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This landmark book enlightens amateur and professional musicians about a way of practicing that transforms a sometimes frustrating, monotonous, and overly strenuous labor into an exhilarating and rewarding experience. Acclaimed pianist and teacher Madeline Bruser combines physiological and meditative principles to help musicians release physical and mental tension and unleThis landmark book enlightens amateur and professional musicians about a way of practicing that transforms a sometimes frustrating, monotonous, and overly strenuous labor into an exhilarating and rewarding experience. Acclaimed pianist and teacher Madeline Bruser combines physiological and meditative principles to help musicians release physical and mental tension and unleash their innate musical talent. She offers practical techniques for cultivating free and natural movement, a keen enjoyment of sounds and sensations, a clear and relaxed mind, and an open heart and she explains how toPrepare the body and mind to practice with easeUnderstand the effect of posture on flexibility and expressivenessMake efficient use of the hands and armsEmploy listening techniques to improve coordinationIncrease the range of color and dynamics by using less effortCultivate rhythmic vitalityPerform with confidence, warmth, and freedomPhotographs show essential points of posture and movement for a variety of instruments....

Title : The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart
Author :
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ISBN : 9780609801772
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart Reviews

  • Marcus
    2018-12-02 22:26

    This is a raw dump of the notes I took while reading the book:Intro and Part 1Regaining motivationRemember the moment when you knew music would be a part of your life. Are there songs that bring that back?Find the "unshakable confidence in your musicality""Passion, confidence and vulnerability are evidence of musical talent"Are you repeating passages in your practice out of desperation to gain "technical security"? This can "destroy inspiration""the qualities of openness, uncertainty, freedom, and aliveness that characterize performing permeate practicing""One of the greatest challenges of making music is to maintain some cool in the heat of our passion and joy. It is easy to become impatient when it takes us longer to learn a beautiful piece than we would like. We ache to get it in our fingers, our voice, our body, to make physical contact with the music we love. This longing is our greatest asset. It is our communicative energy. It is the raw, throbbing energy of the heart."The difference between that longing and ambition. Ambition can cause us to drive ourselves too hard. "Struggle does not produce beautiful music"What causes tension when practicing? Struggle?- Trying to play too fast- Trying to get perfect tone when you're just learning.- Trying to force a "special kind of energy." To force the emotion of the piece- Practicing through physical pain. Use the pain as a "signal to relax or slow down.""The value of an exercise depends on your state of mind. If you don’t find it interesting, then it is not useful.""Practicing exercises you don’t enjoy is confining and saps your energy, whereas practicing a difficult but beautiful piece of music gives you energy"Rather than playing perfectly X times in a row, try "practice performing for people and to become accustomed to making mistakes." People are human, they make mistakes "Being note-perfect" is not the point, "making music involves a lot more than that."On practicing pieces you don't like as much:"If you try to be receptive to a piece you don’t love, you can expand your emotional range and grow as a musician."Part 21. Stretch2. Settle down in your environment    - Be present    - Posture (upright, feet on floor etc.)    - Breathing - notice the breath    - Notice the environment around you. Feet on floor etc.    - Consider meditation3. Tune into your heart - "When you reflect on the impermanence of life, you feel the heart area of your chest open up—it feels warm. Once the heart is open, it is available for whatever activity you engage in. The warmth quickly floods your system. Your body feels more relaxed and fluid inside, and your movements become more gentle and precise. The energy of your heart fuels your actions."   - Appreciate your environment4. Use your body in a comfortable and natural way - sit upright, don't lean and sway (watch the best instrument players, a lot of them look like trees) "all the leaning and swaying I used to do was a way of struggling against the music, that instead of letting it flow freely through my body, I had been trying to keep a grip on it, to force it to go a certain way."   - Try playing in front of a mirror to get awareness of posture   - Take frequent practice breaks - 10 - 15 min every 45 (as if anyone is going to have that long to practice...)   - Imagine yourself without your instrument, would you be positioned unnaturally?   - Being emotionally intense is not the same as being physically tense5. Follow your curiosity as you practice    - Combatting resistance: "See if anything arouses your curiosity. It can be something as simple as how your hands feel that day. Try placing them on the instrument. Notice how they feel. Play one note or a few notes. See what each movement feels like. By relaxing with your resistance, you can gently break it down."    - On using a metronome: "Natural rhythm comes from being physically settled, mentally relaxed, and emotionally unrepressed. The first thing you can do for your sense of rhythm is to let yourself be, to let your breathing and your body settle down before you practice."6. Recognize three styles of struggle    - 1 - "Overstated passion in which we cling to the music"    - 2 - "Avoidance in which we resist dealing with the music"    - 3 - "Aggression in which we attack the music"7. Drop your attitudes and be simple - "when we drop our guard and are just ourselves, we reveal a deep humanness and gentleness that connect us to humanity, and the music we make is uplifting."8. Apply three listening techniques    - 1 Sing the notes and lines    - 2 Place your attention on the vibrations. Play very slowly.    - 3 Place your attention on each sound as it resonates in the space around you. Music as meditation.9. Organize notes into groups, phrases and textures.10. Place your attention on the sensations of touch and movement. Basically, imagine that you are blind. Your eyes shouldn't be what tells you where to put your hands and fingers.Part 3- Playing from memory / by heart

