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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    One song a day keeps the doctor away

    Everyone has heard the old saying that laughter is the best medicine, but could music also play a part in the healing process? That’s what will be on the minds of scientists and musicians next week at the Music and Medicine Symposium at the UA School of Music.

    This is the second year such an event will be held at the UA and the first year that it will be held at the School of Music, said Peter McAllister, a music education professor and director of the School of Music. The symposium will be attended by musicians and scientists from all over the world, and will explore the different ways in which music impacts the human body, McAllister said.

    The idea began with Melinda Connor, director of the Karen Lee Connor Optimal Healing Research Program. The program is named after Connor’s sister-in-law, Karen, an accomplished opera singer who passed away from bone marrow cancer three years ago. Connor’s research focuses on energy and miracle healing, a field she said is very controversial.

    “”It’s controversial because science dollars are few and far between, and there is a lot of competition for research money,”” she said.

    The main part of Connor’s research is in how frequencies affect the systems of the human body, and music is important because it is made up of frequencies that are easy to hear and reproduce accurately, she said.

    Last year, Connor and her colleague, Dr. Angela LaSalle, decided to hold a conference on music and healing, but it was a small event because the money came out of Connor’s pocket, she said. This year’s event will bring many distinguished experts from around the globe, including Dr. Manfred Clynes of Georgetown University, who will be exploring emotions that come from different sounds, and Debbie Danbrook, a renowned Canadian musician who plays a Japanese flute called the shakuhachi.

    Another key figure in the symposium is Alexander Tentser, who composed an original piano piece called “”Prelude, Chorale and Toccata.””

    “”It is influenced by ethnic Middle Eastern music, Jewish and Arabic traditions in particular,”” said Tentser, who is an adjunct instructor at the UA School of Music and the music director of the Pima Community College Orchestra.

    Tentser will also be performing a sonata by Mozart for two pianos with John Ritter, an artist in residence at the UA.

    Tentser, who is originally from Kiev, Ukraine, was trained at a Russian music academy in Moscow, and he said he strongly believes that music can help the healing process.

    “”Music has very strong healing qualities, regardless of age,”” he said. “”People feel much better and happier and forget about their worries.””

    Though he has classical training, Tentser does not think that classical music should be inaccessible to the general public. “”I’m interested in creating a style that does not have a division between popular music and ‘serious’ classical music,”” he said. “”We should not say that classical music is good and popular music is bad.””

    Connor hopes to continue holding conferences on this subject and said that next year’s symposium may be held at Indiana University or Purdue, and may go to Arizona State University in the future, where similar research is being done. Connor believes there is much to be explored in the field and that the implications are far-reaching.

    “”The more we understand how frequency and sound impact the systems around us, the more we’re able to help people heal more rapidly and smoothly,”” she said.

    The symposium begins at 5 p.m. on March 16 at the UA School of Music and will continue the next day at 8 a.m. General admission is $75, or $35 for students.

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