Australian Music & Psychology Society
Australian Music & Psychology Society Newsletter Music Education As musicians, we all had to start somewhere, and it’s that start that we’re discussing in this September issue of the AMPS Newsletter. I’m personally very excited for this issue, having recently had the privilege of studying in a number of different countries and experiencing their different education systems. I was delighted to see the universal access to quality music education that is available in Finland, with every school, no matter the size or location, providing hands-on musical experiences. Surely that is something we should be trying to emulate. Unfortunately, music education is something that is frequently overlooked in Australia by education policy-makers and even by musicians. All too often we hear the old saying “those who can do, do, those who can’t do, teach,” however, as Dominic Harvey points out on page two, the average performing musician will spend 85% of their career teaching music. Education is clearly something all musicians should take an interest in. Why do we teach music? Personally, I’m in favour of teaching music for its own sake, but for those who need more convincing of its value, Anita Collins and Rebecca Gelding discuss some of the neurological changes that occur with musical training and pages five and six respectively. Music may have particular benefits for students with special needs, however teachers may require special skills to get the best out of these students, an issue that Sanja Cajic discusses on page three. Finally, on page eight we have an interview with Jane Davidson, co-author of Music in Our Lives, a longitudinal study of musical involvement, and a on page nine a summary of a study by Peter Keller into the vocal quality of boys’ choirs (with a bit of a twist). On the back cover you’ll find some photos and tweets from recent conferences. It’s been a busy conference season, with ESCOM, SMPC, ASME and SysMus entertaining music researchers in Australia and around the world. All of us at the AMPS Newsletter would like to extend our congratulations to ESCOM for their 25th birthday!
Next issue… In keeping with tradition (started last year), we welcome the weird and wacky of music psychology research for our next issue in December. As always, you can contact us at editors.AMPS@gmail.com to pitch (or pre-register, if you prefer) an idea for an article to us. This way we can be sure to reserve space for you. We would also welcome any short responses or commentary arising from this current issue. It’s always nice to see some discussion arise from the content of the newsletter. Comments are always most welcome on Twitter and Facebook as well. We look forward to hearing from you! Peace, Joshua Bamford
Inside this issue Higher music education .............. 2 Music for students with special needs.......................................... 3 Bigger Better Brains.................... 5 Brain changes from instrument training ....................................... 6 5 minutes with ........................... 8 Boys singing for attention........... 9 Conference season ..................... 10
Calendar of events • 15th of November, 2017. Articles for AMPS newsletter due. Submissions should be between 500 and 1000 words and may report original research, opinion or summary of others’ research. Submissions to: editors.AMPS@gmail.com • 7th-9th of December, Musical Affects (AMPS & ICME).
Editorial team Joshua Bamford, Anna Fiveash, Rebecca Gelding, Solange Glasser, James Richmond.
Previous AMPS Newsletters can be found at https://issuu.com/ ausmuspsysoc For more about AMPS, find us on social media!
Higher music education: What they want, what they get, what they need Dominic G. Harvey (University of Western Australia) email@example.com
Universities have become fast-paced, researchintensive, funding-competitive, and status-driven environments, where the study of music and other arts disciplines is being challenged. The quality and effectiveness of undergraduate arts disciplines such as music within these environments have received mixed reviews. Some suggest music curricula content is being dumbed down, popularised or pursuing broad-based appeal. One controversial way forward that I have explored, considers the role of music performance as a central major assessable component of a university music undergraduate degree (Harvey, 2017). More specifically, whether the emphasis on solo music performance in undergraduate degree programs is warranted, given that for a number of students this is unattainable (e.g., Davidson & Burland, 2006). Is it really what the students need? In my longitudinal mixed methodological research across three university music schools, around 77% of commencing university music undergraduates associated ‘being a musician’ directly with ‘being a performer’ (n = 364, Harvey, 2017). This percentage only marginally decreased throughout undergraduate students’ degree programs to 76% by the final time point of data collection (n = 248, ibid.). Clearly music undergraduates want to play all day, to create, perform, and practice (‘oh, and it’d be so cool if we could get paid to practice!’; ibid.). In relation to practice however, they exhibited a tendency to fall considerably short of the benchmark hours required to achieve ‘best expert’ performer status according to the literature (e.g., Ericsson, 2009). With an average of 74% achieving between 1 and 3 hours daily deliberate practice (n = 177, 2013) rather than the recommended 3+ hours, the majority of undergraduates would reach ‘least accomplished expert’ status at best by the end of the degree program (Harvey, 2017; Harvey, Davidson, & Nair, 2016). Additionally, music undergraduates appear to have a collective negative predilection towards academia, demonstrated through their perceptions of its utility and importance, which requires consideration. Academia and activities outside of music performance are neither as useful nor as important to them as is music performance (Harvey et al., 2016). What students and university music schools might need in terms of curricula is a reconnection to reality. To argue this, I refer to the solid contribution of Throsby and Hollister (2003). In their study of arts professionals, they probed the percentage career time that music perform-
ers and composers spent teaching their art form. In 2003 for performers it was 85% and composers 88%. I don’t suspect the margins will have changed much since. To put this in greater perspective, from 2011 data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 9,500 Music Professionals operating in Australia. To be clear, these Music Professionals derived their sole income from the act of performing and composing music, as distinct from teaching it. From the 2011 employed workforce (full and part time) of 11.5 million, this equated to just 0.008%. Furthermore, only 3,667 (i.e., 39%) of these Music Professionals derived a full-time income from this activity (0.003%). Let me propose this question. What proportion of music bachelor degree program time is dedicated to teaching music undergraduates how to teach music? And I don’t mean classroom teaching. In my research, studio teaching is regarded by many students as a fall back strategy and more often perceived as an indication of failure as a performer — ‘Oh, if I don’t make it, I’ll just teach music’ (Harvey, 2017). Please take a moment to consider this statement. Based on this abort strategy, what sort of studio teacher will they be? As Dawn Bennett highlighted, a significant problem over time (and consequently music’s history) for Australian conservatoria (many now being university music schools) is that they have been trying to ‘cover it all’ (2008). Sentiment suggests that current undergraduate curricula are simply over packed, and not with mediaeval polyphony, baroque counterpoint, or 20th Century serialism (Regelski, 2013). Back in the late 80s and early 90s, one’s academic transcript might have looked like bits and pieces put together with core music performance units creating connectivity through year-long, even course-long components (Harvey, 2017). At most Australian universities today, music undergraduates will enrol in four subjects only each semester. Into these semesters, as far as I can determine, both performance and academic subjects are compressed into units comprising just thirteen teaching weeks. Competitive performance assessment still persists as the dominant component of most undergraduate music curricula (Harvey et al., 2016; Harvey, 2017). What undergraduates and music schools might need is to re-evaluate performance’s position as the cornerstone of academic assessment/proficiency. Given the Internet and undergraduate perceptions, perhaps music history’s place in the curriculum also might be rethought. Socrates made the clear distinction that music
theorising is the place of the university. Music practicum is the domain of the Sophists (Amirault & Branson, 2006). My concern is that young music undergraduates need tangible pathways to the future that do not rely on performance alone. Music higher education needs to find alternatives for its undergraduates to steer them away from stopgaps and reactive strategies to deal with the reality that not everyone is going to be a performer. At the heart of our Australian higher music education predicament is that teaching music is neither regarded with esteem, nor is it embedded culturally. That is, as a culturally determined social praxis. I recommend removing competitive performance assessment and other units of study that can be learned ‘online’ and move towards a degree program that provides insight and innovation—that develops the whole person. We always had a system that focused on whole child development, on music, arts and other things; we never focused on competition and choice, but on equity and cooperation (Pasi Sahlberg from Finnish Lessons 2.0, in Clark, 2016 pp. 237-238). Finland has a lesson for us—we have but to look there for the clues.
