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Musicians' health and wellness

Resources to support musicians' health and wellness

Searching for information about optimizing performance

On this page, you will find examples of resources related to certain aspects of optimizing performance.

Find additional resources by searching with relevant keywords in the Library's catalogue.

Another way to find information on these topics is to link to the following subject headings. Each link retrieves all items in the Library's collection that have been assigned the given description, based on the item's subject matter:

Performance psychology resources: Examples

  • The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart by Madeline Bruser
    ML3838 B78 1999, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    A seminal resource on how to make practicing a rewarding experience, and on performing with confidence and freedom. Discusses physiological and meditative ways to release physical and mental tension, as well as techniques on how to listen better to yourself. Focuses on pianists' injuries.
  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi
    E-book & BF575 H27 C85 2008, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    Researched and named by psychologist Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, "flow" is a state of complete concentration with the activity at hand and the situation. In this seminal book, Csíkszentmihályi explains how this state of "optimal experience" can be controlled and can improve one's quality of life. Video interview with the author also available online.
  • The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey
    ML3820 G73 1986, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    Applying the principles of Timothy Gallwey's seminal work The Inner Game of Tennis, this book by bassist Barry Green has helped \musicians overcome performance anxiety and embrace peak performance. In addition to addressing the psychological aspects of music performance, the book also addresses ensemble playing, improvisation, composition, creativity, and listening skills.
  • In Pursuit of Excellence: How to Win in Sports and Life Through Mental Training by Terry Orlick
    GV706.4 O73 2008, Humanities and Social Sciences Library

    Written by a famed Olympic sports psychologist and teacher, this book caters not just to athletes and coaches, but to anyone wishing to pursue excellence in professional or life goals. Through inspiration and methodical strategies, it is an illuminating guide for learning essential performance skills such as focusing, dealing with distractions, overcoming obstacles, and more. 
  • Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians by Stewart Gordon
    E-book and ML457 G66 2006, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    This book is a solution-driven manual to the art of performance, containing exercises and techniques for self-evaluation and improvement. It addresses all facets of performing onstage, from preparation (both mental and physical) to performance to post-performance evaluation. It provides techniques for how to deal with stage fright, pacing, practicing, changing bad habits, and memorizing. 
  • The Mastery of Music: Ten Pathways to True Artistry by Barry Green
    ML3830 G69 2005, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    Written by the author of The Inner Game of Music, this book explores, through interviews and stories from successful legends in the field, the artistic and personal qualities that make up a great musician.
  • Notes from the Green Room: Coping with Stress and Anxiety in Musical Performance by Paul Salmon and Robert Meyer
    ML3830 S148 1998, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    A book about music performance anxiety. Discusses the role of preparation in performance, stress management, relaxation training, and the nature of anxiety. 
  • The Perfect Wrong Notes: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self by William Westney
    ML457 W47 2003, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    Drawing on the premise that a wrong note can be constructive or useful, this book is a treatise on how to trust one's natural musical self and set it free. Discusses alternatives for learning, music education, and ways to make practicing an adventurous and rewarding enterprise.
  • Performance Success: Performing Your Best Under Pressure by Don Greene
    ML3830 G74 2002, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    A former U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret, Don Greene, Ph. D. is an Olympic sport psychologist who has been on faculty at the Juilliard School, the Colburn Conservatory, and the New World Symphony coaching musicians on how to achieve optimal performance in high-pressure situations. Performance Success, a methodical guide with many exercises, demands active participation on the part of the reader, including the use of written inventories. An interview with the author is available for online viewing.
  • A Soprano on Her Head: Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances by Eloise Ristad
    MT2 R57 1982, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    One of the earliest texts to discuss the psychological blocks in the field of music performance and how to overcome them. Written by a voice teacher, this book addresses fear in performance, negative self-criticism, practicing effectively, and more in 16 self-contained chapters.
  • Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Harrigel
    BQ9265.8 H4713 1953, Birks Reading Room

