By Nhial Tiitmamer
Dr. Milton Schlosser, University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus 2007-2008 McCalla Professor, will give a talk on September 28, 2009 to discuss the results of his two years research. The talk, titled “Minding the Music: Neuroscience, Video Recordings, and the Pianist,” will take place at Augustana Campus from 1:00PM -2:00PM in the Classroom Building, room number C014.
“I intend to show how the use of video recording equipment with musicians requires an understanding of how the brain reacts to trauma, be it real or perceived,” said Schlosser, who is also a Professor of Music and Director of the Music Department at Augustana. In his research, Schlosser found out that “musicians who experience failure or perceive themselves as failing are prone to feelings of distress and sadness.”
“It is not uncommon for students to wrestle with performance-related depression,” he said. “What is exciting for me, and I hope those in attendance, will be to see how blood flow patterns were reversed in athletes and how this can be adapted and applied to musicians.”
Schlosser’s research was triggered by results of neuroscience studies by Dr. Henry (Hap) Davis IV, a Calgary based neuroscience researcher and sport psychologist. Through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Davis at el. discovered “that within 8 minutes of watching a failed race, Olympic swimmers had brains which, in terms of blood flow patterns, resembled those of depressed individuals.” Based on this fact, Schlosser has stressed that “university instructors like Olympic coaches need to understand the effects of poor performances.”
Davis and his team instructed the athletes to undergo a repetitive viewing of “their own career-threatening failed performances in two sessions.” The sessions were “separated by a cognitive intervention (CI)” whose purpose was to “promote neural blood flow underlying athletic performance while regulating blood flow related to negative effect.”
Schlosser has proposed a Recital Review Protocol (RRP) built on Davis’s swimming model. However, it “also addresses the relationship between brain plasticity, emotion regulation, and sustained meditational practices.”
Schlosser recommends musicians view videos of their poor performances instead of avoiding the pain.
“It’s rather counter-intuitive, re-exposing oneself to a failed performance,” he said. “It’s important to do, but transformation. Ultimately, this research is all about transformation–how to learn from errors and apply that learning to oneself and others in order to grow.”
Schlosser believes his findings will help contribute to music profession by setting a system for video review, which can help “debrief poor performance and set the stages for immediate improvement and transformation.”
“Videos are often made of students performing in universities,” he explained. “For a student and instructor to review them together in the approach that I outline takes time, valuable time. But it’s worth it. Too often, recordings are tossed aside, forgotten, or ignored by students and teachers.”
As a music professor, Schlosser believes in creating “the healthiest and most creative artist.”
“In the world of music, as in athletics, we need to refocus our efforts on the health of individuals, knowing that clear minds, relaxed bodies, and emotional awareness are not only key to creativity and productivity, but to general well-being,” he said. “There is too much busyness in universities and society. I would suggest that there needs to be less busyness and more time for intentional, thoughtful action.”
In addition, Dr. Henry (Hap) Davis will also give a public lecture titled “The Performing Mind: Insights for Athletes and Musicians” at Augustana Chapel on September 22, 2009. Davis’s talk has been sponsored by the Augustana Dean Office, Augustana Athletics, and the Music Department. The talk will discuss Davis’s neuroscience research, which has examined “brain’s reaction to personal, self-referent failure and how the effects of such failure can be reversed.”