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Sunday, November 06, 2016

Where music and technology unite | MIT News

"MIT and Berklee College of Music collaborate to bring young entrepreneurs together." summarizes MIT Office of Digital Learning.

Music, technology, and a hands-on approach are at the heart of The Founder's Journey, a seminar series for young entrepreneurs seeking to explore the life path of a startup founder.
Photo: Xiao Xiao

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may have been espousing his philosophy for composing symphonies and concertos, but his thinking also applies to young entrepreneurs on a quest for their own stroke of genius. 

Case in point, two new courses jointly offered by MIT and Berklee College of Music: Developing Technologies for Music and Health and Music and Learning Devices. Sure, students bring plenty of intelligence and imagination to the classes, but most of all they bring a passion for innovation and a love of entrepreneurship. 

Merging music and health
In Developing Technologies for Music and Health, students design and prototype devices that explore music’s impact on health and brain functions, such as sleep, anxiety, athletic performance, pain, and even dementia. Music therapy is a well-established field, but the idea of integrating technology and data analysis into music therapy to improve a person’s well-being is where the future lies. The therapeutic, clinical, and technical applications of music in health are far-reaching, and our ever-connected world presents an exciting opportunity for the young entrepreneur.

For example, now that researchers can track and quantify the physical effects of music with biometric sensors, is there a way to customize an athlete’s playlist to increase heart rate and maximize a workout? This was a focus area of last fall’s course, run in collaboration with The Sync Project, a for-profit startup that aims to harness the power of music for health. Students were equipped with the latest research and asked to leverage their learnings to develop a product for athletes. The current semester features a flexible curriculum so students can pursue their own ideas to merge music, technology, and health.

"This class discusses the topics of music and health technology simultaneously at such a high level,” says Sakura Tsuruta, an electronic production and design major at Berklee who also holds a degree in music therapy. “It is very difficult to be completely original, and sometimes school teaches us to be textbook-perfect in this not-so-perfect world. But in this class environment, we can discuss new ideas openly, let creativity and imagination take the lead, think outside the box, and take action."

Learning how we learn
Offered in the spring of 2015, Music and Learning Devices explored the landscape of learning science and music education. Students designed and prototyped new devices, apps, and other digital tools to help people make music more easily, such as virtual reality piano lessons and digital wristbands that sense movements while playing guitar and then use artificial intelligence to improve technique. 

The course also examined whether an individual’s music learning style is indicative of how he or she learns non-musical subjects. Students seek to understand how music affects learning and studying, which may provide insight into how the brain works and help educators better tailor coursework. The Spring 2017 seminar will be a musical instrument design workshop.
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Source: MIT News 


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