Music as Medicine

Although Renée Fleming is best known as an internationally celebrated opera singer, she is also passionately interested in the intersection of the arts, health, and neuroscience.  A chance meeting in 2015 between Fleming and Dr. Francis Collins, then the director of the NIH, led to a collaboration between the NIH, Fleming, and the Kennedy Center. The first event, in 2017, Music & the Brain: Research Across the Lifespan brought together neuroscientists, music therapists, and researchers to discuss current research about the interaction of music and the brain and how music was being used as therapy. Many events have been held since that time.

Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice is the latest collaboration between Fleming and Collins. It will be held December 14-15 and you can register free to attend this virtual two-day event – or any part of it. There will be six scientific sessions during the two-day workshop involving such topics as music therapy and music medicine, music education and health, and integrating music into health care systems. There will be a musical performance highlighting each scientific theme.

Dozens of  individuals involved in music or medicine, or both, will be involved, and this is a great opportunity to hear about the latest research on music and health. Fleming and Collins will each give a keynote. Other participants include Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music; Victor Wooten, bassist and founding member of the group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; Joanne Loewy, whose research we discussed in the last post about music and premature infants in the NICU; Anthony Brandt, composer and co-author of The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World; and Charles Limb, neuroscientist who has done a ground-breaking study on jazz, creativity, and the brain. 

And if you haven’t yet had a chance to hear Music and Mind LIVE with Renée Fleming, you can access all 19 episodes on either Facebook or YouTube at the link above. When the pandemic caused everything to shut down in the spring of 2020 and Fleming was no longer able to perform live, she turned her creative energies and her interest in music and the brain into a webinar series in which she spoke from her home with scientists and practitioners working at the intersection of music, neuroscience, and healthcare – also speaking from their homes or offices. Topics ranged from the use of music during the isolation of the pandemic, to the power of rhythm, to music and arts therapy with veterans, the use of opera with veterans, and a great deal more. Each episode runs 45 – 50 minutes.