From Antiquity To The Present, Music Continues To Make A Difference
The 7th International Conference of the IAMM brought together professionals from fields as diverse as biology, philosophy, musicology, neuroscience, music therapy, and music performance. It is not that often that one can be inspired by such interdisciplinary dialogue, all around the idea of using music for human wellbeing. This time we met May 28 – 29, 2022 in Athens, Greece and continued the conference till June 3rd with an online format. Meetings and presentations from Greek and international invited speakers took place in person and through live streaming for a week full of rich content in the intersection of music and medicine.
My name is Samuel Gracida and I am IAMM’s Chair of Communications and Outreach. Read on to find out how I experienced this historical conference of the IAMM, our first hybrid event and our first time meeting in person after the COVID-19 pandemic.
From NICU training and in person round tables to unique presentations and online workshops, this conference had a bit of everything. I invite you to explore further this report from Dr. Efthymios Papatzikis published in IAMM’s Journal, Music and Medicine.
Notice that everybody can access the content library to read the abstracts and bios from presenters. Explore the Content Library here.
The event started with a pre-conference training at the Helena Venizelou Hospital, where Dr. Joanne Loewy, Dr. Andrew Rossetti, Dr. Aimee Telsey, and Ann-Marie Dassler, with the help of Greek music therapist and chair of the training, Faiy Evaggelou, taught Tier I of the training on NICU Rhythm & Lullaby.
This international, evidence-based, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit training included three prongs: environmental music therapy (EMT), trauma training in music psychotherapy with caregivers, and evidence-based live music therapy interventions for premature infants, oriented within a neuropsychological developmental context.
“The pre-conference workshop gave me insight into the latest research on music and medicine and the hands-on experience of music therapy in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It’s an extraordinary opportunity for people who want to extend the scope of practice and apply music therapy as an evidence-based practice.”– Zoe Weng, training attendee
This learning opportunity already was prescient of the intimate kind of conference that awaited us in Athens and online.
Fruitful Exchange in Athens
Dr. Athanassios Dritsas and IAMM’s President, Dr. Suzanne Hanser, welcomed us early on Saturday, May 28th and reminded us about the remarkable event that we had ahead. Over 100 scholars, researchers, presenters, professionals and students were gathered at various points on May 28th and 29th in the Athens Conservatoire.
Highlights for the event were the four keynote speakers. Dr. Athanassios Dritsas and Dr. Joanne Loewy joined us in Athens with two fantastic presentations. Additionally, two preeminent scholars joined us from afar as they shared unique insights that enriched the weekend learning experience. Prof. Athanassios Fokas joined us from Cambridge and Prof. John Ioannidis, from Stanford.
This conference would not have been possible without the tireless support from Dr. Athanassios Dritsas. Not only did he help in making this event a reality, he also graced us with a wonderful presentation on “The Role of Music for Exercise and Sport Activities”:
“Current scientific evidence supports the use of music listening (in a healthy general population, professional athletes and also cardiac patients) across a range of physical activities to promote positive affective valence, enhance physical performance and exercise tolerance, reduce perceived exertion, and improve physiological efficiency.”
Later on Saturday, Prof. Fokas, Professor of Nonlinear Mathematical Science at the University of Cambridge, joined us via Zoom to deliver a fascinating discussion on the nature of the unconscious and music’s relationship to it.
“This is the second ‘big bang’ of our mental evolution, which in addition to language, includes the re-representations of mathematics, computers, technology, and arts. It appears that the more direct the passage from the unconscious to re-representations, the higher the value of an artistic creation. It will be argued that this is particularly the case for music.”
Dr. Joanne Loewy
Our Sunday lectures got off to an inspiring start with a keynote presentation from Dr. Joanne Loewy. In addition to sharing the inspiring work done at the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, Prof. Loewy encouraged us to integrate what we do and what we learned at the conference.
“In practicing 28 years alongside medical and psychosocial milieu teams, integrative mechanisms of music and music therapy’s potency have shown the critical gestalt of physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of care. Supported by research and clinical outcomes, integrative practice has elucidated the integral ways that music connects our mind/body/spirit.”
