Music and Mind LIVE

On May 19, 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic had halted international concert tours, Renée Fleming launched Music and Mind LIVE with Renée Fleming. The live-streamed series featured Renée in conversation with scientists and practitioners working at the intersection of music, neuroscience, and healthcare. Over the course of 19 weekly episodes, experts in fields such as childhood development, healthy aging, pain and anxiety management, and rehabilitation shared their findings, and episodes included live Q&A from viewers. Episodes were streamed on Renee’s Facebook page, as well as the John F. Kennedy Center’s Facebook and YouTube channels. For the debut episode, Renée hosted former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, discussing the timely topic, “Music, Loneliness, and Isolation.” Guests on subsequent episodes included best-selling author and neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levitin, Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins, Deepak Chopra, M.D., and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. The series amassed a total of more than 665,000 views from 70 countries.

EPISODE 1: Music, Loneliness, and Isolation

For her first broadcast, Renée welcomes former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. They discuss music’s power to alleviate loneliness and isolation, always serious concerns, but especially challenging in the 1st weeks of lockdowns and social distancing brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Episode 2: Community of Voices / Resource for the Future

Dr. Julene Johnson, UCSF School of Nursing,UCSF Institute for Health & Aging, discusses her recent study on the effects of community choir singing on health and well-being, Dr. Charles Limb, Professor of Otolaryngology and Chief of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery, UCSF, shares his research on improvisation and creativity, and Sunil Iyengar, Director, Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts discusses a new music-and-health research initiative from the NEA.
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Episode 3: At Home with Children: Musical Tool Kit
Renée welcomes Miriam Lense, PhD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center) and Sara Beck, PhD (Randolph College) to discuss their At-Home Musical Toolkit and the impact of musical interactions between parents and children on child development.
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Episode 4: Integrated Approach to COVID-19 and the Mind

Renée welcomes the world-famous author Deepak Chopra and renowned neuroscientist and musician Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, to discuss integrated ways to support physical and emotional health during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the use of music and meditation.

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Episode 5: Using Music for Health and Well-being during COVID-19

Renée’s examination of music and arts’ therapeutic applications during the pandemic continues with her guests, leading music therapy researcher/clinician Wendy Magee (Boyer College of Music and Dance, Temple University) and groundbreaking practitioner Tom Sweitzer, MMT, MT-BC (A Place to Be).

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Episode 6: How and Why to Engage With Music Now

