Inspiration from Music and Medicine Conference

Music and Medicine Conference

The International Association for Music and Medicine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! Along with this very important milestone, they put together a wonderful conference that took place two weeks ago. While originally planned to happen at Berklee College of Music in Boston, the conference instead was reorganized and happened entirely online. All the content was recorded and is included in a website so you can still have access to it! And because I attended the conference live, I would like to report back about all the exciting topics that the speakers introduced. For this post, I will tell you about the first day of the conference and in a second part, I will tell you about the second day!


Sunil Iyengar

Sunil directs the Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. He invited us to check out the amazing opportunities that the National Endowment for the Arts is offering for research in the areas of music, music and medicine, and music therapy! Similarly, he emphasized how important it is to seek collaborations to do research.


Moisès Fernández Via

Catalan pianist Moisès Fernández Via is an international concert artist exploring the intersection of creativity and well-being. Since 2003 he has lead innovative initiatives in Barcelona and Boston to implement a culture of care through the arts. He gave a concert/lecture during the conference entitled  “Fix Me Not – Beethoven and Burnout.” I found his lecture really insightful, especially as he talked about the concept of worth. He emphasized that it is important for therapists to not have an attitude of wanting to fix the clients or patients, but rather a culture of recognizing the worth inherent in everybody.


Finding Harmony: The Music Response to COVID-19

This panel presentation was one of my favorites as therapists from various places around the USA and around the world discussed how they have responded to the situation with Covid-19. The panel members were Tian Gao from China, J. Todd Frazier and Jennifer Townsend from Houston Methodist Hospital’s Center, Seneca Block from University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network, and Mark Fuller and Hannah Foxman from Boston Children’s Hospital. Also, all music therapists have really adapted in creative ways to the restrictions that have been placed on their services this year!


Lisa Wong, MD

Lisa Wong is the Assistant Co-Director of the Arts and Humanities Initiative at Harvard Medical School. She talked about the various responses of Boston musicians and music therapists in the past few months. It was inspiring to hear her talk about how musicians responded to calls to provide music to those who have been directly affected by Covid-19!


Tod Machover

Tod Machover is Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media and director of the Media Lab’s Opera of the Future group at MIT. This was perhaps the most mind-blowing talk of all! He talked about all the exciting research and devices that he and his students at MIT have developed recently. It included using Gamma frequencies (and a composition played by the Kronos Quartet) for a variety of purposes. Most of it I didn’t understand entirely so better for you to listen to his talk directly!


Marvin McMillen, MD

Besides music therapists, the IAMM also comprises members who are physicians, nurses, composers, and so much more! Dr. McMillen is a trauma surgeon who teaches musicians the language, processes, and issues to help them be part of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team. He is a strong advocate for the benefits of music on health, particularly in the ICU. He addressed how to present music interventions as a legitimate, reimbursable patient care strategy in the medical center. A really interesting and important topic, particularly if you are a music therapist wanting to establish or expand a music therapy program in a hospital!


Conference Music

Throughout the conference, we also got to listen to beautiful compositions by some of IAMM’s members. It included heartbeat recordings facilitated by Brian Schreck. It was a treat to listen to these songs.


The first day culminated with the business meeting of IAMM members. I was nominated to be in the Board of Directors of the IAMM and during this meeting it became official! Later on, we had networking and Quarantini Time. It was a treat to get to see many faces of individuals wanting to bring more music into healthcare settings. Most importantly, it was inspirational to see so much support for music and medicine!

In conclusion, this was an amazing conference! This is just the surface of all the content from the conference! You can still register for the conference and get access to all the recordings. This includes the content from the two days PLUS posters and presentations on many other topics. You can register here:

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L. Samuel Gracida

L. Samuel Gracida

Samuel is Sam's Fans Operating Director and our primary blogger!

1 Comment

  1. […] International Association for Music and Medicine (IAMM) Conference 2020. I have already written in part 1 about the webinars that took place during the first day of this music and medicine conference. […]

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