Former Students

The Masters in Music, Mind & Technology stresses interdisciplinarity, and thus admits students from various backgrounds. Our students exit the program well-versed in music cognition and perception research, sound recording practices, and academic writing. The following are testimonials from former students.

Anna Fiveash

Class: 2012-2014

Native Country: Australia

Current Occupation: Doctoral Student at Sound, Music and Performance Lab, Macquarie University, Australia.

 The MMT program is special, in that you are surrounded by people who love many aspects of music - music cognition, technology, performance - and all things in between. On paper, the program looked great – every class offered sparked my interest, and was important and valuable in the study of music, mind, and technology. Off paper, it was all that and more! The friendships made in the small group of International students is incredible, and the experience of living in Finland is one you will never forget. There is also a great group of enthusiastic and knowledgeable music researchers who will be teaching you! If you are contemplating applying, I completely suggest you make the leap and do it! The program itself is internationally recognised, and well respected. You also gain invaluable research experience, as well as watching other people’s research journeys. The thesis I completed while doing the MMT program was about the effects of musical valence on the cognitive processing of lyrics. Another student and I also collaborated on a project looking at prosody in music and language, and ended up getting our study published. There are many opportunities that the MMT program gives you, both while you're there, and after you have left. 

 Before the MMT program, I had completed an Honours thesis in Psychology looking at shared syntactic processing resources between music and language. Before I delved into a PhD, I wanted to learn as much as I could about music cognition in general, and the tools used to study it. The MMT program was great for exposing me to many different areas of music cognition and technology, and set me up extremely well for what I’m doing now – a PhD in Psychology, looking further at the connections between music and language.

I couldn't recommend the MMT program more - in terms of the experience, skills, and knowledge you acquire, as well as the amazing experience of living in Finland.

 

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Sarah Faber

Class: 2012-2014

Native Country: Canada

Current Occupation: Doctoral Student in the Music for Health Research Centre, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

 

I applied for the MMT program after a few years of working as an accredited music therapist with a bit of an obsession with neuroscience. I wanted to study the more empirical aspects of shared music-making and the MMT program was the perfect place to start. As an MMT student, you get an introduction to many areas of music psychology research from an internationally renowned group of researchers who encourage you to develop work that is both your own and valuable to the field. While in Jyväskylä, I learned how to design and complete a research project (plus making colourful pictures of brain activity…that are also statistically significant!), but perhaps more importantly, I also learned how to be an effective researcher. The program provides excellent guidance in conference-style presentations, working as part of a research team, and publishing while providing many opportunities to do so. A classmate and I presented an original research study completed as part of a course at an international conference and were later able to publish the results. My thesis examined the neural correlates of dyadic (duet) instrumental improvisation using EEG, which is work I’m continuing at the doctoral level and the skills I learned during MMT have allowed me to enter the research world feeling like an informed and contributing member of the field.

 

Finland itself is an incredible place. If you’re intimidated by the weather, the language, or the licorice, don’t be. The university works tirelessly to make sure students are well equipped to adjust to life in Finland through their student tutor and family programs and language courses, and Finnish people are (perhaps secretly) the most helpful and generous people you will ever meet. I left Finland in 2014 and am already planning to go back. The closeness and friendship among our group ensured that nobody had the time or the energy to be homesick, and I have made many life-long friends who are sure to be leading researchers before too long…not to mention all-around lovely people and talented musicians! If you’re interested in the program, apply – Finland has a lot of lakes, so what better place to dive in?

 

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Douglas MacCutcheon 

Class: 2012-2014

Native Country: South Africa

Current Occupation: Marie Curie Trainee Researcher at the Infant and Child Language (ICL) Lab at University College London, Department of Psychology and Language Sciences


I came to Jyvaskyla first on an exchange while I was doing my masters in musicology in South Africa. During this time I got to hear testimonials about the MMT course and see the course content and facilities (music technology labs, recording studio, practice rooms, motion capture equipment, EEG equipment, etc.). What attracted me most to the course was the systematic approach to musicology research and access to a diverse range of fascinating tools for looking at many different aspects of how music is perceived and created. When I got back home, I did everything I could to make it possible to return to Finland in time for the MMT course.

