“Now that we know how the brain is involved in making music and in learning, it’s time to fly out that knowledge to develop effective practice strategy.”
Professor of Neuroscience to Musical Training
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Combining a passion for music with scientific curiosity, Dr. Indre Viskontas is affectionately known as Dr. Dre by her students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is pioneering the application of neuroscience to musical training, and at the University of San Francisco, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology. She received a BSc in psychology and French literature from the University of Toronto, an MM degree in vocal performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at UCLA.
Indre is a sought-after science communicator across all mediums. She co-hosted the 6-episode docuseries Miracle Detectives on the Oprah Winfrey Network and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, major radio stations across the US, including several appearances on the NPR program City Arts & Lectures and The Sunday Edition on the CBC in Canada. She is the co-creator and host of the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds, which boasts more than 4.5 million downloads. As a working singer, she is especially interested in the intersection between art and science, particularly when it involves music.
As a scientist, Dr. Viskontas has published more than 40 original papers and chapters related to the neural basis of memory and creativity, including several seminal articles in top scientific journals. Her scientific work has been featured in Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia, Nature: Science Careers and Discover Magazine. She has also written for MotherJones.com, American Scientist, Vitriol Magazine and other publications.
Defying traditional career boundaries, Dr. Viskontas spends much of her time performing as an opera singer, most recently covering the title role in Pasadena Opera’s production of Susannah and playing Musetta in Opera on Tap’s La Boheme in 2016. She often works with living composers and has created roles in three contemporary operas. A regular soloist, she is the founder and director of Vocallective, a consortium of singers and instrumentalists dedicated to the art of vocal chamber music as well as Opera on Tap: San Francisco, a chapter of the nation-wide organization whose mission is to create a place for opera in popular culture. Upcoming projects include a recording of a new arrangement of Copland songs for voice and string quartet and the premiere of the lead role in an opera by NYC-based composer Daniel Felsenfeld which is being written for her.