Wings Are Just a Detail – Lex Gillette at TEDxSanDiego 2016

With your eyes closed, imagine your highest potential. What does that look like? But more importantly, how do you get there?

“Sometimes in life, we’re afraid to take that shot in the dark,” says Lex Gillette.

For Gillette, dark has a different meaning than most. As a young boy he began losing his eyesight at the age of eight, which he eventually lost completely.

Despite this lack of sight, Gillette imagines himself “running, jumping, flying.” He’s holding an American flag on a medal stand where he’s winning gold, silver and bronze medals. He imagines himself “flying as far as (his) mind would carry (him).”

And that’s just what he has done. Gillette is now a four-time Paralympian and medalist who has four silver medals for the long jump, and is the only totally blind athlete to soar more than 22 feet in the long jump.

Gillette regaled the audience with stories of his triumphs at both the Paralympics and World Championships, which he said were a direct result of taking shots in the dark.

“Even in the blackest of blackest nights … never be afraid to take a shot in the dark.”

Lex Gillette Website

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Does Music Change a Child’s Brain? – John Iversen at TEDxSanDiego 2015

How does a person’s individuality, their likes and dislikes, skills and talents, depend on their particular brain growth? Neuroscientist John Iversen envisions a future where a person’s education is based on their specific brain development to help each person meet their highest individual potential.

Iversen imagines that when children go to the doctor and receive their height and weight measurements, their growth chart will also include brain growth measurements. Neurological mapping technologies can already show us measurements of the average growth in certain areas of the brain. So children will see how certain areas of their brain development compares to their age’s average, and which areas need more stimulation.

So what does music have to do with measuring brain development or influencing brain development? Neurological researchers often look for connections between behavioral measures and brain measures, but a less popular area of neurological studies is music cognition research.

We know that music evokes memories and has many positive academic and social benefits. Through neurological mapping technology we know that the brain is touched, activated and deactivated, by music, and this technology can show us exactly which areas of the brain are stimulated by music. Iversen wants to use music as a tool to help understand and influence the brain.

As a researcher for the SYMPHONY Study at UCSD, Iversen currently conducts a study in schools to examine correlations between music students and improved rhythm perception, rhythm perception and improved language tests, and finally beat perception tests and larger areas of the brain’s cortex. Iversen wonders whether music enlarges certain important areas of the brain and whether music can target the development of certain areas of the brain. Based on the suggestions of his profound research, Iversen makes a progressive claim about who can benefit the most from musical training.

John Iversen Website


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Music for All is a Group Activity – Dalouge Smith at TEDxSanDiego 2015

Early in life, Dalouge Smith discovered the immeasurable value of music arts and adopted the dream of becoming a musician. He realized that playing music in groups can offer children a voice, a sense of self-esteem, and opportunities for collaborative creativity and learning.

However, finding a setting to play music in a group posed a challenge for Dalouge when he moved to California as a child. His local schools did not offer music education, and practicing instruments solo proved a completely different experience from playing in a group. Dalouge realized that if children don’t receive music or arts education in the classroom, they likely will never learn the benefits of collaborative performing arts.

Dalouge joined the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory as president and CEO in 2005, determined to bring his dream of providing music education and the opportunity to play music in groups to everyone.

In his talk Dalouge describes the social benefits, academic benefits, and even physical benefits that the SDYS aims to implement through their community music program. The SDYS began their programs in elementary schools with particular challenges, and assumed that the school’s administrators would require improved test scores as evidence of the program’s benefits before expanding the scope of the music programs.

However, the transformations that took place in those initial schools as a result of these music programs had such profound effects on the students, and the entire community, that Dalouge’s dream quickly spread. Dalouge Smith and the San Diego Youth Symphony hope to make those schools a model for schools everywhere, and make music and arts education available to all children.

San Diego Youth Symphony Website

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San Diego Youth Symphony on YouTube

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