Recommended Reading for Musicians

Inspiration and Guidance

Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within by Kenny Werner
Updated in 2009 as a book/CD combination, this book offers ways that music can be a positive experience for any and every musician.

The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey
A classic book from the 1980’s that will benefit any musician who reads it, this is based on Gallwey’s groundbreaking Inner Game of Tennis.

The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Victor L. Wooten
Ways to find meaning in your music from this master of the electric bass.

Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self by William Westney
Help for musicians to discover their natural musical path from the creator of the Un-Master Class.

A Soprano on Her Head: Right-side-up reflections on life and other performances by Eloise Ristad
How to overcome psychological blocks that affect musicians’ performances.

Practice Techniques

The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart by Madeline Bruser (foreword by Yehudi Menuhin)
Written by a classical pianist (and speaking mostly to classical musicians), this book focuses on practice techniques that let you play music the way you truly want to play.

Marsalis on Music by Wynton Marsalis
Has a terrific, inspiring chapter on practicing.

The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness by Gerald Klickstein
Written by a classical guitarist and teacher who is extremely thoughtful about how to learn to play and succeed on stage, this book offers solutions to many difficulties that musicians face.

Passionate Practice: The Musician’s Guide to Learning, Memorizing, and Performing by Margret Elson
Wonderful techniques for overcoming challenges faced by musicians in the practice room. Written by a classical pianist who is also a psychologist, this book has many insights into the mental side of music.

To Hear Ourselves As Others Hear Us: Tape Recording As a Tool in Music Practicing & Teaching by James Boyk
As you can see from the use of “tape recording” in the subtitle, this book was not written recently! But, it includes timeless principles for listening to your playing so you know how you actually sound.

Performance Preparation

Audition Success: An Olympic Sports Psychologist Teaches Performing Artists How to Win by Don Greene
A sports psychologist who also teaches at Juilliard, Greene offers insights for musicians to succeed in the high pressure world of auditions.

Embracing Your Inner Critic: Turning Self-Criticism into a Creative Asset by Hal Stone and Sidra Stone
If you’re overly self-critical, the psychological exploration and detailed exercises in this book will help turn your mind from a constant critic to a thoughtful supporter.

Fight Your Fear and Win: Seven Skills for Performing Your Best Under Pressure–At Work, In Sports, On Stage by Don Greene
Specific skills, and plans to cultivate these skills, to see success in any area of your life.

Performance Success: Performing Your Best Under Pressure by Don Greene
Specific exercises to prepare you for doing your absolute best whenever you perform.

Stage Fright: Its Causes and Cures with Special Reference to Violin Playing by Kato Havas
This expert on preventing physical injury from playing gives her approach to eliminating stage fright. Written for classical violin players, but it can benefit any musician.

Physical Issues for Musicians

Stretching by Bob Anderson and Jean Anderson
While not focused on musicians, this book has sets of stretches for specific areas of the body that can be very helpful both before and after playing your instrument.

Playing (less) Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians by Janet Horvath.
Updated with a new edition in 2010, this book offers many practical steps to keep your playing pain-free.

How to Cultivate Talent: Pathways to Excellence

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed
Syed, a world-ranked table tennis champion, writes about the myth of innate talent.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
The book that introduced many people to Anders Ericsson’s “10,000 hours of practice” concept.

The Road To Excellence: the Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games, K. Anders Ericsson (Editor)
Ericsson is the psychology professor whose research has created so much interest in deliberate practice, excellence, and expertise.

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle
A look into “talent hotbeds,” which are places that produce large numbers of super-achievers using deep practice.

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoffrey Colvin
An exploration of the concept of deliberate practice and how anyone can succeed if they take the right steps.

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin
A fascinating read about music perception and how we create music.

Make Your Recommendations

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