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La Jolla Music Society

Music and Mind

A compelling and growing body of research has demonstrated the powerful impacts of music and the arts on health and the human experience. Music and arts therapies are effective tools for addressing a widening array of conditions, from providing pain relief, to enhancing speech recovery after stroke or traumatic brain injury through singing, to improving mobility of individuals with Parkinson’s disease using rhythm. And the impact of the arts on developing brains of children shows effects reaching beyond improved test results and scholastic aptitude to creativity and success throughout life.

In Music and Mind, presented in more than fifty cities around the world, soprano and arts & health advocate Renée Fleming invites leading local scientists, physicians, and practitioners to join her, offering illuminating discussions and sharing the latest findings about the growing field of arts and health. Fleming will be joined by several researchers and practitioners from UCSD, exploring the impacts of music on child development and education: Dr. Victor Minces; Dr. John Iversen and Dr. Tim Brown from UCSD’s EARLI Lab; and Margaret Orem from San Diego Children’s Choir.



Renée Fleming

Renée Fleming, recently named a World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Arts and Health, is a leading advocate for the study of the powerful connections between the arts and health. As Artistic Advisor to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Renée has spearheaded the Sound Health collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and she partners with other leading organizations and initiatives to bring attention to research and practice at the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience. Renée is Co-Chair of the Johns Hopkins/Aspen Institute NeuroArts Blueprint and Founding Advisor for the Sound Health Network at UCSF, and her foundation has supported research projects including the NIH Music-Based Intervention Toolkit and the Renée Fleming NeuroArts Investigator Awards. Renée’s advocacy work has earned her Research! America’s Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion and the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award. Her new anthology, Music and Mind: Harnessing the Arts for Health and Wellness, will be published by Viking Penguin on April 9, 2024.

John Rehner Iversen, PhD

John Rehner Iversen, PhD is a cognitive neuroscientist studying music and the brain at McMaster University and UCSD. Iversen co-directs several studies of the impact of music training on development in childhood and adolescence. These include the National Endowment for the Arts supported EARLI project to study the impact of singing on children (with the Vista Unified School District and the San Diego Children’s Choir), and SIMPHONY, which analyzes the effects of music experience on brain and cognitive development by leveraging the seminal NIH Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development Study. After undergraduate studies at Harvard, he received an MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge and a PhD in Speech and Hearing Science from MIT.

Dr. Tim Brown

Dr. Tim Brown is Associate Professor of Neurosciences at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and directs the Sentia Laboratory for Childhood Systems Neuroscience. He studies developmental changes in the anatomy and physiology of the human brain from infancy to adulthood and how these relate to psychological functioning. His research has focused on the cerebral functional organization of developing language, memory, and cognitive control functions using many brain imaging and recording techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion imaging, electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERP), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and autonomic nervous system measurements. He is also a clinically trained pediatric neuropsychologist. Most recently, in collaboration with educators and arts experts, Dr. Brown has been exploring relationships among developing musical abilities, academic achievement, empathy, and other areas of cognitive and socioemotional functioning in early childhood.

Margaret Orem

Margaret Orem is an esteemed choral director and music educator with a career spanning over four decades. From nurturing the youngest voices to mentoring teachers, she has dedicated her life to enriching music education. Recognized for her remarkable contributions, Orem has received numerous awards for her outstanding work in the field. Since 2004, she has been a teacher/conductor with the San Diego Children’s Choir (SDCC), where she continues to inspire young singers and foster a love for music. Through SDCC’s collaborative work with UCSD, she serves as the arts educator behind the child singing intervention in the NEA-funded EARLI project.

Dr. Victor Minces

Dr. Victor Minces studied fine arts physics at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and obtained his Ph.D. in Computational Neurobiology at the University of California, San Diego. His interests are very diverse, including the arts, the neurobiology of perception, and the physics of the senses. He is the founder of, a program bringing the science of music to children throughout the country, promoting a deeper appreciation of sound and an increased engagement in STEM. His work is funded by the National Science Foundation.