  • Kathleen
    2018-11-27 02:28

    Madeline Bruser's book is one that I refer to and return to at least once every semester. In a world of competition and high-stress productivity where musicians (and especially music students) have set the perfection of recordings as "par for the course," Bruser reminds all of us that in order to have a musically fulfilling life and career we must find fulfillment in practicing as well as in performing. Our society would like us to believe that success should be achieved with the minimum amount of work or effort; Bruser guides readers through the process of debunking that perception and turning the processes of learning, practicing, and working toward performance back into the pleasures that we all know they are. Though the book focuses on musicians (with an emphasis on pianists), it is truly useful for any artist and indeed anyone who is interested in enhancing the creative aspects of a job or life.

  • Rachel
    2018-12-15 21:34

    Certain aspect of this book were really helpful, others, not so much. coming from a yoga perspective, the "open heart" concept certainly resonated and it helps my clarinet playing, both posture-wise and musically. When I open my heart, my shoulder blades come down my back and my air pressure gets better. Bruser has lots of ideas to bring out the best, most musical playing in everyone, and how to effectively translate that into a performance situation. I liked how she said instead of pretending the audience isn't there during a performance, like you are in a practice room, you should reverse this - practice as if you are in a performance, being hyper-aware of your surroundings. Also, I liked how she recommends that you follow your heart and practice what you feel like playing, staying flexible in order to keep from getting burnt-out or mechanical. Some players might not need this book but most would get at least something out of it. It offers some new perspectives for people who spend a lot of time in a practice room.

  • Paul Williford
    2018-11-29 23:32

    This book is not always compellingly written, but the ideas presented can be liberating. For over 45 years, I've started every practice session with the tedium of scales, arpeggios and technical exercises, but Ms. Bruser encourages me to follow my curiosity and explore the music with my mind and heart - and to share that music with generosity and vulnerability. Sorry, Messrs. Hanon and Czerny, from now on I might warm up with a scale or two, but then it's right into the music ...

  • Cheryl
    2018-12-12 23:20

    I have been an amateur musician for years, mostly playing the guitar. A year ago I started taking piano lessons, which I love. I am "retired" now so have a little more time to devote to playing and am always thinking about how to "practice" both to feel more satisfied with the time I have spent as well as becoming a better musician. This book is oriented towards professional musicians who work under tremendous pressure and competition, something thankfully I don't live with-one of the many good reasons to just play for pleasure instead of to try and make a living! But the philosophy of this book is very beautiful and I think anyone playing music would benefit from that.The author began a meditation practice some years ago to cope with the stress of performing and auditioning, this book is very much informed by how meditation changed her relationship with music and practicing. I have been meditating for several years now and could very much relate to the philosophy and practice she ascribes to in life and in music.

  • Barbara
    2018-11-26 20:36

    The author emphasized relaxation and letting the heart take over. Kind of a Buddhist approach to practicing. I liked that.The most immediately helpful suggestion she made was to train yourself to really hear what you're playing, by singing one line while playing another. I can see how helpful that would be in working on a Bach fugue or invention. Will have to try that. It seems funny to think that you don't HEAR what you're doing, when music is, after all, meant to be heard. But it's very easy as a pianist to be so involved in the kinesthetic, the visual, that you're not really listening. Have noticed for years how much better ears violinists have because they HAVE to be listening if they have any hope of playing in tune.The final section on performing was very moving.

