Suzanne Wijsman

Associate Professor

  • The University of Western Australia (M413), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Born in the USA to European parents, cellist Suzanne Wijsman received her formal musical education at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (USA), International Cello Centre (UK) and the Eastman School of Music (USA). Her cello teachers included Paul Katz, Jane Cowan, Steven Doane and Richard Kapuscinski. She also received a BA with Highest Honors in Religion from Oberlin College, and an MA in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan, where she was the recipient of Rackham and Cameron Fellowships.

The recipient of a Fulbright Award for study in the UK to study at the International Cello Centre, Suzanne has performed extensively in the USA, Australia and Europe, in chamber music or as recitalist. In the USA she was a member of the Augustine String Quartet from 1985-1989, which won prizes in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Cleveland Quartet Competition, was a semi-finalist at the 1989 Banff International String Quartet Competition. She twice received fellowships to the Aspen Centre for Advanced Quartet Studies, as well as the Yale summer school at Norfolk. Her chamber music studies were with members of the Cleveland, Tokyo and Juilliard Quartets.

After migrating to Australia, Suzanne played with the acclaimed Stirling String Quartet from 1990-1996 touring in Australia for Musica Viva, internationally to Italy and South Korea, and presented frequent concerts and ABC radio broadcasts. Prior to her appointment at UWA, she also served as a lecturer at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and was Visiting Assistant Professor at the Eastman School of Music in 1992.

Cello students of Suzanne Wijsman have pursued post-graduate studies in Australia, Europe and North America at some of the world's most prestigious music schools and have gained employment as performers in Australia and overseas with internationally renowned music ensembles, such as the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Les Arts Florissants, the Academy of Ancient Music, the Bournemouth Symphony, London Philharmonia and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Many graduates from her class have also gone on to successful teaching careers.

Suzanne is a researcher with a diverse profile in the fields of music performance health, musicology, performance-as-research as well as being an expert on musical iconography in medieval Hebrew manuscripts and early modern Jewish sources. Suzanne was awarded a Polonsky Visiting Researcher Fellowship at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in 2020 where she participated in the Oxford Seminar in Advanced Jewish Studies Between Sacred and Profane – Jewish Musical Cultures in Early Modern Europe. She has supervised numerous postgraduate and honours students to successful completion.

Roles and responsibilities

Associate Professor, School of Music

Chair of Lower Strings 2021-
Chair of Strings 2015-2021
Graduate Research Coordinator 2000-2006, 2015
Teaching and Learning Coordinator, 2008-2009
Higher degree and honours research supervision, 1997-


Research projects completed and in progress:

Training Sound Performers, Project leader with Bronwen Ackermann (University of Sydney). Australia Council for the Arts (2022-2024). By means of an online survey and interviews, this collaborative project investigates stakeholder experience, perspectives and opinion regarding musicians' performance health. This will inform the creation of online professional development resources for instrumental and vocal music teachers to learn about musicians' health and how to integrate this information into their teaching practice.

Health promotion in post-secondary music education: An institutional ethnography, Co-Investigator. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Development Grant, Christine Guptill, lead investigator (University of Ottawa) (2021-2024). The goal of this international research project is to trace how music students' day-to-day activities (e.g. music lessons, assignments, and performance activities) interact with forces such as schools' health promotion policies and performance expectations, to impact students' health and well-being, using an Institutional Ethnography (IE) research approach at three study sites.

Health Literacy and Health Education Mobility for Musicians: a global approach, Academic Lead. A Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund Project. With Bronwen Ackermann, Vera Baadjou, Jane Ginsborg, Christine Guptill, Rae de Lisle, Bridget Rennie-Salonen, Peter Visentin. Formation of the Musicians' Health Literacy Consortium (2018-present).

Sound Performers Canada: Impact of a blended learning course for occupational resilience in postsecondary music students, Co-Investigator. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant, Christine Guptill lead investigator (University of Ottawa) (2018-2022).

Sound Performers-The Musicians' Health Curriculum Initiative Project with Bronwen Ackermann, University of Sydney, This major Australian project focused on embedding performance health education into music learning and supported development of the online music performance health learning resource: (2009-2012).

Health Education for Musicians: a translational approach, Chief investigator and project leader, with Bronwen Ackermann, Cliffton Chan, Christine Guptill, Peter Visentin, UWA Research Collaboration Award. This UWA RCA project aimed to create an international, collaborative research team based in Australia and Canada to research educational interventions that can address high rates of occupational injuries in musicians. This project drew together existing collaborations between Australian and Canadian researchers and explored the research potential of the online musicians’ health educational resource developed in Australia, Sound Performers, and its applications in Canadian contexts (2017-2018). This resulted in the SSHRC-funded Insight Development Grant project, Sound Performers Canada (2018-2022).

The Biomechanics of Cello Bowing, Chief investigator and project leader with Luke Hopper (ECU), Cliffton Chan (Sydney), Tim Ackland (UWA), Jacqueline Alderson (UWA) and Peter Visentin (Lethbridge). A collaborative project Suzanne initiated at UWA in 2004 to investigate and quantify movements in cellists using 3D motion capture technology in order to understand how movement patterns in cello bowing may be related to high injury prevalence rates among cellists (2004-2017). 

