We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


The Musical Brain

What Students, Teachers, and Performers Need to Know

Author Lois Svard

Publication Date - 03 March 2023

ISBN: 9780197584170

288 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


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. Neuroscientists have been studying musicians and the process of making music since the early 1990s and have discovered a staggering amount of information about how the brain processes music. There have been many books discussing neuroscience and music, but this is the first to relate the research in a practical way to those individuals who make or teach music.

Research in mirror neurons, neuroplasticity, imagery, learning and memory, the musical abilities of babies, and the cognitive advantage of studying music can offer valuable insights into how and when we should begin the study of music, how we can practice and teach more effectively, how we can perform with greater confidence, and can help us understand why experiencing music together is so important in our lives. An accompanying website provides links to interviews, performance clips, demonstrations, photos, and essays involving the concepts or musicians discussed in the book.


  • 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)

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


Related Titles