September 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming

  • The McMaster Institute for Music & the Mind announces the 10th Annual NeuroMusic Conference: Performance, Gesture and Social Interaction in Music, to be held on Sunday, September 28, 2014 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The LiveLab is directed by AIRS co-investibator Laurel Trainor and AIRS co-investigator Steven Brown is a key collaborator. Blair Ellis is a graduate student in the MIMM Music and Neuroscience Program. Poster Abstracts deadline has been extended to September 8. Click here for a poster about this event. Click here for a PDF with the registration link

  • Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM) 17-22 August 2015, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK. Abstract deadline 29 December 2014. NB -  Singing is one of the topic areas for submissions.  Link

  • Opera and Media of the Future: October 24 & 25 2014 at Glyndebourne, Lewes, East Sussex, UK.  Link for further information on the event, including programme, registration details, etc.

    The Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre at the University of Sussex is pleased to announce a new research initiative to examine the challenges and opportunities of new media technologies for the future of opera. The project will be launched by a two-day event hosted by Glyndebourne Opera bringing academics, artists and opera professionals together to examine a wide range of issues from opera cinecasts and webcasts to the use of new media platforms for audience development, marketing and education, and the implications of new media for the forms of opera itself.



  • Dr. Karen Ludke who has been working on the AIRS Digital Library in a postdoctoral position is now moving on to a faculty position at Edge Hill University in the UK.  While working full-time with AIRS, Karen with team-mates Tom Germaine and Ryan Sampson created the new functional prototype  for the AIRS Digital Library  allowing for batch entry and permissions, two key functions required by the AIRS Collaboration. The system is being tested before a more general release to the AIRS community.  Karen also assisted on many other projects of AIRS including the Student Early-Career Workshop, the AIRS Multicultural Choir, AIRS Book Project,  research with Dr. Bing-Yi Pan  on the role of singing in language learning, and AIRS social media such as Twitter.  Karen will be greatly missed and fortunately she will be staying connected with AIRS.  We wish her much continued success in her new position and thank her for her many contributions to AIRS.

  • Jane Ginsborg, AIRS Co-investigator and President of ESCOM informs AIRS of the Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM)  17-22 August 2015, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK. Abstract deadline 29 December 2014. NB -  Singing is one of the topic areas for submissions.   Link

  • SSHRC Postdoctoral Opportunity - Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents  Deadline September 24   Link

Recent Publications

  • Rhythmic Priming Enhances Speech Production Abilities: Evidence From Prelingually Deaf Children.  Cason, Nia; Hidalgo, Céline; Isoard, Florence; Roman, Stéphane; Schön, Daniele. Neuropsychology, Jul 28 , 2014, DOI: 10.1037/neu0000115   Link

Objective: Following recent findings that rhythmic priming can enhance speech perception, the aim of this experiment was to investigate whether this extends to speech production. Method: The authors measured the influence of rhythmic priming on phonological production abilities in 14 hearing impaired children with hearing devices. Children had to repeat sentences that were or were not preceded by a rhythmical prime. In addition, this rhythmic prime either matched or mismatched the meter (i.e., stress contrasts) of the sentence. Results: Matching conditions resulted in a greater phonological accuracy of spoken sentences compared to baseline and mismatching conditions. Cochlear implant users were also more sensitive to rhythmic priming than hearing aid users. Conclusions: These results suggest that musical rhythmic priming can enhance phonological production in HI children via an enhanced perception of the target sentence. Overall, these findings suggest that musical rhythm engages domain-general expectations which can enhance both in perception and production of speech. 

  • Auditory Temporal Processing Skills in Musicians with Dyslexia. Paula Bishop-Liebler, Graham Welch, Martina Huss, Jennifer M. Thomson and Usha Goswami. Dislexia, vol 20, issue 3. DOI: 10.1002/dys.1479/a0036858  Link

The core cognitive difficulty in developmental dyslexia involves phonological processing, but adults and children with dyslexia also have sensory impairments. Impairments in basic auditory processing show particular links with phonological impairments, and recent studies with dyslexic children across languages reveal a relationship between auditory temporal processing and sensitivity to rhythmic timing and speech rhythm. As rhythm is explicit in music, musical training might have a beneficial effect on the auditory perception of acoustic cues to rhythm in dyslexia. Here we took advantage of the presence of musicians with and without dyslexia in musical conservatoires, comparing their auditory temporal processing abilities with those of dyslexic non-musicians matched for cognitive ability. Musicians with dyslexia showed equivalent auditory sensitivity to musicians without dyslexia and also showed equivalent rhythm perception. The data support the view that extensive rhythmic experience initiated during childhood (here in the form of music training) can affect basic auditory processing skills which are found to be deficient in individuals with dyslexia.