References Amirault, R. J., & Branson, R. K. (2006). Educators and Expertise: A Brief History of Theories and Models. In K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P. J. Feltovich, & R. R. Hoffmann (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (pp. 69-86). New York: Cambridge University Press. Bennett, D. (2008). Understanding the classical music profession: the past, the present and strategies for the future. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited. Clark, L. (2016). Beautiful Failures. North Sydney: Ebury Press, Penguin Random House Australia Pty Ltd. Davidson, J. W., & Burland, K. (2006). Musician Identity Formation. In G. McPherson (Ed.), The Child as Musician: a Handbook of Musical Development (pp. 475-490). New York: Oxford University Press Inc. Ericsson, K. A. (2009). Discovering deliberate practice activities that overcome plateaus and limits on improvement of performance. Paper presented at the International Symposium on Performance Science, Auckland, New Zealand. Harvey, D. G. (2017). Australian music undergraduate education: Investigating expectations, experiences, and perceptions of quality and effectiveness. (Doctor of Philosophy), The University of Western Australia, Perth. Harvey, D. G., Davidson, J. W., & Nair, C. S. (2016). Music undergraduates’ usefulness and importance expectations: The Bologna Process from an Australian university perspective. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(1054), 1-14. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01054 Regelski, T. A. (2013). Re-setting music education's "default settings". Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, 12(1), 7-23. Throsby, C. D., & Hollister, V. (2003). Don't Give up Your Day Job: an economic study of professional artists in Australia. Sydney:
Empowering private music teachers of students with special needs Sanja Cajic (University of Newcastle)
Private music tuition is the main source of music education for children in Australia, as 62.7% of Australian primary schools offer no classroom music education, due to a shortage of qualified teachers available to teach music (Hoegh-Guldberg, 2013). There are many wellknown benefits that music can bring to children, from help with regulating emotions to improvements in other social and cognitive domains including increased selfdiscipline. Music has also been shown to provide many benefits for students with Special Needs (SN). Music assists individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder to increase their social behaviour and attention, improve communication, and reduce anxiety (DeVries, Beck, Stacey, Winslow & Meines, 2015). Private music lessons are an attractive way of tapping into these benefits, as private lessons offer more individualised student support. As such, private music teachers are increasingly being called upon to take on students with SN in their music studios (Hourigan, 2007), however given their variety of backgrounds and qualifications, may not be sufficiently equipped to do so. Those with Education degrees may
have covered special education subjects and practical work experience, however may not have received enough music-related training given music makes up only 1.5% of Education degrees (Hocking, 2013). On the other hand, those with Music degrees have received little training in education, with a focus of their degree on performance, production and music technology (Harvey, 2008). In addition, private music teachers might not have the same access to ongoing Professional Development (PD) opportunities, as do teachers who are employed in schools and have registration standards to uphold. Therefore, the quality of teaching provided in a private music setting can vary greatly, depending on the qualifications and experience of the teacher. This gap in teacher’s knowledge and experience motivated me to develop a PD training workshop for private music teachers as part of my recent Master of Creative Industries. I developed a four-hour workshop titled ‘Teaching Music to Special Needs Students’ that examines both practical teaching strategies, as well as ways to educate using a psychologically sensitive approach, assisting teachers to successfully accommodate SN stu-
Upcoming Conferences The 1st Conference of the Timing Research Forum, Strasbourg, France, 23-25 October, 2017. Australian and New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education (ANZARME) Conference, Perth, Australia, 28 September - 1 October, 2017. International Conference on Music Psychology and Music Performance, Madrid, Spain, 57 October, 2017. 18th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference, Suzhou, China, 2327 October, 2017. 1st International Workshop on Multimodal Interaction for Education, 13-16 November, 2017. International Society for Music Education (ISME) South Asia Regional Conference, Bengaluru, India, 27-29 November, 2017. Musical Affects (AMPS-ICME), Brisbane, Australia, 7-9 December, 2017. Together in Music Conference, York, United Kingdom, 12-14 April, 2018. 5th International Conference on Analytical Approaches to World Music, Thessaloniki, Greece, 26-29 June, 2018. Timbre is a Many-Splendored Thing, Montreal, Canada, 5-7 July, 2018. International Society for Music Education (ISME) World Conference, Baku, Azerbaijan, 1520 July, 2018. ICMPC15-ESCOM10, Graz/ Montreal/Sydney, 23-28 July, 2018.
