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Why "Minding the Pitch?"

Minding the Pitch was created by Sydney Guinchard as part of her project for the Mellon Public Humanities Scholar Program at Hunter College. Sydney is a senior at Hunter College, studying clinical psychology and music. Through her music education, she has become well-versed in music theory, songwriting, and composition. Sydney has performed in multiple ensembles, including the College Choir and Pop & Jazz combos at Hunter. Her primary instrument is voice, and her secondary instruments are piano and guitar. 

Sydney's research for the Mellon program explores music training as a viable alternative to traditional music therapy in psychiatric treatment. Through reviewing and analyzing existing music therapy and music psychology research, she found that the integration of the four facets of music training -- listening, performance, composition, and education -- provides a greater number of psychological benefits in comparison to traditional music therapy. These benefits include improvements in emotional and self-regulation, the strengthening of cognitive skills and executive function, and increased self-esteem and self-

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concept. The breadth of a music training program like Minding the Pitch makes it beneficial for a range of psychiatric diagnoses. Most importantly, the development of musical ability through music training will give students the tools they need to continue engaging with music well after they complete this course, which makes Minding the Pitch especially conducive to long-term rehabilitation. 

This course was made with this research in mind, and therefore emphasizes all the primary goals of music training. Students will learn the essentials of how to read, write, and perform music, while being encouraged to rely on their own musical voice and instinct. While it is true that there is no "right" way to make music, this course gives students the foundational knowledge they need to discern what feels right to them. Therefore, this course balances the improvement of musical competency with more free-structured activities that allow students to receive the full therapeutic potential of music engagement. 

For the time being, Minding the Pitch exists entirely online. However, the materials for this course may, and will ideally be, adapted to suit in-person instruction in outpatient psychiatry and community mental health settings. Until then, patients can register for the course through our partner treatment facilities. 

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