Music is certainly an art — and an art that Lois Svard has mastered over her acclaimed career at Bucknell.
Now, as she turns the corner into retirement, Svard seeks to educate musicians, teachers and enthusiasts on the role of brain science in musical study and performance.
"Very few people are involved in this work, and it is an area that musicians are eager to know about," Svard says. "A lot of scientists are involved in the study of the brain and music, but the results of their research need to have practical applications for musicians in the teaching studio and on the concert stage."
Svard, an accomplished pianist, has become interested in the topic over the past several years. She has written about brain science's role in music, and hopes to eventually compile her work in a book.
But that interest overlapped with a full teaching load and her duties as chair of the University's music department, which she vacated in December 2010, making the decision to retire around the same time. However, even in retirement, she plans on going strong and continuing with her interests.
On top of her work on neuroscience in music study, Svard plans to perform more. On Sept. 9, 2011, Svard will once again grace the stage of the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell, playing piano and collaborating with a recent graduate and two friends who will travel to Lewisburg from California and Massachusetts.
Svard also recently joined the board of the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association, where she will advocate for the arts. "Budget cuts both in Pennsylvania and nationally have imperiled many arts organizations as well as arts education in the public schools," Svard says. "This position will provide me with an opportunity to be a strong advocate for the arts. Having been involved with music myself since the age of five and having worked with so many music students at Bucknell, I feel very strongly about the importance of the arts in our lives."
There's also a personal side to her decision to retire. Her husband, longtime economics professor Peter Karl Kresl, retired three years ago, and the couple want to travel for both personal and professional reasons.
As she looks ahead to her new pursuits, she also fondly remembers her experiences at Bucknell — particularly with her students. "One of the unique pleasures of teaching in the applied studio is the opportunity to develop relationships with students that span four years as they come in each week for a weekly lesson," she says. "Watching their musical development and their growth — both personally and as developing artists — has been a tremendous pleasure."
In addition to her music courses, Svard also developed several interdisciplinary classes — one with her husband — that correlated her musical expertise with broader thinking on creativity and creative processes. "All of these courses have allowed me to explore my own research interests with a group of curious, highly motivated students," Svard says. "One couldn't ask for anything better."
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