Ed Roth

Photo of Ed Roth
Edward A. Roth (Ed)
Carmel Provencal Distinguished Director and Professor of Music Therapy and Director of Brain Research and Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Laboratory (BRAIN Lab)
(269) 387-5415
(269) 387-1113
2307 Dalton Center, Mail Stop 5434
Mailing address: 
Irving S. Gilmore School of Music
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5434 USA
  • Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (Neuroscience), Western Michigan University
  • M.M., Music Therapy, Colorado State University
  • B.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University

Carmel Provencal Distinguished Director and Professor of Music Therapy  

Assistant Dean for Research and Innovation, College of Fine Arts  

Assistant Director, Resiliency Center for Families and Children  

Adjunct Clinical Faculty, Homer E. Stryker School of Medicine  

Director, Brain Research and Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Laboratory (BRAIN Lab) 

Dr. Roth has been a music therapist since 1993 and is a passionate educator, scientist, therapist, and musician. He serves in multiple roles at Western Michigan University, where he is the Director and Professor of Music Therapy, Assistant Dean at the College of Fine Arts, Assistant Director of the Resiliency Center for Families and Children, and Adjunct Clinical Faculty at the Homer E. Stryker School of Medicine. He is the founding director and continues to serve in that role, of the Brain Research and Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Laboratory (BRAIN Lab).

He earned his Ph.D. from Western Michigan University where his dissertation examined the neurochemistry and phenomenology of instrumental improvisation as they relate to anxiety, trust, shared flow, and empathy. His Master of Music degree was from Colorado State University under the supervision of Dr. Michael Thaut where he also worked as a Graduate Assistant at the Center for Biomedical Research in Music. He completed the Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy at Western Michigan University. 

Dr. Roth has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in music therapy and music neuroscience at WMU since 2000. He has taught internationally at universities in Barcelona, Spain, Brisbane, Australia, and recently directed a study abroad experience at the Escuela Superior de Música de Cataluña, Barcelona. Dr. Roth's significant contributions extend beyond academia, as he is a respected presenter at national and international science and medical conferences, appears consistently in print, video, and radio media outlets, and his research is published widely in prestigious scholarly journals. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Music Therapy and has been an external reviewer for dozens of articles related to neurologic rehabilitation, mental health, and music therapy. 

With extensive clinical expertise, Dr. Roth has worked with individuals facing neurological, medical, and mental health challenges at University of Michigan Medicine (Ann Arbor, MI), Blythedale Children’s Hospital, (Valhalla, NY), Columbine high school (Littleton, CO), and at various local clinics, schools, and hospitals. His current research and focus are on clinical applications of music for people living with addictions, their families, and extended support networks.  

In his capacity as Assistant Dean, Dr. Roth drives research and innovation in the College of Fine Arts, facilitating the development of projects from securing funding, and creation of robust designs, to project actualization and assessment. 

At the Resiliency Center for Family and Children, Dr. Roth plays a pivotal role in advancing evidence-based practices, including harnessing the potential of music therapy to enhance the well-being of families and children. 

Directing the BRAIN Lab, Dr. Roth oversees a dynamic team of researchers and students, pursuing a wide breadth of scientific studies incorporating various neuroscientific approaches and music therapy. www.wmich.edu/brain 

Beyond the university, Dr. Roth collaborates closely with medical professionals as Adjunct Clinical Faculty at the Homer E. Stryker School of Medicine at WMU, advocating for the integration of music therapy into medical practice, overseeing a Special Interest Group in Neurology, and developing coursework for 4th-year medical students. 

Dr. Roth's commitment to improving individual lives and community health through the synergy of music and neuroscience resonates both within and beyond Western Michigan University. His work stands as recognized and transformative in the fields of music therapy, healthcare, and scientific research. 

See Dr. Roth’s TED Talk, here: https://www.ted.com/talks/ed_roth_music_bonding_and_flow_improvising_our_way_there 

Watch Dr. Roth and his colleagues discuss music and the neurobiology of improvisation at the Kennedy Center, here: https://www.kennedy-center.org/video/digital-stage/discussionspoken-word/2018/the-art-of-the-spark-musical-creativity-explored-with-dr.-charles-limb/