The Musician’s Way

Musicians-Way-ReviewI’ll admit it. I’m difficult to please. Especially when it comes to books on practice.

I like to see good design, good quality materials, clear and well written and content that can be used by the practising musician. All too often these are lacking. However, The Musician’s Way by Gerald Klickstein is excellent in all areas.

You could at this point just skip the rest of this review and jump straight to the links at the end to buy a copy – it would be one of the best decisions you could make as a practising musician. This book is a rare example of clear, concise and useable information on music practice.

Part one of the book runs to 129 pages and deals with ‘Artful Practice’. Part two is titled ‘fearless performance’ and the third and last section is about ‘lifelong creativity’. The first section is specifically about practice but anyone reading this book will also get a great deal out of the other sections and indeed they cover much material of relevance, after all the goal of practice is to be a ‘creative performer’.

Sadly, practice for most people is a case of opening a book and starting to play. Ineffective. Klickstein outlines the steps you should take in order to get organised. From planning your sessions, choosing material and creating a practice space. He also confirms a long held belief or mine: “make it your top priority to raise the quality of your practice and not merely control the quantity”.

There follows four sections on ‘Practicing Deeply’ which cover the whole gamut of practice problems. Also very usefully there are simple lists to remind the reader of the steps involved in deep practice. For example in order to manage repetition Klickstein suggests the following: insist on excellence, reject mindless repetition, aim for growth and evaluate continuously. That’s something you can actually apply in the practice room.

I could cite, many, many more examples of the useful material in this book but I suggest you just get yourself a copy. Failing that a visit to The Musicians Way Blog is also a good option. Whichever you do will help your practice.

If I read a better book on practice this year I’ll be surprised!!

The Musician’s Way by Gerald Klickstein, (2009, Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0195343131) is available from:[amazon asin=0195343131&template=htp price]

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