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SAR student research shows power of music therapy

Roxanne Chess (SAR ’08) conducts research on the power of music therapy.

This past summer, Roxanne Chess (SAR ’08) conducted research that could lead to new applications of music therapy. Working closely with Amir Lahav (SAR’06), a doctoral student in Sargent College’s department of rehabilitation sciences, Chess, an occupational therapy major, conducted a study demonstrating how a person’s motor performance can improve by listening to music he or she has previously learned to play.

Chess, Lahav, and their faculty advisor Elliot Saltzman, a SAR associate professor of physical therapy, trained a group of study participants to play a simple piece of music on piano; they subsequently had only some participants listen to a recording of the piece. At a later date, the researchers asked the study participants to play the piece again; they found that those who had listened to the music they had previously learned to play better recalled the necessary finger movements.

“[The research] was very intensive and it was a lot of fun to have such a large part in the study that I was responsible for,” says Chess, who conducted the research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and recently won second place in a poster contest at UROP’s annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. “It was really exciting to see how [the research] worked out so well.”