Monday, December 26, 2016

Guitar Zero: The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age

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I don't know if I mentioned recently that I started teaching myself to play guitar and ukulele. I am hardly musical and have never played a stringed instrument before. However, that didn't stop me from borrowing my dad-in-law's guitar, picking up a few books on the subject, and pretending like I could be a guitar hero. That's actually where this book came in. Since I was at the library anyway, I browsed through everything with the word "guitar" in it, and this sounded like something that might help a complete novice get started.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. The book isn't written to help the complete novice learn how to play the guitar. It's actually partly anecdotal pep-talk by author Gary Marcus— on how after years of sucking at all things musical he finally learned how to play guitar— and partly about the neuroscience that allows any of us to be musical at all. Since I am a fan of neuroscience, I was not completely disappointed by the lack of instruction in this book. It runs long for a pep-talk, and the gist of the brain science is this: There is no music-specific region of the brain, and practice makes perfect. That's pretty much it. I'd love to give more explicit details, but unfortunately it's been several months since I read it and I've already returned the book to the library. ... Oops. On the bright side, I can't really spoil it for you!

So this may seem pretty obvious, but you may be interested in this book if you are passionate about music and brains. I know a couple of people like that, and I'm sure that more exist. Personally, I just wanted an instructional book.

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