The older I get, the longer I’m in this field, the more I realize that mental preparation is what separates the good from the excellent.  This extremely important area is also one of the least discussed areas by most teachers.  Reading books on mental preparation will be a great asset to your performing.

“In Pursuit of Excellent” by Terry Orlick, PhD

  • MUST READ for Musicians!!!!  Best book I have ever read for the mental development of performers
  • Offers many great strategies for mental preparation
  • Though it is written for athletes it is easily applicable to musicians

“Fight Your Fear and Win: Seven Skills for Performing Your Best under Pressure-at Work, in Sports, on Stage” by Don Greene

  • Great book!
  • Identifies the areas that are holding back your performances
  • Provides useful exercises to help your weak areas
  • Greene also has a website: where you can take the test to identify your weak areas and get help.

“The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey

  • Written for tennis players, one of the most popular sports-psychology books of all time
  • Easily adaptable to bassoon
  • Good Book
  • Better than the adaptation: The Inner Game of Music, read the tennis version

“The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris

  • Written to help people with depression
  • Great mind techniques for stress-reduction
  • Focusing in the moment exercises

“A Soprano on Her Head” by Eloise Ristad

  • Some interesting ideas
  • An enjoyable read

“The Mindful Way Through Depression” by Williams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn

  • Written to help with depression
  • Techniques to live in the moment are highly applicable to focusing on stage

“Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within” by Kenny Werner

  • Jazz focused
  • Religion based
  • Some good food for thought but not many applicable things to try

“The Mastery of Music: Ten Pathways to True Artistry” by Barry Green

  • Really enjoyable read!
  • Great quotes from top musicians
  • Interesting ideas and fun read

“Performance Success: Performing Your Best Under Pressure” by Don Greene

  • Similar to Fight Your Fear and Win
  • Has specific ideas to try

“Overachievement” by John Eliot

  • A new take on mental preparation
  • Don’t relax, use the pressure to thrive

“Audition Success” by Don Greene

  • A reivew of the topics of his other books by following conversations with a horn player and singer as they prepare for auditions

“The Relaxation Response” by Herbert Benson

  • Spends a LOT of time on the science behind how relaxation can help your blood pressure and body
  • Gives step-by-step instructions on how to achieve the “relaxation response” (similar to centering or mindfulness)

“Learned Optimism: how to change your mind and your life” by Martin E. P. Seligman

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