The Art of Learning

Jan 02 2009

Happy New Year! I just read my first book in 2009, The Art of Learning: A journey in the pursuit of excellence, and wanted to share it with the Berkleemusic community.

Author, and eight-time National Chess champion, Josh Waitzkin chronicles his life through the lens of learning, focus, and achievement. The principles provided are solid and proven, and the real-life examples based on Waitzkin’s life experiences are intriguing and heart-warming.

The book is filled with information about how we learn, and is based on the findings of Dr. Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in the field of developmental psychology. Dweck looks at entity and incremental theories of intelligence and the behaviors associated with them as applied to learning. The information is great for anyone interested in lifelong learning.

Waitzkin makes the point that a key component of high-level learning is cultivating a resilient awareness that is the older, conscious embodiment of a child’s playful obliviousness. The “balance beam,” for example, is wide for child who will readily try again after falling. However, for an adult, the beam becomes much more narrow as we grow keenly aware of the risks and dangers of falling/ failing.

Continuing education and lifelong learning are the keys to any successful career path or endeavor, and Waitzkin’s ideas presented in this book are applicable to all pursuits.

I highly recommend The Art of Learning.

Just Six Songs

Aug 17 2008

The World in Six Songs by Daniel J. Levitin: Book Cover

Daniel Levitin, author of “This is Your Brain on Music” has a new book entitled “The World in Six Songs.” In it, he says there are just six types of song in all music throughout the ages, and they help tell a story of music and human evolution.

Those six types are:

– Friendship/Social bonding
– Joy
– Comfort
– Knowledge
– Religion
– Love

To hear more about his findings, including some interesting studies on the body’s chemical reaction to music, listen to this ON POINT interview on NPR online. In it, Daniel Levitin shares findings about music and the brain.

Brains on Music

Jun 10 2008
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

A little late to the table, but I am happy to report that I just read “This is Your Brain on Music” by Dr. Daniel Levitin. Indeed, it was time well spent!

Dr. Daniel Levitin’s book is a wonderful tapestry of history, culture, science, psychology, all woven together under the theme of music and how our brain responds to and processes it!

Unfortunately, for the musically trained, a good portion of the book is devoted to explanations of basic musical elements including pitch, harmony, rhythm, and more. The reason Dr. Levitin took this approach is clear: the book was written for the lay person who does not have a working knowledge of such musical elements. That said, musicians should be prepared to skip large passages of the book devoted to such explanations.

The scientific elements were also made accessible to the scientifically untrained. I am a newbie in this realm and found Dr. Levitin’s explanations and analogies to be extremely pragmatic and clear.

Highly recommended.