The best books on music inspiration

Who am I?

I am the former Principal bassist with the Cincinnati Symphony and am currently active as a soloist, educator, and author of three books on the mind, body, and spirit of music. My first book is about the mind, The Inner Game of Music, followed by The Mastery of Music on the human spirit of over 120 great musicians and Bringing Music to Life exploring physical skills of communication of all artists, actors, and dancers. I hope to inspire artists of all disciplines, that our performances come from our hearts and souls and not the technical form of dance, music, or words. Performers express feelings and use this gift to spread inspiration and joy to the world.

I wrote...

The Inner Game of Music

By Barry Green, W. Timothy Gallwey,

Book cover of The Inner Game of Music

What is my book about?

Barry Green with W. Timothy Gallwey, the popular author of the Inner Game of Tennis, Inner Skiing, Golf, and Work. Together they have taken the same principles which proved so successful when used in sports and applied them to music. The Inner Game is designed to help every musician overcome obstacles, improve concentration, reduce nervousness, and paving the way for heightened performance.

Green explains how innate skills can be enhanced by focusing on the music rather than outer games of technique and awards. The technique can be summarized in 4 words: turn up the music and are used for the purpose of drowning out the shouts...that come from the interfering voices of doubt, fear, and judgment. Instead of listening to the inner voices, the musician focuses only on musical sounds that include their awareness, commitment, and trust skills.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music

Why did I love this book?

The music lesson is a must-read for not only every musician but an inspiration to non-musicians as well. The book captures the real reason for playing music. The book straddles between a fictional novel and an indispensable true story of why we play music. It is clear in every word, page, and chapter that we play music to share feelings and communicate inspirational messages that can change your life, make you happy, fulfilled, inspired, and thirst for more. 

I love this book not only for the content and inspirational message, but for the style of writing. It’s so engaging to read because he makes you feel like you are in the same room, on the same stage, and with the same band as Victor. Love it!

By Victor Wooten,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Music Lesson as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Grammy-winning musical icon and legendary bassist Victor L. Wooten comes an inspiring parable of music, life, and the difference between playing all the right notes...and feeling them.

The Music Lesson is the story of a struggling young musician who wanted music to be his life, and who wanted his life to be great. Then, from nowhere it seemed, a teacher arrived. Part musical genius, part philosopher, part eccentric wise man, the teacher would guide the young musician on a spiritual journey, and teach him that the gifts we get from music mirror those from life, and every movement, phrase,…

Book cover of Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Why did I love this book?

Hailed by educators throughout the world, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has been applied to hundreds of classrooms and schools. It shatters the theory that being smart is only measured by math and English skills. Through scientific and unquestionable documented historical research. Goodbye to SATs. Now we can acknowledge that geniuses can also be measured by linguistics, music, mathematical, spatial, body, and personal intelligence. A politician, athlete, architect, dancer, or musician can be brilliant in what they do but may not be able to write, speak, or do mathematics. We have known this to be our experience but now Gardner’s research makes it a fact. Now it’s time to change those old, outdated, and irrelevant SAT exams!

By Howard E. Gardner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frames of Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1983 and now available with a new introduction by the author, Gardner's trailblazing book revolutionized the worlds of education and psychology by positing that rather than a single type of intelligence, we have several- most of which are neglected by standard testing and educational methods.

Book cover of The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music

Why did I love this book?

The Listening Book is about rediscovering the power of listening as an instrument of self-discovery and personal transformation. By exploring our capacity for listening to sounds of music, nature, and one’s own breathing, we can awaken and release our full creative powers. Mathieu guides the reader to hearing the connections between all sounds of music and everyday life. It is insightful and surprising to notice what is around us at any moment of the day and apply this heightened awareness to understanding and connecting with music listening or performance. This awareness can be neglected but applicable to connecting our inner soul with the outside world and to life. Brilliant illuminations from a genius composer, musician and teacher W.A. Mathieu. 

By W.A. Mathieu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Listening Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Listening Book is about rediscovering the power of listening as an instrument of self-discovery and personal transformation. By exploring our capacity for listening to sounds and for making music, we can awaken and release our full creative powers. Mathieu offers suggestions and encouragement on many aspects of music-making, and provides playful exercises to help readers appreciate the connection between sound, music, and everyday life.

Book cover of Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

Why did I love this book?

This amazing book draws on nearly one hundred interviews with creative people in every field and thirty years of research on the subject of creativity. There are multiple stories from musicians and composers while Csikszentmihalyi abstracts the common characteristics of the creative process that transcends the arts, science, architecture, and technology. He studies personalities, family backgrounds, and the environments that inspire the creative process. We learn to accept that many uniquely creative people have channeled their contributions by focusing their energy through unique structures that include conflicts, disease, handicap, stress, poverty, and emotional instability. The 426 pages of research and interviews are captivating, informative, and insightful and can inspire creative expression from new sources of understanding. 

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creativity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Creativity is about capturing those moments that make life worth living. The author's objective is to offer an understanding of what leads to these moments, be it the excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab, so that knowledge can be used to enrich people's lives. Drawing on 100 interviews with exceptional people, from biologists and physicists to politicians and business leaders, poets and artists, as well as his 30 years of research on the subject, Csikszentmihalyi uses his famous theory to explore the creative process. He discusses such ideas as why creative individuals are…

Book cover of A Soprano on Her Head: Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances

Why did I love this book?

A Soprano on Her Head was inspired by W. Timothy Galley’s Inner Game of Tennis book, applying these principles to musical performance and creativity. It is a wonderful anecdotal collection of delightful experiences in playing any instrument, dancing, or singing with the inner freedom that all artists long for. The book is as much about learning from your own experience, the creative process, and harnessing these tools as they could apply to music performance, teaching, and learning. She explores nervous energy and stress through insight and common sense. Her stories make an effortless and delightful read filled with applicable knowledge and skills for daily living. 

By Eloise Ristad,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Soprano on Her Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

(Foreword, by Lorin Hollander, concert pianist)

Eloise Ristad deals here with complex problems which torment and cripple so many of our most creative and talented people, and she does so with compassion, wisdom, and wit. The problem of stage fright, for instance, is a suffering of epidemic proportions in our society, and involves modalities of thought and projections that rob spontaneity and enthusiasm in artistic performance.

Those interested in creative education have long felt that an entirely new, holistic and nurturing process of allowing individuals to discover and express themselves is needed if our educational system is to avoid the…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in music, creativity, and Psychotherapy?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about music, creativity, and Psychotherapy.

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