dents in their music studios. The workshop was piloted on a small group of Sydney private music teachers in July 2017. It involved many opportunities for teacher discussions, role plays, and case studies, in addition to theoretical strategies and practical teaching material. Teachers had the opportunity to reflect upon their teaching practices, to think about individual student cases, to identify and analyse behaviours they might observe in the music lesson, and to learn ways to nurture student self-esteem. Strategies were discussed that could assist in managing challenging behaviours, to make lessons a positive, motivating experience for SN students. The unique format of the PD training, with a balance of theoretical strategies and teaching material, as well as discussions and role play activities, allowed teachers to learn material, as well as support each other and connect to other teachers in the industry. Private music tuition can often be an isolating career, and teachers benefit from forming more connections with other teachers to share teaching ideas. One encouraging outcome of the workshop was an opportunity to hear what other teachers were already using that was helpful, and to discuss ways that the new strategies learnt could be incorporated into their established teaching practice. The overall feedback posttraining was positive. Teachers found the supportive environment helpful, and enjoyed being able to share ideas and support each other. A Pre and Post Questionnaire was administered to compare results and outcomes from the training. Post-training feedback revealed a 12% increase in teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; confidence in teaching the SN student population. Teachers also felt they had gained resources (i.e. lesson materials, support, and knowledge) such as a result of the training. Reflecting on the PD training offered, one important aspect of this training was the way the training was structured. PD workshops for private music teachers are often in the form of seminars, with
teachers attending a session to learn about the latest teaching techniques. To my knowledge, very few (if any) workshops are presented in a way that allows teachers to learn material, as well as engage in the training in a practical way. Another beneficial aspect of this training was the variety of topics that were covered, including examining and nurturing student self-esteem, identifying and monitoring student motivation, and helping teachers identify where student behaviours come from, in order to develop specific strategies to manage this behaviour. Since private music teachers work in isolated settings, empowering teachers to start thinking about individual students and identifying specific needs and strategies for each of their SN students, is key. Empowering teachers to feel confident in their teaching practices with SN students, ultimately benefits students with SN. It is a win-win situation. References De Vries, D., Beck, T., Stacey, B., Winslow, K., & Meines, K. (2015). Music as a therapeutic intervention with Autism: A systematic review of the literature. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 49(3), 220. Harvey, I. (2008). Music education. Briefing paper submitted to MCA Summit on 28 August 2008. Retrieved from http:// musicinaustralia.org.au/index.php? title=Music_Education Hocking, R. (2013). Pre-service music instruction for classroom teachers. Music Forum 16(1). Retrieved from http:// musicinaustralia.org.au/index.php?title=Preservice_Music_Instruction_for_Classroom_Teac hers Hoegh-Guldberg, H. (2013). Major research into school music education. Retrieved from http://musicinaustralia.org.au/index.php? title=Major_Research_into_School_Music_Ed ucation Hourigan, R. (2007). Preparing music teachers to teach students with special needs. Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, 26(1), 5-14.
The Bigger Better Brains Project: Music education but not as we know it Anita Collins (University of Canberra) www.anitacollinsmusic.com
When I was in the middle of the seemingly endless review of journal papers for my PhD on neuroscience and music education I kept scribbling in the margins— “musicians’ brains are bigger, musicians’ brains are better”. This is an incredibly simple way to view the research, but as a music educator delving into the world of neuroscientific and psychological research, it was my way of making sense of the findings in the beginning. What struck me even then was how this field of research had the potential to explain and illuminate many of the learning phenomenon I had observed over and over again in my teaching practice and how, just maybe, it could make me a better teacher. The more I reviewed and read, the more fascinated I became and the more I wanted to share it with my fellow educators, with my students and even with their parents. I had to walk the very fine line of evangelical advocacy because the remnants of the Mozart Effect had damaged the music education profession when multiple studies were unable to replicate the findings in the original study. I didn’t want to use neuroscientific and psychological research to fortify and justify my position as a music educator. I wanted to share my fascination with the field and ultimately help to create a new way of educating about music. I chose the vehicle of Facebook, mainly because I knew it well and could see the potential for a community of people to come together from every corner of the globe. I had called my dissertation Bigger Better Brains, so what better name to use? Then came the dreaded “about” tab. What was this page going to be about? After many attempts (the description is only allowed to be as long as a standard Tweet) I came up with a project that aims to improve access to, and understanding of, neuroscientific research in music education.
Access for whom? Understanding in what way? These are fundamental questions, and interestingly, the social media world has helped me answer them. It is the power of social media that you can send an idea out there and I am constantly amazed at who takes an interest. The BBB community are more women than men, they mainly come from Australia, the US, and the UK, but
then there are significant groups from everywhere from Turkey to Estonia to Chile. They are musicians and music educators as expected, but they are also business people, bricklayers, doctors and artists. What they share is a fascination with the research and a desire to know more. The Bigger Better Brains Project is mostly for the nonacademic public, those that don’t have access to the research except for an abstract or maybe a link to a journalist’s article, which may well summarise the findings of the paper incorrectly. Even when a member of the BBB community clicks on a link to the abstract, it is unlikely they will understand it completely. This is through no fault of their own—they are highly skilled in their own arenas—but probably not quite up to speed with neuroscientific jargon. Therefore educating about music in this forum has become about the ongoing engagement with developments in the field, questions researchers are asking, and directions research is taking. For a non-scientific audience this means short, plain language explanations that slowly and steadily upskill followers while also maintaining their fascination with the field that I find amazing on a daily basis. Educating about music is not a one-way street; a number of key researchers are writing and communicating their research in a way that the non-academic and yet highly curious public can connect with. I spent a week with Prof Nina Kraus and her team at Brainvolts at Northwestern University in 2016 and we had many conversations around educating about music in her field of auditory processing. I have enjoyed watching how she has continued to engage through different mediums to expertly convey the significance of her findings without losing the complexity and authenticity of her research. Her most recent presentation at the Kennedy Center’s South Health Event was the best presentation I have seen her do yet. Watch it for the content but also for the communication skills she employs so expertly. In 2017 I got to spend time with two researchers whose writing style, and it turns out their whole presence,
communicates the significance and complexity of their work in the field of music learning and brain development. Dr Assal Habibi, a cognitive psychologist at The Brain & Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, was first. The most unlikely and yet important paper she has published in this field recently is actually not about reporting the findings of an experiment but the importance of getting a participant group of children that are as equal as possible. When I posted this article and a short explanation of the significance of this work the BBB community showed how far their education in music had come by commenting on the importance of methodological rigour in the field.
The second researcher I got to spend time with was developmental psychologist Dr Franziska Dege at the Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany. As I spent time with her I came to understand why her work resonated with the music educator and the researcher within me. She is also all about removing the doubt through methodological rigour while writing in such a way that signifies in plain language why these choices are im-
portant. Even her journal paper titled “Music Lessons and Intelligence: A Relation Mediated by Executive Functions” says it all. Both Assal and Franziska are about to complete longitudinal studies that will propel the field forward, and with their eye on communicating beyond the journal page or link, they are two exciting researchers to watch. While neuroscientific and psychological research is assisting music educators in illuminating, challenging and hopefully improving music education practice, there is also a place for flipping the narrative and closing the gap between those who research music education and those who facilitate music education. We are all working to understand the phenomenon of music education; the more we know about each other’s work, the better off I hope we will all be.
How short-term learning of a musical instrument immediately changes the brain’s perception of it Rebecca Gelding & Yanan Sun (Macquarie University) firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no doubt that musicians’ brains are different: learning to play an instrument changes your brain. But did you know that learning an action that is coupled to a sound, such as playing a musical instrument or some new dance moves, changes the brain’s response to the sound, even when you are just passively listening? Experienced musicians show larger auditory responses to the sound of their own instrument (Pantev & Herholz, 2011), and expert dancers when watching dance movements show larger neural oscillations in a frequency band involved in movement (Orgs, Dombrowski, Heil, & Jansen‐Osmann, 2008). At shorter timescales, after just 6 weeks of piano training, listening to newly learned melodies elicits increased activity in brain regions responsible for motor preparation and sensorimotor integration (Herholz, Coffey, Pantev, & Zatorre, 2016). Some studies show all it takes is 12 hours (after a good night’s sleep) to see effects of perceptual training in auditory responses (Alain, Zhu, He, & Ross, 2015). But if you can walk out of a ½ hour instrument lesson now being able to play something that you couldn’t before, then surely some sort of immediate change has occurred in your brain? That is precisely what Bernard Ross and colleagues sought to find out. Ross et al. (2017) used magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recordings to measure auditory and motor neu-
