Creating Neural Pathways with Mindfulness: Music Information Literacy and the First-Year Music Student

  Kathleen Abromeit, Oberlin College and Conservatory

First-year students in the Oberlin Conservatory take a required introduction to music history course in which I co-teach, with a musicology professor, the portion of the class that deals with library use and research. The course includes scaffolded assignments to introduce students to the library, professional writing, and the evaluation of resources required of a professional, practicing musician. I experienced considerable pedagogical frustration when, year after year, the students were unable to successfully meet the expectations of the final assignment. As a result, I began wondering if the limitation was about brain development and neuroscience. Through researching the neural pathways in the brain, and learning that we can intentionally shape the direction of plasticity in our brain, I changed my pedagogical approach. In this presentation I will:

  1. Outline the assignments and the performance metrics.
  2. Summarize our understanding of the changing neurological networks and specific centers in our brains that are being used for each assignment.
  3. Offer mindfulness exercises that can be integrated in the assignments and or class session.

These exercises will help to strengthen the necessary neurological pathways needed to successfully accomplish and integrate the essential research skill set.

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