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Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning Hardcover – January 19, 2012
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“Guitar Zero is a refreshing alternation between the nitty-gritty details of learning rock-guitar licks and Mr. Marcus's survey of the relevant scientific literature on learning and the brain. For those who look forward, in 'retirement,' to honoring the lifelong yearnings they have neglected, Guitar Zero is good news.”
—Wall Street Journal
“[Guitar Zero] looks far more deeply into the ways our brains rewire themselves and find ways to compensate for certain gaps or deficits in our abilities. In the process of demonstrating these, Marcus sounds an encouraging note (pun intended) for older readers who have always wanted to do something but have never had time.”
— Los Angeles Times
"This enjoyable blend of music appreciation, science and personal exploration commands a new respect for how the brain and body responds to the promise, and shock, of the new."
"Jimi Hendrix meets Oliver Sacks in this great new science book."
—Very Short List
"A delightfully inspiring, charming, and detailed musical journey that explodes myths of human limitation, while revealing that the fountain of youth very well may be made of wood and played on six strings."
—Richard Barone, musician, author of Frontman — Richard Barone, musician, author of Frontman
"Gary Marcus, one of the deepest thinkers in cognitive science, has given us an entertaining and enlightening memoir, filled with insight about music, learning, and the human mind."
—Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature
"Captivating and filled with insight, GUITAR ZERO is a look at the challenge of personal reinvention by Gary Marcus, one of our leading psychologists. Whether you are a music lover or not, if you care about reaching your own potential, you should read this book."
—Dr. Drew Pinsky, host, Dr. Drew, Lifechangers, and Loveline — Dr. Drew Pinsky, host, Dr. Drew, Lifechangers, and Loveline
"Marcus is one of the smartest psychologists around, a deep thinker and an eloquent writer, and the story he tells is informed by the best science of perception and learning and evolution, talent and effort, genius and frustration and success. If you have ever dreamed of becoming a musician, you simply must read GUITAR ZERO."
—Paul Bloom, author of How Pleasure Works — Paul Bloom, author of How Pleasure Works
"I enjoyed GUITAR ZERO immensely. Marcus has not only intensified the process itself but simplified the definition of one's dedication to it. His elaborate illustration will certainly cause many of us to better appreciate the gifts we've been blessed with."
—Pat Martino, four-time Grammy nominee — Pat Martino, four-time Grammy nominee
About the Author
Gary Marcus studies evolution, language, and cognitive development at New York University, where he is a professor of psychology and the director of the NYU Center for Child Language. The editor of the Norton Psychology Reader and author of three books about the origins and development of mind and brain, Marcus has written articles for The New York Times, Wired, Discover, and The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared on radio and television programs around the globe.
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One area Marcus delves into is an area that I never thought about; the part of our brain that we use when playing music, and the fact that there really is no "musical" part of the brain. It's not something we need to know to be a good guitar player, but it's interesting.
Marcus does well on both sides. On the science side, he spends a chapter each on such topics as: where the idea of the developmental window comes from, the relationship between music and language, music theory, the relative importance of practice versus talent, cross-cultural theory and history of music, and the whole question of what makes good music anyway (that chapter is titled "The worst song in the world"). On the practical side, he studies with teachers, he learns he has congenital arrhythmia (probably part of why he couldn't learn music as a kid), he learns how to listen and how to play, he goes to band camp, and he interviews many many professional musicians and learns from them. He gets pretty good, though he'll never be a rock star; certainly he busts the myth that you can't learn guitar as an adult.
Marcus writes in a conversational tone that is easy to read, with a lot of information at his fingertips that doesn't feel hauled up by the armload. He covers many different topics, and he does so at just about the perfect level: I learn something new and interesting on each subject but not *everything*, there's always something more I'll want to get back to sometime later. I learn how playing guitar really is totally different from playing the piano (which I had done in my time). Includes glossary, notes, bibliography, and index -- again, never at too heavy a level for the typical lay reader.
If I have to find one fault with the book, and it's a pretty minor one, it's that the last few chapters become just too much a celebration of Marcus' love of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, and most importantly, JIMI HENDRIX!!! Just because Hendrix's style wasn't to my individual taste I can still acknowledge the man's great talent; still, you could calm down just a little, dude.
1. How people learn (especially adults)
2. What the current research is in brain science and music
3. Addressing meaningful questions about making music and playing guitar
you will not be disappointed with this book.
I started with the audiobook and purchased this, so I could highlight and check the referenced sources. I think that anyone who is interested in a deeper understanding of how all of the elements come together to influence one's ability to play and make music will absolutely enjoy this book. Of course, if you're just interested in tips/tricks or a mechanical treatment, you'll be disappointed. The author does a good job of discussing his journey AND how it maps on to a general view of learning. With just a little consideration, I was able to map what he was discussing into how that applied to my life/playing. Highly recommended.