  • Marshall
    2018-11-24 22:23

    Madeline reveals one fundamental truth about practicing, that it is an art form by itself. This book doesn’t educate readers on “how” to practice, rather it introduced readers to “why” we practice, and the profound joy of good practices.Madeline advocates that we approach practice with a sense of humor. All musicians across all levels go through a journey of musical mastery. All musicians are humans, who are full of flaws and who improve by learning.Madeline advocates that we cultivate the art of presence while practicing. We cherish every moment when we are with the music we love, and we strive to open up our heart to really feel the music.Great quotesPassion, confidence, and vulnerability are evidence of musical talent. If music were not in our blood, we wouldn’t have such strong feelings. Countless times students ask, “Do you think I have talent? Do you think I’ll be able to play well?” Each person’s talent is unique, and some are more gifted than others, but an intense desire to play well indicates that music is already inside the person, pressing toward the surface and needing to come out. Know this, and take heart from it as you make your particular journey with music.Much frustration is caused by inefficient use of the body. Instrumental or vocal technique that goes against principles of healthy posture and movement creates unnecessary tension, which inhibits musical expression.But longing is different from ambition. Longing is our innermost feeling about life. We yearn to connect to people, to music, to the world, and we know that every experience and every relationship, indeed life itself, inevitably ends.A pianist who looks as though he is slaving over a hot keyboard, hunching over and working very hard, creates a sense of claustrophobia. You can’t breathe easily because he’s so worked up. But a performer who walks calmly onto a stage, takes his time sitting down, and welcomes the opportunity to perform with relaxation makes you feel relaxed. When he plays with exhilaration and ease, you feel exhilarated and at ease.This is partly because musicians work primarily alone, and when they eventually play for an audience it is overwhelming. Also, performing music requires extreme precision. If your finger moves an eighth of an inch in the wrong direction, people can tell you have made a mistake.In doing so, we lose touch with our most valuable asset as artists— the willingness to be vulnerable, genuine, and spontaneous, to communicate from the heart.The Art of Practicing is a discipline that cultivates this heightened awareness in every moment of our practicing. We practice noticing the details of our sensory experience, letting the sensations of sound, touch, and movement saturate the body and mind from moment to moment. By deliberately practicing such receptiveness, we gradually become familiar with the experience of brilliant awareness, and we begin to feel at home in the bright light on stage.Speed develops when the body is functioning comfortably, with minimum tension, so speed can come only if you don’t push yourself. We have to continually remind ourselves to take our time, because we are usually impatient.If you try to be receptive to a piece you don’t love, you can expand your emotional range and grow as a musician.We know that to perform well we need to feel healthy, emotionally balanced, and confident.Practicing is a chance to be with the music you love. You can bring your best to it or you can cheat yourself of the opportunity to discover the depths of the music and of your own gifts. Your body, mind, heart, and sense perceptions are your gifts. If you use them properly, they will serve you well. The Art of Practicing begins with three steps that prepare you physically, mentally, and emotionally for making music.Health professionals often advise instrumentalists to avoid lifting weights to strengthen their arms, because using the hands to grip heavy objects is antithetical to the delicate muscular control a musician needs.Yoga, properly taught, provides both a workout and a release of tension.This inner stillness, this ability to be steady and to accommodate the most dynamic play of energies, is at the core of that prized commodity we call presence.Presence is the state of being fully present, of body, mind, heart, and sense perceptions being completely engaged with the activity of the present moment. For a performer, this means not only being engaged with the music but letting the energy of the audience affect you. In practicing, it means being at ease in your surroundings and being aware of each movement and each sound that you make.A practice called “mindfulness of breathing” has recently become widely recognized as a highly effective method for clearing the mind and relaxing the body.But usually when you “do nothing,” the mind is still filled with a stream of random thoughts. In this case, by consciously directing your attention to the details of breathing, you remove your attention from the stream of random thoughts, and the mind is filled only with the simple process of breathing. You accomplish a minivacation from daily cares.We do need to be in touch with our heart’s longing for love, for music, and for life. We need to remember our vulnerability: At any moment we might lose something that brings us happiness, and ultimately, when we die, we must say goodbye to the entire world. How we react to all of this sensation is crucial. We typically react to pleasure by trying to hold on to it. The hands, arms, back, and neck contract and grasp as our passion for the music becomes possessive. This contracting and grasping is tense and uncomfortable. We habitually react to such discomfort by tightening even more, sometimes to the point of creating pain.Musicians don’t usually think of themselves as athletes, but they are. While sports like running and football tax the big muscles of the body, practicing a musical instrument makes extreme demands on small muscles. If a musician’s little finger feels a bit strained, he might think it’s nothing compared to a runner’s sore legs. But it can actually be a more serious problem. Here’s why. Muscles are composed of individual fibers. A small muscle depends on relatively few fibers to accomplish a task. When we use small muscles to make rapid, repetitive movements for hours every day, those few fibers are getting a much harder workout than the slower-moving fibers in a runner’s leg muscles. In addition, the muscles at the periphery of the body receive less blood than those closer to the center because the blood vessels are smaller, making small muscles still more vulnerable to injury.Natural rhythm comes from being physically settled, mentally relaxed, and emotionally unrepressed. The first thing you can do for your sense of rhythm is to let yourself be, to let your breathing and your body settle down before you practice.The three psychological styles are (1) overstated passion, in which we cling to the music; (2) avoidance, in