Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding

Postponed due to COVID-19

Harvard Professor of the Practice of Music

Esperanza Spalding's ​Sonic Healing Lab​ at the ArtLab will bring together musicians and medical researchers to inform positive health outcomes. Professor of the Practice of Music at Harvard University, Esperanza Spalding is a jazz bassist, singer, songwriter, and composer called "The 21st Century's Jazz Genius" National Public Radio. Esperanza Spalding has won four Grammy Awards, a Soul Train Music Award, and was one of the youngest instructors at Berklee School of Music.

Esperanza Spalding performs at the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival

The Sonic Healing Lab provides a structure for the development of community-focused performance methodologies. Acknowledging the capacity for music to activate and influence autonomic system responses, the ​Sonic Healing Lab is research at the nexus of various disciplines, from neuroscience to public health, from composition to therapy. The outcome of the Sonic Healing Lab will focus on offering songs and healing strategies drawn from diverse sound-based creative practices and research methodologies for vulnerable populations. 

The ​Sonic Healing Lab​ operates with the leadership of Prof. Esperanza Spalding with an initial research team of Performer-Scholars; Ganavya Doraiswamy and research assistants Grant Jones and Nivedita Ravi. A rotating ​Council​ of interdisciplinary professionals guides the work of the Sonic Healing Lab. The Council members work as researchers and practitioners in various fields related to music, healing, activism, and medicine.

Prof. Esperanza Spalding convened the inaugural cohort of performer-scholars in spring 2020 in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This cohort consisted primarily of students from Prof. Spalding's MUS170r: Songwriting Workshop. Sixteen Harvard students expressed interest in writing music for patients stationed in Boston Hope; the temporary field hospital erected to treat COVID-19 patients. Students received de-identified narratives of patients receiving treatment at the Boston Hope Hospital. ​Songs Set 1: Songs for Boston Hope​ were written with these narratives, and played to patients. 

During the Spring 2021 residency, Prof. Esperanza Spalding and the Sonic Healing Lab research team will be working with Harvard students at the ArtLab. The Sonic Healing Lab has received research funding from the Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA) 

Sonic Healing Lab leadership and research team: 

Prof. Esperanza Spalding, Professor of Practice, Dept. of Music

Ganavya Doraiswamy, M. Mus., M.A., M.A.; G4, Dept. of Music
Sr. Research Fellow

Grant Jones, G3, Clinical Psychology
Research Assistant 

Nivedita Ravi, A.B. Candidate in Neuroscience and Music 
Research Assistant

More information: Sonic Healing Lab 

Photo Illustration: A163/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images and Angela Hsieh/NPR