Help Fund My Thesis Research in Music, Mind, and the Brain

1511649_10100770379146070_1472478529_oHello all! Sincerest apologies for the severe lack of content over the past year or so. I have been tucked away studying music and psychology at UCSD, and who knew: grad school can be time-consuming! Luckily, I’m unwaveringly passionate about what I have been privileged to research, and I’ve enjoyed…well, many moments 🙂

To come to the point, I’d like to ask a bit of support in order to finish my thesis. In 2011, I received generous support from you all to attend my first conference surrounding music and the brain. Five years later, I find myself again in need of assistance to conduct research in my field. This time, however, your help will fund the final steps for completion of my thesis: broadly approaching how music might be used to combat and intervene in young people who struggle with self-destructive behavior. I have an immense faith in music’s capacity to heal, transform, and even save lives.

Taking place in 3 weeks, I have been invited to participate and present my research in the UK in Epigenesis and Philosophy: A Workshop on the Work of Catherine Malabou. This event brings together scholars in both the humanities and natural sciences. We will engage in critical discussion regarding our work in tandem with the work of the aforementioned French philosopher widely known for her ideas which merge philosophy, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis. Some of you may recall my enthusiasm for her work on plasticity as the catalyst for my decision to pursue graduate studies in how music may be used as a healing tool. I have since been lucky enough to converse with Catherine on a number of occasions, and she remains a primary source of inspiration and critical analysis in the wake of her timely question “What Should We Do With Our Brain?”

As a graduate student, I have been obscenely blessed with a fellowship that allows me to study in a wonderful program. Last year, I was awarded graduate travel stipends that allowed me to present my work locally and abroad. Unfortunately, the financial situation in my department is quite different this year, and it seems what few resources were available have been exhausted. Participation in the upcoming workshop would be a tremendous aid in research for the thesis (which must be completed by May of this year for graduation in June). The budget including air travel, ground transportation, food and lodging comes to around $1,700. 

Funding this vital research not only supports completion of my graduate thesis — it furthers investigation of the transformative healing, powers I believe music can have on the mind. Please consider joining others who have donated here and help us make the largest impact possible.

Give to this research

 

For information on the types of research I do, please feel free to contact me at dhereld@ucsd.edu or visit any of the sites below:

Abstract – Recovering the Voice Through Sonic Gesture: Contending the Annihilation of Self

Paper – Heavy and Light: Uncovering resilience and positive affect in extreme music

As The Spirit Wanes, or The Hope of Plasticity

Thank you so much for your support!

 

 

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Hope through Community in Music: Introducing Superbands

Introducing Superbands, a non-profit movement dedicated to helping those who struggle with depression, self-harm, eating disorders, thoughts of suicide, and other mental illnesses. Through the shared love of music, Superbands aims to encourage hope and positivity, and to remind people that they are not alone.

I’d love to share with you the words of my friend and founder of Superbands Jessica Villa, whose similar vision has been a significant encouragement in my own journey in music and suicide prevention advocacy.

Even at twenty two years old— a recent college graduate— I still feel like life is so quickly whirling around that I can barely keep up. While things are constantly changing around me (which can be quite overwhelming) one thing that has never changed is my passion for music. From a young age, I learned that music can heal the broken and give people a means of escaping their troubles, realizing that they are not alone. As I learned to battle my own inner demons growing up, I developed a vision to create a community of people all over the world who believe in the power of music. A community of hope. That’s where Superbands was born: a nonprofit movement dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, self-harm, other mental illnesses, or simply feeling lost. Through the shared love for music, we aim to encourage hope and positivity, and to remind people that they are not alone.

If you looked time back to 2006, you would likely find fourteen-year old me screaming at the top of my lungs at a dimly-lit Jonas Brothers concert, wearing a tour t-shirt plastered with the faces of the three brothers. In the midst of being an awkward pre-teen with an obsession with music, I was struggling with being bullied at school; the taunts of my peers echoing through the halls on a daily basis. This verbal abuse led to depression, self-loathing, and downright disgust every morning when I saw myself in the mirror. Struggling with self-hate for years, there were multiple days where life got so difficult that I considered attempting suicide.

It was around this time that I spent all my free time listening to my favorite songs on a hand-me-down CD player, miserably held together with medical tape from my mom’s cabinet. I awaited the final bell to echo through the school hallways so I could drown out everything around me — just by putting on my headphones. The stress of schoolwork, the taunts of bullies, the loneliness I felt after moving to a new town, the perils of growing up— it all disappeared. Nothing else mattered except the music. I refused to take my own life and give up. I wanted to go to more concerts, listen to my favorite songs, and meet my musical idols. Because of this, I firmly believe that these songs and these bands—though they did not know my name or my face—saved my life.

While most kids my age played sports or got involved in after-school clubs, the fear of being further tormented by my peers kept me at home everyday. Buried underneath the covers with my CD player, I felt alone, like no one understood me or my passion for music. Concerts were the only place where I truly felt happiness. Why did I feel so at home in these dark venues, surrounded by these complete strangers?

It was because we were united, connected by the music.

It was something that is nearly impossible to explain in words. Hundreds, thousands, of people singing along to songs that I sang along with in my bedroom alone. People’s eyes twinkled with hope as they sang, faces glimmering with amazement. We were in the same vicinity as our favorite musical artists, who jumped around on stage and played these songs just for us. Here we all were, people with the same passion for music, swaying to melodies that once only radiated from our headphones. It was like an island of misfit toys, with everyone finally finding a place where they belonged. We formed bonds, friendships that thrived on new albums and tour dates. We were a family of music lovers — something I had yearned to find for so long.

Today, there are so many ways to reach out to others thanks to social media. From Instagram to Twitter to Facebook to Tumblr, these different social media platforms allow us to interact with people worlds away, regardless of culture, religion, language, or sexual orientation. Barriers are breaking because of music. This is something that we could not do until now – sharing our favorite band photos on Twitter and Instagram, posting our most memorable concert experiences on Tumblr, talking to people about our favorite bands’ upcoming tour dates on Facebook. It’s surreal how much technology has grown in such a short amount of time.

Superbands was an idea that had been swirling around in my head for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t until I came back from college and saw my younger sister Jenna’s passion for music that I got flashbacks from my own awkward teenage years. My own passion for music never faded, but instead grew stronger. I wanted to create the network that I once longed for, somewhere that music lovers could find a place they belonged. Music inspires so many people to keep fighting to overcome obstacles, no matter how difficult their lives become. This passion for music is something that people shouldn’t be ashamed of; it should be something in which we we find comfort. It should be what breaks down those barriers to unite us.

And that’s what I wanted to do with Superbands. I want to connect us, so we can continue breaking down barriers.

For more information on Superbands, please visit http://www.superbands.org

Photo of band After Our Juliet