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

This list gives 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?

How can I help my child practice?

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

You might like to 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!

Child Playing the Piano

from Notes & News blog, by Nancy O'Neill Breth

"[Parents can] ... make a huge contribution to their childrens’ musical development if they understand what happens at the lesson and then keep the lesson alive throughout the week by guiding the practice sessions."  keep reading ...

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by Andrew Jordan Nance

I haven't read all of this yet, but I've already found so many beautiful, useful ideas!  Written for classroom teachers, however I believe it is equally valuable for parents.  If we wish to teach kids how to practice music, we really must begin with teaching mindfulness.  Music practice = mindfulness!

"Educator and theater director Andrew Nance is the author of the popular children’s book Puppy Mind, which brought a new dimension of cuteness to the practice of mindfulness in the form of a rambunctious, playful puppy. In this book, Nance brings the puppy and a host of other friendly characters into the classroom to animate a 21-lesson curriculum centered around lively stories and easy-to-lead exercises for young students from kindergarten to third grade. Nance offers a teacher’s guide to arts-based mindfulness exercises utilizing story-telling, theater games, and drawing to spark students’ self-expression, self-awareness, and social and emotional well-being."

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by Jim Durk

One of the challenges with practicing music, especially for young people, is the demand for focus and awareness.  This needs to be learned too, along with the music!  Parents & kids will enjoy reading this together.  Topics: Breathing, mindfulness, focus.

"A young boy discovers his mind is like a puppy, always wandering away, into the past or the future. He sets about learning to train his puppy mind to heel to the present moment. Through remembering to breathe, the boy becomes a stronger and more caring master of his puppy mind, keeping it in the present, if only for a moment. Includes a link to a discussion guide for parents and teachers."

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BREATHE LIKE A BEAR:  30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere

by Kira Willey

I love this beautiful book, and the imaginative way it demonstrates breathing techniques.  Use this to help establish calm awareness & focus at the start of practice!


"Breathe Like a Bear is a beautifully illustrated collection of mindfulness exercises designed to teach kids techniques for managing their bodies, breath, and emotions. Best of all, these 30 simple, short breathing practices and movements can be performed anytime, anywhere: in the car to the grocery store, during heavy homework nights at home, or even at a child’s desk at school."


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.

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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!

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THE MINDFUL MUSICIAN: Mental Skills for Peak Performance

by Vanessa Cornett


"The Mindful Musician provides a method to promote attentional focus, self-assessment, emotional awareness, and creativity. The first of its kind to combine mindfulness practices with research in cognitive and sport psychology, this book helps musicians explore the roots of anxiety and other challenges related to performance, all through the deliberate focus of awareness.

Author Vanessa Cornett offers guidelines to help musicians cultivate artistic vision, objectivity, freedom, quiet awareness, and self-compassion, both on- and offstage in order to become more resilient performers.  With the aid of a companion website that includes audio files and downloadable templates, The Mindful Musician provides a method to promote attentional focus, self-assessment, emotional awareness, and creativity."


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 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:

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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 .... 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."

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by Geoff Colvin

"Why are certain people so incredibly great at what they do?  .....
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."

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by Daniel Coyle

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

"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.

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

"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."

BOUNCE:  Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success

by Matthew Syed

"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... [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."