Thursday, May 30, 2024

Tracy Cowden uses UTSA endowed professorship to harness healing power of music

Tracy Cowden uses UTSA endowed professorship to harness healing power of music


OCTOBER 18, 2023Tracy Cowden is making great strides at UTSA at the intersection of music performance and healing. Cowden, the director of the UTSA School of Music, is dedicated to researching the positive impact of music on cognition and behavior, mood and anxiety disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease and overall brain wellness and aging. She is also working to understand how she can impact others as a performing artist herself and how she can facilitate music learning to help others take an active role in their own health and well-being.

Cowden, who previously served as the chair of Virginia Tech’s music department, joined UTSA in 2018 as the recipient of the Ronald K. Blumberg Endowed Professorship in Music. She was eager to join UTSA, knowing how an endowed position would yield opportunities to delve into new research to explore the link between music and health.

“While music has been used for centuries to comfort, uplift and energize us, through interdisciplinary research we are now learning the specific and awe-inspiring ways that the brain and body change in response to music,” said Cowden.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so much more than I thought was possible.”

Upon her arrival at UTSA, Cowden immediately began taking part in several initiatives to enhance the well-being of others through music and by expanding public knowledge of these benefits. In 2019, she created the curriculum for UTSA’s first Music in Health accredited class for undergraduate students.

The same year, she kicked off UTSA’s 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series with her presentation “Music as Medicine: The Power and Influence of Music on our Health,” where she shared some of her research, bringing it to life with a demonstration of the power of music through live performance. She also joined the university’s Brain Health Consortium where she is advancing her research through collaborations with a team of other professors and scientists.

In addition to her research, Cowden has used her endowed professorship to perform in cities across the U.S. and to bring internationally recognized musicians to UTSA to perform for students and share their professional knowledge of the art and industry. She has also launched several new professional projects, including the release of her 2021 piano album, Rapture and Regret with internationally recognized label, MSR Classics.

Cowden is grateful to the Roland and Jane Blumberg Foundation for the opportunities their funding has afforded her.

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Learn how to give to endowed faculty positions at UTSA.
Discover more about the UTSA School of Music.

“Endowed positions are incredibly important,” she said. “The additional funding gives faculty the ability to think more broadly about their research agendas and gives them a leg up on being able to use funding to start new research threads or pursue new projects that require financial support they wouldn’t otherwise have. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so much more than I thought was possible."

Outside of the classroom and the Brain Health Consortium laboratory, Cowden spends her time working with the nonprofit organization Hearts Need Art, which uses the arts to help those struggling with serious health issues. Cowden, who is a volunteer musician-in-residence, performs music bedside for hospital patients and their caregivers, putting her research into practice and using the power of music to enhance the well-being of others.  

Jordan Allen

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

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