On Friday, June 7, 2015, AUMI-KU InterArts was well represented when the AUMI Research Consortium was the focus of the first of two-day conference “Improvisation and Community Health / « Improvisation et santé communautaire » [http://www.improvcommunity.ca/content/mcgill-colloquium-2015], sponsored by the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP), the Société des Arts Libres et Actuels (SALA), and the McGill Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI). Thanks to IISCI and other co-sponsors, including the KU Department of Dance, representatives from all of the AUMI Research Consortium were invited to present their findings and engage in dialogue at the Mackay Centre School, a school for students with multiple disabilities in Montreal. The first in-person meeting devoted to research of the AUMI Consortium sites, the gathering, which was open to the public, provided an unprecedented opportunity for AUMI researchers to share results, compare notes, and pool literature reviews and pedagogical, therapeutic and performance strategies and implications. It also provided an exciting forum for those new to AUMI to learn about the depth and variety of research across a wide range of methodologies and goals.
The four team members who represented AUMI-KU InterArts presented research updates from University of Kansas and partners in Kansas and Missouri. Abbey Dvorak from KU’s music therapy faculty and KU MT alum and licensed music therapist Elizabeth Boresow presented (via Skype) on the research design, literature review, and current status of the “Pilot Study of the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI) as a Tool for Discerning and Teaching Cause and Effect Among Students with Profound Intellectual Multiple Disabilities (PIMD).” Boresow shared how her collaboration with Lowengard, developer of the AUMI iPad app, has made it possible to conduct research on the capacity of AUMI to learn more about the experience of, and perhaps even teach cause and effect among children whose relationships to cause and effect are unknown, and who do not use standard modes of communication. Michelle Heffner Hayes, dance professor, and Sherrie Tucker, American studies, presented on their incorporation of AUMI in collaborative teaching and performance-based research collaborations with colleagues Nicole Hodges Persley (theater) and Kip Haaheim (music), including the research and future plans that stemmed from a mixed-ability community performance, “(Un)Rolling the Boulder: Improvising New Communities.”