Monday 4 July 2016, 20:32 | By Adam Hallows
In the News June 2016: The new baby boomers
June has been a month filled with inspiring stories of creative ways to help people overcome life-limiting conditions. From research apps to university courses, these stories have reinvigorated our drive to keep shining a light on them so they can inspire others to realise their potential too.
First up is an article on Pitchfork Media about scientists who have partnered with such high-profile musicians as Peter Gabriel to make music playlists tuned to our bodies.
According to the article, The Sync Project is looking at the effect of music on human health, by charting how songs played in music apps like Spotify match up with biometric data provided by health apps and wearable technology – the goal being, according its creators, to develop music that can be used as ‘precision medicine’.
Reading through their blog page you see a number of fascinating in-depth pieces on the inspiration for the project including one on the early stage cognitive effects of music on the brain – which gives a slightly new spin on the phrase ‘baby boomers’.
And as more of us have mobile devices by our side all day (and night), allow wearables to track our health data and use streaming services to consume media, then it will be interesting to see how they could become as responsive to our emotional needs as say a loved one.
All the world’s a stage
Focusing on a slightly more traditional medium, was this story in the Guardian on the rising popularity of performance poetry in helping people overcome mental health issues, as seen by Bath Spa University’s ‘first ever performance poetry module in the UK’.
BSU lecturer, Lucy English, says of spoken word’s rising popularity: “We’ve seen a pattern emerge in terms of the reasons why students choose to study with us – and it’s not simply to further their poetry careers. In many cases it’s to relieve stress, boost confidence or deal with a variety of mental health problems.”
The article goes on to promote other organisations using performance poetry as way to build children’s confidence, self-expression and even leadership skills. And in an age where many people see the only way they can express themselves is online, then any way that encourages young or vulnerable people to connect with those around them by seeing the impact of what they say first hand, is a fantastic way to set up a more healthy relationship with the world around them.
Teach the world to sing
Another great article we saw on culture website The Creators Project, taught us about an inspiring US school which is helping develop the physical, cognitive and social development of blind children through an education in music and the performing arts.
The founder of The Academy of Music for the Blind (AMB), David Pinto, had previously created audio recording software for blind musicians which led him to work with legendary artists like Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Inspired by what he learned he went on to start the academy as, he stated: “Music develops cognitive skills, including math, language and memory, by making abstract concepts concrete through rhythm, harmony and melody.”
Read the full article as it looks into the theory and practice behind the school, what it means for the students and how music can be a great tool for equality. And even better, it proves just how far ideas can go as the students now perform at national events, collaborate with other artists and most importantly get an education when previously it had been thought impossible.
It’s so easel
Finally, here was a story that not so much inspired, but instead offered a degree of hope. According to a new study by Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, making art relieves stress regardless of its quality, leading to the article’s rather tongue in cheek headline ‘Science says making art relieves stress, even if you suck at it’.
The team at Drexel’s wanted to find out if making art helps professional artists more than laypeople, because as artist and Assistant Professor at Drexel, Girija Kaimal, said: “That’s the core idea in art therapy: Everyone is creative and can be expressive in the visual arts when working in a supportive setting.”
This must in part explain the recent surge in popularity of adult colouring books, making art without judgement clearly taps into part of the brain other methods might not reach. So if you have been inspired to make some art of your own, then we’d love to share it on the CSL twitter feed, but until then we shall keep searching for ever more inspiring stories.
Image by Aaron Amat, used with permission.