Here I am with Ramón, my friendly brain neuron. Ramón was named by a neurologist friend for Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the Spanish pathologist and neuroscientist considered by many to be the father of modern neuroscience.
I’ve been playing the piano since the age of 5, have performed throughout the US and occasionally in Europe, and have recorded several CDs and a DVD – all containing music written for me by some very exceptional composers. For nearly three decades I was professor of music at Bucknell University where, among other things, I taught piano and a course on the creative process. About fifteen years ago – on the way to exploring something else – I discovered research that neuroscientists have been doing with music and musicians, and I quickly became hooked. The implications of this research for practicing musicians seemed enormous to me, and over the past fifteen years I have read hundreds (maybe thousands) of research studies, spoken with neuroscientists, taken neuroscience courses, experimented with my students (they were willing – even eager – guinea pigs), and written about what this research means for a musician. While still on the faculty at Bucknell, I taught a course called “Making Music: Mind/Brain/Body,” in which neuroscience students, music students, and students from other disciplines who were interested in music, explored the real-life applications of some of this brain research. I learned a lot from questions and observations raised by those students. I’ve given talks about the brain and music at a major teaching hospital, at national neuroscience and medical conferences, and at national and international music conferences. See www.loissvard.com for more.