Monday, June 19, 2017

The Inner Game of Music

Author: Barry Green with W. Timothy Gallwey
Pages: 221
Rating: Non-fiction - G

The Inner Game of Music is that which takes place in the mind, played against such elusive opponents as nervousness, self-doubt, and fear of failure. Using the same principles of “natural learning” Timothy Gallwey developed so successfully for tennis, golf and skiing and applying them to his own field, noted musician Barry Green shows how to acknowledge and overcome these internal obstacles in order to bring a new quality to the experience and learning of music. And for those who don’t play an instrument but who feel their appreciation of music will be enhanced if they understand more about the process of playing, this book is ideal.

In precise, easy to understand language, Green and Gallwey explain how natural skills can be nurtured and enhanced, and through a series of special exercises they demonstrate the ways in which musicians can achieve exact intonation, artistic phrasing, and improved technique.

There are also chapters on ensemble playing, improvisation, composition and creativity. All of these along with listening skills – an essential part of the Inner Game – are discussed throughout.
A methodology with a proven track record, The Inner Game of Music will be invaluable to anyone seriously interested in music, whether professional or amateur, composer, performer, or simply an appreciative listener.

My Thoughts: I found this book to be fascinating, both as a musician and a music teacher. It's been around for about 30 years so as I was reading it, I recognized several of the ideas and suggestions as things I've heard before in music lessons and ensembles, which was awesome! Reading this book also helped me realize WHY I hated my flute teacher so much. I started with him, then went to several other teachers, and when my mom sent me back to him, I bawled for like an hour. The reason? He was no fun at ALL! I didn't enjoy my lessons, I didn't understand what was wrong with how I played something, only that he would make me play it again and again until I "got it right" even though I still never could tell the difference. This book reminds us that first and foremost, music should be enjoyable, and there are lots of things you can do to make it more fun. Also, teaching works best when the student is led to their own discoveries, instead of being told "Do this, do that, that was wrong, that was right."

I particularly enjoyed the way the book encourages you to let feeling come into your music, to kind of let go and let your body take over, shove your mind to the side. I definitely need improvement in that area. There were so many awesome ideas on how to overcome nervousness, difficult musical challenges, etc. There's too much to even summarize!

There is one quote I really loved. In a chapter on improving the quality of musical experience, the author discusses the difficult of getting stuck in a rehearsal that is not challenging you. This has happened to most of us at one time or another. Here's what he said "I can always choose to find challenge in what would otherwise seem boring circumstances." For example, if your part is not interesting, memorize it, listen more carefully to the other parts and how yours fits in, etc. 

If you are a musician or music teacher, I highly recommend picking up this book and giving it a glance-through. You may learn something!