WRITING 101: Music as Medicine

Readers needed: Health care scientists or practitioners with professional interest in music as therapy.

  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Cary Moskovitz

Music is clearly an integral part of human culture. But can it also serve medical functions? Recent research suggests that music therapy may indeed have medical benefits for a broad  range of applications from reducing pain in patients undergoing bone marrow biopsies, burn dressing changes, and lumbar punctures to improving cognitive function in elderly people suffering from dementia. But just how compelling is this research. What benefits have actually been scientifically documented?
In this Writing 101 course, we will examine the scientific evidence for these questions and others related to music therapy in the medical realm. This course will begin with an emphasis on research skills focusing on how to locate the most relevant and useful sources. Then, using select principles of health science research and statistical data analysis, students will practice careful, skeptical reading as they draft and revise reviews of experimental research reports on medical music therapy. Finally, building on their own work and that of their classmates from the first half of the term, students will write scholarly scientific essays discussing some aspect of the current science of music therapy and its implications for clinical practice in relation to specific diseases or medical contexts. Audiences for student writing will include both classmates and health science professionals. Students will have the opportunity to participate in the Duke Reader Project (dukereaderprojet.org); those who elect to participate will be matched with a Duke alum or employee in a health science field who will provide feedback on drafts of a major writing assignment.

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Review of journal article and commentary (scientific essay).
For whom? Health professionals.
Where would such writing typically be found? Health sciences periodical such as Nature, clinical journals
Why would someone usually read it? To get a thoughtful, scientifically informed, and up-to-date perspective on health science topics.

See examples of bios of possible readers for this course


Course links:

**Important Reader Project info for this course**
What Readers and Student partners need to know about the Reader Project. Includes information and suggestions on giving feedback.

Course Information
General information about Prof. Moskovitz’s writing courses.

Review Assignment
Description of the “Review” assignment, the first document the student will share with their Reader.

Commentary Assignment
Description of the “Commentary” assignment, the major essay that the student will share with their Reader.

Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts.

The primary aim of the project is to help students really understand what it means to write for readers, rather than as a school assignment. Think about the following when you give feedback, whether in writing or in real time:

  • Respond as a reader rather than as an editor. (They can get basic editorial help from others.) Focus on sharing your reactions to the draft as a user of such writing. What are you thinking as you read? More


Quality Reader Feedback Example

WR 101 (Moskovitz) sample with feedback