Is there a secret to performing music? In the past, the higher level skills such as managing stress, getting into “the zone”, projecting, communicating with an audience and the “X” factor, as well as avoiding injury, were often left unexplored and untaught, or put into the “either you’ve got it or you haven’t” basket.
Nowadays, fortunately, we can take a much more pragmatic and evidence based approach to these essential aspects of working in music. Research into sports and performance psychology, neuroscience, and the psychology of flow, has completely changed the game for musicians.
I maintain this page as a repository of books, blogs and articles that I have found particularly interesting or useful.
The Inner Game of Music – a classic and still an essential read in my view
The Musician’s Way by Gerald Klickstein – a great repository of information on “Practice, Performance, and Wellness”
Playing (Less) Hurt by Janet Horvath – invaluable resource on injury prevention
Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner – en exploration of the role of spiritual techniques / meditation, focused on jazz but I think relevant to everyone who plays music. If it was easy to “get into the zone” then we would all be doing it all the time; in fact it is quite difficult to describe how it can be achieved, and this is one attempt by a great musician.
The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten – a brilliant fictional exploration of what it is to play music
Presence by Patsy Rodenburg – Based on Rodenburg’s experience as an acting coach, but this book is equally of use to musicians. It covers what in musical performance is called “projection” or ones way of being on stage and of connecting with an audience as a performer, creator and interpreter.
The Bulletproof Musician – if you read one thing, read this. The resource for research based practise and performance techniques.
The Musician’s Way Blog – An adjunct to Gerald Klickstein’s book (above), a lot of great articles.
I will continue to bookmark more interesting articles here…
The Neurobiology of Grace Under Pressure – the connection between the vagus nerve and tension/stress management
Peter Miksza presentation on research into effective practice strategies – video halfway through presents the strategies under evaluation