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The theme for the music department’s Senior Seminar for the spring semester of 2013 is “Music, Mind, and Brain.” From here the students have explored more concentrated topics such as music therapy and the well-known “Mozart effect.”

Alexandria Cantrell started off the day by exploring the ways in which music can connect the players and listeners in an unspoken bone. She began by recounting a story of her first experience performing in a youth orchestra. She had performed a Tchaikovsky piece titled Marche Slave.

Alexandria described a feeling of time being stopped. She felt one with the music, and remembered there being a strong sense of communication between the musical parts, and a feeling of genuine respect for each player. Delving into the psychology of music, Alexandria discussed mirror neurons, a neuron which fires both when a person acts and when a person observes the same action performed by another. The experience was intriguing enough that she was compelled to write her experience down in a journal, which she read an excerpt from to the audience.

Hoping to better explain to the audience how and why music is capable of creating such a strong bond between people, Alexandria argues the superiority of the sense of sound, and why it is a more “accurate” sense than sight and touch, for example. She describes sight as being a more misleading source of taking in information, because what you see with your eyes is the result of light bouncing off of an object. Sound, on the other hand, is a direct source of information, and the information travels directly from the source to your eyes.

Alexandria initially had qualms regarding the research regarding this topic, because of the questionable overlap between music and religious experiences. Ultimately she finds that the topic is still worth exploring and discussing, and the spiritual overlaps do not diminish the experiences performers have through music.