  • Fear across the senses: Brain responses to music, vocalizations and facial expressions. William Aubé, Arafat Angulo-Perkins, Isabelle Peretz, Luis Concha and Jorge L. Armony. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, August, 2014.  Link

Intrinsic emotional expressions such as those communicated by faces and vocalizations have been shown to engage specific brain regions, such as the amygdala. Although music constitutes another powerful means to express emotions, the neural substrates involved in its processing remain poorly understood. In particular, it is unknown whether brain regions typically associated with processing “biologically-relevant” emotional expressions are also recruited by emotional music. To address this question, we conducted an event-related fMRI study in 47 healthy volunteers in which we directly compared responses to basic emotions (fear, sadness and happiness, as well as neutral) expressed through faces, nonlinguistic vocalizations and short, novel musical excerpts. Our results confirmed the importance of fear in emotional communication, as revealed by significant BOLD signal increased in a cluster within the posterior amygdala and anterior hippocampus, as well as in the posterior insula across all three domains. Moreover, subject-specific amygdala responses to fearful music and vocalizations were correlated, consistent with the proposal that the brain circuitry involved in the processing of musical emotions might be shared with the one that have evolved for vocalizations. Overall, our results show that processing of fear expressed through music, engages some of the same brain areas known to be crucial for detecting and evaluating threat-related information. 

  • Research Skills in Practice: Learning and Teaching Practice-Based Research at RNCM. Jane Ginsborg, Research and Research Education in Music Performance and Pedagogy Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education Volume 11, 2014, pp 77-89.  Link

First, I will define what we mean by ‘practice-based’ research, encompassing composition and performance, as opposed to ‘performance practice’ and ‘performative’ research, drawing on recently published examples of practice-based research to illustrate the requirements of Ph.D research ‘by practice’ at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). Next, I will show how we teach practice-based and performance practice research not only at taught postgraduate level via the Music Research in Practice compulsory module and Lecture Recital option, but also at the undergraduate level via Performance and Repertoire Studies 3 and 4. Finally, I will report on a symposium held in November 2011 at RNCM, Teaching and Learning Practice in/as Research involving staff and students as well as external speakers and performers, and raise for discussion some of the issues that arose at, and from the symposium.

  • Thrills, chills, frissons, and skin orgasms: toward an integrative model of transcendent psychophysiological experiences in music. Luke Harrison and Psyche Loui, Frontiers in Psychology, 2014; 5: 790. DOI:  10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00790  Link

Music has a unique power to elicit moments of intense emotional and psychophysiological response. These moments – termed “chills,” “thrills”, “frissons,” etc. – are subjects of introspection and philosophical debate, as well as scientific study in music perception and cognition. The present article integrates the existing multidisciplinary literature in an attempt to define a comprehensive, testable, and ecologically valid model of transcendent psychophysiological moments in music.


  • Orchestrating literacies: Print literacy learning opportunities within multimodal intergenerational ensembles.  Lori L McKee, Western University, Ontario, Canada, and Rachel M Heydon, Western University, Ontario, Canada. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, May 21, 2014.   Link.

This exploratory case study considered the opportunities for print literacy learning within multimodal ensembles that featured art, singing and digital media within the context of an intergenerational programme that brought together 13 kindergarten children (4 and 5 years) with seven elder companions. Study questions concerned how reading and writing were practised within multimodal ensembles and what learning opportunities were afforded to the children while the participants worked through a chain of multimodal projects. Data were collected through ethnographic tools in the Rest Home where the projects were completed and in the children’s classroom where project content and tools were introduced and extended by the classroom teacher. Themes were identified through the juxtaposition of field texts in a multimodal analysis. The results indicate that the multimodality of the projects and the reciprocal intergenerational relationships forged in and through text-making afforded children opportunities to improvise and refine their print literacy practices as part of multimodal ensembles. The study is designed to contribute to the nascent, yet growing, body of knowledge concerning print literacy practices and learning opportunities as conceptualized within multimodal literacy and intergenerational curricula. 


  • Children's identification of familiar songs from pitch and timing cues.  Anna Volkova, Sandra E. Trehub, E. Glenn Schellenberg, Blake C. Papsin, and Karen A. Gordon. Frontiers in Psychology, 2014; 5: 863.  Link

The goal of the present study was to ascertain whether children with normal hearing and prelingually deaf children with cochlear implants could use pitch or timing cues alone or in combination to identify familiar songs. Children 4–7 years of age were required to identify the theme songs of familiar TV shows in a simple task with excerpts that preserved (1) the relative pitch and timing cues of the melody but not the original instrumentation, (2) the timing cues only (rhythm, meter, and tempo), and (3) the relative pitch cues only (pitch contour and intervals). Children with normal hearing performed at high levels and comparably across the three conditions. The performance of child implant users was well above chance levels when both pitch and timing cues were available, marginally above chance with timing cues only, and at chance with pitch cues only. This is the first demonstration that children can identify familiar songs from monotonic versions—timing cues but no pitch cues—and from isochronous versions—pitch cues but no timing cues. The study also indicates that, in the context of a very simple task, young implant users readily identify songs from melodic versions that preserve pitch and timing cues.


