Sonic Arts in Society Develops Innovative Music and Technology Workshops for Hospital Community

February 3, 2020

Amanda Nagy

Students and professor work on audio projects.
The Sonic Arts in Society group works on assorted projects.
Photo credit: Julie Gulenko ’15

Students enrolled in the Sonic Arts in Society Winter Term project applied their creative aptitudes and technical skills to the development, testing, and eventual implementation of spring semester 2020 workshops and programming that will engage University Hospitals Elyria Medical System. 

Creative workshops will provide hospital staff, patients and community members with additional therapeutic opportunities to promote expression; serve as a bridge to connect students with opportunities to provide positive experiences to medical community members; and pilot and explore the potential for further collaboration on multimodal forms of technologically-mediated expression within the medical arena.

Led by Abby Aresty, technical director and lecturer in Technology in Music and Related Arts, this group of five students worked on three community-based project prototypes: the creation of hospital bracelets that tell a story about a patient’s life through audio recordings and fabric scraps collected by friends and family; a “gratitude showers” installation that involves the entire hospital community; and a “Better Breather’s Club” that includes COPD patients, among others, and involves breath-inspired creative experiments that explore intersections of sound, breath, mindfulness, craft, and technology. 

Aresty is teaching this project and a related spring semester course with the same name as part of her Community-Based Learning Fellowship. While the course required many technical, hands-on lab assignments, students also learned about community-based arts and expressive arts therapies, studied the ethics of community-based learning, and gained experience in community outreach skills.

Person soldering wire
Farzad Sarkari tests a circuit using a breadboard.
Photo credit: Julie Gulenko ’15

Third-year Farzad Sarkari says the project appealed to him because he’s on a pre-med track, and he wanted to take a different approach to medicine. 

“My last two winter terms involved research in medicine, and I thought it would be pretty interesting to see the sonic arts way into the medical field,” says Sarkari, a mathematics and chemistry double major from Houston. 

Sarkari says the three different projects presented interesting discoveries and technical challenges. “The thing I found most frustrating was soldering wires to get them to stick together. I never knew there was a thing such as conductive ink until I started this project. We also created our own paper with microphones in them, which was pretty dope.”

Photo of Abby Aresty

Abby Aresty

  • Interim Director of Inclusive Excellence in STEM Pedagogy and Undergraduate Research
  • Program Director for Engaged Learning Initiatives
View Abby Aresty's biography

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