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THE SWINGING BRAIN. When the grey cells swing

Music Medicine and Music Business from Jam Music Lab Private University at the Jazz Academy Hamburg / Elbphilharmonie.

The Elbphilharmonie Jazz Academy  brings together highly talented jazz students from around the world with some of the best international jazz musicians every summer. Over the course of a week in August, workshops and masterclasses are conducted, culminating in a final concert held in the main hall of the Elb Philharmonie.

Among the lecturers this year were Anat Cohen (clarinet, artistic director), Donny McCaslin (saxophone), Matt Wilson (drums), Sullivan Fortner (keys), Martin Wind (bass), and Clarice Assad (vocals). Jam Music Lab Private University was represented by Oliver Graber and Jeffrey Levenson.

Oliver Graber, who heads the Institute for Music Medicine at JAM MUSIC LAB, gave a lecture on the latest research developments in the context of neurology and musical activity. Questions surrounding fine motor skills, network activation, and the fascinating phenomenon of neuroplasticity were discussed: To what extent does what we practically do and the cognitive and emotional input we provide to the brain influence its physiological structure? Can we intentionally optimize the brain through making music? How does improvisation, a key element of jazz, impact our cognitive abilities? (

Jeffrey Levenson addressed questions about the career planning of jazz musicians in his lecture "THE BUSINESS OF JAZZ: CONNECTING THE DOTS." Music professionals, especially those in freelance professions, which is common among jazz musicians, must increasingly deal with the business aspects of their industry. Jeff Levenson, a Grammy-winning producer, condensed his wealth of experience into an interactive workshop offered as part of this year's "Elbphilharmonie Jazz Academy." He provided a comprehensive overview and insights into the structures of the jazz ecosystem. (

Authored on August 18th, 2023