Music and Your Brain

Course Leader(s)
Day of Week: Thursday
Course Length: 10 weeks
Starting: 02/29/2024
Ending: 05/09/2024
Period of Day: Period 1 Zoom
Time: 9:30 - 11:00
Course Fee: $100

Course Description:

Why do we like music so much?  Our ability to perform it or to respond to it originates in the brain, which co-ordinates hearing, motor responses, emotion, memory, and much more to produce the thrill we experience.  What is going on in there when you listen to music?  What’s going on when you produce the music yourself?

Many parts of your brain respond when you hear music.   And even more parts get involved when you actively make the music.  How does the brain tell you to dance when you hear a good beat?   Rhythm evolved from our ability to walk on two feet.  Singing evolved alongside early language.  But how do you coordinate all the little muscles to make the sound that you want?    The brain again.  Why do we like mushy love songs?  Because our brains secrete oxytocin, the bonding hormone, when we hear them.  Why is it so much fun to sing and clap along with a bunch of total strangers at a rock concert?  Because your brain likes it!

Many researchers say that MUSIC is the single most important thing that humans ever invented. You’ll find out how your brain manages it in this course.  The class will be mostly lecture and watching YouTube videos, with as much class participation as possible.  Weekly preparation should be an hour to an hour and a half of readings and YouTube videos.  You do not need a music background to take this course—everything you need will be explained.

Books and Other Resources:

Levitin Daniel. This Is Your Brain On Music, Penguin Random House, 2006 (available in paperback)

Various internet articles and many YouTube videos, provided either by email or through a possible course website.

Course Leader Bio(s)

Sandy Bornstein

I was Cantorial Soloist and Choir Director at Temple Isaiah in Lexington for 25 years.  I was also a professional soprano appearing in oratorio and recital performances throughout New England, and have taught voice for 30 years at Harvard University, the Cambridge School of Adult Education, and in my home studio.  Here at LLAIC I taught a well-received course on the history and influence of textiles.  At BOLLI I have also taught courses on the history of Jewish music, the beginning of the American Revolution, and the invention of writing and its significance in human culture.