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

2014 (2 grants)

Joy Ingall Postdoctoral Scholarship$60,000
Funding Body: University of Newcastle

Postdoctoral Research FellowshipChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

Travelling Fellowship of the Australian Academy of the Humanities$3,800
Funding Body: Australian Academy of the Humanities

Travelling FellowshipChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2013 (1 grants)

AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society$800
Funding Body: American Musicological Society

AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological SocietyChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2012 (1 grants)

Arts Queensland Career Development Grant$3,025
Funding Body: Arts Queensland

Career Development GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2011 (1 grants)

Musicological Society of Australia Conference Travel Grant$300
Funding Body: Musicological Society of Australia

Student Travel GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2010 (1 grants)

Griffith Graduate Research School International Travel Grant$2,200
Funding Body: Griffith Graduate Research School (Australia)

International Travel GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2009 (4 grants)

Griffith University Postgraduate Research Scholarship$66,000
Funding Body: Griffith University

Postgraduate Research ScholarshipChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

SEMPRE Travelling Scholarship$2,000
Funding Body: Society for Education, Music, and Psychology Research

Travelling ScholarshipChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

Musicological Society of Australia (MSA) Student Award$500
Funding Body: Musicological Society of Australia

Student AwardChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

Musicological Society of Australia Conference Travel Grant$300
Funding Body: Musicological Society of Australia

Student Travel GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions1
Total current UoN PhD EFTSL0.6

For supervisions undertaken at an institution other that the University of Newcastle, the institution name is listed below the program name.

Current Supervision

ProgramSupervisor TypeResearch Title
20142018PhD (Music)Principal SupervisorThe Role of Digital Technologies in Contemporary Folk Music Practices

Past Supervision

YearProgramSupervisor TypeResearch Title
2013Honours Music
Griffith University
Principal SupervisorAn ethnographic study of pedagogical focus in healthy posture for young flutists
2013Honours Music
Griffith University
Principal SupervisorBeyond the veil: Women, orientalism, and exoticism in nineteenth-century French opera

Dr Catherine Grant

Work Phone(02) 4921 5838
School of Creative Arts
Faculty of Education and Arts
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Focus AreaMusic
University House,
City Campus