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Publisher's Summary

On the eve of his fortieth birthday, a professor of no discernible musical talent learns to play the guitar and investigates how anyone of any age might master a new skill.
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's 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.
©2012 Gary Marcus (P)2012 Penguin
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By KHarrang on 03-21-12

Enjoyably Informative

Would you listen to Guitar Zero again? Why?

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the intersection of neuroscience and music.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Guitar Zero?

The author does a good job of weaving in interesting summaries of the current state of the science of things like language acquisition and musical talent vs. practice.

What about Gary Marcus???s performance did you like?

The author is a good narrator, which is not always the case.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

This book delivers a number of ah-ha moments, such as debunking the myth of 10,000 hours.

Any additional comments?

This audio book not terribly long, and some will probably complain that it's not technical enough, but it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable tour through the science of musicality. The author is good humored, and tells entertaining stories about his visit to music camp (for kids because he is such a lousy guitarist). If you've ever wondered whether music is somehow innate in humans, this book does a good job of walking you through the answers from a neuroscientist.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Urban Ottosson on 02-20-12

Somewhat disappointing

The book was enjoyable but lacked in substance. I kept waiting for it to start and come to some concrete conclusions and pointers but it never did really.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By MARK on 12-15-12

So disappointing

As a musician and a student of brain mapping, neuro-plasticity and the like, I thought this book could be very interesting. It turned out to be an almighty effort to get to the end. I stuck at it diligently but can honestly say that my life has not been enriched by listening to it. The book basically alternates between two areas.

One: the author describes his efforts to learn the guitar. I am not sure who would find this interesting. As a musician I can remember those early days. I think one's learning experience is a very personal thing but trying make that into a great read/listen takes a great story and equally great skill. I'm not sure even listening to Keith Richards learn his first G chord would actually be that riveting.

Two: The science behind learning, practicing, listening etc. The author does mention a few other books along the way, e.g. 'the Talent Code' amongst others. Simply I would just say that those other books do the job of explaining the hows and whys of practice superbly. This book just doesn't do it.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jim on 07-25-13

Music and Education Theory - what's not to like?

My interest in this may be a little niche; I'm studying adult learning and I'm an enthusiastic if untalented guitar player. So this book ticks a couple of boxes for me and the fact that the author reads it himself also adds something in terms of conveying a sense of immediacy in how the tale is told. It's possible that for other readers this may be too much of a minority interest but the central messages about how, as adults, we can still master skills that might be considered challenging once we're past childhood are clearly and helpfully spelled out. Marcus also strikes a nice balance between the theory; which he knows well from his day job as an academic; and the practice of sticking his neck out and trying to learn an instrument. The section where he has to audition in front of a bunch of 11 year olds to see if they'll let him into their band at "band camp" is a great example of the latter quality.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Justin Verrall on 08-17-17

not a guitar lesson book.

It's a good book and explains a lot but inspires insight as to one's own playing rather than teachers how to play better.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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