The Oppenheimer Siddur, a richly illuminated 15th-century Hebrew manuscript in Oxford's Bodleian Library which contains the largest number of illustrations of musicians in any Hebrew medieval manuscript. Suzanne was a visiting scholar in 2009 at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, where she gave two invited lectures. In 2009-2010 she was a contributor to the first major exhibition of Hebrew manuscripts from the collection of the Bodleian Library, Crossing Borders, which was also exhibited at the Jewish Museum of New York in 2012. Her essay on the musical iconography in the Oppenheimer Siddur appears in Resounding Images: Medieval Intersections of Art, Music and Sound, Susan Boynton and Diane Reilly, eds. (Brepols), which won the American Musicological Society Ruth A. Solie Award for best edited collection of essays in 2015. She was invited as a Polonsky Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in 2020. Ongoing research projects focus on musical iconography and its meaning in medieval Hebrew manuscript art and later Jewish books, and the application of scientific pigment analysis to the study of artwork production in Hebrew manuscripts.

The ARC French Baroque Music Project:  Chief investigator, with Prof David Tunley, Paul Wright, Stewart Smith. This project was funded by the Australian Research Council in 2002, recording and researching French baroque chamber music for the highly-acclaimed ABC Classics 5-CD series, The Perfection of Music: Masterpieces of the French Baroque.

Funding overview

Australia Council for the Arts, International Engagement Fund (2022): Training Sound Performers with Bronwen Ackermann, University of Sydney ($29,935)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada, Partnership Development Grant (2021): Health promotion in post-secondary music education: An institutional ethnography, Dr. Christine Guptill, lead investigator (University of Ottawa), co-investigator with Pirkko Markula, David Peacock (University of Alberta), Peter Visentin (University of Lethbridge) (CAD$200,000)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada, Insight Development Grant (2018): Sound Performers Canada, Dr. Christine Guptill, lead investigator (University of Ottawa)

Worldwide Universities Network Research Development Fund grant (2018): Health Literacy and Health Education Mobility for Musicians: a global approach, with  Assoc/Prof Bronwen Ackermann, School of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney; Dr. Christine Guptill, University of Alberta; Prof. Peter Visentin, University of Lethbridge; Assoc/Prof Rae de Lisle, University of Auckland; Dr. Vera Baadjou, Maastricht University; Dr. Bridget Rennie-Salonen, Cape Town University ($17645 with $31664 matching funding)

UWA Research Collaboration Award (2016): Musicians’ Performance Health Education: A Translational Approach, lead investigator, with Assoc/Prof Bronwen Ackermann, Dr. Cliffton Chan, School of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney; Dr. Christine Guptill, University of Alberta, Prof. Peter Visentin, University of Lethbridge ($22,000)

UWA Pathfinder Funding matching University of Sydney Commercial Development Industry Partnership Award (CDIP) (2016): with Assoc/Prof Bronwen Ackermann, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sydney ($39,860)

Australian Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT-formerly ALTC), Priority Projects Grant (2009-2012): A Musicians’ Health National Curriculum Initiative with Assoc/Prof Bronwen Ackermann, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney ($220,000)

UWA Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Teaching and Learning Performance Fund Grant (2008): Feldenkrais-Based Movement Training for Musicians: A Supplemental Learning Activity in Tertiary Performance Teaching and Learning, with Paul Wright (School of Music) and Sarah Wiin (Body Logic Physiotherapy) ($5450)

UWA Research Grant (2004): The Biomechanics of Cello Bowing with Prof. Tim Ackland and Dr. Jacqueline Alderson, School of Human Movement ($24,801)

Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2003-2008): The French Baroque Music Project: From Scholarship to Performance with Prof. David Tunley, Paul Wright, Stewart Smith (ECU) and ABC Classics (industry partner) ($96,000)

UWA Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning Grant, 2002: The Use of Digital Video in Music Performance Education ($9978)

Australian Research Council Small Grant (2000): The Early History and Development of the Violin Family in Poland, with Dr. Robert Curry, Edith Cowan University ($8816).

Previous positions

Lecturer, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University (1990-96)

Visiting Assistant Professor of Cello, Eastman School of Music (1992)

Instructor, Colgate University (1989-90)

Teaching Assistant, Eastman School of Music (1984-90)

Research interests

Musicians’ performance health

Health promotion in music teaching

Musical iconography in medieval Hebrew manuscripts and early modern Jewish sources

Industrial relevance

Occupational health and safety for musicians

Professional development for music teachers

Optimising musical performance

Applying evidence-based health information in music teaching

Understanding culture and society, past and present

Teaching overview

Teaching of cello, chamber music and string studies

Integration of performance health education

Unit Coordination and Lecturing: Topics in Performance Practice (MUSC5344), 2012- ,



Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Music, DMA, The French School of Cello Playing in the Eighteenth Century and Beethoven's First Works for Cello and Piano, Eastman School of Music

Award Date: 15 Feb 1991

Music, MMus, Eastman School of Music

Award Date: 6 May 1986

Religion, BA (Highest Honors), An Introduction to the Study of the Song of Songs: An Analysis of Hermeneutical Issues, Oberlin College

Award Date: 25 May 1981

Music, BMus, Violoncello, Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Award Date: 25 May 1981

Near Eastern Studies (Biblical Studies), MA, University of Michigan Ann Arbor

Award Date: 27 Apr 1981

Research expertise keywords

  • Performance/ Health
  • Medieval Arts/ Iconography
  • Medieval History
  • Medieval Arts/ Hebrew Manuscripts
  • History Of Music/ Performance
  • Cello performance
  • Chamber music
  • Early music
  • Historical performance practice
  • Music iconography
  • Music medicine
  • Musicology
  • String instruments
  • String pedagogy


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