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Read This Book: The Musician’s Way

When Gerald Klickstein sent me his book on tuning the guitar by ear, he also sent his other book, The Musician’s Way (aff. link).

I’m always excited about books like this. Most times they fill gaping holes in the normal music curriculum, and give me at least a few gems of knowledge I hadn’t thought about before. Learn more about the book at

Practice, Performance, and Wellness

The subtitle of the book is an outline of what you’ll find inside. Part one deals with, “practicing deeply.” It begins with the necessary, but mundane, subjects of organizing practice time and creating a supportive practice environment. Klickstein divides practice into five zone: new, developing, and performance material along with technique and musicianship. Some of these are self-explanatory, others explore ares few people venture. How much of your practice includes sight reading and ear training?

The following chapters look at how to work with material in each practice zone, and cover things such as mental practice, selecting repertoire, memorization, interpretative issues, and taking breaks in practice. The material is necessarily general. A book could not contain specific practice suggestions for every major piece in every instrument’s repertoire. I consider the generality of this advice a strength. The practice concepts in The Musician’s Way could be easily integrated with whatever your private instructor is giving you.

I have always thought that there needed to be a good, lengthy book on practicing, but I’d never found one I liked. It had gotten to the point where I thought of writing something myself. Now I don’t have to. The The Musician’s Way (aff. link) fills that gap.

Part two deals with performance issues. It begins by discussing anxiety’s effects on our bodies, and continues with, “five facets of preparation,” and issues of backstage and pre-performance routines.

What I like most about the section on performance is its practicality. In short, Mr. Klickstein is not afraid to discuss what most people consider trivial issues. Are your clothes prepared? Do you have the music? How do you start and end a piece? How do you walk out on stage? So much preparation goes into the music itself, but nothing goes into stage deportment or easy issues that, if dealt with, can help a performer be less worried and more focused.

Part three covers, “lifelong creativity.” This section is a discussion on injury prevention and how to succeed as a student. The injury prevention section deals with, among other things, an issue that musicians don’t like to talk about: hearing damage. Simply put, this section is terrifying. I’d never even thought about most of the things the book covers, but I’m certainly glad I know about them now.

The portion on succeeding as a student covers things such as the student-teacher relationship and dealing with criticism.

Quote Junkie

I’m kind of a quote junkie. That’s why I put a quote in every Monday Motivation post.

One of my favorite things about this book is the relevant quotes placed before each section.

Strength in Formatting

When I first started reading The Musician’s Way (aff. link), I was a bit put off by the numerous lists put in boxed out asides.

Over the course of the book, I realized that these were a strength. The formatting and lists allow quick reviewing, making this book a solid, easily-scanned reference.

A Formidable Duo

If you are…

  • a music student
  • a professional musician
  • a serious (or not-so-serious) amateur musician
  • anyone else, really

You owe it to yourself to read this book. The concepts found in it might seem like common knowledge, but there are is some powerful gems contained within the pages of The Musician’s Way (aff. link).

The Musician’s Way and The Savvy Musician make a formidable duo of books for any musician. Together they fill major holes in any music curriculum, and offer a wealth of knowledge collected in a few hundred pages. I can’t recommend either highly enough.

Win a Copy of The Musician’s Way!

I have a copy of The Musician’s Way to give away. To enter the competition for winning the book, please leave a comment on this post. Be sure to leave your name and an accurate email address.

After one week, I will use a random number generator to select a comment then email the comment author for shipping information.

The giveaway is over! See who won!

33 Responses
  1. 2010 February 4
    william Bajzek permalink

    Thanks for the review; I hadn’t heard of this book before. I have read a lot of books that cover similar topics, but it sounds like this one may fill in some gaps.

  2. 2010 February 4
    David permalink

    I love free books. I look forward to reading this…

    David Fogle

  3. 2010 February 4
    Brandon Carrasco permalink

    Sounds like a good one. Based on your description of the formatting, it sounds like it would be a great reference tool.

  4. 2010 February 4
    palaeomymar permalink

    Thanks for the review. Interesting book.

  5. 2010 February 4
    Cary Terry permalink

    This is my entry for “The Musician’s Way” drawing.

  6. 2010 February 4
    Mark Silva permalink

    Nice review. I also thought there was a need for a book that detailed higher level and lifelong practice objectives. Is this book related to “The Artist’s Way”?

    Please enter me in the raffle.

  7. 2010 February 4
    David Chapman permalink

    Generalities can be good (and, personally, I use any good tip that I can get). This sounds like a potentially good book.

  8. 2010 February 4

    If this comment is randomly selected, I will get the book!

  9. 2010 February 4
    Aivan Amit permalink

    The weakest link in learning…studying how to study effectively..i hope to get this book

  10. 2010 February 4
    Jeffrey Bianchi permalink

    Thanks for suggesting this book. Have you ever the The Art of Practicing by Madeline Brusser?

  11. 2010 February 4
    Chris Ledwidge permalink

    I love the book reviews appearing on this site lately. It’s very hard to find quaity books on the subject of the classical guitar.

