A good dose of music promotes good health

26 October 2016
An Innovation Week panel on the health benefits of music

Researchers from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music explain how music promotes good health within different Australian communities at the University's Charles Perkins Centre on Friday, 28 October.

Ranfred Manmurulu and Jamie Milpurr from Warruwi, NT. Photo: Nicole Jansan Thompson, courtesy Payi Linda Ford.

Ranfred Manmurulu and Jamie Milpurr from Warruwi, NT. Photo: Nicole Jansan Thompson, courtesy Payi Linda Ford.

A panel of speakers will reveal the health benefits of music that they have seen stem from projects undertaken in Aboriginal communities, aged-care facilities and in their own music careers.

Chairing the panel is Professor Linda Barwick, Associate Dean of Research at the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music, who will be joined by three speakers: ARC Future Fellow Dr Myfany Turpin, composition research student Cyrus Meurant, and jazz musician and lecturer Dr Simon Barker.

“The benefits of music are widely recognised in many fields of research. The panel aims to spark discussion with the broader university and community about some of the ways that these benefits can be developed,” said Professor Linda Barwick.

The discussion builds on the health humanities research at the Charles Perkins Centre, which explores innovative approaches to health promotion through the integration of arts and humanities initiatives into hospitals, residential and community settings.

Dr Turpin has been working in Aboriginal communities in central Australia for more than 20 years. She will reflect on the benefits of traditional singing she sees in Aboriginal communities today, which has fostered creativity, intellectual development, social wellbeing and identity. Turpin will also reveal the genres of medicinal or healing songs that, once upon a time, were the only treatments or cures for illness.

Postgraduate student and composer Cyrus Meurant has been working with an aged-care facility in Brisbane to compose music tracks that represent different times of the day to enhance day-to-day quality of life for residents. The music is played to differentiate the time of day, to encourage routine behaviour amongst residents through familiarity. Meurant talks about some remarkable cases of advanced dementia patients who have responded positively to the music.

On a different note, Dr Simon Barker’s personal passion for music and barefoot running has seen a unique, harmonious relationship form between the two practices. Drumming has influenced the way he approaches running, while barefoot running has prompted new rhythmical sounds and movements in his music. He will outline the meditative benefits of music and running combined that also inspired his new CD ‘On running’ (2016).