In retrospect, the MMT course can be a bridge between your interest in music research and wherever you want to take it. This course gave one the statistical introduction, technological awareness, psychology foundation and practical research skills with which to move into nearly any area of quantitative or qualitative research that involves sound. For example, due to the multidisciplinary nature of the course, I managed to use it as a bridge to doing a PhD in psychology, researching sound processing and language development in children with hearing impairment, but the possibilities are practically limitless. 

 The university also offers amazing opportunities to expand your horizons. I was also able to do an Erasmus work exchange during my second year in which I went to the University of Leeds and got practical experience as a research assistant on a music psychology project. This work experience which was an invaluable asset when looking for a PhD position. 

 Finland is an innocent, pristinely beautiful and extremely under-appreciated country, and Jyvaskyla is a fantastic little town that offers the opportunity to ski and do a variety of winter sports, swim in lakes (in summer) and have amazing forest walks. It is also a university town with a decent stock of bars and clubs, so prepare to have a good time and meet lots of international students and Finns as there is always something fun going and the social scene is very active. This gives the MMT course the perfect blend of academic and non-academic elements for a stimulating and unforgettable two years studying abroad.

 

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Iballa Burunat

Class: 2010-2012

Native Country: Spain

Homepage: http://www.iburunat.com/blog/research/

Current Occupation: Doctoral Student at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland

I enrolled in the MMT programme for its distinctive interdisciplinary nature: here I found an intersection of my three main interests: computation, music, and neuropsychology. Having long been fascinated by the type of information music conveys, the MMT programme was the gateway to gain the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical skills to investigate a variety of topics from an interdisciplinary approach linking music, technology, behavioural and cognitive sciences. At the same time it provided me with both outstanding research tools and the advice I needed to explore ideas and test hypothesis regarding the brain-music interaction. The work and expertise of the enthusiastic research staff teaching the MMT was a source of both motivation and inspiration.

I could have never envisioned such a positive, rewarding and fulfilling outcome from my enrolment in the MMT programme, it well surpassed all my expectations: it made possible for me to combine knowledge about music and about the human brain and study them as a whole using neuroimaging in a stimulating research environment where I was given the freedom and flexibility to take my own decisions. My research during my MMT masterís degree concerned the brain dynamics underlying working memory for music during a naturalistic, continuous listening condition, by tracking the repetition of the salient musical motifs in a piece of music. Here I aimed to overcome previous methodological limitations by combining knowledge from three sources: a) computational analysis of the musical stimulus, b) a behavioural test, and c) neuroimaging, with the motivation to determine the topography of music-elicited WM formed online while listening to real music.
For anyone captivated by the physics of sound, how these move mind and body (give rise to emotions and embodied movement), and what the neural substrate underpinning these processes may be, the MMT programme is definitely the place to be.  I admit it is a very demanding yet certainly very engaging and rewarding domain! Especially if by doing so knowledge can be gained to also contribute to peopleís health and life improvement. At the moment I am a PhD student in campus, so please feel free to visit if you need advice, extra information, or just want to share your ideas. I'll be more than happy to be of help.
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Class: 2007-2009
Native country: United Kingdom
Current Occupation: Language editor and professional musician (Jyväskylä, Finland)

The first thing that attracted me to MMT was that it was happening in my hometown of Jyväskylä and I hadn't known about it previously. I had been in Finland one year as a native English-speaking nursery school assistant/teacher, having come here because my wife is Finnish. After we got married I wanted a change in career as I had done early years teaching abroad and in UK (where I'm from) for about 7 years, and felt that I was ready for something different. The second thing that interested me about Music, Mind and Technology was that it was about three things I had some experience of, and yet felt I could learn more about. And finally, the third thing that attracted me to it, as an EU citizen who had already worked for one year in Finland, was that the course was absolutely free, and that I even qualified for a grant. Basically I felt more welcome here than in the UK.

