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Reading Recommendations: Music & the Brain

This is Your Brain on Music
by Daniel J. Levitin

Daniel Levitin ©2003 Arsenio Corôa

Daniel Levitin ©2003 Arsenio Corôa

This is a great book if you are interested in delving into the science of how your brain perceives, listens, understands, responds to and creates music.
One of many stand out conversations in the book is about musical genius and talent. The book dispels a number of myths about this. It turns out the key to success in music, or in any field of expertise for that matter, is practice. Apparently 10,000 hours is the magic number. Once you have worked at or practiced a skill for 10,000 hours you WILL be an expert at that skill. So the old conversation I have heard so many aspiring musicians perpetuate (myself included) that goes like “I’m not talented enough” or “I’m no genius” suddenly loses it’s power. The bad news is that you have to put in the hours to be good at something. The good news is that ALL you have to do is put in the hours to be good at something. It’s daunting and freeing at the same time. Daunting in that you have to do a lot of hard work. Freeing in that you know doing the work will produce remarkable results. I get to take full responsibility for my musicianship and musical capabilities.

Daniel Levitin’s website is rich in content, entertaining, and full of great media examples and information about his book. Take a look today.


Dr. Daniel Levitin earned his B.A. in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science at Stanford University, and went on to earn his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oregon, researching complex auditory patterns and pattern processing in expert and non-expert populations. He completed post-doctoral training at Stanford University Medical School (in Neuroimaging) and at UC Berkeley (in Cognitive Psychology). He has consulted on audio sound source separation for the U.S. Navy, and on audio quality for several rock bands (including the Grateful Dead and Steely Dan), record labels, and served as one of the “Golden Ears” expert listeners in the original Dolby AC3 compression tests. He worked for two years at the Silicon Valley think tank Interval Research Corporation. He taught at Stanford University in the Department of Computer Science, the Program in Human-Computer Interaction, and the Departments of Psychology, Anthropology, Computer Music, and History of Science. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Behavioural Neuroscience, and Music at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec).

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