which we resist dealing with the music; and (3) aggression, in which we attack the music. These styles occur in practicing because they are part of our everyday behavior. They are ways in which we miss the mark with our actions, words, and thoughts: we get so carried away over a piece of good news that we walk down the street without watching where we’re going and bump into a pole; we forget to take our food out of the oven and end up burning it; we speak harshly and hurt someone’s feelings.An appreciative attitude toward our precious raw material must include a sense of humor. Whenever we can smile about our crazy ways and realize that they’re just part of being human, the heart opens, and we momentarily free ourselves from our habits. These habits will keep coming back; they are deeply ingrained, and we will be working with the same raw material for the rest of our lives. But by recognizing our habits and viewing them with humor, we gently loosen their grip on us and cultivate the intelligence and joy we need for authentic music-making.Spontaneity is a tricky concept. It’s different from impulsiveness. Impulsiveness comes from habit: “I’m mad at him, so I’m going to yell.” Or, “This music is problematic, so I’m going to push myself harder.” That’s impulsive. Spontaneity is the freedom not to follow every single impulse.Years later, after I had been in her position many times and had extended myself to others who looked shy and uncomfortable, I realized how magnetic my vulnerability must have been to her. In a world of artifice, such genuineness is refreshing.In music as in life, we don’t want to feel the embarrassment of being ordinary, foolish people. We want to soar to the heights making music and pretend we don’t have clay feet weighing us down. Ironically, when we drop our guard and are just ourselves, we reveal a deep humanness and gentleness that connect us to humanity, and the music we make is uplifting.Being gentle does not mean that you play only soft, lyrical music. It means that you are willing to abandon inflated approaches and open yourself to the exact texture of music so that it penetrates you completely.Think of a moment when someone revealed his vulnerable self to you through a shy glance, a quivering voice, a halting gesture, or a warm and touching musical phrase. We cherish such moments, for they express the humanness within us. Remember this the next time you find yourself perching uncertainly on the edge of the unknown. Trust yourself, and dare to express yourself genuinely.My student Lisa described this technique as a “magic key.” The magic key is simply our own hearing, a capacity we always have but don’t fully use.Let go of any judgments of the sound. Simply notice its quality (cultivate the art of presence).Bruser, Madeline (2013-06-19). The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart (p. 173). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.Everybody’s mind wanders. The point is that when you notice your mind is wandering, you can bring it back to what you’re doing by focusing on the sound.The life in a musical performance comes through in the natural ebb and flow of its phrasing, a rhythmic elasticity inherent in human pulse, breath, and movement. Unlike the rigid rhythms of machines, the rhythms we create and respond to most readily are flexible, like those we experience in our everyday activities— speaking, gesturing, walking, running, dancing, making love.The mind cannot comprehend a long series of notes without dividing it into small segments. Even the seven digits of a telephone number are divided into a group of three digits followed by a group of four. Similarly, musical phrases strike the ear in groups of two, three, and four notes (divide-n-conquer: one critical technique for being present). Music is the same. Even in instrumental music, which does not have words, our familiarity with the language of music gives us a sense of which notes in a phrase require emphasis. As in speech, we create that emphasis by making a louder sound, or by pausing minutely before a sound, or by both of these methods.For all its romanticism and emotional volatility, the music of Chopin is meticulously notated to reveal a sophisticated polyphony that is often highly contrapuntal.This vision-oriented player is like a dancer who relies on chalk marks on the floor to know where to step: He moves awkwardly instead of easily and fluidly. Smooth, confident movement can occur only if his whole body knows the steps, so that he is free to dance without keeping track of every spot his feet have to touch.“Notice how your hands want to move.” The idea that my hands could have a mind of their own seemed strange, but as soon as I tried tuning into their whims, they began to move more freely and produced a more dynamic performance.So instead of forcing your body to control your instrument, tune into your sensations, trust your innate coordination and musicality, and let yourself move spontaneously. Let your body make the music. It has a brilliant mind of its own.We have one lifetime in which to express ourselves and to connect to others. A performance is in that sense a microcosm of life: We have one chance, and we want to give it everything we have. When we give freely, we experience our passion and vitality, which is a gift to us in return. We get frightened at the moment of performance not only because we want to do well but because we feel so alive. We fear life itself, the feeling of our heart beating, of letting music and vital energy flow through us beyond our control. We are walking containers of life, and when we walk onto a stage to perform, we feel that intensely.Fear is energy. If you allow it to flow through you, you transform it into fearlessness. Bravery doesn’t mean that you don’t feel afraid. If it did, you’d have nothing to be brave about. It’s when you feel frightened of a situation but step into it anyway that you demonstrate courage.We need to view our thoughts with a sense of humor. We’re human, and our minds tend to wander and to pass judgment on our behavior. We can communicate with an audience in spite of our random thoughts. Magic can happen amid the ordinary reality of how our clothes feel against our skin and how our minds chatter. If we take our thoughts too seriously, we get caught up in them and lose touch with our heart and with the main event that is taking place. When that connection is lost, we may even lose our place in the music. But if we take a light, friendly attitude toward our thoughts and just let them come and go as they habitually do, we can maintain a sense of command and confidence.Ensemble performing celebrates the human heart in a special way. When our subtle musical impulses and rhythms meld with those of another performer, we experience an intimacy akin to lovemaking. When we perform in a large ensemble, we experience a heightening of our devotion to music through expressing that devotion simultaneously with many other musicians.