Best-selling author and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, PhD, and bassist extraordinaire Victor Wooten join Renée for a discussion, including  performance premieres of music by Dan, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Corigliano.
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Episode 7: Music, Arts, and Science – Leadership and Collaboration
Renée welcomes Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, and Deborah Rutter, the President of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, our national performing arts center, to talk about collaboration between science and the arts.
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Episode 8: The Power of Rhythm
Two of the world’s great percussionists, Grateful Dead legend Mickey Hart and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, join Renée for a special episode focused on harnessing the astonishing potential of rhythm for physical and emotional well-being, featuring a special premiere performance.
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Episode 9: Evolution and Animal Responses to Music
Researcher, educator, author, and Guggenheim Fellow Dr. Aniruddh Patel (Tufts University), who studies the cognitive, neural, and evolutionary foundations of music, shares how both humans and other species process rhythm and melody.
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Episode 10: Creative Forces- Veterans, Arts, and Healing
Renée examines the impact of music and arts therapy on veterans, highlighting the work of Creative Forces, the NEA’s Military Healing Arts Network. She is three experts from Creative Forces, as well as world-famous ABC news correspondent Bob Woodruff, to discuss the work of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which raises money to assist injured service members, veterans, and their families.
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Episode 11: Music- A Superpower for Children
Renée delves deeper into the effects of music on the developing brain, with illustrious experts in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and auditory learning. Dr. Antonio Damasio and Dr. Assal Habibi fromthe USC Brain and Creativity Institute discuss their multi-year study with the LA Phil YOLA youth orchestra program, Dr. Nina Kraus from Northwestern University talks about her research with students from The Harmony Project and Chicago Public Schools, as well as concussion research with athletes, and Dr. Laurel Trainor from McMaster University discusses the impact of music on infant development.
Episode 12: What do an opera company and a hospital have in common?
From LA Opera, President and CEO Christopher Koelsch, and Vice President of LA Opera Connects, Dr. Stacy Brightman, discuss their innovative uses of opera in the greater community. Gail Soffer, founder of the Mindful Veteran Project, shares her organization’s work with LA Opera and veterans, and Todd Frazier of Houston Methodist’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine talks about the direct impact of music in healthcare.
Episode 13: Music & Dance and Parkinson’s
Nobel Laureate Dr. Randy Schekman, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at UC Berkeley, shares the very latest on Parkinson’s disease research. Renowned dancer and pedagogue David Leventhal discusses his pioneering work directing “Dance for PD” at the Mark Morris Dance Group, and the episode also features Dr. Elizabeth Stegemoller, who leads the the PD Virtual Choir Project at Iowa State University.
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Episode 14: NeuroArts Blueprint – A New Frontier
Renée highlights the launch of the NeuroArts Blueprint Initiative, a project of The Aspen Institute and Johns Hopkins Medicine, designed to articulate an emerging, cross-disciplinary area of study at the intersection of science, technology, and the arts. Her guests are NeuroArts co-chairs Susan Magsamen, from the Johns Hopkins Medicine International Arts + Mind Lab, and Ruth Katz of The Aspen Institute; and NeuroArts scientific advisor Dr. Emmeline Edwards, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
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Episode 15: Mind Games – New Tech for Music and Health
Dr. Adam Gazzaley (UCSF / UCSF Neuroscape lab) discusses his work using therapeutic video games to treat ADHD and other conditions. Musical visionary composer Tod Machover (MIT Media Lab) shares his explorations at the forefront of music technology, and Dr. Grace Leslie (Georgia Tech) speaks about her research (and performance) of her own brain-music and brain-computer interfaces.
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Episode 16: Music, Memory, and Alzheimer’s
Renée explores the use of music in treatment for Alzheimer’s. Dr. Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke (National Institute on Aging – NIH) discusses the current state of research; Dr. Li-Huei Tsai (MIT) showcases her groundbreaking research on Gamma wave treatments; Dr. Concetta Tomaino (Institute for Music and Neurologic Function), discusses clinical applications of music and neurologic rehabilitation – and her work with world-famous author and neurologist, the late Dr. Oliver Sacks; and dedicated advocate for Alzheimer’s research, singer-songwriter Chris Mann shares why this work is so important for him.

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Episode 17: The Impact of Music – Stress, Emotion, and the Brain
To discuss the brain’s emotional responses to music, and how music can unlock secrets of cognition, Renée welcomes music therapist and professor Dr. Sheri Robb, internationally recognized for her expertise in pediatric music therapy and behavioral intervention research, and renowned neuroscientist Dr. Robert Zatorre – recent recipient of the esteemed Carvalho-Heineken prize in Cognitive Science in Amsterdam, for his contribution to music cognition.
Episode 18: Un-Loneliness – Music, Pain, and Mental Health
Joining Renée for this episode are music therapist and professor Dr. Joke Bradt (Drexel University), an expert on the use of music therapy for chronic pain; Dr. Jeremy Nobel (Harvard Medical School/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), Founder & President of the Foundation for Art and Healing and The Unlonely Project; and Former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum.
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Episode 19: The Inner Voice

For the series finale, Renée Fleming joins vocal psychotherapist Stacie Aamon, musicologist Dr. Nina Eidsheim (UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music), cardiologist Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski (Medical College of Wisconsin), researcher/inventor Dr. Rébecca Kleinberger (MIT Media Lab), and cognitive neuroscientist Dr. John Iversen (UC San Diego) for an exploration into a very special topic – the human voice.

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