Research activity per year

Personal profile


Churchill Fellow, Dr Nicole Canham (clarinet and tarogato), is an award-winning and versatile musician committed to creating transformative arts experiences, with research expertise in musicians' careers education, precarious work and study to work transitions.


Nicole has performed throughout Australia and abroad in the USA, UK, France, Belgium, Germany and Mexico as a chamber musician and in collaboration with theatre-makers, dancers, and multimedia artists. Her discography includes recordings for Move Records, ABC Classics, Tall Poppies and the Anthology of Australian Music. Nicole is passionate about chamber music and the unique opportunities it offers for in-depth collaboration. In various combinations, she has performed with Philippe Cuper, Elena Kats-Chernin, Claude Delangle, the Silver-Garburg piano duo, Slim Dusty and many others. As a freelance orchestral musician, Nicole has performed with the Sydney, Tasmanian and Canberra Symphony orchestras, and with the Australian Opera and Ballet orchestra. Nicole was the inaugural Artistic Director of the Canberra International Music Festival from 2005 - 2008, where she achieved a ten-fold increase in attendance in four years, and significant recognition for her curatorial achievements including: state finalist, Telstra Young Businesswoman of the Year, winner, Canberra Critic's Circle award and winner, Australian Art Music State Award. Throughout her career, Nicole has championed the music of living composers and has commissioned works by Carlos Lopez, Rodrigo Sigal, Elena Kats-Chernin, Drew Crawford, Tim Hanson, Paula Matthusen, Karlin Love, Sandra France, Ruth Lee-Martin, Ian Blake, Nick Tsiavos, and premiered the works of many others including compositions by Cissi Tsang, Jaslyn Robertson, Cheryl Durongpisitskul, Chris Davis, Robert Burke and Michael Kellett. In recognition of these achievement, Nicole was invited to give the 2016 Peggy Glanville Hicks address, Australia's most prestigious lecture on new music. Recent engagements have included performances with the Monash Art Ensemble for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and Melbourne Women's International Jazz Festival, the Monash Animated Notated Ensemble (M.A.N.E) and Inventi Ensemble.

Research Interests

Informed by her industry experiences working in a range of roles in music including those of performer, educator and festival director, Nicole's research expertise in self-directed career development was shaped by her initial doctoral work exploring approaches to sustainable creative practice by independent classically trained musicians. Nicole combines her experience in music with her career development expertise to design and undertake research that explores musicians’ career development challenges, but also connects directly with higher order global conversations about the future of work, and the impacts of uncertainty, complexity and precarity on people’s lives.  She specialises in research design that utilises convergence frameworks, to bring the music careers’ discourse into closer dialogue with work taking place at the forefront of vocational psychology theory and practice. Nicole maintains a career counselling practice and is a certified Hope Action Theory practitioner.

Nicole has presented her research at leading conferences around the world, including the Reflective Conservatoire Conference, Guildhall School, London and the 2016, 2020 and 2022 ISME World Conferences, including being co-selected for a Presidential session. She is a professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia. Her book, Preparing Musicians for Precarious Work, was published by Routledge in 2021. Current projects include the ARC SRI funding project, Gender Diversity in Australian Jazz and Improvisation.

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
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Careers Education and Development, Graduate Diploma, Careers Education and Development, RMIT University

Award Date: 1 Jul 2019

Music; Career development, PhD, Kindred Spirits: The beliefs, values, work and learning of independent classical artists, University of Queensland

Award Date: 1 Jul 2016

Music performance, Prix de Perfectionnement, CNR de Versailles (National Reference Center of Versailles)

Award Date: 30 Jun 2003

Research area keywords

  • Music Education
  • Music business
  • Career development
  • Music careers
  • Precarious work
  • Career and vocational choices
  • Narrative therapy
  • decent work
  • gender at work

My gallery

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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