  • Complicated Conversation: Creating Opportunities for Transformative Practice in Higher Education Music Performance Research and Pedagogy.  Susan A. O’Neill,  Research and Research Education in Music Performance and Pedagogy Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education Volume 11, 2014, pp 169-179.   Link

Longstanding traditions in research methodologies and disciplinary approaches actively communicate singular and situated visions that ‘polarize’ heterogeneous practice-based approaches that attempt to step outside these traditions. Too often, polarization is equated with controversy when researchers with different perspectives attempt a conversation. However, as William Pinar (2012. What is curriculum theory? (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge) reminds us, ‘complicated conversation’ is an ethical, political and intellectual undertaking, as well as a form of curriculum that ‘enables educational experience.’ This chapter discusses these ideas, drawing on an illustrative ‘provocation’ for exploring some of the challenges and constraints that doctoral students, supervisors, committee members, course instructors and examiners encounter when negotiating the current research terrain in music performance and pedagogy (incorporating both the conservatoire and university schools of music and education). Although research paradigms and methods may be incommensurable, understanding different research intentions is reconcilable provided we place collaborative transformative practice as the principled grounding for teaching-learning and research activities. In exploring these ideas, I put forth the notion that the knowledge revealed through transformative practice in higher education music performance research and pedagogy is inextricably linked with revealing paradoxes and relational understandings, and striving for the ideal of academic integrity in any research endeavour.

August 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming

  • US AIRS Colleagues: Arts Research Funding Opportunity and Grant Guidelines Webinar September 3, 2014.

Helping to grow the field of arts research and provide arts practitioners with high-quality, evidence-based resources, the National Endowment for the Arts announces the latest Research: Art Works funding opportunity. LINK This program supports research for projects that investigate the value and/or impact of the arts on individuals and communities. To assist potential applicants, the NEA will hold a grant guidelines webinar on September 3, 2014 at 3:00 PM ET.

To join the September 3 NEA Research: Art Works webinar, please register in advance. LINK You may listen using your computer's speakers or dial-in to 1-877-685-5350 and use participant code: 739587. Attendees will be muted but able to type in questions and comments through a Q & A text box. An archive of the webinar will be available on the NEA's website in the webinar section shortly after the event.

The NEA anticipates awarding up to 20 grants in the range of $10,000 to $30,000. The deadline for application submission is October 21, 2014 for projects that can begin as early as May 1, 2015. Eligible organizations are U.S-based organizations that are nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3); units of state or local government; or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes. This may include, but is not limited to, colleges and universities.

  • Researchers and other interested people are invited to come to Linköping, Sweden for the First international meeting on Internet & Audiology, which will be held the 3-4 October 2014. This is not a typical conference as there will be no conference fee. Abstracts for short presentations (15 minutes) which present new and innovative research are invited; submission deadline was July 15, 2014    Website

  • The International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC13) was held from August 4-8, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Presentations by AIRS members and about singing are available here.


  • With the leadership of Lily Chen-Hafteck, Co-Leader of sub-theme 3.1, Singing and Cultural Understanding, an AIRS Symposium and an AIRS Reception took place at at the recent conference of the International Society for Music Education held in Porto Alegre, Brazil in July. Participants in the symposium were (from left to right): Elizabeth Andang'o, Zuraida Bastiao, Lily Chen-Hafteck, Arla Good, Angelita Broock, Yue Xiao, and Jiaxing Xie. Helga Gutmundsdottir, AIRS theme leader for Singing and Education, joined the team for the reception. A one-day workshop for the AIRS Quadcultural Songbook project, directed by Lily Chen-Hafteck, followed the main ISME conference. 

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July 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming

  • Researchers and other interested people are invited to come to Linköping, Sweden for the First international meeting on Internet & Audiology, which will be held the 3-4 October 2014. This is not a typical conference as there will be no conference fee. Abstracts for short presentations (15 minutes) which present new and innovative research are invited; submission deadline is July 15, 2014    Website



  • Dr. Bing-Yi Pan is presenting a paper at The Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS) conference in early July:  Pan, B.Y., & Cohen, A.J. (2014). Music training enhances implicit imitation of timing in both music and language domains.

The AIRS Test Battery of Singing Skills was employed to explore whether music training enhances the implicit rhythm acquisition in music and language imitating. 20 musicians and 20 non-musicians were asked to repeat 17 speaking and singing pieces after voice models. Normalized rhythms (responding rhythm divided by model rhythm) were compared. Over all 17 (4 language tasks) comparisons, musicians’ mean performances were closer to the model.

Recent Publications

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