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OLLI at Vanderbilt Mission Statement:
OLLI at Vanderbilt helps adults over 50 rediscover the joy of learning and build community through diverse social interaction.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Vanderbilt University is an inclusive group that strives to organize and present to the greater Nashville community stimulating intellectual and cultural noncredit courses, programs, and trips for adults over 50 of all educational backgrounds.  OLLI focuses on the joy of learning.  Interesting topics are explored with thought-provoking and engaging instructors, who are primarily active or retired Vanderbilt faculty, as well as other community experts.  In a relaxed atmosphere, with no homework, tests, or grades, you have the opportunity to ask questions, contribute ideas, and interact with people who share similar interests.  OLLI participants exercise their minds while making new friends, not only in the classroom but through other educational activities, special events and community engagement. 

Summer 2019 Catalog   Printable Registration Form

Please call our office at 615-343-0700, or email us at with questions, or to join the mailing list!

ATTENTION! New registration system in place.  Returning members, you cannot use the same username/password that you've used before. You must register as a new user.   Click HERE for registration instructions.

List of Classes:

A Day of Mindfulness Practice

This day of mindfulness will provide instruction in mindfulness meditation with a focus on experiences common to people at all levels of this practice. Emphasis will be placed on providing a rich opportunity to not only learn about, but to really practice mindfulness meditation skills together. Time will also be reserved to answer questions about the practice as well as share conversations on your own. Some familiarity with basic concepts of mindfulness may help to get the most out of this experience, but a curious mind and a desire to spend a day creating a different way of engaging with life is all that is needed! Class fee will include a boxed lunch.

A History of Fisk University

The History of Fisk University Is The Unfolding Story of the Struggle to Reach the American Dream Through Education. The History of Fisk explores its role in the Post-Civil War South through the Civil Rights Movement until today and the schools recognition as one of America's truly great institutions of higher learning. Recommended reading: Joseph Richardson-A History of Fisk University 1866-1948.

Art and Power: The Visual Arts as Expression and Instrument of Power

Those who have held power throughout history have had created works of art designed to buttress or to proclaim their pre-eminent position for their contemporaries. Today’s museum-goers and tourists see many of these works—in museums or in situ—generally admiring them for their artistic quality but infrequently asking themselves or their guidebooks about the power dynamic that caused them to be created. Who commissioned the work? For what audience? For what purpose? What is the “message” being relayed? To what extent and by what means is the message relayed concretely or symbolically? Is it “art” or is it “propaganda”? Using a chronological and highly selective approach, these questions will be asked of a number of important works of painting, sculpture and architecture in the Western tradition from the time of the Egyptian pharaohs until the mid-20th century.

Exploring Digital Storytelling Through Scalar

In this workshop, participants will learn to use Scalar, a platform for creating online “books” that incorporate multimedia content and offer multiple narrative pathways for readers to explore.

Music Cities: A Study of Musical Sounds and Spaces

Cities are identified with their soundscapes. In light of these associations, locations of creativity, performance, and production have become sites of interest for a growing number of tourists interested in both the history and myths of music genres and the music industry. This course will explore the connection between urban land and soundscapes. Cities and their identifiable soundscapes, including Nashville, Memphis, Detroit, Austin, Seattle, Chicago, and New York, will be explored. Through class lectures and discussions, attendees will gain an understanding of American popular music and the close connection between musical sound and space.

Music for Seniors Harmonica Learning Lab

Charlie McCoy, renowned harmonica virtuoso and “Nashville Cat,” will kick off this 6-week series led by Teaching Artist and multi-talented instrumentalist and vocalist, Bronson Herrmuth. Participants will gain foundational understanding about the diatonic harmonica’s design as well as learn proper ways to clean and care for their instrument. They will learn and practice effective techniques for holding and playing the harmonica, including: the “train” exercise to develop lung capacity and use of the diaphragm; the “pucker” technique for playing single notes; how to create vibrato and “bend” notes; and more. While having fun learning simple, familiar songs and playing music together, participants also will be introduced to basic music therapy and harmonica tablature. Harmonicas will be provided for all participants.

