I remember first coming across the Inner Game of Music whilst in a bookshop in Brighton, UK back in 1990. I pulled it off the shelf for no other reason than the title, which seemed intriguing. After reading the cover notes and having a quick flick through I decided to make the purchase. The book came home and went on the shelf where it stayed unread for a number of years. During this time I heard many people talk about this book and I would reply ”Oh yes, I know that book”. It has been lent out by me several times on request of others but it was not until recently that I actually took the time to read and fully digest the books content.
What I discovered were some things that I already knew, others that were already lurking in the back of my mind looking for a new way to express themselves and also some new angles on existing problems.
The basic premise of the book is that the musician plays two ”games”. There is one game that takes places in the real world and involves actual people and things. There is then another ”inner” game which takes place inside our own minds and this second game is the focus of the book. Green states that ”human beings significantly get in their own way” and the larger part of the book is given over to ideas to prevent this.
As with other practice based books I have reviewed there is much mention of the power of awareness, both in practice and performance situations. Green proposes that simply by being aware and trusting ourselves we can resolve many problems. Whilst I can see much merit in this argument I think the view is perhaps a little simplistic.
Concentration is a much overlooked element of performance and practice so it is nice to see Green dedicate some time to this. He outlines the ideal concentration required for musical performance and the scenarios where it is less than perfect.
Much of the latter part of the book is given over to methods for removing ”interferance” from performance and practice. Without this interferance Green argues we will be freer, more expressive performers. The methods here are varied covering awareness, judgement, visualisation, distraction and whilst I do not think the suggested exercises here will benefit all musicians I do believe there is value in trying them to see what additional knowledge or experience they might bring to your own playing.
The Inner Game has been criticised for being too narrow in it”s scope and also for being repetitive. To the former I would say it is refreshing to have a book that deals with this subject, however narrow the scope. To the latter I would point out that we learn best when when we are told something more than once. This book will not be to everyones liking but I do believe that every musician will find something of benefit in its pages. Even if you read and then reject this book I believe you will richer for having done so.
The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green, (1986, Pan Books, ISBN: 978-0385231261) is available from:[amazon asin=0385231261&template=htp price]