In my second year of this MA at Carleton, I am mostly working on my thesis, having finished all my coursework by the end of last summer. However, our music department, along with Ottawa U, hosted a two day graduate conference last weekend. My research has involved a lot of reading of course, and its amazing to discover that people I went to school with have made such wonderful contributions to a variety academic fields. One of those, is Michael Bakan who was a percussionist at University of Toronto Faculty of Music when I was there. A few years ahead of me, Michael was a terrific performer, but he soon found his way into ethnomusicology and has published extensively on Balinese music, and music and autism among other topics. You can find a lot of his inspiring work on his website. Our graduate supervisor, Dr. Anna Hoefnagels invited him to give a keynote address at our conference, which was really terrific. He discussed the music and autism projects he has been working on in Florida where he is on faculty at FSU in Tallahassee. He has also been conducting interviews with adults with autism, including a student at Carleton who I worked with both in the rhythm classes I teach as well as the West African Rhythm Ensemble I direct. In his presentation, Michael suggested an open model of neurodiversity as a means to exploring the connections between autism and music, without the usual labeling that often accompanies diagnosis. It was fantastic to see Michael again after so many years, and have a chance to catch up!
Graduate Conference & old friends!
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