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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (400 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gary Marcus Narrator: Gary Marcu Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Just about every human being knows how to listen to music, but what does it take to make music? Is musicality something we are born with? Or a skill that anyone can develop at any time? If you don’t start piano at the age of six, is there any hope? Is skill learning best left to children or can anyone reinvent him- or herself at any time?

On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Gary Marcus, an internationally renowned scientist with no discernible musical talent, becomes his own guinea pig to look at how human beings become musical—and how anyone of any age can master something new. Guitar Zero traces his journey, what he learned, and how you can learn, too. In addition to being a groundbreaking look at the origins and allure of music, Marcus’ journey is also an empowering tale of the mind’s plasticity.

In a quest that takes him from Suzuki classes to guitar gods, Marcus investigates the most effective ways to train your brain and body to learn to play an instrument. How can you make your practice more deliberate and effective? How can you find the best music teacher for you or your child? Does talent really exist? Or is hard work all you need?

Guitar Zero stands the science of music on its head, debunking the popular theory of an innate musical instinct and many other commonly held fallacies. At the same time, it raises new questions about the science of human pleasure and 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 those who have ever set out to learn a musical instrument—or wishes that they could—Guitar Zero is an inspiring and fascinating look at music, learning, and the pursuit of a well-lived life.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Luiz Felipe | 2/16/2014

    " Interesting book, though not quite what I wanted to read. Gary Marcus is a PhD in cognitive psychology who decides to pick up the guitar (and to learn music) later in life. The part of learning music and learning to play an instrument late in life is what drew me to this, since it's pretty much my own story. Marcus writes precious little about his personal journey and much more about the scholarly, cognitive aspects of the endeavour, which were interesting to read about. I got to understand better how humans are (or rather, how they are not) wired with a music instinct, how our brains evolve as we are trying to learn an instrument, how one can be an expert musician without knowing how to read music, and many other interesting points on cognition. Although all this material made for a very interesting intellectual read, I fear that the lasting lessons for my journey as a musician wannabe can be summarized in few words. In short, it's an interesting work in making psychology more accessible to the masses, but not terribly helpful to a guitar student. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Erin Almond | 2/15/2014

    " Warning: if you ever wanted to play an instrument, or if you played one as a kid and wonder if you could do it again, this book will make you want to ditch everything else and devote your life to music. Or at least have the happy fantasy of embarking on a musical journey as unexpectedly fulfilling as the author's. Gary Marcus is a pretty well known cognitive psychologist, a dude at the top of his field, who decides at the age of 38 to try to learn to play the guitar. He approaches his subject both like a scientist -- there's plenty of research in here about how the brain responds to music, and how our bodies actually change through learning an instrument -- and like an unabashedly gleeful kid. Along the way he interviews musicians like Pat Metheny and Tom Morello, sits in on a variety of music lessons, from Suzuki to rock camp, and writes his first song. A fun read that satisfies the itch for story with the desire for intellectual inquiry, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning to play (or in helping someone else learn to play) any instrument, but especially the guitar. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Alex Linschoten | 2/5/2014

    " Ok. Some interesting research on pedagogy presented, but ultimately this was a lightweight book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Mark All | 1/26/2014

    " This was in informative book, but did not fulfill the implied promise of the subtitle. I'd hoped to find cognitive strategies to apply to my lifelong study of the guitar, but not much of use in that area, just background info. As an experienced musician, I found 5 or 6 valuable insights, but nothing Earth-shattering. For example, he spends a page providing an alternative insight to Gladwell's Outliers, indicating that talent does exist. To be fair, much of the information in the book I've read elsewhere, such as in Outliers, and the book would likely be more valuable for beginner musicians. "

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