An excellent place to grow as a student and an artist

01.12.2019

Jachin Pousson from the United States of America is currently a doctoral degree student in Systematic Musicology at Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Music Academy (JVLMA). He has received Latvian state scholarship for research during academic year 2019/2020, but this is not his first year in Latvia. 

Jachin Pousson: “Studying abroad for many years takes a great amount of motivation as well as financial resources. I first arrived in Riga as an Erasmus student from Copenhagen in my final year of a Bachelor’s degree in composition in 2012. When I completed the Bachelor’s degree, I decided to continue studying towards a Master’s degree in composition at JVLMA which I completed in 2015. I’m currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Systematic Musicology at JVLMA, researching Brain-Computer Music Interfacing (BCMI), and am in my final year.

Academic life with a strong spirit of curiosity and innovation

I believe there were several reasons why I decided to remain and commit to my academic work in Latvia for higher education for so many years.

The first reason was that I found the learning environment to be really an excellent place to grow as a student and an artist. Latvia has a long-standing culture of singing and dancing, and this is obvious. The general population, whether or not academic musicians, are inherently more musical than in other places I’ve lived due to this shared history.

I found academic life within music education to be supportive, inspiring, with a healthy respect for tradition yet a strong spirit of curiosity and innovation.

The invention of new musical instruments

The study and research environment at JVLMA have been excellent in my experience. There is the opportunity to learn from many teachers who have played major roles in shaping musical tradition and development in Latvia. Their experiences and works are important and relevant markers as history has unfolded and this is being passed forward through music education.

Also, I have observed that JVLMA’s research environment is flourishing and has a bright future. Currently my colleagues and I are in the process of preparing a laboratory for studying brainwave activity during different musical processes using electroencephalography (EEG) technology. We are looking for ways to use this technology to provide new methods of musical training, therapy and performance, as well as the invention of new musical instruments which interface directly with the brain, or Brain-Computer Music Interfacing (BCMI).

It is envisioned that future students at JVLMA will be some of the first in the world to have access to such technology, and with the strong knack for innovation we have here, I believe future students will come up with many creative applications.

Oppurtunity to work with Taiwanese and Lithuanian neuroscientists

The most significant event during my studies was probably the opportunity to work with Taiwanese and Lithuanian neuroscientists on an ongoing collaborative BCMI project which began in 2019 and extends into 2021. Our goal is to develop a method of musical communication using brainwave activity and publish findings. By mapping certain types of brainwave activity to musical parameters, people will be able to participate in musical interaction in new ways. New technology will always impact musical processes and experiences in our times.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to participate at this intersection of art and science, and recognize that there is a unique and supportive platform at JVLMA for such research directions and efforts.

I have genuinely found an exceptional academic environment here, with many opportunities to grow and broaden one’s view on art and science. Latvia’s geographical location makes it a unique crossroad between western and eastern culture, with a mix of nuances from Scandinavia and Central Europe.

The academic environment’s openness and supportiveness has made it possible for real pioneering work to be done here, and I would recommend it to anyone with motivation and ideas.”

More about Latvian state scholarships here