ral responses, while participants firstly passively listened to an unfamiliar instrument (a Tibetan singing bowl struck with a wooden mallet) for 24 minutes, then actively made the sounds themselves for 30 minutes by striking the bowls with their right hands, followed by another passive listening period of 24 minutes. A control group was recruited, who had identical listening blocks, but during the sound-making period, initiated the sound of the bell through a right-hand button press on a keypad rather than striking the bowl. By comparing the passive listening trials before and after sound making, they found that training had increased the brain responses to the singing bowl’s sound, and had modulated the neural oscillatory responses in the beta band frequencies (15 – 25 Hz), which are usually identified in motor engagement. They also found increased functional connectivity between the left motor cortex and both auditory cortices, suggesting increased communication between these brain areas. These results confirm that auditory perceptual learning can elicit immediate functional neuroplasticity. The fact that these changes were seen in the experimental group, but not the control group led Ross et al. to conclude that learning the specific action of hitting the singing bowl with a mallet induced more rapid and
efficient establishment of an actionsound association than the more common finger tap for a key press (Ross et al., 2017). So the rapid neuroplastic changes depend critically on the nature of training. But this is only the beginning – this study provides so many avenues for future research. For instance, instead of a button press, the control group could strike a wooden bowl with sensor or electronic drum pad in a similar action to the singing bowl. The sound of the singing bowl could then be played through earphones to the participants. This would provide a control condition with similar motor activity and auditory stimuli to the experimental condition, but would presumably result in a weaker object representation than when the actual singing bowl is being struck. We would predict that this proposed condition would show neural responses in between the current experimental and control groups, and thus could be used to investigate how the strength of the action-perception association influences brain activity. Additionally, the authors did have one subject complete the task with sand in the singing bowl to gain a measure of motor action in silence. Future studies could extend this by instructing a group of participants explicitly to imagine the sound of the singing bowl as they strike a sand filled bowl in silence. In this way, the same action would be required, but the auditory stimuli would be internally generated during the training. The generation of musical imagery activates both motor and auditory cortices (Zatorre & Halpern, 2005), and engagement of mental imagery during practice has been shown to be beneficial in learning an instrument (Pascual-Leone, 2003). Therefore, we would predict that for participants with sufficient imagery strength, the action-perception representation could still be established in silence. Ross et al. (2017) adds to the growing evidence of the role of auditory-motor engagement in musical perception, and
once again shows the effectiveness of music as a stimulus through which to investigate neuroplasticity within auditory and motor domains (Chen, Penhune, & Zatorre, 2008). It is the first study to show immediate effects of motor learning on music perception. What remains unknown is how long lasting these immediate effects are, and how they may differ from longer-term effects that are acquired through musical expertise. These findings support the strong link between auditory and motor processes, which can be applied in music making motor rehabilitation training for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease (Ross et al., 2017). References Alain, C., Zhu, K. D., He, Y., & Ross, B. (2015). Sleep-dependent neuroplastic changes during auditory perceptual learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 118(10959564). Chen, J. L., Penhune, V. B., & Zatorre, R. J. (2008). Listening to musical rhythms recruits motor regions of the brain. Cerebral Cortex, 18(12), 2844-2854. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhn042 Herholz, S. C., Coffey, E. B. J., Pantev, C., & Zatorre, R. J. (2016). Dissociation of neural networks for predisposition and for trainingrelated plasticity in auditory-motor learning. Cerebral Cortex, 26(7), 3125-3134. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhv138 Orgs, G., Dombrowski, J. H., Heil, M., & Jansen‐ Osmann, P. (2008). Expertise in dance modulates alpha/beta event‐related desynchronization during action observation. European Journal of Neuroscience, 27(12), 3380-3384. doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2008.06271.x Pantev, C., & Herholz, S. C. (2011). Plasticity of the human auditory cortex related to musical training. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 35(10), 2140-2154. doi:http:// dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.06.010 Pascual-Leone, A. (2003). The brain that plays music and is changed by it. In I. Peretz & R. Zatorre (Eds.), The cognitive neuroscience of music (pp. 396-412). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ross, B., Barat, M., & Fujioka, T. (2017). Soundmaking actions lead to immediate plastic changes of neuromagnetic evoked responses and induced beta-band oscillations during perception. The Journal of Neuroscience, 3613-3616. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.361316.2017 Zatorre, R. J., & Halpern, A. R. (2005). Mental concerts: musical imagery and auditory cortex. Neuron, 47(1), 9-12. doi:10.1016/ j.neuron.2005.06.013
