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The Musical Brain


What Students, Teachers, and Performers Need to Know

Author Lois Svard

18 May 2023

ISBN: 9780197584170

288 pages

In Stock

Price: £19.99


We make or listen to music for the powerful effect it has on our emotions, and we can't imagine our lives without music. Yet we tend to know nothing about the intricate networks that neurons create throughout our brains to make music possible. The Musical Brain explores fascinating discoveries about the brain and music, often told through the stories of musicians whose lives have been impacted by the extraordinary ability of our brains to learn and adapt. Svard relates neuroscientific research in how the brain processes music in a practical way to those individuals who make or teach music.

  • Provides practical advice for how this research can help one's own music practice, teaching, and performance
  • Explains brain processes through the stories of actual musicians' lives
  • Accompanied by a companion website of interviews, performances, demonstrations, photos, and articles featuring the musicians discussed in the book

About the Author(s)

Author Lois Svard, Professor Emerita, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA

Pianist Lois Svard is known for her performances and recordings of works by American experimental composers. She has also written and lectured extensively about the applications of neuroscience research for the study and performance of music. She is Professor Emerita of Music at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and is the author of the blog The Musician's Brain about music, the brain, and learning.

Table of Contents

    About the Companion Website
    1. Music and Musicians - and Why the Brain Matters
    2. Origins of Music
    3. Born for Music
    4. Learn an instrument - change your brain
    5. Learning and memory - two sides of the same coin
    6. Practice - it's all about quality
    7. Neuroplasticity - Awe-inspiring to Debilitating and Back Again
    8. Imagery - Music in the Mind's Eye, Ear, Body
    9. Seeing Sound, Hearing Movement - Music and Mirror Neurons
    10. Does Music Really Make You Smarter?
    Epilogue: Thoughts on Music and Society


"Finally! ...a book about music and neuroscience written by a musician and music teacher. Svard's perspective can help musicians play better, music teachers teach better, and music students learn better." - Nina Kraus, professor and neurobiologist, Northwestern University, author of "Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World"

"In 'The Musical Brain,' Lois Svard weaves together a comprehensive tapestry of neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and biology to explore the many ways in which music is a fundamental component of human experience. The author's skill as an educator is evident in the way she distills complex research into concise and descriptive writing to provide readers with engaging real-life stories. This inviting book will be of great interest to any performer, teacher, or curious music lover." - Vanessa Cornett, Director of Keyboard Studies, Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy, University of St. Thomas, author of "The Mindful Musician: Mental Skills for Peak Performance"

"Written with clarity and wisdom, packed with compelling accounts of neurological research on music, this superb book is relevant, timely and important. Svard makes the convincing case that music is" - in so many vital ways

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