Most of my recommended reading has to do with practicing and learning - two of my favorite subjects!  

I love these because they give practical and effective answers to questions like:   

What IS good practice?  How can I improve my practice?  What if I don't like practicing?   What about talent vs. hard work?

Be sure to also visit my Practice page, to learn more about my expectations, goals, and tips for each student.

Plus, check out three of my favorite blogs/vlogs about practicing and learning:



Students are genuinely surprised when things go wrong in a lesson!  They don't realize that they only half-listen while practicing.  This guide shows students how to save time and build good practice habits.  It helps them solve specific problems and practice more thoughtfully with 58  practice tips: clearly explained tactics for mastering challenging passages!


This guide is for parents to help their children build good practice habits.  Parents who use this guide regularly, even if they have limited time or knowledge of music, can greatly improve the quality of their children's practice sessions.  When practicing is interesting and fun, children get good results and want to practice more!


By Philip Johnston


Great for parents of young students.  This book looks at how students practice and takes you inside the practice room: what works, what doesn't, what really happens, and how to fix it.


Not Until You've Done Your Practice: The classic survival guide for kids who are learning a musical instrument, but hate practicing
By Philip Johnston


It happens to most students at some point in their life ... the struggle is real! Parents:  Don't panic.  Read this!



by Barry Green


This book changed my life when I was 16 years old!  And I continue to re-read it regularly.


"The Inner Game of music is that which takes place in the mind, played against such elusive opponents as nervousness, self doubt, and fear of failure. Using the same principles of “natural learning” Timothy Gallwey developed so successfully for tennis, golf and skiing and applying them to his own field, noted musician Barry Green shows how to acknowledge and overcome these internal obstacles in order to bring a new quality to the experience and learning of music."  


Learn how to overcome "mental obstacles to performance, practicing and teaching through the master techniques of Awareness, Commitment and Trust."

Also check out the related websites:

THE MASTERY OF MUSIC: Ten Pathways to True Artistry

by Barry Green


A follow up to The Inner Game of Music ...

"Barry Green turns his expert hand to the artistic qualities that make an extraordinary musician. Culling advice from dozens of interviews with legends including Joshua Bell, Dave Brubeck, Jeffrey Kahane, Bobby McFerrin, Christopher Parkening, Doc Severinsen, Frederica von Stade, the Harlem Boys Choir, and the Turtle Island String Quartet, he reveals that it’s not enough to have a cerebral and emotional connection to the notes.

Green shows how musical excellence, exhibited by true virtuosos, requires a mastery of ten unique qualities of the soul and the human spirit, such as confidence, passion, discipline, creativity, and relaxed concentration, and he discusses specific ways in which all musicians, composers, and conductors can take their skills to higher levels.

... Inspiring the stifled student to have fun again and the over-rehearsed performer to rediscover the joy of passionate expression. Essential reading for every musician."


by William Westney


What every student, musician, teacher and parent should read.  This may change your assumptions about what it means to learn music!


"Playing a wrong note can be a perfect event: constructive, useful, even enlightening. Misplaced perfectionism, in contrast, can hamper learning and rob us of the fulfillment and transcendent enjoyment that music can bring ... Westney lays out healthy alternatives for lifelong learning and suggests significant change in the way music is taught."


by Geoff Colvin


from the back cover:

Why are certain people so incredibly great at what they do?  .....
Happily, the real source of great performance is no longer a mystery. Bringing together extensive scientific research, bestselling author Geoff Colvin shows where we go wrong and what actually makes world-class performers so remarkable. It isn’t specific, innate talent, nor is it plain old hard work. It’s a very specific type of work that anyone can do—but most people don’t.
What’s more, the principles of great performance apply to virtually any activity that matters to you.

Readers worldwide have been inspired by this book’s liberating message: You don’t need a one-in-a-million natural gift. Better performance, and maybe even world-class performance, is closer than you think.


by Daniel Coyle

A thought provoking book that challenges what we believe about talent!

From the back cover:

"Daniel Coyle looks at the development of extraordinary talent, particularly in athletes, and the “revolutionary scientific discoveries” unlocking the “talent code” behind it. Cutting across the nature/nurture argument, Coyle examines research into myelin, a neural insulator produced when we repeatedly “fire a particular circuit”.  

Interviewing top coaches, educators and researchers, traveling to talent hot spots and neurology labs, Coyle describes three steps (roughly: visualizing and comprehending, repeating and perfecting, and emotional connection) employed (knowingly or not) by talents like the skate-boarding Z-Boys, Brazilian soccer players, the Bronte sisters, pop musicians, outperforming school kids and others, as well as ways to understand and spur that process along (in ourselves and others).

An exciting, accessible window into research that could trigger a revolution in education and the treatment of mental illness, this intriguing study also puts better-known models of learning into perspective: “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” "


by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool

from the back cover:

Anders Ericsson has made a career studying chess champions, violin virtuosos, star athletes, and memory mavens. Peak distills three decades of myth-shattering research into a powerful learning strategy that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring new abilities.

... We believe we need innate talent to excel, or think excelling seems prohibitively difficult. Peak belies both of these notions, proving that almost all of us have the seeds of excellence within us — it’s just a question of nurturing them by reducing expertise to a discrete series of attainable practices.  Peak offers invaluable, often counterintuitive, advice on setting goals, getting feedback, identifying patterns, and motivating yourself.

Whether you want to stand out at work, improve your athletic or musical performance, or help your child achieve academic goals, Ericsson’s revolutionary methods will show you how to improve at almost any skill that matters to you.


by Matthew Syed

from the back cover:

Backed by cutting-edge scientific research and case studies, Syed shatters long-held myths about meritocracy, talent, performance, and the mind. He explains why some people thrive under pressure and others choke, and weighs the value of innate ability against that of practice, hard work, and will.


He takes on the myth of the child prodigy, emphasizing that Mozart, the Williams sisters, Tiger Woods, and Susan Polgar, the first female grandmaster, all had live-in coaches in the form of supportive parents who put them through a ton of early practice.

Bounce reveals how competition—the most vivid, primal, and dramatic of human pursuits—provides vital insight into many of the most controversial issues of our time, from biology and economics, to psychology and culture, to genetics and race, to sports and politics . . . [and] he explores the truth about our competitive nature—why we win, why we don't, and how we really play the game of life.


© 2002-2020 Heather Rogers Riley


The studio's Pond-side location in Jamaica Plain is convenient to many neighborhoods:

Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chestnut Hill, Dedham, Dorchester, Hyde Park, Milton, Newton, Roslindale, Roxbury, Watertown, 

West Roxbury, Quincy.

View the map, address & transit info HERE.

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