I'm a postgraduate psychology student who also has a doctorate in musicology, and have found this book invaluable as a starting point for exploring current music psychology. The book is an overview, with a number of leading music pyschologists contributing: its breadth means that there simply isn't the space to go into any great depth, but there are plenty of references and pointers for follow-up reading. It is dry and academic in parts and there are a lot of assumptions about the reader's existing knowledge, which is slightly problematic for an area that attracts attention from a number of academic disciplines (I wonder how many readers are as au fait with a neapolitan 6th as a P600). However, for someone at 3rd year undergraduate level or above wanting an introduction to the many different areas of music psychology, I don't believe there is anything comparable.
As a professional psychologist and keen semi-professional graduate-musician, I was really excited about this recent publication, and chose it over the Diane Deutsch (1989) volume. I was soon to be disappointed. Perhaps a better title for this book would have been "..... Handbook of the Cognitive-Neurological Psychology of Music", for that is what this collection of articles is about. Not all psychology is just about brain-body functioning. Even as a practising child psychologist, I found this book a very hard read. While the book is undoubtedly authoritative, I feel it fails on two particular counts: its very dry academic language, which tends to lose the reader in such an overview tome, and its superficiality when discussing very complex concepts or constructs - such as the phylogeny and ontogeny of music at the prenatal stages, as but one such example amongst many. Another area of failure is its vain attempt to explain music psychology as a social psychological phenomenon. The language is altogether inappropriate, for to explain social phenomena one should use socially communicative language. I feel the tome lacks a clear direction except to propagate clinical/cognitive literature that explains "within-person" functioning. So, if you are interested in how music influences relationships, group dynamics and identities, purchasing behaviour, work behaviour, learning (eg the oft-quoted but recently challenged "Mozart Effect"), healing/health promotion, "flow effect", "peak experience" and other such phenomenologies (ie music psychology in social context), then this volume is definitely not for you. If you are a psychology graduate who may be interested more in the clinical-cognitive-psycho-neurobiological functioning of human beings, then this would be a good introduction for you. But be warned, even at that, reading it is still a bit like swimming through treacle - its "discourse" aims at neither the keen-naïve nor the well-informed. One cannot help but get the feeling that this is a book written by academics for academics, and misses out greatly on social-integrative opportunities of applied psychology.