Inspiring and Fascinating TED Talks for music educators (part 1)

Dear TED…I love you

Like many of you I have been intrigued, fascinated, amused and enthralled by countless TED talks over the past few years.  They have opened my mind to new ideas, moved me to tears and inspired me to take action.

I was surprised to read that the first TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event took place in 1984, but it wasn’t until 1990 that the annual conference took off and not until 2006 that the first six TED talks were posted online. TEDx – a series of local, independently organised events – was launched in 2009 thus expanding the reach of live TED-style talks to audiences around the world.

How to choose?

TED talks have been on my mind lately.  Close friend, brilliant musician and educator Dr James Humberstone recently delivered his own TED talk at the TEDx event in Oxford.  I also started listening to the TED Radio Hour podcast which features a specific theme or idea common to a handful of TED talks and presents the information with interviews and snippets of the recorded TED talks.  Each time I hear an episode I want to follow up and listen to the complete TED talks that were mentioned!

Initially I thought that I’d create a quick list of my 6-10 favourite TED talks, however it was so difficult to decide on a shortlist so small that I’ve decided to make this the first of a multi-part series. Every time I watch one TED talk I end up down a little never-ending rabbit-hole of other related TED videos so with my “favourites” list growing daily, I suspect this might become a regular post every few months.

Would you like to download a copy of this?

Would you like a copy of this list, with all the links? You can find a download button at the bottom of the page.  The list will be sent straight to your email inbox.

The *first* 8 favourites

Here are the first 8 TED and TEDx talks I’d like to share (in no particular order):

1. Benjamin Zander: The Transformative Power of Classical Music

One of the first TED talks I ever watched and it’s one of those inspiring, bring-a-tear-to-the-eye talks.

2. Sugata Mitra: Build A School In The Cloud

When he left an internet-connected computer in a hole in a wall in the slums of India, Sugata Mitra made a simple discovery: that children can and will learn anywhere, without the need for guidance from a formal teacher.  “It just happens”.

3. Gever Tulley: Life Lessons Learnt From Tinkering

I love this talk about the life lessons kids can learn when left to their own devices to play, to tinker and to create.

4. Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

THE most popular TED talks of all time.  Sir Ken Robinson advocates for the need to create and support an education system that nurtures creativity instead of squandering the inherent talents of children.

5. Richard Gill: The Value of Music Education

Here in Australia, Richard Gill is considered a rock star in the music education world. He is a passionate advocate for music education in our schools, but his message is relevant no matter where you are.

6. James Humberstone: The Science of Dubstep

James shows us how the classic “wub wub” dubstep bass sound is created, explains that no matter how unusual or chromatic the source musical material, our brains will respond to a piece of music if repetition is present and advocates for the prominent inclusion of the arts in education.

7. Bobby McFerrin: Watch Me Play….The Audience

Bobby McFerrin proves the universal power of the pentatonic scale through this short performance.

8. Mark Ronson: How Sampling Transformed Music

Mark Ronson (of Uptown Funk fame) encourages us to understand and embrace the remix culture.

More to follow!

I’ve saved my other favourite TED Talk for future collections.  Stay tuned for further instalments 🙂


Download a copy of this

Would you like a copy of this list, with all the links? Click on the button below to download a copy.  It will be sent straight to your email inbox.

Download PDF handout