Review of Guitar Zero by Gary Marcus:
Guitar Zero gives an interesting perspective on that age-old question. What is happening in your brain as you learn the guitar (or any other instrument/activity)?
Marcus, a psychology professor, goes into the nitty-gritty of our brains. He manages to make it interesting, without being overwhelming. I appreciate that, as I enjoy knowing some of these inner workings, but I’m not trying to get a degree in cognitive psychology.
Have you heard these sayings: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” or “You have to be born with talent to be any good?” That type of thinking is annoying huh? Well, the author does a fine job of dispelling those ideas.
Even if you don’t put stock in those sayings, its good to look into the brain to see how amazing it is. You can rewire your brain to do any task, given enough time and effort.
I recommend this book if you like the science of how we humans learn. There are plenty of great points I got, and its a quick read. It has many pages of references, so you could dig deeper if it really interests you.
When considering the similarities between music and language, Marcus makes this excellent point on page 62:
“Music is like language, but it isn’t language; it’s just one more wondrous skill that a suitably motivated human brain can acquire.”