Moving Along in my Research

At this time, my soon-to-be research paper looks like a mess of knowledge on paper! Luckily, my topic is so expansive that I could never stop finding more and more research- which is both a blessing and a curse!

I have finally been able to talk myself into stopping research for the time being to focus on organizing the information that I already have. I am going through every quote and source that I have taken down, and writing a brief summary so that I may then piece them together into my outline. My hope is that by organizing all of the information that I already have, I will be able to see the holes in my research, and fill them in!

My adorable and not-feeling-so-well cat, Rufus

These past few weeks I have had many distractions from working including health issues with my beloved cat Rufus, car problems, and a very busy month of my Americorps service. In order to keep myself on track, I have promised to work for at least one hour every day until our drafts are due on May 2nd. I have already put a lot of time into my research, so I definitely think this is doable!

In addition, I am still scheduling time to interview music educators, psychologists, neuro-biologist, students, or anyone who has been affected by music in their lives. If you fit this criteria and are interested in being interviewed for my Research Article and Applied Project (video), please e-mail me at or tweet me at @HelpinghandedT 


Unboxing Education- Why Interdisciplinary Studies in Education Matters

“Music, theatre, and dance have always been such an important part of my life, how can I give that up?” I thought, while brushing the dust from the floor of the Studio Theater off my costume. It was during the first day of technical rehearsal for PSU’s The Threepenny Opera that I really struggled with my educational path.

The cast of PSU’s The Threepenny Opera     Photo by JEM Photography

During my adolescence, music, theatre, and dance helped transform me from a shy and unconfident student, to a person proud to share who they really are with the world. Through the performing arts, I was able to learn how to express myself, gain self-confidence, trust, and become empowered, allowing me to be the person I am today. This passion that I found for the performing arts carried me all the way to college, starting as a Musical Theater major.

During my first year and a half, I started to feel as though the passion I once had was no longer there. I realized that the intense passion I had felt, wasn’t for performing itself, but for the incredible skills and empowerment I had found through the arts. At that moment, I knew that was what I wanted to do; I wanted to empower others through music, theatre, and dance, just as it had empowered me. Continue reading “Unboxing Education- Why Interdisciplinary Studies in Education Matters”

Empowering Youth Through Movement Workshop- Spring 2017

3.jpgThis weekend was the Empowering Youth Through Movement workshop, presented by Social Work professor David Lynch. This was the second semester that the class has put on a workshop for youth throughout our communities.

Empowering Youth Through Movement is a course that David and I, along with another Interdisciplinary Studies alumni Marina Phillips, created that emphasizes the connection between movement and empowerment. Through movement activities, social work/psychology lessons, and class discussions, we prepare our class members to understand how and why it can be useful to use movement with youth.

5.jpgAgain this year, the movement workshop achieved great success. The PSU Student facilitators led youth in activities that emphasized creative expression, trust, social skills, team work, emotional safety, and more. During the final session of the day, I led a workshop encouraging the group to work collaboratively and create a movement piece that represented their day at the workshop. This piece was shared with parents and guardians at the end of the day.
By the time it was ready to pack up and get going, all of the youth members were discussing how much fun they had, and how they cannot wait to come again next semester! It’s such a pleasure for me to see the success of this course. I’m proud to have passed the knowledge onto PSU Students, who will now continue to pass it on to youth all throughout their lives!

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After Commencement, what will I commence?

After I graduate on May 20th, 2017, I will have three wonderful months left of my service year with the Americorps Victims Assistance Program, working with victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Once my year of service has ended, come what’s next. What that is, I have no idea.

My long-term goal is to return to school and get my Master’s in Social Work/Nonprofit Leadership. I am originally from Massachusetts, and Wheelock College has a dual Master’s degree in both of these programs. I would love to achieve this degree, however, I do not know if the cost of the program is realistic for me. At this time, I need to get a job that will allow me to gain experience while putting money away for my education.

But what will that job be?

Still, I have no idea. But I do have a few thoughts.

Because my future career path align wells with the social work field and nonprofits, I would love to find an opportunity in Massachusetts that would allow me to work in those environments. If there are opportunities available, I would apply for Crisis Centers, Child Services Agencies, Nonprofit Educational Programs, etc. My skill set is so diverse that I could be able to fit many different entry-level positions; it just depends on who is hiring!

600889_10151473733088985_1087230238_n       The cast from my high school musical performance in Northampton, MA                                                       by Taylor Fournier CC by 2.0

In addition, I am going to look into nonprofits that specifically work with the performing arts. In Northampton and Springfield, MA (which are very close to where I grew up) there are a lot of performing arts opportunities, especially youth programs. I have been keeping my eye on their websites, to see if they may be hiring in the near future. As my Interdisciplinary Studies focus is “The Performing Arts for Community Empowerment,” this would really be the perfect fit for me. However, I am a bit doubtful in my ability to find a position like this, especially considering the status of the National Endowment for the Arts, which is currently threatened to be defunded by our current administration. If the opportunity is available, I will apply! I have also considered opportunities throughout the US, but I would not have the financial means to make that possible.

