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How does music release the imagination?

Continuing WVU’s celebration of the arts and humanities, this issue of THE QUESTION will focus on the transformative power of music.   Although we don’t all enjoy the same type of music, everyone loves music.  Victor Hugo noted that whether we are musicians or appreciative listeners, music provides a way of feeling and expressing emotions and insights that cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent. Faculty and students from the WVU School of Music will lead us in discussion of how music releases the imagination in performance, through listening, and as a tool to promote well-being in a variety of therapeutic settings.  I’m also including links to some additional sources of fascinating research on how listening to and performing music stimulates the brain.

Please help build WVU’s intellectual community.  Share your own insights and suggestions for additional sources of information in our blog. 

If you are a WVU student, and you have a big idea to share about how music releases the imagination, consider participating in our Big Ideas contest!  Winning contributors will have their essay or video published in THE QUESTION, and the student with the best contribution of the year will win an iPad.   Click here for details


  • Kym Scott          
    Kym Scott,  Assistant Professor and Director of Choral Activities WVU School of Music

    Music affects people in many different ways.  It can bring back memories of the past; conjure up a variety of images; make us cry; make us laugh; and take us away from reality, into a world of make believe.  
    Read the Essay

  • Judith Meyers      
    Judith Meyers,  Masters Student, WVU School of Music 

    Humans have made music for as long as our collective consciousness can recall. Just as every culture uses language, every known human culture engages in music. It is made unceasingly in the darkest times and the brightest ones. Music is such an essential part of our humanity that we cannot keep ourselves from creating it. 

    Read the Essay 

  • Learnmore          
    Neil Conan,  host of NPR's  Talk of the Nation, interviews researchers Elena Mannes and Aniruddh Patel on “'The Power of Music’ to Affect the Brain” (June 1, 2011)

    Listen to Podcast

    Rebecca Adams, “Here’s Proof Music Can Do More Than Just Make You Feel Good” Huffington Post (June 24, 2014) 

    Read The Essay


    Robert Gupta, ‘Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity”   Ted Talks (March 26, 2010)

    Watch the Video

    Anita Collins, “How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain”   TedEd

    Watch the Video