The Inner Game Of Music might be one of
the most helpful books you ever read in your musical life.
It can open you up to a whole new way
of making music. It contains a lot of the tips and tricks that we use
at IMA to help our Clients overcome challenges and have fun making
It’s a book that you’ll often go back
to, and when you do, you’ll find something new or something useful
that you forgot.
Below I’ve outlined a brief history of
the book and how it’s put together to help you decide if The Inner
Game Of Music is the book for you.
Back in the 70’s, before you would find
an entire wall at your favourite bookshop devoted entirely to self
help books, a man called Timothy Gallwey wrote a book that was
destined to be a classic – The Inner Game Of Tennis.
It spawned various other sport books
(like The Inner Game Of Skiing for example) and the goal in all the
books was the same – to help the sports person to reduce mental
interference so the body can perform to it’s peak potential.
A Californian Double Bass player called
Barry Green spent a skiing holiday working with The Inner Game of
Skiing and was very excited both with his improved skiing and with
the concepts contained in the book. He applied the concepts to his
Double Bass playing, and was so happy with the results, he got in
contact with Timothy Gallwey to ask if they could work on a book
together – The Inner Game Of Music.
The Inner Game Of Music rattled a lot
of cages when it was written – traditional methods of music teaching
(ruler over the knuckles anyone?) were shown to be incomplete. Any
teacher interested in getting the best out of all their students had
to get a copy and start reading.
The book also changed the lives of a
lot of performing musicians.
At the core of the book is this
important idea – what we usually consider as playing music –
wiggling the fingers, practicing scales, performing pieces etc – is
only the outer game of playing music.
The other half of playing music all
takes place in your own mind – the inner game of music.
In the first half of the book Barry
defines the inner and outer games, introduces the concepts of Self 1
and 2, and devotes one chapter each to the skills of the inner game –
awareness, will and trust.
Barry uses Self 1 and 2 to help us
understand the difference between our unconscious, naturally creative
self and our other ‘rational’ self – distracted, focused on
shortcomings, full of negative self talk and doubt.
He provides us with concepts and
exercises to help us ignore our rational self and to play from our
unconscious, creative self. The skills of awareness, will and trust
are critical to this new way of playing music and he provides a
wealth of great ideas and examples to help you master those skills.
One of the strengths of the book is
it’s many examples. Take this one –
A trombonist I met at a workshop in
Minnesota found she had trouble getting enough air at the end of
phrases. When I asked her simply to be aware of the sound of the last
notes of a phrase, a remarkable change took place.
As she put her attention on those
last few notes, she unthinkingly switched from a slide vibrato to a
lip vibrato. The phrase sounded much better – and her desperate
breathing vanished. She had discovered by her own simple awareness
that not having sufficient air wasn’t her real problem – her
‘problem behind the problem’ came from using the wrong kind of
Any wind player
will benefit from using this technique and string players,
keyboardists, percussionists and guitarists will find plenty to keep
them inspired and focused on their music making.
second half of the book deals with practical applications of the
Inner Game technique – overcoming obstacles, improving the quality
of your musical experience, teaching, learning and listening, being a
parent or a coach, balancing your personality traits, applying the
inner game in ensembles and the difficult to define skills of
improvisation, composition and creativity.
feel you could do with a bit of this when you
make your music –
…alert, yet at ease with
themselves, their attention fully concentrated in the present moment.
They enjoyed themselves, learned quickly and seemed to be functioning
at close to their full capacity.
Then The Inner Game
Of Music is just what you need.