Monday, February 4, 2008

The Inner Game

I just finished reading Barry Green's The Inner Game of Music. I had read a lot of mixed reviews about this book, some saying that the ideas were revolutionary, others say they were trivial. In any event, I saw it in the library, checked it out, and read it.

Overall, it's and easy and quick read. I don't think the ideas in the book are revolutionary. It's basically a recasting of The Inner Game of Tennis for musicians. It certainly will not give you everything you need to "
to overcome self-consciousness and stage-fright, and helped (you) recapture a youthful, almost effortless, capacity to learn." But that said, if you have the time is worth reading it. There are some good ideas, many of which we know but need to be reminded of occasionally. For example the idea of setting up a goal journal is, I think, useful for helping you track your progress and accomplish the things you want. I've blogged before about how important I think goals are, particularly documenting and tracking your progress towards accomplishing your goals. I also found his writing on ways in which you can "let go" of yourself to get more out of your performance in the music and his ideas on focusing your attention on the music (rather than the "noise" and "conversations" that go on in your brain).

That said, the ideas are commonsense. He goes over and over again the importance of focusing on what you're doing, on trusting yourself, and on having a will to succeed. These are all things we teach kids in building up their self-esteem. In that sense, the book does a good job of reminding us of the importance of these things. However I found a lot of the anecdotes/case studies misleading. There are more than a few paragraphs that begin with something like "Christine, a cellist from Cincinnati, was having a hard time playing a series of ├ętudes." Green then goes on to describe how some simple direction like "try to play the wrong notes" or "ignore your left-hand shifts" or "play with your cello upside-down" made Christine play her ├ętudes brilliantly. I actually laughed during a part of the book in which Green describes having some anxiety and calling a secretary who knew the "inner game" psychobabble. She was able to talk him down and he was able perform the piece with the mastery he knew he had. It makes me think about the case histories I read as an undergraduate regarding cults. I think the "logic" in the book will apply to Amway sales as well.

Green's new book is entitled
led The Mastery of Music, Ten Pathways to True Artistry. Only 10 steps to learn the Bottesini concerto? Sweet.

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