Review: You Are the Music, Victoria Williamson

June 14, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: You Are the Music, Victoria WilliamsonYou Are the Music by Victoria Williamson
Published by Allen & Unwin, Icon on March 2014
Genres: Non Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

'You are the music / While the music lasts'
T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets

Do babies remember music from the womb? Can classical music increase your child’s IQ? Is music good for productivity? Can it aid recovery from illness and injury? And what is going on in your brain when Ultravox’s ‘Vienna’, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht or Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ transports you back to teenage years?

In a brilliant new work that will delight music lovers of every persuasion, music psychologist Victoria Williamson examines our relationship with music across the whole of a lifetime.

Along the way she reveals the amazing ways in which music can physically reshape our brains, explores how ‘smart music listening’ can improve cognitive performance, and considers the perennial puzzle of what causes ‘earworms’.

Requiring no specialist musical or scientific knowledge, this upbeat, eye-opening book reveals as never before the extent of the universal language of music that lives deep inside us all.


Have you ever wondered how we get earworms? Or whether unborn babies really hear the Mozart played to them? If you’re curious about how music affects us throughout our lives, you might find You Are the Music an interesting read.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a non-fiction book but this one sounded particularly interesting to me, as a mother of two young kids. The early sections of the book deal with how music is heard and processed right from when we can first hear in utero, and then through the early stages of  childhood and into adolescence. The later sections of the book deal with music in adult lives – at work, play and music for well-being.

This book is essentially a look at all the different studies that have been done in relation to music and human physiology and psychology. It almost reads like a big literature review with study after study being referenced, making it a dry read at times. The subject matter is so fascinating that I was able to plough through the slow spots.

One thing that was apparent from the extensive list of research is that there is plenty more of it to be done. Many of the studies are one-off projects with small sample sizes, which gives fairly inconclusive results. Music is such an individual experience for people with everyone having their own unique preferences that it’s actually hard to find a sample size large enough. The same music can affect different people in very different ways, depending on their upbringing, education and preferences. In fact we still don’t really know a lot about how music affects our bodies or our minds, but there is plenty of research going on to find out more.

Ever wondered what kind of dance moves are most attractive to a potential mate? Does listening to music at work increase productivity or distract you? You Are the Music answers these questions and asks plenty more.

four-stars – An interesting read but didn’t quite answer all of my questions. More research required!

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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