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Oliver Sack's Musicophilia - Book Review

May 16, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 180

Oliver Sack's Musicophilia bridges the gap between music and the brain by using case studies he has personally dealt with and otherwise. The stories range from the totally bizarre to the horribly tragic. Music can affect the brain in peculiar ways. The studies cover how music cannot only be a miracle for the brain but also a torturous thing that haunts it.

The book is organized with chapters that focus on specific ways in which music affects the brain. The book primarily focuses on telling the stories of those affected by music. However, it also analyzes the stories to an extent and talks about how our knowledge of music and the brain has grown because of the case presented. The conclusions that Sacks draws throughout the book are interesting and engaging.

One particularly engaging story was about a Parkinson's patient who used the mesmerizing sounds of a drum circle to calm the tics. His circle consisted of other Parkinson's patients. Sacks recalls watching this inspiring group all sit down at their respective drums, doing their best to not let their tics get in the way as they waited for the leader to start. As soon as he did, the tics stopped almost instantaneously. It was as if some unexplainable force of nature had somehow seeped into the bodies of these patients and enraptured them in serenity and control. It has been proven that a steady, predictable drumbeat, when played in the presence of Parkinson's patients, can almost completely prevent any tics for the duration of the drumming. Even so, we have not even scratched the surface when it comes to using music in a therapeutic setting. That being said, Sacks uses this case and many more to prove that the beneficial effects of music are simply overwhelming and must be investigated further.

For anyone who is interested in music, psychology, or just wants to be amazed, Musicophilia is an excellent read and is extremely informative. This book hopefully will encourage many to see the importance of continued research in the field of music psychology.

Oliver Sacks is currently a physician, best-selling author, and professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. He has written ten books including Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. He has been involved with a number of feature films, documentaries, and stage adaptations that have been based off of his case studies. Take a look at his website at

Erika St. Denis is a music education major and studies on the saxophone privately at Ithaca College. She has a considerable amount of performance and teaching experience and hopes to continue that trend. She has a great interest in music psychology as evidenced by this book review! Check out Erika's professional website and blog which she updates frequently at

Source: EzineArticles
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