Professor Dianna Kenny

BA(Honours)(Sydney), MA(SchCouns)(Macquarie), PhD(Macquarie)

Honorary Professor

Professor of Psychology, The University of Sydney

Professor of Music, The University of Sydney


Phone: +61 2 9114  0711


Building.Room: F12.155

Professional biography

I am interested in research into musician physical and mental health and in developing occupational health and safety policy and practices for musicians. In my role as Professor of Music and Director, Australian Centre for Applied Research in Music Performance, I produced a systematic body of research into music performance anxiety, a widespread problem within the performing arts that can have significant effects on both physical and mental health. Our recent work has shown that music performance anxiety increases muscle tension in musicians, a factor that can exacerbate pain and injury in performers whose work requires them to sustain static, asymmetrical loads for extended time periods. Music performance anxiety in its severe form can affect overall quality of life, lead to high substance use and chronic stress. I have had a previous ARC grant that explored the occupational stress of opera chorus artists, its relationship to music performance anxiety and trait anxiety and the implications of these phenomena on the ability to sustain a career in singing at an elite level. In my other portfolio as Professor of Psychology at the University of Sydney, I have engaged in population studies of injured workers, with grant support from the WorkCover Authority of NSW, exploring the systemic barriers to return to work following compensable workplace injury. This work has had a significant impact on the field of injury management, involving changes to workers’ compensation legislation in NSW, modification of curricula for health professionals and invited submissions to government with respect to injury management systems. We are hoping that this research with the musicians of the orchestras of Australia might have a similar impact in improving the health and well-being of Australia’s musicians.

Professional and community roles

  • Director, Australian Centre for Applied Research in Music Performance, The University of Sydney