Photo by Julie Louisa Hagenbuch

Lois Svard

Pianist Lois Svard is known for her performances and recordings of works by American experimental composers. She has also written and lectured extensively about the applications of neuroscience research for the study and performance of music. She is Professor Emerita of Music at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and is the author of the blog The Musician’s Brain about music, the brain, and learning. See below for information about her new book, The Musical Brain: what students, teachers, and performers need to know, recently published by Oxford University Press.


The Musical Brain:
What Students, Teachers, and Performers Need to Know

We make or listen to music for the powerful effect it has on our emotions, and we can’t imagine our lives without music. Yet we tend to know nothing about the intricate networks that neurons create throughout our brains to make music possible. The Musical Brain explores fascinating discoveries about the brain and music, often told through the stories of musicians whose lives have been impacted by the extraordinary ability of our brains to learn and adapt. Neuroscientists have been studying musicians and the process of making music since the early 1990s and have discovered a staggering amount of information about how the brain processes music. There have been many books discussing neuroscience and music, but this is the first to relate the research in a practical way to those individuals who make or teach music.


The Musician’s Brain

  • I’m back – with a new book!

    The Musician’s Brain isn’t defunct, although you may wonder where I have been for the past 2 years.  Actually, I spent the Covid years writing a book, and The Musical Brain: what students, teachers, and performers need to know, will be released by Oxford on March 3.  (Oxford is offering a discount to my blog […]

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  • Inauguration Fanfares

    Many of us feel a need to begin celebrating the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamela Harris sooner rather than later.  As we are all too well aware, inaugural events will be virtual due to the pandemic as well as to security concerns following the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.  That doesn’t […]

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  • Reimagining opera during the pandemic

    In the current issue of The New Yorker, music critic Alex Ross writes about the multiple ways orchestras have found to reimagine their 2020-2021 seasons (“What Does It Mean to ‘Reimagine’ an Orchestra Season?”; online Nov. 30; print issue Dec 7).  Performances have ranged from outdoor chamber concerts, to streamed concerts of live music played […]

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“The Musical Brain unfolds as an empowering journey of discovery into how music is part of us as human beings. Svard is genuinely interested in how the brain works, and she has collected, studied, understood, and presented in gratifying ways summaries of brain research in many areas that impact the study and performance of music.  A significant number of scientists and musicians, past and current, are generously embraced for their important work! This compelling book is a must-read for anyone interested in music!”

— Paavali Jumppanen, winner of the 2000 Young Concert Artists International Competition and
Artistic Director, Australian National Academy of Music