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  • Successful AIRS ‘Melody-On-The-Spot’ Challenge at the East Coast Music Association

AIRS wishes to thank Mike Speelman and his team of UPEI volunteers who represented AIRS in our partnership with the East Coast Music Association (ECMA) in presenting the ‘Melody-On-The-Spot: AIRS Challenge’ at the 2014 ECMW in Charlottetown, PEI on 3-5 April 2014. ECMA artists and interested attendees were invited to participate in the fourth edition of the exciting ‘Melody-On-The-Spot’ Challenge contest. The ‘Melody-On-The-Spot’ challenge is a creative, improvisational contest in song-writing where you have a chance of crafting a new song ‘on the spot’ inspired by a choice of visual images provided by the AIRS research team. There’s one minute to compose, and one minute to sing. A panel of industry professionals will judge recordings of the songs, and prizes will be awarded to the individuals with the most creative and entertaining song.

  • At the Podium 2014 Conference, there were two incredible presenters! Both phenomenal leaders, Darryl Edwards and Carol Beynon, shared wisdom and expertise at Podium 2014

Darryl Edwards    

Darryl Edwards, tenor, began his career a choral conductor, studying at UWO with Deral Johnson, and in summer sessions at Westminster Choir College with Shaw, Trego, Hausemann and Willcocks. He founded the Woodstock Fanshawe Singers, taught vocal/choral music at Saunders SS in London, ON, and then conducted the UWO Chorale. He holds B.Mus., B.Ed., M.Mus. degrees from Western U, and a DMA from U Michigan. He performs as a tenor soloist internationally. He is now Head of Voice Studies at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and Artistic Director of the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI).

Carol Beynon    

Dr. Carol Beynon is the Vice Provost of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (Acting) at the University of Western Ontario, former Dean of the Faculty of Education, Associate Professor of music education, and the Senior Artistic Director of the Amabile Boys & Men’s Choirs of London, Canada.  A former teacher, her research interests include studies in gender and singing, intergenerational curriculum development in singing, and informal music learning. She has several articles in peer-reviewed journals and co-author/editor of two books: Learning to Teach (2001) and Critical Perspectives in Canadian Music Education (2012).



Other News

  • May is Better Speech and Hearing Month in the USA - and during the month a telephone screening test for hearing impairment, the "National Hearing Test" is being offered for FREE

To help raise awareness of this test and also to determine the negative influence of the fee, it has been decided to offer it free during May, 2014.  This is made possible by a grant from NIH/NIDCD, the US National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.  Information about the test is available at the NHT website. This convenient, private, and clinically validated screening test can be taken in the comfort of one's home. During May the test can be taken simply by calling 1-866-223-7575 (also available from Canada) and following the instructions. Left and right ears are tested and the results are given at the end of the call (“within normal limits”, “slightly below the normal range”, or “substantially below the normal range”).


Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops     view all upcoming


  • Congratulations to Charlene Santoni (University of Toronto DMA student, yr. 2, and AIRS sub-theme 2.2 participant), who has won the 2014 NATS Foundation Vocal Pedagogy Award for the USA and Canada

The Award is in support of her dissertation, which will propose the implementation of instructional singing voice techniques in the rehabilitative voice therapy protocol for children with vocal fold immobility.  Charlene also teaches voice at McMaster University and is a research assistant at AIRS (Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing), and the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI).

Natural auditory environments contain multiple simultaneously-sounding objects and the auditory system must parse the incoming complex sound wave they collectively create into parts that represent each of these individual objects. Music often similarly requires processing of more than one voice or stream at the same time, and behavioral studies demonstrate that human listeners show a systematic perceptual bias in processing the highest voice in multi-voiced music. Here, we review studies utilizing event-related brain potentials (ERPs), which support the notions that (1) separate memory traces are formed for two simultaneous voices (even without conscious awareness) in auditory cortex and (2) adults show more robust encoding (i.e., larger ERP responses) to deviant pitches in the higher than in the lower voice, indicating better encoding of the former. Furthermore, infants also show this high-voice superiority effect, suggesting that the perceptual dominance observed across studies might result from neurophysiological characteristics of the peripheral auditory system. Although musically untrained adults show smaller responses in general than musically trained adults, both groups similarly show a more robust cortical representation of the higher than of the lower voice. Finally, years of experience playing a bass-range instrument reduces but does not reverse the high voice superiority effect, indicating that although it can be modified, it is not highly neuroplastic. Results of new modeling experiments examined the possibility that characteristics of middle-ear filtering and cochlear dynamics (e.g., sup- pression) reflected in auditory nerve firing patterns might account for the higher-voice superiority effect. Simulations show that both place and temporal AN coding schemes well-predict a high-voice superiority across a wide range of interval spacings and registers. Collectively, we infer an innate, peripheral origin for the higher-voice superiority observed in human ERP and psychophysical music listening studies.

  •  AIRS researcher Lauren Stewart, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, has written an article for The Australian about earworms that discusses Pharrell's song "Happy".   Pharrell Williams’s Happy is a case of music on the brain

For a pop song that contains all the musical and lyrical depth of a radio jingle, Pharrell Wil­liams’s Happy is showing remarkable longevity. More than three months since its release, the hit registered its one-millionth sale and became the longest running No 1 in Australia this decade, takings its place atop the ARIA singles chart for the 10th week. Happy is now tied equal second for longest running No 1 for this century.



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