Podcast Episode

Emily Wood – Folk & Science [S.1, EP.5]

Contrasting folk music traditions with music education

On the Rhythm Changes Podcast, Emily Wood talks about her research with the Auditory Development Lab at McMaster University and contrasts learning folk music traditions with music education.

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Rhythm Changes Podcast topics

photo still from video by Emily Wood

  • Being a grad student in a non-musician field with a musical culture
  • Growing up in fiddle groups like the Coast String Fiddlers and going to the Aberdeen International Youth Festival
  • Fiddle music instruction compared with other music instruction, like a high school band
  • The brain’s role in musicianship in conjunction with the body

“We perceive music with our bodies”

-Emily Wood
  • How music activates your motor system
  • A case for teaching music much earlier to young children
  • A stronger benefit-based argument for music education (better than, “it increases students’ grades”)
  • A digression on my own learning timeline and how it had almost no music until high school
  • Refusing to worry about nature vs. nurture
  • Emily’s takes on some North Shore Celtic Ensemble observations I’ve had about teaching new tunes to students
  • What to look for in a well-prepared and comfortable performing youth group (looking at each other, moving around, & more)
  • How a good fiddle teacher always takes a particular amount of time between call-and-response teaching melodies by ear
  • Why teachers need to watch how much information they give at a time, looking to not overload students’ working memory
  • The lack Emily perceives of academic research on folk music teaching
  • Body sway: how musicians communicate by moving
  • Mental practice: without your instrument or when you’re injured
  • Why almost everybody can carry a tune
  • Emily’s own music and jazz school experience
  • The threat of falling out of love with music when you have high personal standards of perfection
  • Coming home to jam with Kirin Lamb, Jennifer Mauel, Jocelyn Pettit, and other folk music friends
  • Emily’s next steps as a musician

Top highlight

My top moment was when Emily talked about, “The conditions under which people played music 35,000 years ago.” Stick around for that!

Find our guest’s academic organization via their website.

By Will Chernoff

William Ross Chernoff—known as Will to friends and colleagues—is a jazz musician, podcaster, YouTuber, and writer. He records and performs under his own name, William Chernoff.