Research and Rock stars

The Event: I just had a really exciting and unexpected intellectual conversation: In a very roundabout way (involving polite chitchat about a friends new PhD venture) I got onto the topic of Music Psychology, more specifically Daniel Levitin. This may make it sound more exciting than it actually was, but it was nice to have a senior colleague actually listen to what, in relative terms, a simple research worker had to say.

The Back-story: As a lowly undergraduate trying to come up with an interesting and individual dissertation topic I asked myself ‘What am I interested in?’. Our set syllabus had yet to inspire me so I decided to think outside of the box. I came up with the broad topic of ‘Music’ and plugged it into Google Scholar. What came back to me was the beginning of a slight love affair with the world of Music Psychology and Neuroscience (and a really well received Dissertation to boot).

Back to the Event: I start explaining how Daniel Levitin’s published books and then his papers really caught my interest (and helped with my dissertation), when my other colleague then pipes up with ‘Oh yeah he’s really big in McGill, I could help you meet him if you ever came to Canada’. For me this is like a young girl being told she can meet her favourite Rock Star (there may have been a squeal of excitement somewhere as well). So we got onto chatting about his work and what we found interesting, and it was one of the most engaging conversations I’ve had at work, and was nothing to do with a project I’m currently working on!…it also highlighted that I am definitely made for a career in research, as I’m clearly in touch with my inner nerd. I currently work in Psychosis Research, and though I find it very interesting to investigate, this experience has made me realise I can enjoy Psychology and its endeavours from the back seat, as well as getting stuck in with the active research.

The Take Home Point: Find topics that interest you outside of your active research area to keep your minds engaged, and not boxed into one corner of thinking, so to speak.  Early in your research career its best not to pigeonhole yourself/topic of interest…and its nice to have some knowledge of something outside of your project to impress people with now and then!

You can find Daniel Levitin’s work at any of the links below.

www.psych.mcgill.ca/levitin
www.yourbrainonmusic.com
www.sixsongs.com

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