Books for Teachers

Teaching Techniques and Strategies

Philip Johnston's "The Practice Revolution" may be the single most informative book of it's kind I've ever read. Loaded with practical insights into how to get better results from the six days in between lessons, including topics like, giving better instructions, common practice flaws, why students don't practice, building autonomy, learning new pieces, memorization and performance preparation. No other book has more valuable information about practice than this!
Billed as the "World Largest Guide to Practicing", Philip Johnston's "Practiceopedia" is 370 pages of invaluable strategies for practicing any instrument. Written in the form of an encyclopedia, students and parents can look up any topic such as, not wanting to practice, clearing obstacles, increasing motivation, learning new pieces, staying focused and performance preparation. So many incredible insights!
"The Little Book of Talent 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills" is the perfect companion to Coyles "The Talent Code". This book gives solid, practical tips for improving your skill set in almost any activity. Great advice like "Stare at who you want to become" and "To learn from a book, close the book" are just two powerful examples of the simple wisdom contained in this book. Also details six strategies for becoming a better teacher or coach. Invaluable!
"The Perfect Wrong Note" by William Westney, subtitled, "Learning to Trust Your Musical Self" is an unusual book by the creator of the "Un-Master Class". Westney focuses on discovering what truly healthy practice is, and sheds light on why he thinks mistakes are an inherent part of the process of learning music and should be embraced rather than recoiled from. A one-of-a-kind book with truly unique insights.
"With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein is an incredibly informative book on some of the finer aspects of piano technique, and also covers a wide variety of psychological hurdles facing most musicians. Also covers many specific musical topics such as tempo, listening, keyboard choreography, pedaling and more! The wisdom in this book is evident from the first two chapters, entitled, "Why Do You Practice?" and "Why Don't You Practice?". Genius.
"Time Flies" by Marienne Uszler is yet another fantastic book filled with valuable insights on how to structure a lesson and make the most of lesson time. Tips like how to stay focused, prepping the practice, the use of games in teaching, and planning group lessons are just a few topics covered here. Also gives detailed examples of "model" lessons of different durations for students of varying levels. This could be the one and only book a newly-minted teacher may need to begin teaching effectively. Highly recommended!
"Play It Again, Sam" by Marienne Uszler. Dubbed by the author as a "self-help pedagogy" book, this short tome if full of valuable insights and practical tips for teachers of all disciplines. Includes tips for lesson planning, teaching awareness, learning and reinforcing concepts, "big ideas" vs. "small ideas" and how concepts grow. Part of a three-book series, all three highly recommended!
Marienne Uszler's "That's a Good Question" offers many great insights and techniques for following the Socratic method of teaching by asking questions of the student. Includes tips on listening, feedback, typecasting students, traditions of the masters and the classroom climate. These books a terrific as a smooth introduction for those just beginning to teach, a shot in the arm for those who might feel burned out, or a reminder to the experienced teacher of further challenges. Superb.
"Rhythm: One On One" Dalcroze Activities in the Private Music Lesson, by Julia Schnebly-Black and Stephen F. Moore. The second book by this writing team is chock-full of practical Dalcroze Eurhythmics exercises and activities stimulate and educate students. The study of Eurhythmics challenges students to balance multiple sensory experiences into a unified whole, and whole body training to lead to technical mastery of the instrument and the body. Brilliant!
"The Rhythm Inside" Connecting Mind, Body and Spirit Through Music, by Julia Schnebly-Black and Stephen F. Moore. For those unfamiliar with the pedagogical principles of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, this book is a great introduction to the concept of teaching musical rhythm and expression through body movement. Contains valuable specific Dalcroze exercises for engaging attention and improving concentration, mastery of physical movements and developing emotional involvement with the music. Dalcroze. Genius.

Books about the Music and the Brain

"This is Your Brain on Music" by Daniel Levitan is one of the most interesting books of it's kind. Written by a neurologist who also happens to be a musician, this book answers many mysteries about how the brain processes music and why we respond to music the way we do. Also has great insights into what makes a hit song, a memorable melody, and why we can't get THAT song out of our heads. Truly fascinating reading!
Elena Mannes' "The Power of Music" is the latest in a string of books about music and the brain published recently. New advances in cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging reveal the part music plays in social evolution and questions the link between music and language. Ms. Mannes also produced a documentary film entitled, "The Music Instinct", with such luminaries as Bobby McFerrin, Daniel Levitan and Yo Yo Ma.
Oliver Sachs', "Musicophilia" is a chilling look at the many musical functions and dysfunctions of the human brain, as told through the personal stories of Dr. Sachs' patients. Covers a broad range of topics from absolute pitch, amusia (musical amnesia), musical seizures, synesthesia, musical savantism, musical hallucinations and more. Also offers a fascinating glimpse into the practice of music therapy and related treatments. A unique and eye-opening book!
"Greatness isn't born. It's grown. Here's how."Daniel Coyle's "The Talent Code" explores the very nature of talent, how it is ignited in the individual and how it is grown and developed. Coyle's exploration extends to various "hot-beds" of talent in both sports and music and asks, "What do highly skilled golfers, soccer and tennis players have in common with highly skilled musicians?" Read this book to find out the three key elements to develop your talents and optimize your gifts!

Practice and Performance Psychology

"Effortless Mastery" by Kenny Werner is a bold, honest book about developing an effortless approach to playing one's instrument, and a more healthy relationship with music in general. Contains practical strategies for maximizing practice time, building confidence and reducing performance anxiety. Great insightsfor teachers and students who seek to build a more confident, relaxed approach to performing music.
"The Inner Game of Music", by Barry Green was one of the first books about music to address the mental aspects of developing musicianship through the power of self-awareness. This book covers such topics as, the power of trust, letting go, coping with obstacles, and improving the quality of your musical experience. A landmark book, often imitated but never duplicated.
"Bridge of Waves" What Music Is and How Listening to It Changes the World, by W.A.Mathieu is a thoughtful examination of the effects of music on the human brain and the integration of mind, body and spirit into a unified whole, using music as the mechanism. Mathieu's insightful use of metaphors in this book will help you to appreciate music's power over us in new and exciting ways.
"The Art of Practicing", by Madeline Bruser is a clearly presented practical manual on the do's and dont's of practicing any instrument. Topics covered in this very helpful book include, struggle and freedom, body awareness, bio mechanics, inquisitiveness, simplicity, perception and finding your natural rhythm. Filled with valuable and practical information for all instrumentalists,with specific insights for woodwind, brass, string and piano players.