From the Archives: Music in Education

When I came to work for the Dana Foundation in 2006, one of the innovative projects it was funding was called Arts Education, a series of pilot programs teaching artists how to be effective teachers in the classroom. Like most of our seed programs, the funding was short-term, to get the programs up and running and give enough time to prove their worth so other, bigger grant-givers (or government agencies) would fund them.

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The Arts and the Brain

Arts brain aaasFrom left, Alan Leshner of AAAS, Christopher Tyler, Nina Kraus, and Gary Vikan answer audience questions.

Our brains glow with activity when we view or do art. Now that scientists can scan our brains in the act of observation and creation, what can they tell us about what is going on in there?

Quite a bit, we discovered during an evening of talk, food, music, and interactive art at the AAAS office in Washington, D.C., last Thursday. Christopher Tyler of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco presented images ranging from cave drawings to Jackson Pollock that illustrated the idea of embodied cognition.“You can’t appreciate the work unless you feel it in your body,” he said.

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Live Chat Tomorrow: “Do the Arts Make Us Smarter?”

At 3pm EST, Thursday, March 14, Science magazine will be running a free live chat called Do the Arts Make Us Smarter?, exploring the effects of arts education on the brain. Moderated by Science staff writer Emily Underwood, guests will be Daniel Levitin, who runs the Lab for Music Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University, and Keith Oatley, a psychologist at the University of Toronto who studies the effect of fiction on our emotions.

What sorts of questions will they answer? How about: Does learning the violin actually increase IQ or translate to better grades? Can drawing help students learn geometry? What other benefits can the arts provide, both in and beyond the classroom?

For those of you can’t tune in live, it will be archived on that same web page.

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Chuck Close SfN Lecture

An artist who can’t recognize faces paints portraits. To
most, this would seem ridiculous, perhaps impossible. To Chuck Close, the
artist, it is natural.

“I don’t care about landscapes or apples. I care about
people. I have no memory of faces in three dimensions,” said Close, who has prosopagnosia,
or “face blindness.” At times, Close couldn’t recognize the woman he had lived
with for years. But once he paints someone, he can remember their face well
enough to identify them in real life. And that is why he does it.

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Can the Arts Contribute to Healthier Aging?

On
September 14th, The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) hosted the
workshop, “Research
Gaps and Opportunities for Exploring the Relationship of the Arts to Health and
Well-Being in Older Adults
,” in collaboration with the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and three divisions of the National Institutes of
Health (NIH). The D.C. workshop featured experts from the health and arts
fields, who discussed current arts and aging research, and the need for
increased exploration.

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