Dr Anthony Chmiel is a music psychologist based in Sydney, Australia. Anthony's primary affiliation is with the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development (Western Sydney University) where he is working on an ARC Discovery Project. Anthony is also a Convenor, Lecturer, and Tutor in the music program at UNSW Sydney, and a research member of the UNSW Empirical Musicology Laboratory. Anthony also has ties to the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (University of Melbourne), and the Sound and Music Computing Group (University of Padova, Italy), where he held a Research Fellowship 2018-2019. Anthony's research areas include music aesthetics, perception, and wellbeing, and also automated music recommendation systems, digitisation methods for the preservation of analogue audio recordings, performance practices and voice acoustics.

Patrick O'Donnell is a Sydney-based music teacher who has been teaching individual and group lessons in a variety of settings since 1985. Since August 2019 he has led face-to-face and online group music lessons for the MARCS Active Minds Music Ensemble. 


Having completed a Bachelor of Music Education, Patrick gained Associate Diplomas with Trinity College London, Yamaha Music Foundation and AMEB. After several years teaching in Secondary Schools as both a classroom and peripatetic piano and theory teacher, he was Assistant Principal of the Amadeus School of Music for three years. Following this, he began teaching at the Southside Yamaha Music School, conducting class and solo lessons in keyboard, musicianship and composition. Since 2004, he has focused on teaching in his own private studio.



Our work aims to determine empirical evidence of the contribution of various elements of music education towards maintaining older adults’ cognitive skills. The Active Minds Ensemble is an ongoing longitudinal research project that provides 12 months of music instrument learning to over 65s in Sydney. During the 12-month period, all older adults experience learning the piano, and learning an electronic iPad-based instrument (Thumbjam). All instruction is by ear. Participants are taught in groups to play familiar and requested songs, as well as to improvise and create new material. This presentation will discuss teaching and older adults’ learning experiences with improvising, aural training, using technology (including moving online during the COVID-19 pandemic), and fulfilling their goals for learning to play music in later adulthood.