Renée Fleming’s New Book – Music and Mind – Available April 9 on Viking/Penguin Random House

8 Apr 2024

Renée Fleming curates a collection of essays from leading scientists, artists, creative arts therapists, educators, and healthcare providers about the powerful impacts of music and the arts on health and the human experience. Music and Mind: Harnessing the Arts for Health and Wellness is available from April 9 on Viking/Penguin Random House.

Ms Fleming writes:

“This book has been a passion project for me. In recent years, I have become an advocate for the powerful effects the arts have on our health and wellbeing. We are only beginning to comprehend the untapped potential of the arts for an astonishing range of conditions.

“Researchers are uncovering profound benefits for health and wellness across all stages of life. Recent advances in technology are revealing the ways music and other arts can leverage the brain’s plasticity for speech, mobility, and cognitive improvement for stroke, forms of dementia, acquired brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, pain, and a wide range of health challenges. In addition, this anthology highlights the benefits of music education on childhood development and shows the breadth of work from prominent artists and performing arts and medical institutions exploring this rapidly expanding field.

“Each of us will at some point benefit from the discoveries shared in Music and Mind. Let’s understand why and how this happens and learn to apply that knowledge.”


“If you ask a scientist why birds sing, the answer will deal in courtship and territory. But if you asked the bird, and if you could understand its reply, it would probably be something like, ‘Because I have to, and it feels so good.’” – Richard Powers, “The Parting Glass”

“I was trying to stretch and discovered I couldn’t move. I started to cry and went to John and said, ‘I can’t go on.’” – Rosanne Cash, “Rabbit Hole”

“The early morning Wabanaki ceremony welcoming the sun was more than an encounter in a beautiful setting; it was an act of culture, a renewal of tradition, an acknowledgment of humanity’s place in nature, and a message of hope.” – Yo-Yo Ma, “Nature, Culture, and Healing”

“Imagine a world in which music and the visual arts, dance and movement, theater and storytelling, architecture and design, and many other art modalities are as common in the clinical arsenal as drugs and surgery.” – Susan Magsamen and Ruth Katz, “Blueprint for Cultivating the Field of Neuroarts”

“What possible survival benefit could musical behaviors have had for human ancestors, such that natural (or sexual) selection made musicality part of our evolved psychology?” – Aniruddh D. Patel, “Musicality, Evolution, and Animal Responses to Music”

“Theater, like the medical profession, explores the mystery of life and of death. Americans do not want to face death.” – Anna Deavere Smith, “Healing Arts”

“Slowly, the part of my brain that was studying music was overtaken by the part of my heart that felt it. I was moved by a scene, and later an aria, and sometimes a single note.” – Ann Patchett, “How to Fall in Love with Opera”

“Things start to appear. There seemed to be a crossing with no sign… And then, walking toward me was an elderly dervish…The man asked me my name and asked if I was lost.” – Zakir Hussain, “Music and Mysticism”

“Modern architecture and medicine are bound together in an endless battle against illness.” – Liz Diller, “Porous Density”

“Playing in prisons, there’s often this false idea that the musicians are offering a priceless gift to the poor incarcerated communities and that the energy only flows one way. This is never, ever true.” – Rhiannon Giddens, “How Music Shows Us What It Means to Be Human”

“John volunteered to go first, an unusual act for him. He said that his painting was called the Heart of Darkness and that it represented his heart. He then explained…‘My heart doesn’t have arteries, it is completely disconnected. Like me.’.” – Juliet L. King and Anjan Chatterjee, “Art Therapy, Psychology, and Neuroscience: A Timely Convergence”


“This extraordinary volume is the most comprehensive compilation of the role of music in every aspect of life, from biological evolution to our own mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. The meaning of life is in the music of life.”
Deepak Chopra, M.D.

“Renée Fleming has the voice of an angel and the brain of a scholar. Her boundless curiosity has enabled her to assemble a myriad of experts to explore this exciting new field of science. Her work has given me a new appreciation of the wonders of music and the impact it has on our brains as well as our lives.” — Katie Couric

“At a time when the bonds of our common humanity are being stretched to the limits, at the same time as the intensifying stresses on our personal well-being, Renée’s book is a timely reminder that music is the meta language that connects all individuals and spans all cultures, religions, and races. Music has never been more important.” — Sting

“This lyrical book opens our hearts and minds to the vast potential of the creative arts—music, dance, and synchronous movements—to sooth, comfort and connect to each other, and thereby promote health and well-being. The authors, some of the most luminous musicians, dancers, physicians, and neuroscientists of our time, all are deeply engaging, sometimes even magical, writers. This book inspires us all to immerse ourselves in the vast potential of music and other creative arts to heal our wounds, sharpen our minds, enliven our bodies, and restore our broken connections.”
Bessel van der Kolk

“Renée’s deep commitment to the powerful intersection of art and wellness is an inspiration. These studies are a beacon leading us to the inevitable realization that art is essential to humanity. I highly recommend this book for musicians and non-musicians alike. In our current divisive world, art offers hope, comfort and healing.” — Marin Alsop

“Brava, Renée, for assembling this groundbreaking collection of writings on music and the brain, with all the latest fascinating connections and possibilities splendidly presented. This volume will be a touchstone not only for researchers and musicians, but also for plain old music-lovers and good-book-lovers like myself.” — Jamie Bernstein

“A must-read for anyone who questions the health benefits of music.”— Kirkus Reviews

“[A] stimulating anthology. . . Taken together, the essays reflect a ‘human-centric’ model of care that smoothly integrates traditional scientific research and intuitive notions of integrative health. The result is an expansive and thought-provoking look at the dynamic intersection between art and science.”— Publishers Weekly

“Art and science, both reliant on creativity, are powerful lenses through which to comprehend the world. This anthology edited by renowned singer Fleming celebrates the convergence of those two domains Whether readers’ tastes trend toward beautifully organized sound, comforting random background noise, or even earwrecking hard rock, chances are this vibrant tome will resonate.”— Booklist


Photo: Andrew Eccles/Decca