Discovering one’s self through music


Maya Jayaram

In 2012, Gary Marcus, a world renowned research psychologist, released a book titled Guitar Zero that deeply examines how the human brain is affected by musical creativity. The book recounts Marcus’s journey of learning to play the guitar, while beginning with no distinguishable musical talent. Guitar Zero investigates exactly how a human of any age can pursue their musical passions without extreme effort.

At the age of 38, Marcus began to learn guitar, but soon came to the dejecting realization that he did not have any sense of rhythm. In an attempt to overcome this obstacle, Marcus started to fix his rhythm by using a drum machine, and he began to notice a remarkable improvement. Eventually, he was able to perform in front of people, and play music with a band he formed. Playing guitar became more to him than just a goal to achieve; it delivered an adrenaline rush that kept him in a state of bliss.

Students at Mountain View High School have felt this same rush, and can relate with Gary Marcus’s quest.

Gabriela Wilde, a Sophomore at MVHS considers music to be a significant part of her life, and is an avid guitar player and vocalist. She enjoys performing songs and recording covers for her Youtube channel.

“When I’m doing something musical, my mind is carried into a state of sound, where all of my focus is concentrated on using the notes, dynamics, and lyrics, combined, to try to achieve a feeling that words do not have the power to communicate,” Wilde said.  “It is a feeling of exploration that drives me to add a personal touch in order to nail the tone I want to achieve.”

To Wilde, music is more than just a hobby- it is an inspiration as well as a motivation to get through the day or spark her creativity.

“Music is the way I relate myself to the real world and its real issues, and the experiences that come with them. It’s a way of spreading a message,” Wilde said. “Personally, many of my thoughts and opinions have been developed, strengthened, or completely changed by specific lyrics that I can understand or connect to.”

Similarly to Wilde, Gary Marcus began to connect more to the music he played, and decided to pursue his newly-found passion for guitar. He left his hometown and started taking lessons with Fareed Haque, a well-known guitar player for the band The Dixon-Rhyne Project.

Soon enough, Marcus found himself playing guitar like he never had before, and discovered things about the guitar, and himself, that he had never noticed.

When summarizing the result of his musical journey, Marcus describes that music revealed a “whole new form of expression for him.” He found the confidence to start writing songs and performing them. The first song he finished was written for his Uncle David, who died of illness two and a half weeks after hearing it.

In the final words of his book, Marcus writes, “I might never be Jimi Hendrix, but for a brief moment I could sense what it was like to explore a new musical landscape. No musician, and no scientist, could ever dream of anything more.”