Jazz & The Brain
March 6, 2017
By SFJAZZ Education
Chances are, you know whether you’re “right-brained” or “left-brained;” whether you lean more toward the artistic and emotional, or the scientific and logical. But how much do you know about the amazing amalgam of both art and science in jazz improvisation?
On April 19, 2016, the SFJAZZ Center was filled with music educators, arts organizations, and community partners attending a special presentation by Dr. Charles Limb, Chief of Otology, Neurology, and Skull Base Surgery at UCSF. The multimedia presentation, entitled “Jazz & the Brain,” featured the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Combo as musical models of Dr. Limb’s research.
Limb and the High School All-Stars revisit “Jazz & the Brain" on March 7, 2017 at Nourse Theater, presented by City Arts & Lectures.
This groundbreaking research, in short, shows that our improvisatory brain is our most powerfully creative brain. While self-censorship is decreased during improvisation, self-expression is increased – a disassociation that scientists believe to be responsible for the way our brains come up with new ideas.
The All-Stars Combo demonstrated the ways in which our improvising brains are not only creative, but communicative as well as highly emotive. By improvising to material they had never heard before, having a trading fours “conversation,” and communicating ideas based upon images, the octet showcased the multitude of expressive and creative doors unlocked by their skill in the improv idiom.
The improvising brain is heightened, it is ingenuitive, and it is cooking on all burners. This research is just one of the reasons why music education, especially jazz, is so important in our schools. To learn more about the work SFJAZZ is doing to keep jazz in schools around the Bay Area, visit sfjazz.org/education/schoolprograms.