The idea for this book came a few years back, when we were discussing the different classes we were teaching for musicians, psychologists, and educators. Each of us had discovered how difficult it was to find materials that matched the interests and previous knowledge of our students. All our students had experience as music listeners, and the great majority of them played a musical instrument or sang, albeit at different levels of proficiency. Yet the questions they posed regarding the psychology of music were quite similar. This book aims to answer precisely those questions.
The topics covered here contain relevant information for musicians who perform or teach, for students of psychology who want to know more about music and the mind, and for musically inclined persons who seek personal growth and enrichment. Although we steer clear of giving recipes for musicians on how to do things (which is, after all, the responsibility of methods teachers and practitioners), we try to provide a basis for informed decisions on why and how things might or might not work. When talking to students or people in the street, we have come across strongly held beliefs or myths about music. Some of them have no sound scientific basis and, in fact, might be counterproductive. For example, it is not true that absolute (or perfect) pitch is an indicator of innate musical talent, that music is exclusively processed in the right brain hemisphere, that listening to a lot of Mozart will make you smarter in general, or that there is just one way of learning to perform from memory. These and other firmly held beliefs will be addressed in the appropriate chapters.
In order to stay close to music making and listening, we had to leave out a wealth of fascinating information that lies on the boundaries of our main focus. We only touch on such topics as musical acoustics and the early stages of cognitive processing (psychoacoustics), music and computer technology (music and artificial intelligence), music theory, music therapy, music medicine, and