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.
About Gary Marcus
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.
“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
“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
“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
“Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning” by Gary Marcus
The Washington Post Book Review – March 16, 2012 (Excerpt)
As a teenager, Gary Marcus wanted to be a scientist. Two decades later, as a professor of cognitive psychology at New York University, he wanted to learn to play the guitar. And, more important, he wanted to understand how he was learning it.
In “Guitar Zero,” Marcus uses his musical midlife crisis to frame a discussion of the science of adult learning and music’s effect on the human brain. For the past couple of decades, developmental psychologists have believed that complex skills, such as playing an instrument, are best acquired during brief windows of time, usually in early childhood, when the brain is more malleable.
or Marcus, now 42, this fertile musical moment had long since passed, and with it, his rock-and-roll dreams. But “Guitar Hero” — a video game in which players hold a plastic guitar and tap buttons in time to classic rock anthems — convinced him otherwise. He struggled at first but eventually got the knack. And so, with the aid of a few instruction books, some private lessons, a handful of consultants from the six-string Mount Olympus (Pat Metheney, Smokey Hormel) and a trip to rock camp, Marcus took on an actual instrument. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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