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  • Creativity, Music and Language – English Conversation Classes with TED

    Two things I have always been fascinated with are music and language. I’ve been writing in some form or another since I was young, studied English at university, and worked as a journalist before teaching. I have also played guitar for about 15 years now, and particularly enjoy improvising music on the guitar with other musicians.

    In this TED video, Charles Limb, a brain surgeon and musician, talks about scientifically looking at creative genius, by looking at the brains of improvising musicians with scanners, while they are creating.

    It’s a fascinating video, bringing up questions about the relationship between music and language, among other things. It will certainly be a fun and interesting English class! This video can be watched with Spanish, Portuguese and Korean subtitles.

    Why you should be interested in Charles Limb (from TED.com):

    Charles Limb has two titles on his official website: Associate Professor, Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, and Faculty, Peabody Conservatory of Music. He combines his two passions to study the way the brain creates and perceives music. He’s a hearing specialist and surgeon at Johns Hopkins who performs cochlear implantations on patients who have lost their hearing. And he plays sax, piano and bass.

    In search of a better understanding of how the mind perceives complex auditory stimuli such as music, he’s been working with Allen Braun to look at the brains of improvising musicians and study what parts of the brain are involved in the kind of deep creativity that happens when a musician is really in the groove.

    Read more from Dr. Limb on the TED Blog >>

    “If you think about it from a kind of abstract philosophical level, it’s unusual that acoustic vibrations in the air can make you feel deep emotion, something that can affect your life.”

    Charles Limb in Urbanite Baltimore magazine

    Watch the video below, and then see if you can answer the questions afterward:

    1. What is Charles’ joke about creativity and surgery?
    2. What makes Keith Jarrett’s concerts unusual?
    3. What does “off the top of his head” mean?
    4. Use five adjectives to describe Keith Jarrett’s music.
    5. What question did Charles ask himself about the music?
    6. What is the difference between magic and magical?
    7. How does the FMRI scanner measure brain activity?
    8. What happens in the brain when someone is improvising music?
    9. What was the hardest thing for jazz musician Mike Pope about playing music inside the scanner?
    10. What was the second experiment with the jazz musicians?
    11. What did the second jazz experiment show?
    12. What does Charles compare music to?
    13. Use 5 adjectives to describe Charles’ rapping.
    14. Will he ever rap again?
    15. What happens when rappers improvise?
    16. What question does Charles hope to answer some day?

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