  • Katy
    2018-11-26 20:14

    Some nice anecdotes and a few good suggestions in here, but honestly I found most of this completely alien to my music-learning and -performing experiences and not helpful or relevant at all. The author seems like an awesome person who I would love to get a drink and talk with, but for me this particular book just wasn't what I needed.

  • Ryan Schmidt
    2018-11-30 21:33

    This book was an inspirational boost of morale, a collection of many new perspectives, and echoed much from my teacher. Exactly what I needed this summer!The author is a pianist, and although some ideas are universally applicable, some sections get into the minutiae of piano playing that do not matter to me at all. My only complaint, such a good book!

  • Catherine
    2018-11-20 23:34

    As an adult learner, this was my first foray into reading about how to be a better pianist. What a great way to start! This is part-musical guide, part life-coaching guide! Many of the suggestions on how to become a better musician, can be directly applied to how to be a more authentic person. Having said that, there are lots of great practical lessons on how to approach your practice, eg. starting with stretching, which stretches are helpful etc. What I found especially useful were the last several chapters on how to "follow your curiosity " as you practice; recognizing the "three styles of struggle"; applying the 3 listening techniques (singing the notes/ lines; placing attention on the vibrations etc); organizing notes onto groups, phrases & textures; playing by heart. I really liked how it ended with a chapter on "Generosity"..for that's what music is, that's what music should be...sharing what is beautiful and inspiring in you, with those around you.