The other students in the 2007 intake were from a wide variety of backgrounds (academically and internationally speaking). Over 60% of us were lucky to be native English speakers, as the course was taught in our language. Nevertheless, MMT still felt international and the discussions had in class about various subjects (musical, psychological, emotional, mathematical, technological, and more...) were very student-oriented and interesting. Our teachers were very careful to make sure we were thinking about our thesis subject right from the start, so that in the other modules of the course we would hone in on the necessary topics that would help us in our research. One of the best things about MMT is the breadth of studies that is possible, the other is the flexibility.

Finland itself is a place that physically changes to such a point throughout the year, that I feel like I am in different countries depending on the season without ever having to cross the border. For example, the same lakes that you can swim in during the summer, you can skate or ski on in the winter. Jyväskylä is surrounded by lakes and forests galore, and it is also far enough north for there to be days with no darkness (and corresponding lunacy from the locals) to more than make up for the other end of the year. And even the darkness has its own strange attraction which I have come to appreciate.

One question I asked a member of staff (who will remain unnamed) when being shown round the department as a prospective student in 2007, was "what job can you get with MMT?". At first this was met by a somewhat troubled look, and then the querulous answer "...um...a PhD?". I did briefly consider a PhD (which you could argue was more a continuation of studies), but then found that being a self-employed language editor, writer, and musician was more to my liking. So there are jobs to be done with this Masters, other than continuing your studies!

If it hadn't been for MMT, I would never have got to start my language services with proof reading colleagues' papers, nor to jam with fellow students from neighbouring disciplines, who in turn got me into the band I'm in today. Indeed, the Finnish music scene seems a lot more supportive and welcoming than in some of the other places I've lived, and I even earn money through playing, which I would never dreamt of happening before.

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anthony

Anthony Prechtl

Class: 2007-2009

Native country: United States

Current Occupation:  Doctoral Student in Computing, Open University, UK.

 

MMT is a top-notch program for pretty much everything related to music cognition and technology. The faculty are well-known and well-respected in the global field, and in person, they are excellent teachers who are both interesting and down-to-earth. The students and overall atmosphere are similar: there is plenty of motivation and genuine interest in the topics covered, with a lot of room for fun and excitement. Students are diverse in terms of both their academic and national backgrounds, which ultimately fosters an environment of individuality, cultural learning, and collaboration.

When I was a prospective student, I knew relatively little about systematic musicology. I chose MMT because it sounded interesting and was highly recommended to me. Now, as a former student, I would recommend MMT to anyone even remotively interested in music cognition or technology, and certainly others as well. There is a niche for almost anyone to fill, even if they don't know it already. For me, MMT was everything it claimed to be and more. If it sounds interesting to you, then it certainly will be."

See a demo of a physical modelling synthesizer that Anthony developed as part of his MMT studies.

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Rafael

Rafael Ferrer

Class: 2005-2007

Native country: Mexico

Current Occupation: Lecturer at Department of Digital Art, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Campus Puebla), Mexico.

 

A frequent question that people ask me, in a personal and in a professional way, is why I chose Jyväskylä to give a definite shape to my career. I must admit that I find true pleasure in answering it, because my own expectations were surpassed by the reality. As a musician with notions of historical musicology, I always had a personal issue with the traditional methodologies for the analysis of music. I wondered why traditional musicologists had not taken full advantage of the recent technologies. For example, MIDI has been long criticized because of its symbolic nature, but the same critics were still doing numerical analysis on scores; in fact the use of MIDIToolbox was the first thing I noticed about Jyväskylä and the type of work that was taking place here.

The possibility to realize massive quantitative and objective measuring of scores opened new views to my scope of academic activities. When I finally had the opportunity to come to Finland and study under the direction of the creators of such an amazing tool, I learned soon that this piece of software was only the tip of the iceberg of a completely new perspective concerning the study of music and its effects.

Besides the academic offering, which is excellent in all aspects, there is the warmth of Finnish people and their culture, and also the delicacies of the geographic location. The local environment can make you aware of the expressiveness of nature, which offers a completely different landscape for each day.

Indeed I am happy about the decision (which as many things in life, was a combination of luck and desire) of coming to Finland to get my master's degree in Music, Mind and Technology, because now I feel like I possess solid support and a wide platform to fulfill my aspirations.