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University of Oregon

Music Learning, Perception, and Cognition Focus Group

Purpose Statement:

A pervasive part of human culture, music exists and has existed in every known human society throughout recorded history. What makes music so ubiquitous? Some suggest adaptive functions of music such as its possible role as a precursor to language and its facilitative effect on social bonding. Others point to the auditory complexity of music and its impact on humans’ emotions. While we may not have a clear answer to why music is so popular, it is evident that music is a complex domain. The multifaceted nature of music distinguishes it as an especially compelling medium for interdisciplinary study. Since at least the sixteenth century, musical phenomena have been examined through empirical methods, resulting in a vast body of findings contributed by disciplines as diverse as acoustics, psychology, biology, education, sociology, anthropology, musicology, and cognitive neuroscience. As this body of knowledge grows and research becomes more specialized, it becomes increasingly vital to understand how findings from these diverse disciplines might relate to, contradict with, and/or enhance each other. Importantly, interdisciplinary endeavors are key to identifying new avenues of research to explore.

Our  ICDS music group aims to unite students and faculty from any and all disciplines interested in investigating music and its central role in human experience. Specifically, we encourage individuals with interest in furthering our understanding of issues relating to music learning, perception, and cognition. The group’s regular activities will include discussions of articles, presentations by faculty and student, lectures by invited guest speakers, and sessions dedicated to exploring opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, the group may offer symposia and other projects based on our collective interests. The first meeting will be on October 10, during the second week of school. The plan is to meet every other week in the fall but may be changed.  We will update.

This year we will announce our meeting places.

Anyone interested is welcome to attend. Please send Holly Arrow ( an email if you would like to be added to the email list announcing meetings and topics. Reminder: all focus group members shall be general members of the ICDS. Membership in the ICDS is available to interested faculty, students, and community members. For consideration, send a brief letter of request and a curriculum vita via email, or by post.

Upcoming meetings…

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 3pm in Straub Hall Room 401

The music learning, perception, and cognition group will meet next Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 3pm in Straub Hall Room 401. Members John Orbell, Jenny Mendoza, and Lauren Kahn will summarize and lead discussions on recent articles published on the topic of biology, cognition, and the origins of musicality. A link to the articles is included here,


This is a meeting of the Music Learning, Perception, and Cognition group

of the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences. Everyone is welcome!!

You can learn more about this group here:

Hope to see some of you there!



November 13, 2014, 5:00 pm at Falling Sky Brewery.

Music is powerfully engaging at every age. But, how do we learn to make
sense of musical sounds? What do we learn from our early musical
experiences? Does learning about music benefit other areas of our

Join us at**Falling Sky **Brewery (1334 Oak Alley, Eugene, OR 97401)**on
Thursday, November 13 at 5:00pm* as we discuss these and other questions
related to infants’ and young children’s acquisition of musical
knowledge and skill. Jenny Mendoza will facilitate an informal
discussion on this topic.


Planning Meeting, October 16, 2014 – 4:00 pm in 271-B Franklin Building


May 15th, 2014: Andrew Nelson, “Robust Action and the Rise of the CCRMA-lites: The Emergence, Sustenance and Renewal of Computer Music at Stanford”

In the 1960s, a small group of musicians, hackers, engineers, composers, and psychologists established a computer music program, “CCRMA,” at Stanford University. Their efforts, while fraught with difficulties, laid the foundation for a new academic field and for a suite of technologies that, to this day, form the backbone of modern media and audio technology companies. In this presentation, I explore the emergence, sustenance and renewal of the Stanford computer music program. My analysis employs the concept of “multivocality,” exploring the ways in which key participants framed the same activities in different ways to different audiences, leveraging these differences to garner new resources and to build legitimacy among a diverse constituency. I also explore how the flexibility of the technologies themselves enabled this strategy, while simultaneously presenting unique challenges tied to this very flexibility. Ultimately, my analysis of the Stanford computer music program serves to extend multivocality into a new empirical setting, while also elaborating upon the ways in which new technological capabilities can co-evolve with different rhetorical frames, both supporting and emerging from them.


Winter Term

March 6th: Article discussions (TBA)

Week 7, February 20th: Meghan Naxer, “The Music Theory Tutorial Model”

Music theory is part of the core curriculum in undergraduate music studies. Many of us who teach first-year music theory worry that it is not motivating for our students. In this presentation, I will be introducing a model to create an engaging learning environment that leads to higher competency in music theory. In order to address engagement in the music theory classroom, the Music Theory Tutorial Model (MTTM) will help educators understand the link between instructional design, motivation, and competency. By taking inspiration from video game tutorials, this model begins with an instructional design that will address some of the existing problems in music theory pedagogy, including the type of feedback received, individualizing student learning, and creating a cumulative approach to written music theory. This design will lead to students adopting a more incremental self-theory, moderated by their prior self-theory orientation and social concepts of musical talent. This change will cause students to adopt a more mastery goal orientation, change their motivational engagement, and will ultimately increase their competency in music theory. These motivational links, and the assessment of music theory competency, still need to be designed and tested before this model can come to fruition inside the music theory classroom. However, the MTTM is a first step in providing our students with a more rewarding education in music theory.

Week 5, February 6th: Chet Udell, “Wireless sensing solutions, play, and creative/scientific practice”

Week 3, January 23rd: Meeting to discuss ideas for guest speakers etc.

Week 1 , January 9th: General meeting


Fall Term

Week 5, Oct 31: Holly Arrow presents
Week 7, Nov 14: Dare Baldwin & Jenny Mendoza present
Week 10, Dec 5: Frank Diaz presents


Thursday, October 10, 2013 at noon in the Collier House Room 103.

This term’s presenters need to send Frank Diaz titles so posters and announcements can be made.
Also, please send one or two articles for our readings list. It would be great to post those somewhere and decide on dates to discuss them, maybe winter term?