  • Kayleigh
    2018-12-06 19:27

    This is just a great book to read about music, creativity, and ergonomics, all in one. It was a pleasure to reread, and I highly recommend it.

  • Kenneth
    2018-12-02 21:24

    I've come to know a few books on practices, but a chapter in this one made me want to own this for the family's musical journey. Far from just detailing the techniques to physically preparing the body for a practice, it sheds light on how to open up one's inner vulnerability to let the audience to listen one's music from his or her heart.

  • David
    2018-11-28 01:28

    This book is a good one, but I think it caters more toward professional and aspiring concert musicians, rather than amateurs. I picked it up specifically because I've been struggling with my own practicing; I fall into the category of one who is uncomfortable with my instrument and frustrated by my inability to express myself. I think that some of Bruser's early "steps" in her process are more applicable here, but some of the later steps seem to be more concerned with drawing out nuance and subtlety from the instrument. That is, the advice here is for people who are already quite good at their instrument, able to "hit the notes" but not able to get the kind of sound or emotion that they're looking for. I have no doubt that for, say, a student studying musical performance at university, practicing 5 hours a day and competing at auditions and recitals, this is incredibly helpful. But for the amateur looking to revitalize his playing and lost as to how to get to a more comfortable position in his own playing through a couple hours a week of practicing, adding subtlety and nuance isn't is principal concern yet. Perhaps it should be, I don't know. So while helpful, I sensed a large gap between myself and what I perceived to be Bruser's intended audience; like I had accidentally walked into the advanced workshop where they were all talking about how to better express Mozart when I should have been in a beginners class.

  • Beccy
    2018-12-13 03:33

    The most valuable concept I gained was the idea that as you practice you make yourself hyper-aware of your surroundings--instead of trying to tune them out completely. Usually we are told to "focus," or "concentrate" and ignore anything that might distract us. Her idea is to do the opposite as you practice. Notice the feel of the bench under your thighs, the quiet buzz of the light fixture, the draft coming from the hallway . . . When you become accustomed to noticing every minute detail that you can perceive with your senses, in a relaxed manner, you can perform on stage without your environs distracting you. The audience member who sneezes, the reflection of the woman on the wood of the piano, etc. do not "break" your concentration, because you are already used to taking in your surroundings while playing.

  • Amalie Simper
    2018-12-14 22:25

    I really enjoyed that this book was geared towards multiple different instruments and all the points in her ten step practice plan in part 2 could be related to any musician. I enjoyed the Q&A at the end of each section. I had many of the questions in my mind and really appreciated her answers. The best, very best chapter of the whole book was the last chapter. It was a book that resonated with me and I considered my own teachers and which parts they instilled in me and our lessons, and the outs I had about my own current students and what parts I could improve in my own teaching to help them practice better. When a book inspires me to be a better teacher and gives me specific things to share and portray to students today, not just in the future, it was a worthwhile read. I will be purchasing this book to reference in the future instead of just checking it out at the library.

  • Shimin Li
    2018-11-18 22:28

    This book tells us how we should practice and what kind of thoughts we should have. It tells why we should relax and how we could do it. The book contains many differents ideas, things about piano, violin, viola, percussions and flutes,etc. Quotes from performers and teachers. Also there are questions from readers and answers to them. One message it gave me is to remember to enjoy. Not thinking about how hard things are, just relax and enjoy what's in front of me. Try to not forget about the curiousity at the beginning.This book reminds me of my lovely violin I played in 8th grade. Reminds me of what the teacher taught me, reminds me of the performances, reminds me of the memory when I played violin at the last day of one of my afterschool program with my friends.

  • Mikael Lind
    2018-11-28 01:35

    Kind of repetitive, but it has some important points to make. The yoga/stretching section is important but kind of strange in that it doesn't really explain what you do if you can't even remotely reach a similar position as the author. Try your best, yes, but my god, I was stiff as a refrigerator before I started to practice yoga, and this book should have focused more on how you develop an agile body. I suggest you don't buy this book; borrow it at the library, read about her philosophy of practicing, and then buy a book about back exercises, yoga or stretching and work your way forward from there. Worked for me!

