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Music is a remarkable feature of humanity.

Music is a deeply meaningful component of the everyday lives of many students around the world, and yet, they are rarely afforded the opportunity to learn the science behind this complex cultural phenomenon.

eMu is an educational research and development network to advance teaching and learning about the evolution of music as an interdisciplinary theme in general education. We aim to empower students and teachers to engage with the latest advances in evolutionary musicology.

The Science

Music is a deeply meaningful component of the everyday lives of many students around the world, and yet, they are rarely afforded the opportunity to learn the science behind this complex cultural phenomenon.


While humans are unique in our elaborately cultural capacities for music, elements of musicality can be found across a diverse range of species. In humans, the components of musicality have come together, combined with our capacities for symbolic thinking. Understanding which species have which elements of musicality, and for what reasons, provides critical context for understanding the uniqueness of this trait within humans.

Thesis Coordination

eMu aims to support the coordinated development of practical student thesis work in teacher education and educational psychology. We are working to develop an online database and social learning platform for these opportunities. In the meantime, we frame some directions below and welcome further inquiry from teacher education research groups, as well as teacher education students and early career researchers.

Student Conceptions


Cross-Species Musicality


What do students think about the musical abilities of other species? 

Student Conceptions


The Origins of Music


What do students think about the origins of music?

Gene-Music
Co-Evolution


How can we teach students about the evolutionary relationships between genes and music?

DarwinTunes


What are the educational opportunities of the DarwinTunes programs for virtual music evolution?

Teaching Resources

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eMu is working both to curate as well as create resources for teaching about the evolution of music across subject areas in general education classrooms. We have a range of teaching materials development projects in the works, however our first priority is the launch of an open-access introductory self-study module for educators of all stripes. Using the OpenEvo learning hub, the eMu self-study module will offer an innovative e-learning experience around the best of current thinking in evolutionary musicology, with an emphasis on opportunities for exciting educational innovation. 

The module is planned to launch in April 2021.

About eMu

eMu is an educational research and development network to advance teaching and learning about the evolution of music as an interdisciplinary theme in general education.

Project Aims

  • To advance a Networked Improvement Community of scientists, educators, and students interested in advancing opportunities for teaching and learning about the evolution of music
  • To advance a basic understanding of student conceptions, across cultures and development, relevant to teaching and learning about the evolution of music
  • To advance educational design principles and guidance for teaching and learning about the evolution of music
  • To develop and organize a collection of Open Education Resources (OERs) for teaching and learning about the evolution of music
  • To facilitate coordinated student thesis projects on student conceptions and educational design improvements for the OER collection

Project Coordination

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Dustin Eirdosh

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Dr. Susan Hanisch

Scientific Advisory Board

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

  • Prof. Dr. Daniel Haun,
    Director, Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
  • Dr. Mark Stoneking,
    Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and Honorary Professor of Biological Anthropology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
  • Han Tran,
    Doctoral researcher, Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
  • Dr. Jeff Andrews, 
    Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

External

  • Prof. Dr. Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann,
    Managing Director, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Dr. Nori Jacoby,
    Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Dr. Patrick Savage,
    Associate Professor, Comp Music Lab, Keio University, Japan
  • Prof. Dr. Armand Leroi,
    Professor of Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Imperial College London, UK
  • Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Margulis,
    Distinguished Professor and Director, Music Cognition Lab, Princeton University, Princeton, USA
  • Dr. Psyche Loui,
    Assistant Professor of Creativity and Creative Practice, Northeastern University, Boston, USA
  • Prof. Dr. Steven Brown,
    Director, NeuroArts Lab, McMaster University, Canada
  • Prof. Dr. Henkjan Honing,
    Professor of Music Cognition, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands