Music and Motor Movement Examined in Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium

The relationship between music and physical coordination and the clues music may offer for basic motor coordination research will be examined Thursday, March 2 in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

John Paul Ito, assistant professor of music at Lawrence, presents “What Performing Musicians and Motor Control Scientists Can Learn from Each Other” at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall Room 102. The lecture is free and open to the public.

A former professional violist, Ito investigated modes of physical coordination and their expressive consequences for his Ph.D. in music theory. In his address, he will discuss some of the ground-breaking work on movement coordination formulated by famed Russian neurophysiologist Nikolai Bernstein during the first half of the 20th-century. He will argue that the outdated theories of Bernstein’s predecessor, Ivan Pavlov, may in some cases continue to haunt performing musicians, leading them to conceive of their tasks in ways that may not be maximally effective. According to Ito, musicians may benefit from looking at performance from a more Bernsteinian perspective.

The address also will explore the ways in which studying several smaller, embedded motions within the context of a larger, single motion, such as those performed by musicians, could help lead scientists to a better understanding of the organization of movement.

A member of the Lawrence conservatory faculty since 2004, Ito earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master of music in viola performance from Boston University and Ph.D. in music theory from Columbia University.