In the media What creativity really is—and why schools need it. Liane Gabora, The Conversation Stop obsessing over talent— everyone can sing. Steven Demorest, The Conversation The amazing brains of musicians. Iballa Burunat, UA Magazine The healing power of hip hop. Alexander Crooke & Raphael Travis Jr., The Conversation Learning with music can change brain structure, says study. BBC News Arts-based activities boost emotion regulation, study finds. Psychology Today Singing death: Why music and grief go hand in hand. Helen Hickey & Helen Dell, The Conversation Nine lifestyle changes can reduce dementia risk, study says. BBC News Song cultures of Humpback Whales give insight into evolutionary learning. Sci-News Birdsong has inspired humans for centuries: Is it music? Hollis Taylor, The Conversation Watch this cockatoo make music with a stick. Science
MOOCs Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move? University of Oslo Music Technology Foundations. University of Adelaide How Music Can Change Your Life. University of Melbourne The Place of Music in 21st Century Education. University of Sydney How to Survive Your PhD. Australian National University
5 minutes with... Jane Davidson Jane is currently Professor of Creative and Performing Arts (Music) at the University of Melbourne, and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. She studies the Social Psychology of Music, particularly in relation to performance and social interaction, health and wellbeing, intercultural cohesion and resilience, as well as the History of Emotions and its connection to Historically Informed Performance using practice as research. She is also a singer, dancer, director and a member of the AMPS committee. Why did you choose this particular field of study? I’ve always been interested in understanding and expanding the potentials of musical engagement for all people, and my interests are quite interdisciplinary. What is your favourite aspect of your job? Working collaboratively. In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of your job? Finding enough hours in the week to do everything on the ‘to do’ list. I have an unerring desire to try to do everything proposed by others or that I dream up. What has been your proudest achievement to date? My proudest achievements are in my personal life, but I do enjoy seeing students develop. I also love to see a project through from start to finish, as I get an immense sense of satisfaction and joy from the camaraderie and group process of collaboration. I’ve also done some solo vocal performances that were ‘peak’ experiences for me, so I cherish the memories of those events. What has been the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? Be true to yourself. Keep going. What is the last book you read? The Reef: A Passionate History by Ian McCalman. I strongly recommend it as an interesting blend of academic research, historical and fiction writing about the Great Barrier Reef. It is a beautifully written book comprising 12 tales that track the changing status of the reef from a place of terror to becoming a world heritage area. What is your ‘go-to’ piece of music? I don’t have one single piece. My taste is broad ranging: sometimes W.A. Mozart, sometimes Cassandra Wilson. If the context is right, I often sing, sometimes a medley of songs, but often just improvised stuff. What were you like as a child? Just like now but smaller.
What was the first concert you attended? Depends what you mean, but I went to a wonderful primary school in which we enjoyed a series of regular visiting artist performances and we had many performance projects of our own. We were also allowed to develop our own extra-curricular creative projects, so from about seven years old I was always involved in performances in one way or another. Concerts I recall as having striking impact on me include the Faure Requiem and seeing an amazing brass band from a local colliery in Durham where I grew up. What was the first Vinyl/Cassette/CD you bought for yourself? Puppy Love by Donny Osmond (1972), and it was a single record. In primary school you were either a Donny Osmond or a David Cassidy fan. Which 3 people—famous or otherwise—would you most like to invite to a dinner party? People with whom I share common values and interests, so basically, my friends. Some of them are famous, but I won’t name them! If you could travel back in time, and give your first-year undergraduate self one piece of advice what would it be? I wouldn’t change anything I did. My approach was always to make the best of it, pick up on things that interested me and develop plans and projects along those lines. For instance, when I was just starting second year I began investigating performance anxiety and asked if I could attend the first British conference on the topic. I did that and then used the experience to find researchers in the field and so by the time I had to think up an honours project, I was able to write my dissertation on that topic, which in turn got me into psychology of music research. Where is the one place you’d like to travel to and why? I’ve travelled a lot, so at this stage of my life getting to know my locality and its people is probably much more of a priority. Why? I’ve only been in Victoria for three years, and local places remain largely unexplored. If you had one word to describe yourself, what would it be? A trier.
