BOOKS & ARTICLES
Practicing. Learning. Creativity ... some of my favorite subjects!
The books below explore questions like:
What IS good practice?
How can I improve my practice?
What if my child struggles to practice?
What's the link between mindfulness and practice?
What about creativity vs. talent vs. hard work?
Learn more about practice expectations, goals & tips on my Practice page
Go to the Websites page for some of my favorite accounts on 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 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. Includes a link to a discussion guide for parents and teachers."
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 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."
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." Also: a companion website that includes audio files and downloadable templates.
by Mildred Portney Chase
"Harmony begins in the soul, long before the first note is played."
Learning piano and practicing can be "a mindful journey that leads the student to a calm world of peacefulness flowing outward from the soul, in to the music ... and evolving day-by-day within the musician's heart."
"Nowhere is it more important to be the in the here and now than in playing the piano.
I finally am better able to realize the true reward of my art: living in a constant state of discovery and increased awareness.
Just being - at the piano - egoless - is to each time seek to reach that place where the only thing that exists is the sound and moving toward the sound."
by Forrest Kinney
"This book is also a collection of practices. Practices are activities done consciously and rhythmically for the purpose of inviting wisdom and inspiration into our bodies, actions, and lives.
The practices are a collection of wisdom and guidance for people who are willing to explore and express their creative nature, and travel in the direction of a unique life.
In these pages are ideas, quotes, and stories from creators like Pablo Picasso, William Shakespeare, Martha Graham... about the attitudes and forces that guide a creative life."
by Forrest Kinney
"This book explores how to move beyond common misunderstandings about creativity to discover one’s own genius.
We are born to create. Isn't that why we feel so fully awake - so completely present - when inspirations flow through us and become creations?
... Art is not about talent, originality, proficiency, or even recognition. Ultimately art is about our own quirky genius, allowed to unfold its secrets and be expressed, at last."
by Seymour Bernstein
A master teacher's insightful guide to discovering your own way to connect practicing with life, and life with practicing.
Seymour Bernstein believes in a kind of practicing that harmonizes everything you think, feel, and do:
If you are motivated by a love of music, and recognize your innate, individual talent, and have "a clear understanding of the reasons for practicing, you can establish a deep accord between your musical self and your personal self."
He explores: Reasons for Practicing, Concentration, Feeling, Listening, Choreography, Performing, Memory, and Nervousness.
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:
by Eloise Ristad
"This book illuminates through its conversational style the destructive inhibitions, fears, and guilt experienced by all of us as we fail to break through to creativity.
A "holistic and nurturing process of allowing individuals to discover and express themselves."
A Soprano on Her Head supplies answers and methods for overcoming these universal psychological blocks - methods that have not only been proven in her own studio, but which trace back through history to the oldest and wisest systems of understanding the integration of mind and body."
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."
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."