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My dream job and the new term

Hello All, and a very happy September,

It seems mad that a month has passed since ICMPC 12 in Greece. My e-book is still  freely available if you would like a personal overview of the conference. But as memories start to fade of the glorious Greek sunshine and stimulating research talks it is time to think once again about the start of term.


I am aware that my colleagues in the USA have already begun the hard work of a new academic year. Here in the UK students will hand in their masters dissertations next week so there is a marking period of about 2-3 weeks before term starts again. The new Music, Mind and Brain masters students (class of 2012-13) will arrive in the last week of September and we are looking forward to meeting them all!

I am making the most of this somewhat quieter period to answer a few overdue emails, one of them from a high school student in the US called Jessica. She had contacted me for help with an assignment; she had to interview a person who had her ‘dream job’. 

I was extremely flattered by the approach and it reminded me that yes, somehow I did get to my dream job and that makes me a very lucky person. Even if I don’t get to do it forever I got the chance to try it out and for that I am grateful.

Jessica prepared a very thorough interview which took place over Skype, asking me about my working hours, salary, training, testing procedures, and the scope and scale of my everyday job.

Even if you are not fortunate enough to have a Jessica on the end of the line I can thoroughly recommend this type of self interview as it brought into focus some important points. She asked me what I did not like about my job and I realised that much of what I said was actually in my own power to modify.

Why had I not done that before? I think I was just used to getting my head down and pushing through without questioning if there was a better way. We all do it. Now I have verbalised those issues I can get on with rectifying my working patterns.

She also asked me a wonderfully obtuse question that I will present to you now. ‘Have you heard the famous question, “if a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” I would like to know what you think’. Muse on that for a while!


The interview was a great kick start to the change of academic seasons and I am looking forward to getting on with new challenges. My first is a new series of experiments with the amusics – it is great to see them again! Then we will move into the first series of behavioural experiments as part of the earworm grant. I will be updating the earwormery (earworm collection site) as well, but we are still very much collecting data though the questionnaire on that site so feel free to take part and pass it on 🙂

Then of course there is a spot of catching up to be done. There have been some really interesting papers released over the summer but I have had my head stuck in my own (August is very much a writing month for me) so I need to open up and look what has happened in my absence.

In particular I like this new study that questions the musical nature of birdsong. Also this great review of the role of music in everyday life by Patrick Rentfrow.  And a quick glance through the Psychology of Music upcoming articles reveals some real gems on the way.

Good luck everyone; let’s do 2012-13 with some style!

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