Blog launch by Amy!

Ok, so after some playing around with the background and themes I’ve officially made a music psychology related blog for the Music, Mind and Brain folk to post to. This is the place to share interesting articles, fascinating facts, links, videos.. anything! (well, preferably music psychology related information please hehe). Please feel free to comment and post post post!

Brief intro? I’m Amy and I have just finished my second year of University on a BSc Psychology course – one more year to go! During my holidays I have spent the first month observing Prof. Adam Ockelford’s music lessons in the Linden Lodge school for children up to ages 19 with complex needs. He has written a great book called ‘ In the Key of Genius’ about an autistic Savant called Derek Parvacini. I have to say, it was an incredible experience being in his lessons, although it was a short time, because he truly believed that music could not cure as such, but alleviate some of the symptoms that those children had and improve their communication too. Although his one to one lessons lasted for an hour, he spent most of his time trying to get the child to repeat a simple melody or scale on the piano. You have to understand that some of the children’s abilities to communicate and respond are extremely limited so patience is needed – fortunately Prof. Ockelford has lots of it! In the last lesson of the day, music was taught in a group setting – three or four children with their carers sitting beside them holding different types of percussion instruments, arranged in a semi circle with Prof. Ockelford on the piano in the centre. By looking at their movements (how ever little) the therapists took this as a form of communication and played different types of piano pieces alternating the rhythm, dynamics and melodic form to try to get more movement. Reaction. There would be a pause about half an hour into the lesson to see if the children would move their instruments and respond. To the untrained eye, changes in behaviour are barely perceptible but in children with such restricted abilities, they can sometimes be profound. Music for some, may provide an important, perhaps even the only source of communication, offering a unique channel of self-expression. So there’s me.. holding maracas in both hands and joining in. Music therapist in the making?.. hmm..we’ll see!

Today is my first day, full time for about a month or so working in the Music, Mind and Brain group at Goldsmiths, University of London. I’m helping out with a variety of projects ranging from ‘ Earworms’ to ‘Musical Memory’. They have a fantastic Masters programme that concentrates on the biological and cognitive aspects of musical behaviour. It is directed by Dr Lauren Stewart and Dr Daniel Müllensiefen who are both international experts in this field. The programme encompases music therapy, perception, computational modelling and cognitive processes so search it up for plenty more information. I have to say I can’t wait to get stuck in.. I’m sure a month will fly by! Anyway I’ve got some articles to read, piano pieces to learn, e-mails to write, lists to do so I will leave it to you to blog and post! All comments welcome fellow students, psychologists and the like! byebye!

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