Prof. Ioannidis was our last keynote speaker on Sunday and elucidated the challenges and problems with current scientific research. With many insights applicable for the fields of music therapy and music medicine, this lecture inspired us to improve our current research practices and be critical about research that is currently being planned and carried out.
“A new discipline, meta-research, is integrating efforts to evaluate and improve research practices, including how to do, analyze, evaluate, disseminate, and reward scientific efforts. Work done to-date has highlighted the need for improving the integrity of scientific investigations and for enhancing their credibility through better alignment of the reward system with the standards of high-quality research.”
Round tables & Much More!
The three round table discussions on Saturday and Sunday were additional highlights and an opportunity for scholars to present their expertise in a conversational format. We had the following three round table discussions:
- Cosmic Harmony, Creation and Art
- Biology & Psychoanalysis on Music
- Music and Brain Studies on Newborns: An fMRI, NIRS, and EEG-ABR Multimodal Discussion
Of course, this is just scratching the surface! We had another 16 oral and poster presentations in Athens on a diversity of topics. As with any conference, in between presentations, delegates had plenty of opportunities to network and get to know each other.
Additionally, music further gave an ambiance to these pauses in between presentations. We were also treated with a concert by Les Lyristes (Sophia Karakouta on voice and trigonon, Rosa Fragorapti on the lyre and Nikos Xanthoulis on the lyre and varviton).
A special performance has been created by the ensemble Les Lyristes , where the lyre has the leading role, sometimes playing solo, sometimes accompanying the voice, or playing together with other music instruments such as the Varviton (a type of bass lyre) and the Trigonon (from the harp family), fantasies for solo lyre, Sappho’s and other ancient poems accompanied by the lyre, chorals from ancient tragedies that have been presented in great festivals, as well as modern Greek music.
The program included music from the 5th c. BC till nowadays presenting the quintessential of Greek music (Euripides, Seikilos, Traditional Songs, Sappho, Hadjidakis, Theodorakis etc.).
The learning did not stop once we all said goodbye in Athens. For five more days we gathered online to listen to Special Interest Groups and participate in workshops from people around the world. The diversity of content was not only evident, but also inspiring.
In addition to having events happening in real time throughout the week, attendees could access a library of pre-recorded presentations and posters. At the end of the week we gathered for 4 Q&A sessions in which presenters joined us to get to know each other and answer questions.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs) were initially formed for the 6th Conference of the IAMM in Boston and online. This year’s conference featured presentations from 8 SIGs for the following areas:
- Evidence Based Practices for Telehealth Music and Psychotherapy Services
- Music Therapy and Chronic Pain
- MINd — The Music and Intercultural Neurodiversity SIG
- Global Perspectives on Assessments in Music Therapy Practice
- Music Therapy in the Context of Dementia: Advocating for its Recognition
- Community Music Pedagogies and Engagements in Healthcare: Education and Advocacy
- Music Therapy and Music-Based Interventions for Movement Disorders
- The Arts Continuum for Resilience-Building Across the Trauma Spectrum
Each presentation was an enriching experience with multiple professionals sharing their expertise in these different work areas. Indeed, there could be a whole conference on each of these topics, and we were very grateful for their hard work in putting together very elucidating presentations.
With 8 workshops, there were learning opportunities for all attendees. These live events guided us through learning processes with insights easily applicable to our personal work environments. A highlight for me personally was during one of the last workshops with Elisabeth Taub & Carol Daly where I actually got to play a bit of music in their workshop, “The Dr. Louise Montello Method for Performance Wellness.”
Not only was a library of oral and poster presentations available for attendees, we also met for 4 Q&A sessions with the presenters! We got to have very spirited discussions regarding their presentations and created some new connections.
The Learning Continues!
With 80 presentations and many hours of content, it would be impractical for most to work through our conference materials in a week or even a month. The good news is that the conference material will remain available until our next conference in 2024!
If you registered for the conference, you can access the content library HERE.
We are also in the process of making the content library available for people who did not attend the conference. Stay tuned for more info!
We would love to hear from you. If you have any photos from the event, you can upload them here.