Guitar Zero

Guitar Zero

The New Musician and the Science of Learning

Book - 2012
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On the eve of his 40th birthday, Gary Marcus, a renowned scientist with no discernible musical talent, learns to play the guitar and investigates how anyone--of any age --can become musical. Do you have to be born musical to become musical? Do you have to start at the age of six?

Using the tools of his day job as a cognitive psychologist, Gary Marcus becomes his own guinea pig as he takes up the guitar. In a powerful and incisive look at how both children and adults become musical, Guitar Zero traces Marcus's journey, what he learned, and how anyone else can learn, too. A groundbreaking peek into the origins of music in the human brain, this musical journey is also an empowering tale of the mind's enduring plasticity.

Marcus investigates the most effective ways to train body and brain to learn to play an instrument, in a quest that takes him from Suzuki classes to guitar gods. From deliberate and efficient practicing techniques to finding the right music teacher, Marcus translates his own experience--as well as reflections from world-renowned musicians--into practical advice for anyone hoping to become musical, or to learn a new skill.

Guitar Zero debunks the popular theory of an innate musical instinct while simultaneously challenging the idea that talent is only a myth. While standing the science of music on its head, Marcus brings new insight into humankind's most basic question: what counts as a life well lived? Does one have to become the next Jimi Hendrix to make a passionate pursuit worthwhile, or can the journey itself bring the brain lasting satisfaction?

For all those who have ever set out to play an instrument--or wish that they could--Guitar Zero is an inspiring and fascinating look at the pursuit of music, the mechanics of the mind, and the surprising rewards that come from following one's dreams.
Publisher: New York : Penguin, 2012.
ISBN: 9781594203176
Characteristics: 274 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


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Jun 20, 2017

Although the diction is rather informal, this book is filled with interesting information: how we learn generally, how we learn music (theory and instruments), the supposed differences in learning in the adult and child, many aspects of music, and about Prof. Marcus himself. It often hardly seems than one is learning anything by reading this book because of the informality of it. Most importantly, it should give one encouragement to learn music regardless of one's age.

ArapahoeSarah Jan 17, 2017

If you are considering learning how to play an instrument or you enjoy learning about the neuropsychological and sociological aspects of learning music, then this a great book to read. The book is inspiring, thought-provoking and upbeat. The author also writes in an accessible way, so that the reader can easily enjoy the different scientific and psychological research mentioned throughout the book.

May 04, 2014

This is not a how to guide as much as a why you should learn music guide. I think he should have named it Music Zero instead of Guitar Zero, because it offers something for all musicians whatever their instrument. It is especially interesting for older learners who are thinking about taking up or returning to an instrument. My only complaint is his definition of older is someone in their 40s. The New Horizons Music Program has many people successfully learning to play for the first time after they retire, a good 20 or so years after he started.
These are just minor quibbles in what was otherwise a very enjoyable read.

Aug 18, 2012

It was a quick read -- one weekend -- so it was worth it. But the premise was a bit scattered and offered some fairly standard neuroscience and basic psychology of learning. There wasn't much in the way of practical advice for developing a guitar practice plan, even though it seemed like it was going to address that.


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