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Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning Hardcover – Jan 24 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (Jan. 24 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781594203176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203176
  • ASIN: 1594203172
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #147,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Guitar Zero is a refreshing alternation between the nitty-gritty details of learning rock-guitar licks and Mr. Marcus's survey of the relevant scientific literature on learning and the brain. For those who look forward, in 'retirement,' to honoring the lifelong yearnings they have neglected, Guitar Zero is good news.”
—Wall Street Journal

“[Guitar Zero] looks far more deeply into the ways our brains rewire themselves and find ways to compensate for certain gaps or deficits in our abilities. In the process of demonstrating these, Marcus sounds an encouraging note (pun intended) for older readers who have always wanted to do something but have never had time.”
— Los Angeles Times

"This enjoyable blend of music appreciation, science and personal exploration commands a new respect for how the brain and body responds to the promise, and shock, of the new."
Kirkus Reviews

"Jimi Hendrix meets Oliver Sacks in this great new science book."
Very Short List

"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
(Richard Barone, musician, author of Frontman )

"Gary Marcus, one of the deepest thinkers in cognitive science, has given us an entertaining and enlightening memoir, filled with insight about music, learning, and the human mind."
—Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature

(Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature)

"Captivating and filled with insight, GUITAR ZERO is a look at the challenge of personal reinvention by Gary Marcus, one of our leading psychologists. Whether you are a music lover or not, if you care about reaching your own potential, you should read this book."
—Dr. Drew Pinsky, host, Dr. Drew, Lifechangers, and Loveline
(Dr. Drew Pinsky, host, Dr. Drew, Lifechangers, and Loveline )

"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
(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
(Pat Martino, four-time Grammy nominee)

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
(Written from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) This book is a classic. I especially recommend this book to the person of any age who is interested in learning to play guitar (and other instruments also). There are many helpful insights and a fine sense of perspective, and an appreciation of the joy and even the nobility of making that great effort to competently perform and create good guitar music.

For the beginner there is encouragement plus a realistic picture of just how big a job competent music-playing is.

For a parent whose son or daughter is taking lessons, look especially at the Back to School" chapter starting on page 65, although you will find valuable insights that could earn you a lifetime of gratitude from your kids scattered all through the book.

For someone who has played for enjoyment for a long time there are valuable insights into just how difficult good guitar chording is and what it takes to move to the next step.

For the person interested in guitar lore, there are some fine interviews and well-told stories.

For the person interested in the psychology of learning, starting from infant age and going into the elderly years, there are fascinating studies, and confirmation that we never really lose the ability to learn new things, nore the pleasure found in doing so.

I was particularly interested in the fresh and amusing approach, the wide perspective (this was not like a nuts-and-bolts instruction book), and the description of the trials of a person, who has coped with a huge learning disability in connection with playing music but still has never been able to just let it go and get on with other things. The success-story narrative was very encouraging.
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By PMac on Sept. 17 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perhaps my expectations were too high, or perhaps I just expected something else. I had hoped that this book would provide some insight into my own learning, and especially some insight into how to learn better or easier--as a fifty-year-old who has recently taken up guitar after years of wishing I could play. Marcus tells us that learning an instrument is hard work. And of course, that's true, but I already knew it.

I guess it's my fault for hoping for a magic pill, when I should know by now that there is no magic pill. The book is a readable account of an older learner's journey towards becoming a musician, interspersed with some music theory and learning theory. I that's what you want, maybe you'll rate it more highly.
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By Collin C. Carbno TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 5 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of those delightful tales about trying to master something hard like learning a new instrument or mastering a language or something. The neat part is that Gary really pulls in the science of learning to help us -- and explains how it impacted his learning too. For any of us, that take on new learning of any sort, reading this book will give you hope, give you specific ideas of things to do, and help you understand the learning process. Oh, Yes, you might just learn how to play the guitar if you follow his advice.
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By susan on Jan. 19 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gary Marcus writes in a way that reflects the thoughts I have had, being an older, first time guitar player; as well as a teacher of young children. I totally related to the learning/brain theories and how this related to learning an instrument for the first time. I found myself making notations on every page as I read.
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