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Would you attend a concert in a stranger's living room?

Groupmuse is the musical version of couchsurfing.

Imagine walking into a stranger's living room and being enveloped by a wave of classical music performed by a live chamber ensemble.

That's the atmosphere that Groupmuse, "an online social network that connects young classical musicians to local audiences through concert house parties," is going for.


A Groupmuse performance in Seattle. Photo by Lian Caspi, used with permission.

Throughout much of history, classical music has been associated with the elite — an art form shrouded in exclusivity.

For the average person, attending a performance in a space like the Kennedy Center can be rare and expensive. To remedy this, Groupmuse has emerged as a version of couchsurfing for the music world.

Groupmuse wants to bring classical music to everyone.

They want to connect you with your neighbors through beautiful music.

Drawing inspiration from the phenomenon of couchsurfing, Groupmuse founders Sam Bodkin, Kyle Nichols-Schmolze, and Ezra Weller took the social (and often uncomfortable) aspect of entering a stranger's home, hoping to turn it into a shared culturally enriching experience.

A Groupmuse performance in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo by Jillian Wheeler, used with permission.

A few years later, they've gotten their wish. Through the platform, anyone in the U.S. can attend performances in their area, host a party (regardless of the size of their living room), and or even set up a musician's page. All that's asked of guests is a suggested $10 donation to pay the musicians.

Although there are only two 20- to 25-minute chunks of music in an actual performance, Groupmuse describes each show as a "three-hour experience" because, as Bodkin puts it, "We believe that the socializing is just as important as the music itself."

Teddy Martin attended his first Groupmuse performance a few months ago.

Since then, he's attended roughly 15 more — even hosting two himself.

A "massivemuse" in Brooklyn. Photo by Chellise Michael Photography, used with permission.

"The room crackled with good energy and excitement at what we were all experiencing together. I knew right away that this was something valuable and important for our generation," the 24-year-old New York software developer said.

Performers also praise the experience of playing a show in a stranger's living room. "We [listeners and performers] breathe the music together; we feel together everything coming to life. I felt immediately connected to my audience as soon as I started playing my first note," said Sooyun Kim, a flutist for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Kim has since performed in at least a dozen Groupmuses, even bringing the platform to South Korea.

Since the first Groupmuse show in January 2013, there have been more than 800 living room concerts.

"A major reason people love Groupmuses and keep coming back for more is it's such a great way to connect with the folks around you," says Bodkin. Their hope is that attendees walk away with the "Groupmuse glow."

An outdoor Groupmuse performance in Jackson, Wyoming. Photo by Dusty Nichols, used with permission.

As for future goals, Bodkin says, "We want to turn this platform into a tool that communities can use to identify and support the artists in their midst."

While this may seem like just another version of the trendy sharing economy, we can't help but feel amazed at the idea of free classical music concerts in a stranger's living room.

Would you attend? We would. Groupmuse, we like where your heads are at.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


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