Music and Brain Health
  1. Partnership with UCSF

Music, Creativity, And Brain Science

Ann Browning speaks at Other Side of the Brain

Exploring the intersection of music, creativity, and brain science

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), Global Brain Health Initiative (GBHI) and the University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center (UCSF MAC) joined forces in 2019 to explore the intersection of music, creativity, and brain science. Through this innovative collaboration, we work together to produce an annual series of public-facing educational programming. The programs highlight novel scientific research and core principles of music and music theory, with presenters from both institutions and exemplary musical performances. Ultimately, the programs raise awareness of innovations in brain health and music to a broad audience.

Jazz Equity Brain Health

Jazz, Equity & Brain Health
6/15/2021 - 1:00PM PT

Join SFCM, UCSF MAC and GBHI, in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, in an exchange on jazz, equity and brain health.

This event will explore othering and belonging through the lens of jazz music and neuroscience; building community through jazz and brain health equity; and the power of empathy, listening, and inclusion in jazz and dementia work. Presenters will consider the ideas of resilience, empathy, improvisation, equity, inclusion, belonging—as well as the social and genetic determinants of brain health—and how they relate to jazz, a musical genre that welcomes and celebrates individual diversity and freedom.

This is the fourth event in a series produced by SFCM, UCSF MAC and GBHI. It will take place during Addressing Health Disparities, a virtual conference hosted by the Alzheimer's Association.


Amelie Anna headshot

Amelie Anna
Percussionist, Vocalist | SFCM

Maria Carillo headshot

Maria Carillo
Chief Science Officer | Alzheimer's Association

Jennie Gubner headshot

Jennie Gubner
Ethnomusicologist | University of Arizona;
Atlantic Fellow

Jason Hainsworth

Jason Hainsworth
Executive Director Roots, Jazz, and American Music | SFCM;
Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | SFCM;
Jazz Saxophone

Kai Kennedy headshot

Kai Kennedy
Physical Therapist | UCSF;
GBHI Faculty;
Atlantic Fellow

Josh Kornbluth headshot

Josh Kornbluth
Performer, Writer, Film- & Video-Maker;
Atlantic Fellow

Serggio Lanata headshot

Serggio Lanata
Neurologist | UCSF;
GBHI Faculty

Bruce Miller Headshot

Bruce Miller
Co-Director | Global Brain Health Institute;
Director | UCSF Memory and Aging Center

Scott Pingel headshot

Scott Pingel
Principal Bass | San Francisco Symphony;
SFCM Faculty

David Stull Headshot

David Stull
President | SFCM

Victor Valcour headshot

Victor Valcour
Executive Director | GBHI;
Geriatrician | UCSF Memory and Aging Center

Jennifer Yokoyama headshot

Jennifer Yokoyama
Neurogeneticist | UCSF;
GBHI Faculty


History of Partnership

June 2019:

The collaboration with SFCM was launched with “Unravelling Bolero: A Discussion Around the Brain Science of Creativity” at SFCM's Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall. Maestro Joseph Young, music director of the Berkeley Symphony, led a full orchestra in Maurice Ravel’s Boléro.

February 2020:

This was followed by “The Other Side of the Brain: Exploring Emotion and Music in Dyslexia”. Sir Franc D’Ambrosio, the longest-running phantom in Phantom of the Opera and recently knighted by the government of Italy, serenaded the audience after an in-depth interview about his music career and having dyslexia.

The musical highlights included a classical septet of students and faculty from SFCM and an original composition (Dies Irae) by an SFCM student (Anthony Carson) for voice and piano at SFCM's Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall. Sir Franc D’Ambrosio, the longest-running phantom in Phantom of the Opera also knighted by the government of Italy, then serenaded the audience following an in-depth interview about his music career and having dyslexia.

November 2020:

The Last Dance: Music, Improvisation & the Resilient Brain” was virtual during COVID-19. It was designed and led by students from SFCM, UCSF, and GBHI together with an L.A.-based pop singer, Kimberly Cole, whose father had frontotemporal dementia. Her original song was broken down through three different styles of music – Baroque, jazz, and a modern flourish paired with dance.

Programs continue to explore topics such as resilience, the social determinants of brain health, dementia awareness, and more and the interplay of music in these areas. Additional areas of collaboration are underway.