Opera on Tap Wins Grant from Renée Fleming Foundation for Playground Opera Educational Research

By Chris Ruel

Opera on Tap’s flagship education program, Playground Opera, received a grant from the Renée Fleming Foundation to study the effects of music on empathy development and social-emotional learning in children.

Dr. Indre Viskontas, a neuroscientist at the University of San Francisco, will partner with Opera on Tap to conduct research that tracks improvements in students’ emotional regulation and other cognitive and social skills. Viskontas, who is a member of the Opera on Tap Advisory Council, is an opera singer and director with a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience. Besides being on the faculty of USF, Viskontas is also a faculty member of San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

The study will comprise children and teachers using Playground Opera, a collaborative, project-based platform that engages students in active learning, and can be implemented with the help of a music educator or classroom teacher.

With Playground Opera, students interact in real time with teaching artists and upload their own work relative to each episode’s project focus. The students’ art and video content are then integrated into the cumulative opera video production.

Fleming’s Sound Health initiative, which she spearheads in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, focuses on research and practice at the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience. Other projects by the Renée Fleming Foundation include a partnership with the Foundation for the NIH to develop a toolkit for standardizing music & health clinical research for brain disorders of aging.