Martha Summa-Chadwick to Receive the 2017 Hartt Alumni Award
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Martha Summa-Chadwick to Receive the 2017 Hartt Alumni Award

Martha Summa-Chadwick HeadshotThe Hartt School has named Martha Summa-Chadwick ’83 the recipient of the 2017 Hartt Alumni Award, which will be presented during Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

Summa-Chadwick earned a Bachelor of Music degree from The Hartt School. She has achieved a wide reputation as a performer of chamber and solo works for piano, and as an advocate of the use of music in therapy. After her time at Hartt, she went on to earn a Master of Music degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kansas.

Summa-Chadwick has performed in roles of both piano and harpsichord soloist with orchestras in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and Alabama, and has also specialized in performing 20th century chamber and solo works. She has completed both Academy and Fellowship level training at Colorado State University's Center for Biomedical Research in Music. She is currently on the faculty of the Cadek Conservatory in Chattanooga and is the executive director of the nonprofit organization Music Therapy Gateway In Communications, Inc. (MTGIC), a role that has combined her passion for music and technology.

Her varied career talents include not only that of concert pianist but also of teacher and information technologist. She is a frequent speaker at national, state, and regional conferences for organizations including the World Piano Pedagogy Conference (WPPC), Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA), American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), Southeast Autism Center, Computing Sciences in Colleges, National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and the Tennessee Arts Commission (TAC).

In 2012, Summa-Chadwick and MTGIC created the Concert Music N.O.T.E.S. (Neuro Optimization Through Essential Styles) project to advocate for the cause of music in therapy in both the concert hall and the lecture hall.  The concert series features both solo and chamber programs that highlight the works of composers who had neural difficulties. In addition, forms of the dance are highlighted on these programs to lead the audience into the feel of moving to the music.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the seeds sown during my time at Hartt were the catalyst for my unique career path. I was so fortunate to have been there when the founders were still doing some teaching; each and every one of them, as well as all of my other professors, encouraged a real ‘outside the box’ type attitude with not only music but also with life,” said Summa-Chadwick.

While at Hartt, studying with Luiz de Moura Castro, Summa-Chadwick became fascinated with the muscles and the skeletal system. He told her it would make a difference in her playing to understand anatomy combined with the knowledge of how to produce sound. “This was fascinating, and the interest it sparked then carried into my current efforts with music and neuroscience,” she said.   

Summa-Chadwick first heard about musicians and computer work when IBM did a presentation during a weekly musicianship class, currently called Paranov Performance Hour, where the company was recruiting musicians to do computer development work. The recruiters presented a study showing that musicians were second only to authors of children’s stories in the neural aptitude to successfully work on computer software. “This was the early 80’s and there were no computer degrees or classes in place yet, but because they knew that musicians would succeed in this field, I also knew that I’d succeed there,” she said. “The brand new (at the time) Schenkerian analysis class taught by the wonderful Dr. Patrick Miller was such a different way for me to think about musical analysis. It tied the logic together for me of a hierarchical design process that I could use not only in music analysis but also computer design work.”

Summa-Chadwick attributes all of these previous Hartt experiences as a major influence to her current work in the form of concertizing, presenting lectures and workshops, software design for stroke rehabilitation, and one-on-one work advocating and utilizing biomedical music techniques for persons with motor, speech, and cognition challenges. “It’s well known on the upper levels of neuroscience that music is a direct conduit going into the brain that can help promote positive neuroplasticity, and it’s time that this wonderful message comes down to ‘street level’ where it can do so much good to help so many in the world,” she said. “That’s what my life’s work is all about, and my education at The Hartt School started me on this path.”

Click here for more information about Martha Summa-Chadwick.