“Positive Piano” by Charles Blanchard. This is a very inspiring and well-researched book. It is geared towards the concert pianist but there are also references to jazz and pop players. I reached out to the author and he actually responded! I have even gone back to this book for fresh inspiration and it has yet to let me down. It really helps you understand the commitment that you’ll need to be a successful person/pianist by showing how many other great piano players lived their lives. It is full of funny and relevant quotes too. It left me with a feeling of excitement and “I can do this” rather than “ugh, I don’t think I have that kind of commitment”. You feel like you’ve just sat down and talked with the very best piano players of all time. And they understand what you are going through.
“Essay on the true art of playing a keyboard instrument” by C.P.E. Bach. I read this book many years ago and I can’t find it now so I’ll need to buy a new one. But there was a great chapter on alternate fingering for scales. Up until that point I had been taught there was only one way to play scales with regard to fingering. Competition among piano players is always there. And there is even more of a rub between commercial players and traditional players. It fed my craving for some rebellion to find “one of their own” with an essay that essentially broke all the rules. I also remember a fellow student who was blind. He was having great difficulty playing his scales with “correct” fingering. Still, Gordon Mote could rip of a scale better than anyone.
“The Science of Self Talk” by Ian Tuhovsky. This one has almost nothing to do with piano. At least not directly. But if you are like me and talk to yourself while practicing (either out loud or in your head) then this book might be helpful. It helps you to understand the results of the kind of self-talk you are doing and adjust them if needed. This is especially useful to either to be nicer to yourself, or push yourself harder while practicing. Everyone is different.
“The practice of practice” by Jonathan Harnum. This is another well-researched book with some great ways to approach practice time. It talks about how it affects your “plastic brain” and literally changes who we are. It helps you be more deliberate about it.
Any biographies are usually good too. I just encourage you to grab a biography of a musician that has been there and done that, and read it. I think as musicians we are almost destined to go our own way, and make our own mistakes. But every once in a while, it can help us get even farther down the road if we learn from someone else’s mistakes. And of course, someone else’s successes.
I used to read a blog called, “The Bulletproof Musician”. It seemed to have a negative effect on me and my playing so I quit reading it. It started to make me think about things that I had done naturally in the past, and messing me up. A lot of the information was based on studies and was backed up and footnoted. I don’t have much of that on my blog. This is just me shooting from the hip and telling you all what has worked for me. If it starts messing up your vibe, stop reading. My approach may not work for you. The same goes for any books you read. Some will speak to you and some won’t. These are just a few that I thought you should at least know about. I found them very helpful and inspiring.
I’m sure there will be more but this is what I have today. Let me and others know if there is a book you like.
Obviously, we don't know everything. But we do tend to think differently. Here are some of my thoughts on piano and maybe some on life. I play piano for Tracy Lawrence, produce new artists, write and practice piano.