TED Talks Every Musician Should Watch (Part 1)

When we are learning music online, usually we get bogged down with the same kinds of advice from almost every tutor. Sometimes, we get stuck in a rut and can’t figure out what to learn or where to go next and there is a dearth of motivation to further better your craft.

To break out of this monotone, there is a source of knowledge that keeps sharing profound content every day: TED Talks. TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) Talks are one of the easiest ways to find inspiration from the brilliant minds in the world. The aspiration is to disseminate ideas, new ways of thinking and creativity in 18 minutes or less.

Personally, for me, TED Talks have been a huge source of learning for me. With an intention to share the same, I have created a list of 21 TED Talks to inspire the musician within you. I will be sharing the talks in sets of 7 each week.

Here is the first installment of the series. Pick one talk a day, watch and find inspiration from the finest storytellers themselves.

A Musical Genius: Usman Riaz

Usman Riaz is an artist, a composer, and a multi-instrumentalist. Started learning guitar at the age of 16 with the help of YouTube and taught himself how to play percussive guitar. He also learned body percussion, mandolin, and harmonica with the help of internet. Fusing all his interests, he wrote orchestras, created paintings that would depict the orchestra, created a film.

“We’ve so much information and knowledge available to us at our fingertips, just imagine what we can do if we decide to use it.”

Usman Riaz and Preston Reed: A young guitarist meets his hero

Usman Riaz started teaching himself Jimmy Page’s solos from YouTube. As he progressed, he started learning the works of Kaki King and Preston Reed. In this TED Talk session, Usmaz Riaz gets to meet his idol, Preston Reed followed by a jaw-dropping jamming session.

My Life As A One-Man Band: Tommy Emmanuel

Tommy Emmanuel is a guitar virtuoso who is known for his signature intricate fingerstyle, percussive guitar playing. Captivated by Chet Atkin’s playing style, Tommy Emmanuel started ingraining Travis picking style in his playing i.e. playing the rhythm, bass, melody, and drums on the guitar simultaneously. He uses techniques like percussion, cascading harmonics, fast phrases and licks to make the arrangements interesting.

“Life is not a rehearsal, so you better get on with it.”

How playing an instrument benefits your brain: Anita Collins

When musicians pick-up their instruments, there are fireworks in their brains. Neuro-scientists have monitored our brains when listening to music with fMRI, PET and found out that listening to music engages the brain in some pretty interesting ways, but playing music is brain’s equivalent of a full body workout. Playing music involves almost all areas of the brain primarily auditory, visual and motor.  These enhanced skills can be implemented in other areas of life.

How Music Can Heal Our Brain and Heart: Kathleen M. Howland

Human responsiveness to music begins in its fetal stage. If a child is born tone deaf, it might hurt the child’s reading abilities. Music triggers relaxation response which is used before surgeries to reduce anesthesia. Kathleen M. Howland (Music therapist, speech and language pathologist, and educator) in this talk, explains how music therapy can help heal people’s physical maladies and motivate them to perform physically better.

Music and the Brain: Jessica Grahn

Several studies have been done to measure the effectiveness of music on human brains. Jessica Grahn, a Cognitive Neuroscientist, talks about the human mind, brain and it can be altered through music. Music doesn’t have special cognitive enhancement functions, however by changing our mood and arousal level, music can enhance our performance. Although music might not make us Einstein, it has a profound effect on our minds and bodies.

Making it in the digital world – True Innovation: Keshav Dhar

In this talk, Keshav Dhar (Guitarist, Skyharbor and Music Producer) tells the story of Misha Mansoor aka Bulb (Founder and Guitarist, Periphery), how he disrupted the music industry by breaking the traditional rules and embracing the Digital paradigm. He also tells how he got inspired by Misha Mansoor to write and produce music which eventually turned into a full-fledged band Skyharbor.

If you be yourself, the world will adjust to you. It will also open doors for other people to do things that no one would have ever imagined and make the world a better place.

To check out our other installments in this series, follow the links below to view them:

TED Talks Every Musician Should Watch (Part 2)
TED Talks Every Musician Should Watch (Part 3)

Hope these videos will inspire you to learn your craft in a better way and get you out of the rut. Did we miss anything? If so, please let us know by sharing it in the comments section. Until next time! Cheers!

Photo Credits:


Supreme Overlord at Guitar Gabble. Digital Marketer by day. I keep chugging on E5 chord in free time. I also crack bad jokes. Website:

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