I do have one last path I may decide to travel down if the opportunity is available- veganism, humane education, and animal welfare. Although I do not have any formal training in these areas, it is something that I am very passionate about. I find myself laying awake at night, thinking about working at a nonprofit sanctuary or animal welfare awareness agency. I would even be interested in working for a vegan company! My two biggest concerns are realistically and irrelevance to my Bachelor’s degree. Although vegetarianism and veganism are growing social movements in our society, they still have little to no outreach in mainstream media and business. Therefore, job opportunities are much more difficult to come by. In addition, my BA has a strong focus on the performing arts, which would be completely lost in this field. Although many of these skills are transferable, would it affect me negatively in the long run if I didn’t pursue a career that aligned with my Bachelor’s degree?

Ultimately, I want three things. I want a job that will provide me with enough money to support myself. I want a job that will allow me to continue learning and perfecting my skills. And most importantly, I want a job that will make me happy.

Panther Pitch!

PSU’s 1st Annual Panther Pitch, a competition similar to the TV shows Shark Tank, took place this week. I was selected as one of the 12 Finalist who would compete in the competition! We had exactly 2 minutes to give our pitch, and then we have a 3 minute Q&A where the judges had the opportunity to ask us questions.

You may be asking how this relates back to my interdisciplinary studies. Well if you recall, I actually created my major based around a growing idea that I first had when I was much younger- Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company.

Theatre- by cr03 CC by 2.0

This competition gave me the opportunity to practice my pitching skills, and really begin to get people excited about the idea. After the competition was over, I got great reviews of people who loved my idea, and through a video I recorded, I was able to watch with my own eyes and make critiques, so the next time I introduce this company, it will be even better!

Although I had to cut down my original speak to make it fit within 2 minutes, the first draft that I wrote (which was way over that time) was truly a great experience for me to wrap up Heart-to-Heart in one interdisciplinary box! Therefore, I would like to share with you my original pitch below!

I’d like to begin by asking everyone to stand up.

Sit down if you never had a music class, dance class, or theater class in your school.

Sit down if you never attended a concert, performance, or play in your community.

Sit down if the performing arts—theater, music, dance—if they had no impact on you.

I want you to look around at the number of people standing up here. The performing arts matter to our schools, to our communities, to our lives.

Ok, thank you, and please take a seat.

My name is Taylor Fournier and I am an Interdisciplinary Studies major focused on how the performing arts can empower students, our communities, and our world.

Over the past 35+ years, the National Endowment for the Arts has been challenged and threatened with cuts to funding. Under our new administration, there have been proposals to eliminate the Endowment from the proposed budget completely. This would place a huge barrier in the way for the integration of the arts in our communities.

Research has shown us that the performing arts are an incredibly helpful tool for empowerment, education, awareness, and advocacy. With these constant challenges to funding, the opportunity to participate in the performing arts would become harder and much fewer. Why should our students, our youth, and our community members have to miss out on this invaluable opportunity?

I have an alternative solution. The Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company. We are focused on using the performing arts to provide empowerment through our three sectors- Self, Community, and World. Our mission is “using the arts to promote change.”

So how DOES The Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company live up to its mission? It would be impossible for me to tell you all of the incredible ways that we use the performing arts for empowerment in just two minutes, however, I will give you just one example from each of our three sectors:

Our first sector is Self. We provide many classes through the week that use the performing arts for self-empowerment. Just one example in the making is our Empowerment/Exercise Dance course, one for adults and one for youth. This course incorporates the psychology of empowerment, social work themes, and self-expression through dance and music.

Our second sector is Community. Performances can be a vital tool in advocacy. We bring empowerment to our community by putting on productions centered around current social issues. An example would be The Vagina Monologues, a theatre production helping to spread awareness about feminism and violence against women, or The Laramie Project, a play based on the real life events taking places after the brutal torture and murder of Michael Shepherd, a member of the LGBT community.

Our final section is World. Through our World Tourism program, which invites performing arts groups such as dance troupes or theatre companies from all around the world to visit America and learn about our culture and arts while sharing their culture and arts. I have learned first hand that the opportunity for cultural-exchange and finding the universal oneness within us all is incredibly empowering.

All-in-all, Heart to Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company provides a safe environment for all community members to have access to the performing arts, and the opportunity to use that art for empowerment.

I have organized my academic field of study around the work of this nonprofit, and I have the knowledge, experience, and passion to make it succeed. We’ve all benefited from having the performing arts in our lives, and now is the time that we need to work together to ensure that future generations have access to the arts, to empower each other, our communities, and our world. Thank you.

I “Prospect-us” to have a great semester!

Research Article Prospectus

Title: Why does music help us learn?


