1. Faculty

Indre Viskontas

Humanities and Sciences; Professional Development


  • Training the Musical Brain


  • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
  • MM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • BS, University of Toronto


  • Vocallective
  • Opera on Tap: San Francisco
  • Pasadena Opera


  • Dissertation Prize at UCLA
  • Grant Winner, Germanacos Foundation for work on Music and Empathy

What is your hometown?

Toronto, ON, Canada

What is your favorite recording?

“Beethoven: Late Quartets” by Quartetto Italiano.

What are you passionate about outside of music?


Who were your major teachers?

Jane Randolph.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.”

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“How can I improve my practice time?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

When I performed as an altar boy in Tosca at the Canadian Opera Company at age 11.

What was a turning point in your career?

When I realized how little science was being applied in musical training.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I’d likely be a physician.

What is your daily practice routine?

I set some learning goals, and organize them in terms of long and short term time periods, then figure out what I need to accomplish in the time I have. I start with some fundamentals, then I take a varied approach to practicing exercises and repertoire. I also direct my attention to different types of feedback, from sound, to feelings, to more objective measures like a metronome or a recording. Finally, I allow myself some time to just enjoy singing for fun whenever I practice.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Mozart, Beethoven, and U2.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

Venice, 1853.

What are your most important collaborations?

Daniel Felsenfeld (NYC-based composer), Dana Sadava (Pasadena Opera), and Deborah Aschheim (visual artist).

Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?

Lara Mitofsky-Neuss, Jessie Neilson, and Ryder Fitzpatrick.

What are some selections from your academic publications?

The creation of art in the setting of dementia, In Art, Aesthetics, and the Brain, 2015
Tracking the eyes to study the brain, American Scientist, 2015
Art and dementia: how degeneration of some brain regions can lead to new creative impulses. In Neuroscience of creativity, 2013

What is your unrealized project?

A nonfiction book on music and the brain.