When girls are in the audience, choir boys sing for attention Peter Keller (Western Sydney University) - originally appeared on The Conversation The St. Thomas Choir is an internationally renowned boys choir from Leipzig in Germany. Singing in the choir is a selfless pursuit requiring artistry and discipline. Or is it? New research suggests all it takes to elicit surreptitious attention-seeking vocal behaviour among the boys is to place a few teenage girls in the audience. Four girls were added to an otherwise male audience during repeated performances of a concert sung by the choir. Analysis of audio recordings from individual head-worn microphones revealed that older boys with the deepest voices increased the brightness of their vocal sounds when the girls were present. These boys appeared to be competing for the girls’ attention in a subtle manner that did not disrupt the cooperative activity of making music together. Where does this ability come from? And could it tell us something about the origins of music? Music: sexual or social? Music is a vital part of social life across cultures, but science is still not sure exactly why. A puzzled Charles Darwin wrote, As neither the enjoyment nor the capacity of producing musical notes are faculties of the least use to man in reference to his daily habits of life, they must be ranked amongst the most mysterious with which he is endowed. Researchers interested in the evolution of music have formed two camps. One side believes that music originally helped individuals to compete for sexual partners. Music might therefore be analogous to birdsong. In many bird species, males who sing the most intricate songs attract the most females and have the most offspring. The other camp argues that music is useful because it leads to social cohesion. This perspective presents the idea that group music making increases feelings of interpersonal affiliation, trust, and commitment. These opposing accounts of the origins of music have generated heated debate. Did we evolve the capacity to produce sublime music simply to get more sex? Or are we driven by higher ideals related to living together in harmony? Music delivers on two fronts A unifying alternative is that competitive and cooperative functions coexist in musical behaviour. Something like this occurs in non-human animals that engage in rhythmic communal signalling. Groups of fireflies flash their bioluminescent backsides, fiddler crabs wave their oversized claws, and crickets, cicadas, and frogs produce coordinated choruses of sound. Rhythmic group signalling in non-human animals is a courtship display produced by congregations of males. Group members maximise the intensity of their collective broadcast by coordinating their signals. The resulting “beacon” effect
enhances the ability to attract distant females. While such coordinated behaviour appears cooperative, in numerous species it arises via competitive mechanisms by which individual males jam their neighbours’ signals. Females in these species prefer fast signallers. Males who emit speedy calls are generally fit, energetic, and capable of producing sturdy offspring. When many males compete for a smaller number of females, the guys who signal rapidly gain a further advantage because they produce early calls that block the late calls of sluggish signallers. Precise coordination nevertheless occurs because the leading calls trigger reflexive calls in neighbouring individuals. Stunning displays of seemingly cooperative synchronisation in non-human chorusing turn out to be a side effect of sexfuelled competition. Could cooperative and competitive behaviour also be intimately connected in human music? The results of the study with the St. Thomas Choir suggest it might. Singing with brilliance and power Similarly to the way that chorusing male insects attract females by outshining rivals, we found the most mature choirboys (the four bass singers from a total of 16 choristers) altered the brightness of their voices in the presence of females who were seated in the front row of the audience. The effect occurred for two distinctive musical pieces, a chorale and a fugue by J. S. Bach. These boys who had the deepest voices (linked to high testosterone levels) increased acoustic energy in a high-frequency region of their vocal spectrum. Enhancing this region — known as the “singer’s formant” — adds brilliance and carrying power to the voice. It is a trick used by opera singers to be heard above loud orchestras. Boosting the singer’s formant is not normally recommended in choir singing, where the goal is to blend rather than stand out. The boys were therefore using an unsanctioned technique. This embellishment is especially noteworthy given the music was composed for religious celebration in the Lutheran Protestant tradition, where flamboyance is discouraged. The parallel between chorusing insects and choirboys suggests the evolutionary benefit of music may lie in allowing selfish instincts related to sexual competition to be satisfied without disrupting cooperative behaviour and social cohesion. This idea presupposes that humans are sensitive to subtle modifications of behaviour such as an enhanced singer’s formant. Do you think you can tell the difference? If you would like to find out, we are running an online study testing this. It takes around 10 minutes and you will be told afterwards how accurate your answers were. Click to participate.
Australian Music & Psychology Society (AMPS) AMPS was formed in 1996 and since, has grown steadily. It now represents the national body of researchers in this field, and is a member of APSCOM. The idea to form a psychology and music society came about during the Fourth International Conference on Music Perception & Cognition (ICMPC4) held at McGill University, Montreal. At that meeting, there was interest for ICMPC to be held in Australia. The first step was to form a group that could coordinate the organization of such an event and to form a music and psychology society similar in focus to those in Europe (ESCOM), Japan (JSMPC), and the United States (SMPC). Our aim is to bring Australian researchers together and to represent Australian research overseas. The members of AMPS regularly meet to discuss research, with local and overseas presenters addressing a variety of topics. These have ranged from psychophysics and psychoacoustics, cochlear mechanics, rhythm and pitch perception, to emotional responses to music, musical development, skill acquisition, and social aspects of ensemble performance. At present our Seminar Series, Music Auditory Cognition & Mind (MACAM), meets regularly at The University of Melbourne. We welcome new members, students and researchers alike. Membership is free! Becoming a member is as simple as joining our mailing list.
Australians at ESCOM2017 in Ghent
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