Nutrition and Health: Issues and Insights

In this six-session course, participants will have the opportunity to explore and discuss topics relevant in the area of nutrition and health. Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Assistant Professor in Nutritional Sciences, Jamie Pope, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, will address a variety of timely subjects including key components and composition of healthy diets, the role of diet in disease prevention, dietary supplements, and dietary considerations for the aging adult. Professor Pope has taught introductory nutrition at Vanderbilt University for 20 years and is the author of the textbook “Nutrition for a Changing World” used in over 100 universities across the country. Participants will have access to several chapters aligned with topics addressed in the course.

OLLI Steel Drum Band - ADVANCED

If you have a long history of musical experience or have participated in the Beginning OLLI Steel Band for several sessions, this class is for you. A level up from the Beginning OLLI Steel Band, this class moves at a fast pace and focuses on learning the different styles of music that can be played on pan. Latin, jazz, calypso, reggae, rock, and even show tunes are all offered in this class. There is a strong emphasis on proper technique and learning the subtle nuances behind playing the steel pan. The class is highly music oriented and the participants will learn several songs each session, working towards a final recording that you can share with family and friends. Students will be placed according to their preference and the availability of the desired instrument. The Beginning OLLI Steel Band class is a required prerequisite unless instructor permission is granted through a short audition.

OLLI Steel Drum Band - BEGINNER

Take a weekly musical “Cruise to the Islands” by joining the OLLI Steel Drum Band. No musical experience is needed to join this very hands-on class. If you enjoy island music like Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Buffett, Bob Marley, calypso and reggae, this class is for you! The amazing history and construction of the steel drums will be presented through mini-lectures sprinkled throughout the classes. Listening and video examples of calypso music as well as discussions of Trinidadian culture, past and present, will give you a taste of the Caribbean and an understanding of how the steel band art form developed. The instruments are made up of melody, upper harmony, lower harmony, and bass steel drums (much like a choir). Students will be placed according to their desire to learn a particular instrument and their individual strengths.

The Original Fisk Jubilee Singers®, Their Tour and Their Music

This course is designed to teach about the reason(s) for the formation of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Who were members of the original ensemble? The course will help students learn about each individual member of the first ensemble. As part of the study, students will learn about the first tour, which started on October 6, 1871. It was during this first tour that the ensemble was named “Jubilee” Singers. Since the ensemble introduced the Negro spirituals to the world, the course will cover aspects of this genre of music, including form, melodic structure, text and musical elements that tie the Negro spiritual to West African Music.

The Principles of Tai Chi and Daily Movements

This four-week workshop will discuss the principles of Tai Chi and how they can increase our awareness of habitual movement patterns and guide the improvement of our daily activities.   Each session will consist of 30 minutes of presentation and 45 minutes of experiential learning of and questions on the Tai Chi principles as they relate to the quality of daily movements.

Tickling Your Taste Buds with Nashville’s Latino Cuisines

Nashville is home to a number of different ethnic groups and nationalities. According to recent statistics, 7%-10% of Nashville’s population identifies itself as Hispanic or Latino. Many of us may be familiar with and enjoy various local restaurants and food trucks that sell cuisine one primarily associates with Mexico. This is not surprising as Mexican immigrants make up the largest Hispanic population in the metropolitan area. In this course, we will be introduced to and explore the diverse Latino culinary communities of Nashville! We will learn about traditional foods and culture of Colombia, Perú, Honduras, Cuba and Brazil! What food traditions do Hispanic and Latino cuisines share and what makes each of them uniquely their own? In addition to learning about the country’s culinary history, students will view the preparation of select dishes and have their taste buds tickled by sampling those undiscovered Latino cuisines which can be found literally right in our own backyard! No passport needed! Just come with an appetite to learn about new and exciting gastronomic delights with a Spanish accent!

The Division of Government and Community Relations sponsors the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt and is
administered by Vanderbilt's Department of Community, Neighborhood, and Government Relations.