Three Books That Will Change the Way You Think About Music
Updated: Oct 16, 2019
Originally posted by David Arnold on April 8, 2016
Growing as a musician is more than practicing scales and etudes. It involves developing the mind as well as the body. In my years of playing music I have been profoundly moved by the following three books. Each one dramatically changed my course of learning, catapulting me in exciting new directions.
1. Effortless Mastery – Kenny Werner. This book addresses the tendency of musicians to play in a state of mind where they are afraid to sound bad. Werner calls this “fear based playing”. We have all been there; when the harder we try to impress someone, the worse we play. The book outlines a method in which students practice all passages without effort. I have been using the methods present in this book to improve my students' playing, as well as my own, for many years.
2. Free Play – Stephen Nachmanovitch. Based on the idea that we learn better when we are having fun, this book approaches learning from a child-like perspective. Music is fun. That is why we play, and too often we get bogged down in the technical aspects and lose sight of what is really important. This wonderful book took me back to the reason why I chose music during a time when I was swirling in a world of musical do's and don'ts.
3. The Music Lesson – Victor Wooten. Of the three books, this is the most abstract. It is part music instruction and part novel. The book is a seemingly autobiographical view of how the bass guitar great Victor Wooten overcame many musical roadblocks. Wooten’s mysterious mentor breaks music down into 10 essential elements and relates it to life and nature. As with the previous books, we learn that the technical aspects play only a small role in what makes music so powerful.
Is it time to take your playing to the next level? Have you been struggling with an exercise? If so, you should check these books out.
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