    Written by a German philosophy professor, Zen in the Art of Archery is an account of his experiences learning Kyūdō, a Japanese form of archery, with a teacher that combined the martial art with aspects of Zen Buddhism. Widely credited with the introduction of Zen in the West, Harrigel combines the spiritual concept of Zen with groundbreaking theories about motor learning.
  • 10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Exercise Program for Winning Before the Game Begins by Jason Selk

    Aimed towards athletes, this book describes an effective and accessible method for developing mental toughness​ in performances and competitions. Requiring 10 minutes of daily practicing, the provided methodology improves focus, concentration, confidence, and inspiration.

Audition preparation resources: Examples

  • Audition Cafe's Weekly Brew: A blog with articles by successful musicians about taking orchestral auditions. One example is the helpful Orchestral Audition Preparation in 10 Steps, a concise and matter-of-fact list to prepare for the big audition. 
  • The Auditionhacker blog: Created by Metropolitan Opera percussionist Rob Knopper, the Auditionhacker blog features articles about the various facets of taking orchestral auditions. His articles often feature interviews with other successful musicians, discussing the audition circuit and possible methodologies in preparing for auditions. Public Facebook group also available.
  • Audition Success by Don Greene
    ML3795 G82 1998, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    A former U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret, Don Greene, Ph. D. is an Olympic sport psychologist who has been on faculty at the Juilliard School, the Colburn Conservatory, and the New World Symphony coaching musicians on how to achieve optimal performance in high-pressure situations. Audition Success is based on interviews with two musicians who learned how to prepare for auditions under Greene's guidance. An interview with the author is available for online viewing.
  • The Bulletproof Musician blog: Articles by Dr. Noa Kageyama, a former Juilliard-trained violinist with a doctorate in psychology who teaches performance psychology at Juilliard and the New World Symphony. His weekly articles, with ideas based on results from scientific studies, cover everything from performance anxiety to practice "hacks" to technology. 
  • Natesviolin blog: An excellent blog by Nathan Cole, Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, on violin-related issues as well as general issues regarding music performance.

General motivational resources: Examples

  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
    BF503 P475 2011, Humanities and Social Sciences Library

    It is widely believed that the best motivation is the carrot-or-stick approach - rewards or fear and punishment. However, Daniel Pink argues that human motivation is intrinsic, and that this true motivation can be divided into three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose. 
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
    E-book & BF773 D85 2016, Humanities and Social Sciences Library (other editions available)

    Describes how creative people in all fields, including music, can apply the growth mindset to achieve results and fulfillment. Discusses how established attitudes affect all aspects of one's life and explains the differences between fixed and growth mindsets.
    See also: TEDTalks: Carol Dweck — The Power of Believing That You Can Improve (E-video; 10 mins.)
  • Online guided meditation podcasts with Tara Brach: Guided meditation tapes are used by many professional musicians to focus their minds for performances and beyond. This website has meditation podcasts of various natures of varying lengths.
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
    E-book and BF637 S8 G533 2008, Humanities and Social Sciences Library

    This book identifies and analyzes how one's environment affects their opportunities for success, examining successful people such as hockey players to the Beatles to Bill Gates.
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey
    QT 255 R233s 2008, Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering

    A witty yet comprehensive exploration of the connections between exercise and the brain. Through various case studies and science, Ratey shows that exercise is a prime tool for sharpening mental processes and enabling peak performance in the brain.
  • The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
    BF431 C69 2009b, Marvin Duchow Music Library

    Drawing from neurology and research on the world's "talent hotbeds", this book identifies three fundamental elements used by "talented" people that can optimize anyone's performance: deep practice, ignition, and master coaching. 
  • Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley
    QP363.5 B44 2008, Humanities and Social Sciences Library

    Combining science on neuroplasticity and Buddhist practice of mindfulness, this book tries to answer one fundamental question: is it possible to change the way people think and feel by changing the brain? 

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Subjects: Music

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