  • Elizabeth
    2018-11-26 19:26

    This was a good book to help me get spirit back into my music. Lately I have been so stressed about several different things. I was focusing on the technical aspect instead of playing/singing from the heart. I enjoyed the warm up suggestions, the sections specific to clarinet players and the memorization suggestions (playing by heart). I especially enjoyed the author's advise on allowing your feelings to happen and to effect you music. There were times when I thought she repeated herself within her different topics, but other than that it was a good read for any musician.

  • Michael Anderson
    2018-11-25 21:21

    Very entertaining book, though a bit repetitive in places, the author describes attitude and practices that hopefully result in better, more enjoyable and effective musical practices and performances. These include meditation, breathing, posture, listening techniques, rhythmic balance, relaxation, and related methods. I may be able to apply some of them to chess playing, possibly. All in all, a good book.

  • Acer Pseudoplantatus
    2018-12-10 21:19

    This book contains quite a few useful ideas on practicing and performance and valuable concepts about and advice on posture and movement, but unfortunately it is repetative, filled with new-agey bullshit (mainly misconceptions about energy and resonance that the author is constantly refering to) and fake/invented-seeming anecdotes. The bulk of it unfortunately was tedious and annoying, even though there are some beautiful thoughts.

  • Sarah
    2018-12-01 01:21

    A very good book for musicians of all stripes. It puts forth steps for starting your practice sessions, with breathing and stretching exercises, then moves on to tips for really expressing things with your music (yes, even while "just practicing"), outlines posture for various instruments, and has other extremely interesting tidbits and not so tid-bits having to do with all aspects of expression through music.lovely and good to have on-hand as a reference even after you've read it all.

  • Stacy
    2018-11-24 01:26

    This wasn't exactly what I expected. However, it contained some interesting suggestions and new perspectives. I found it to be moderately useful. I initially scoffed at the stretching idea. However, after trying them I actually like them quite a bit. It is doubtful I would go through the whole rigamarole before each practice session, though.

  • Anne-Marie
    2018-12-07 21:37

    This book was helpful. REALLY boring in some parts, but pretty interesting in others. The author has a lot of "revelations." For example, she talked about this one time when she was sitting at the piano bench and had an epiphany that changed her entire life. And she wants people to meditate before they play an instrument... sounds like Professor Trelawney to me.

  • Virginia Franklyn
    2018-11-23 23:36

    I skimmed the parts of this book that didn't apply to me. But stretching and relaxing before practice and performances, thorough memorizing as a tool to help you quickly recover when you make a mistake, finding something to love in each tune (even those you don't love - I'm looking at you, Loch Carron), and recognizing the bravery of performance and competitions resonated with me. A good read.

  • Jon Thysell
    2018-12-01 00:20

    For an amateur musician like me, without the benefit of a formal musical education, this book has opened up a variety of avenues and expanded my appreciation for practicing and what it means to make music. Not to say this book is only for amateurs, given the amount of space she dedicates to the issues that professional, performing musicians face. A book I will read again and again.

  • Lena
    2018-12-16 22:34

    This book strips you down to the core as a musician. You gain an insight into the things you thought you only struggled with. I highly recommend it! It'll help you with practice and performance!"Give this book to any musician you love and to any person who loves what music does for them and for the world." -Richard Stoltzman, Clarinetist

  • Kala
    2018-11-19 03:13

    Zen meets cello (or any other instrument) practice. This book is a good reminder not to let perfectionism suck the joy out of practicing. Her ideas may also apply to other areas of life that involve presence and discipline.

  • tamarack
    2018-12-13 21:20

    unfortunately i didn't get to finish this before handing it on to a good friend as a birthday gift. it seemed like a good read -- and the friend i gave it to is incredibly delighted with it (and neither of us are classical pianists; though i imagine it would be even better if we were).

  • Contrariwise
    2018-12-16 19:33

    A really thoughtful explanation of approaching music practice with mindfulness and focus. The exercises balance addressing the needs of the state of mind, physical body, technical skill, and musicality.

  • Jon
    2018-12-05 00:12

    The author is a classical pianist, and this determines her approach to the subject. For musicians who only play others' scores, this is an excellent read. For anyone interested in improvisation and seeking direction in their practice sessions, this book is somewhat irrelevant.