Collision of Science and Music

Image: Spencer Imbrock

Dr Georgia Pike (Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing), Dr Amelia Gulliver (Centre for Mental Health Research) and Dr Bonnie McConnell (School of Music) share stories and findings from projects at the cutting edge of music and wellbeing research. Georgia, an educator, singer and researcher, has been collaborating with Amelia, a mental health researcher, to evaluate the impact of a specialised social music intervention which aims to improve the wellbeing of aged-care residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Bonnie, a musician and ethnomusicologist, has been collaborating with mental health researchers in The Gambia, Africa, to assess the impact of social music making with mothers-to-be in local health centres.

Georgia, Amelia and Bonnie will share some of the challenges and triumphs that can emerge from projects that seek to create meaningful social interaction and enhance wellbeing.  They will discuss some of the ways in which they hope to grow this field of research at the ANU, in order to have a positive and tangible impact upon communities at a local, national and international level.

"We hope to create research and practice that empowers caring staff, family members, and aged-care residents themselves to improve their own and others’ wellbeing as a community.  Human beings have been using communal music making to improve social cohesion and wellbeing for many thousands of years.  This project simply reminds us of the basic human compulsion to connect and reach out to others through music – something that is still present in all of us, including people living with dementia." —Dr Georgia Pike

Associate Professor Kim Cunio, Head of the School of Music, will also present a collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey and artist/engineer Diana Scarborough about a project that set the sounds of space as recorded in Antarctica and by external bodies such as NASA. The project involved setting sounds to music, both as acoustic works derived completely from source sounds and as part of larger compositions and led to a flow on work of setting the sounds of Antarctica to solo piano.