    Can I suggest a couple.
    Hector Quine’s – Guitar Technique, Intermediate to Advanced. (Probably the best book I’ve ever found)
    And Harvey Turnbull’s – Guitar from the renaissance to the present day.

    I look forward to reading this one. Practising is probably the most important part of the music students week. Yet so much more emphasis is placed on getting quality lessons. Important of course but alot more progress can be made with a properly set out practise routine.

  12. 2010 February 4

    I am probably going to read that book, even if I don’t win it…

  13. 2010 February 4
    Jeremy permalink

    Quine’s book is fantastic – one of my favourites for sure. I’ll check this one out, it sounds like a valuable read.

  14. 2010 February 5

    Hi Christopher,

    Looks like a great book. Especially because it seems very practical. I have read a few books on subjects like these, but they were very general. Although you can think of the things that are written down for a moment, but I always have the feeling that in a few weeks you’ve already forgotten about it.

    So I’m a bit sceptic about books with these subject, but because you’re thrilled of it, I might give it a try.
    What’s the motivation of the person who send you this book to recommend this, and how did he got to know it?


    PS: It might be cool to have a book and/or cd review on this website as well, to avoid spending money on things we aren’t really looking for…

  15. 2010 February 5
    Al Elisco permalink

    Appreciate the review and will definitely read, whether I win the book or buy it….

    Here is a quote from JS Bach to satisfy your quote needs (I too suffer from the same malody):
    “There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself”

  16. 2010 February 5
    Stephen Hamilton permalink

    Thanks for the review – another good practising book (which I liked anyway) is The Art And Technique Of Practice by Richard Provost, which contains all sorts of good advice, and is firmly in the ‘practical’ camp. My big issue is closing the distance between obviously good advice and what I actually do!

  17. 2010 February 5
    Linda Tsardakas-Grimm permalink

    After reading the comment by Chris Ledwidge, I do think both quality lessons and proper practice are of equal value. One without the other won’t get anybody far. The Musician’s Way sounds like quite a valuable source of information. Perhaps I’ll be lucky? Otherwise I might just have to purchase it!

  18. 2010 February 5

    Though I have to admit that I may not have posted were it not for the giveaway, I just finished the first half of “Tuning the Guitar” and want to go on record as saying that it’s worth many times the asking price. Think about how much time, money, and effort go into performing even a relatively easy piece and how easily all that goes down the drain if even a single string is not perfectly tuned.

    I wish that I’d gotten this book years ago. Thanks for the post and for this excellent blog.

    Slightly off topic..I’ve finally gone nail-less & love it.

  19. 2010 February 5
    Lee Angus permalink

    As a beginner living a busy life (don’t we all!), efficient practice is an important topic for me. I’m buying this book if I don’t win it!

  20. 2010 February 5

    Looks great, I look forward to reading it!


  21. 2010 February 5
    Jerry Swain permalink

    Sounds like something that would help me out a lot. I can’t afford lessons so I am trying to teach myself and I am always looking into better ways to approach the long road ahead of me.

  22. 2010 February 5

    A fascinating book and one to put on my birthday list I think. We guitarists tend to disappear up our own posteriors with our tendency to obsessiveness and instrospection (or is it just me?). This book like a welcome corrective.

    Tom (also on Delcamp)

  23. 2010 February 5
    Patrick Holm permalink

    Always looking for great books on music, practicing and motivation for the art. I look forward to it!
    Patrick Holm

  24. 2010 February 5
    Wilson permalink

    Thanks for the excellent review, Chris! As a late blooming classical guitarist with a limited amount time set aside for guitar practice each day, I need all the help I can get with establishing an effective practice routine.

  25. 2010 February 5
    Jordan Clemens permalink

    Thanks for the review, Chris. Here’s to hoping I win!

  26. 2010 February 5
    Cesar permalink

    Thank you very much for your review. I am still very new at guitar playing and I read all of your posts…

  27. 2010 February 5

    thanks for the review. looks like a great book

  28. 2010 February 6

    Hi Chris,

    You make me very curious.

    I’m definitely going to put it on my guitar-books-to-buy-list.

    Thanx for a great review!

    Klaus Tol

  29. 2010 February 6
    pedro permalink

    This book would be just the thing for me now.
    I was taking classes with a very old professor (quite a good one even at 89) but unfortunately his advanced age has sadly stopped us from continuing…
    I’m feeling a litlle bit lost right now to tell you the truth. And a bit disenheartened…
    I miss our long talks on music too.
    It’s sad because the man was a great musician and player.

  30. 2010 February 7
    Evan Westre permalink

    There is something so truly noble about the way of the musician…

  31. 2010 February 8
    IronMike permalink

    Interesting-sounding book. It’s now on my list.

  32. 2010 February 9

    thanks for the review. very useful.

  33. 2011 February 12

    What an extremely helpful review – thanks! If it helps me clarify my thoughts well enough to express myself better to my students it will be worth it. I will certainly read this book. Great site, by the way!