Music really is a drug!

I am totally and utterly hooked on Robyn. She just released her newest albums Body Talk Parts 1, 2 & 3. I've been listening to her for almost 3 months and I can't get enough! I was introduced to Robyn when I was in junior high. She was probably the first musician I listened to on repeat until my family couldn't take it anymore.

I'm not kidding, I'm hooked. Her music is admittedly not genius, it's just freshly addictive. Her lyrics and melodies are constructed in such a way that I'm not ashamed to tell you about the goose bumps I felt when I first heard her "Do You Really Want Me" in 1998. It's weird and hilarious at the same time.

[I'm not the only one! My roommate just ran into the room and started dancing to Robyn's music when she heard her start playing on my laptop. I'm listening to Body Talk Pt 3 as I type these words.]

"Hi, my name is Emily Ann Peterson and I'm addicted to Swedish Pop Stars." I even want her haircut. No joke. Its. that. serious.

Karen Cheng is one of my cello students. I'm grateful to her for always demanding I leave nothing at her door. She is HUNGRY for knowledge and is not afraid of it! We recently had some great conversations in our lessons during her preparation for a presentation at Seattle's Ignite. Please take 5 minutes to watch the video below and learn a little bit about why Robyn is so addicting & why you love the music you do...

On January 9th 2011 the Journal of Nature Neuroscience published some really amazing research. Valorie Salimpoor and several other colleagues of hers have discovered a connection between listening to music and the increased release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is an adaptive reward-inducing molecule. It's the thing that makes me wake up before I even put the coffee grinds in the french press. It's why I suddenly get hungry for sandwiches when I drive down Fremont Avenue and pass Paseo's. And it's the molecule that provides the heroin addict with a rush before the drug even has time to get in the vein.

The findings from this research is a gem for the combined worlds of Music, Psychology, Pedagogy, and Science. I can't wait to see what new nuggets of knowledge come from these smart cookies called neuroscientists. "It is amazing that we can release dopamine in anticipation of something abstract, complex and not concrete," Salimpoor said. "This is the first study to show that dopamine can be released in response to an aesthetic stimulus."

The combination of these findings along with Karen's mathematical magic (and a LOT of other stuff) brings us closer to the perfect scientific construction of the healthily addictive score of music. [Is that even possible? Do I even want to know if I want that to exist? Probably not. Pandora's box? Perhaps.]

As some of you may well know, it is my long-term goal to get my PhD in Psychology. Rather than consume knowledge by studying the subject of Music Therapy, I want to actually create knowledge for the world of music as a therapy tool through research and experience in teaching cello lessons. I've already experienced first-hand some truly beautiful moments with each of my cello students and I'd love to share those warm fuzzies through new research in this budding field.

This year, just like last year, holds some new professional resolutions and goals. A close friend has suggested I begin to "collect data" for my future book. I don't know if it will become anything more than my thesis. But collecting the raw thoughts from each week of teaching has already proved to be really beneficial for myself and my students.

I encourage my current students or parents of students to begin thinking of the ways you and your brain are affected by music and the cello. How do you feel before and after your lessons? How do you feel before and after you practice? What contributes to this change? What combinations of notes and tone make your brain act like mine does when I listen to Robyn? Do you catch yourself practicing because you want to hear yourself play a certain song? Or do you dread practicing? Why? Let me know. I'd love this to be a conversation that continues throughout 2011.

How about it? Do you have any musical or cello-y new years resolutions?