Throughout my high school and college careers, I have always been encouraged to listen to music as I study or use songs to help remember things. As a student, that was always incredibly helpful for me; but why? Why is it that music helps us? Scientifically speaking, how is my brain taking in information differently through song than regular speech? In today’s world, there is a major controversy over the importance of music education and integration in our public schools. This research will help me identify the connection between psychology and music, and allow me to study the best practices for how to integrate them.


  • Studying the connection between learning and music will help me understand the best practices for integrating music into education, as well as education into music.
  • In addition, understanding the connection between psychology and music will allow me to be a more informed advocate for music education and integration in public schools.


My major, Interdisciplinary Studies: The Performing Arts for Community Empowerment,
emphasizes the ways in which the performing arts can be a medium for empowerment or social change. In a country that minimizes the importance of public education, now is the time to speak out and advocate for the right of every student to have access to the best education possible, an education that includes music. Studying this topic will allow me to be the best advocate I can be.                                                                                                                  



Sunday, March 12

-I will have found library resources helping to understand the connection between music and psychology.

Sunday, March 19   

I will have identified facts/statistics around the subject of music education and integration.

-I will have information of the history of music education and integration in schools.


Sunday, March 26

-I will have found resources helping me understand why the psychology of music is beneficial to education.

-I will have conducted an interview with at least one PSU Psychology Major and one PSU Psychology Professor.


Sunday, April 2

-I will have read each of the resources, and noted the valuable sections for this research article.


Sunday, April 16th

I will have all of the information for my Body of Research identified.


Sunday, April 23rd

-I will have finished my synthesis.

-I will have incorporated a First-Person experience.


Sunday, April 30

-I will have a compelling conclusion.


Monday, May 8

-I will have a first draft completed that has at least two hyperlinks, three images that are related to my research, and a correctly cited APA format Works Cited page.


First Draft Due- Monday, May 8

Final Draft Due- Friday, May 12


*I will have visited the Writing Center for revision suggestions between May 8-12.


Applied Project Prospectus

Title: Does Music Help Us Learn?- Advocating for Music Education/Integration


As previously mentioned, there is a major controversy over the importance of music education and integration in our public schools. However, research suggests that music in the classroom is beneficial for students’ learning. I will answer two questions, by conducting interviews and utilizing resources, does music help us learn? And therefore, should music education and integration be encouraged and funded in schools? I will use this information to make a 3-10 minute video, which will be shared on all my social media accounts with the hopes of promoting music in schools.


  • `To answer the two questions:
  1. Does music help us learn?
  2. Should music education/integration be encouraged?
CC:Jesse Kruger


I will post a video and short blog post on my ePort, twitter, facebook, youtube, etc. I will share this out to the #IDSsem with the hopes that it will continue to be shared!


My major Interdisciplinary Studies: The Performing Arts for Community Empowerment emphasizes the ways in which the performing arts can be a medium for empowerment or social change. In a country that minimizes the importance of public education, now is the time to speak out and advocate for the right of every student to the best education possible, an education that includes music. Creating and sharing this video will hopefully shine a light on this topic and empower others to fight for music in our schools!



Sunday, March 12

-I will have found library resources helping to understand the connection between music and psychology.

-I will have practiced using a media maker software and research effective creation tools so I am prepared to begin my video.


Sunday, March 26

-I will have found resources helping to understand why the psychology of music is beneficial to education.

-I will have found information on the controversy regarding the place of music education and integration in schools- both private and public.

-I will have conducted and recorded an interview with at least one PSU Psychology Major and one PSU Psychology Professor.


Sunday, April 2

-I will have read each of the resources, and noted the valuable sections for this applied project.


April 16

-Using the information I have collected for my Research Paper, through interviews, and additional resources, I will create an overall format plan for my video.


April 23

-I will have edited both interviews, and added subtitles.


CC: Paradox 56

April 30

-I will have completed a rough draft of the video.


Tuesday, May 9

-I will have finished editing the video.                                   

-I will have written a brief post accompanying the videos regarding the relation to my major, the lessons I learned, and the challenges, outcomes, and possible improvement of the project.


First Draft Due: Tuesday, May 9th

Final Post Due: Friday, May 12th

How “But I’m A Cheerleader” (1999) helped change perspectives of the LGBTQ community



But I’m A Cheerleader! is a 92-minute long film that came out in 1999 directed by Jamie Babbit.  The title is actually found within the first section of the movie when Megan (played by Natasha Lyonne), an all-American, feminine high school student is approached by her friends and family.  Based on her recent behaviors, she returns home from school to find them sitting in a circle – waiting to tell her, “Honey, we think you’re a lesbian.” “But I’m A Cheerleader!” This frames the rest of the plot for this queer, satirical show.

Megan is surprised to find out that she is a lesbian, but in order to help her “become cured,” they send her to True Directions- a reparative therapy camp run by Mary Brown (Cathy Moriarty), based on teaching members of the LGBTQ community to “overcome their homosexuality”by admitting their feelings, continually performing Continue reading “How “But I’m A Cheerleader” (1999) helped change perspectives of the LGBTQ community”