Arts for Brain Fitness (55+)

Brain health is being reinvented. New studies show that we can stimulate our brains by learning through the arts. Participating in challenging art activities promotes mental well-being in many different ways.

To keep the mind sharp and improve thinking and memory, we will take a cross-training approach to exercising the brain. We’ll explore a new art form each week, including improv and theatre, music and singing, dance and movement, writing, and visual arts. We will discuss the arts’ role in our lives and the benefits the arts bring. By discovering and trying new art forms, we’ll learn valuable techniques to improve mental wellness and cognitive skills.

Note: Back by popular demand, from spring 2018. This course involves active participation.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Brain Fitness: What is the Connection With the Arts?

We’ll consider why brain fitness and the arts are important to our daily lives and in our communities. We will also take a closer look at how the arts are defined, and how they are good for your mental health, cognition and attention. There will be a very informal introduction “circle”, where we tell each other why we’re interested in brain fitness and what arts programs and interests we are involved in.

Week 2: Visual Arts

Visual Arts could be seen as the original, basic art form as they can be found in many of the other arts disciplines. We will take an overview of the visual arts and how different art forms stimulate the brain.  We will include drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and crafts. We will also look at some of the new forms of visual arts, such as colouring, and iPad brushstroke. There will be a participatory exercise for this art form.

Week 3: Performing Arts I: Voice; Music and Singing

In this art form, artists use their voices to convey artistic expression. We will look at musicians and singers in Performing Arts 1. Did you stop singing when someone told you “you can’t sing”? Well, now is the time to start again. Studies show music and singing help lead to improvement in concentration, memory, creativity and coping skills. There will be a participatory exercise for this art form.

Week 4: Performing Arts II: Movement; Acting, Theatre, Dance

Shake your booty, or not. Movement is so important to brain fitness, and learning something new gets the brain synapses firing while you benefit in so many other ways. We will look at how memorizing lines, improv, and a new dance step (that you can use when you do your morning walk) are all beneficial to the brain. There will be a participatory exercise for this art form.

Week 5: Literary Arts: The Written Word

We will look at reading and writing for brain fitness including, non fiction, poetry and prose, memoir and journaling, word games and puzzles. Language brain-fitness will stimulate your communication, hearing, speech and memory. There will be a participatory exercise for this art form.

Week 6: Discussion

We will discuss and possibly share an art/brain exercise you liked. We will also look at how you are going to use the arts in your life. There will also be a discussion on the resources that can support your arts brain fitness, in your community, online, in meet-up groups and on your own.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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