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Education Bookcast

Oct 23, 2023

A lot of the classic expertise research, especially the research about deliberate practice and the "10,000 hour rule", is inspired by K. Anders Ericcson's study of violinists at the Berlin Conservatory. However, we have seen before how misleading sampling a particular culture and generalising the findings over the whole of humanity can be. Thankfully, Lucy Green's How Popular Musicians Learn gives us something of an antidote to this classical music bias.

Green's book is based on interviews with 14 musicians in south-east England, of which 13 were instrumentalists and one, a singer. Their musical genres were all "guitar-based popular music" which includes rock and folk music. In her book, a number of findings undermine standard narratives about learning, including the inevitability of practice being unpleasant (the musicians enjoy their practice, unline classical musicains); the need for sheet music in order to learn (they all worked from recordings, and most couldn't read music); and the need for instruction (none of these musicians had been extensively formally trained, and those who had been had found it unhelpful).

Enjoy the episode.



Check out other episodes on anthropology and culture, and how they help provide wider samples for our understanding of psychology:

144. Developing Talent in Young People by Benjamin Bloom

121. Attachment Theory as Cultural Ideology

116. Cultural Foundations of Learning, East and West by Jin Li

106. The Anthroplogy of Childhood by David Lancy

89. The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

39. The Geography of Thought by Richard NIsbett


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