Sometimes we just need some inspiration. When I need a “quick fix,” I enjoy watching TEDx. For those who have never heard of TED, it is a non-profit organization that promotes ideas worth spreading. This is a list I complied featuring some of my favorite music related TEDx Talks.


Eric Whitacre: A Virtual Choir, 2,000 Voices Strong

In a moving and madly viral video last year, composer Eric Whitacre led a virtual choir of singers from around the world. He talks through the creative challenges of making music powered by YouTube, and unveils the first 2 minutes of his new work, “Sleep,” with a video choir of 2,052. The full piece premiered a few weeks later (yes, on YouTube!). After creating and conducting a worldwide virtual choir on YouTube, Eric Whitacre is now touring with an astonishing live choir.

Benjamin Zander: The Transformative Power of Classical Music

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. A leading interpreter of Mahler and Beethoven, Benjamin Zander is known for his charisma and unyielding energy — and for his brilliant pre-concert talks.

 David Byrnes: How Architecture Helped Music Evolve

As his career grew, David Byrne went from playing CBGB to Carnegie Hall. He asks: Does the venue make the music? From outdoor drumming to Wagnerian operas to arena rock, he explores how context has pushed musical innovation.

Evelyn Glennie: How To Truly Listen

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums. Percussionist and composer Dame Evelyn Glennie lost nearly all of her hearing by age 12. Rather than isolating her, it has given her a unique connection to her music.

Andrew Bird: A One-Man Orchestra of the Imagination

Musical innovator Andrew Bird winds together his trademark violin technique with xylophone, vocals and sophisticated electronic looping. Add in his uncanny ability to whistle anything, and he becomes a riveting one-man orchestra.

Sirena Huang: An 11-Year-old’s Magical Violin

Violinist Sirena Huang gives a technically brilliant and emotionally nuanced performance. In a charming interlude, the 11-year-old praises the timeless design of her instrument.

Robert Gupta: Between Music and Medicine

When Robert Gupta was caught between a career as a doctor and as a violinist, he realized his place was in the middle, with a bow in his hand and a sense of social justice in his heart. He tells a moving story of society’s marginalized and the power of music therapy, which can succeed where conventional medicine fails. Violinist Robert Gupta joined the LA Philharmonic at the age of 19 — and maintains a passionate parallel interest in neurobiology and mental health issues.

David Wish: We Are All Musicians

Dave Wish is the Founder and Executive Director of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that funds and runs one of the largest, free instrumental music programs in the U.S. public schools. Little Kids Rock is also a leading provider of free instruments and curriculum. Mr. Wish has initiated and managed the launch of campaigns to restore and revitalize music education for over 150,000 low-income children in eleven states.

Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking

Don’t make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.

Rob Reid: The $8 Billion iPod

Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists. Rob Reid is a humor author and the founder of the company that created the music subscription service Rhapsody.

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