Books About Performance
Good instrument teachers will help you not to leave your brain out when practicing your instrument. It is easy, when you try and learn to play an instrument well, to focus too much on “practice harder, then you get better”. It is a simple formula that people love to use – educators as well as others. However, it is really just a way of simplifying things. With a little extra brain input, you can cross that gap between good and great. And books about performance can help you with it.
This section on performance books is divided into a number of subsections, based on either instrument or group of instruments:
Piano | Guitar | Woodwinds | Brass | Strings | Percussion
Books about performance: Piano
There are hundreds of books written for piano players, and not just musical scores. Whilst some will help beginners get started, others will help more advanced players to get even better. When it comes to playing the piano, there are of course also many online video guides that can help you get better. And the best way is, certainly, to get a teacher. However, everybody can’t afford that, and even if you can, some reading on the subject of piano performance will never hurt you. When you get up to a certain point, learning how to play the piano will turn into more of a psychological challenge than a technical or physical. Indeed, there should be yoga courses only for piano players. There probably are …
There is an almost absurd quantity of books about playing the guitar, and I will focus on recommending the ones that have been recommended to me. Some of them are rookie-oriented and deal simply with chords, whilst others go through the real cutting-edge techniques, which you might never have thought were possible! Some of the world’s best guitar performers have written books on their favorite artform.
Quite possibly, later in the game, there will be specific articles for books about specific woodwind instruments. As of now, however, they will all be gathered in one article. The woodwinds include such instruments as the flute, the oboe, the clarinet and the bassoon, which are all essential instruments in the modern symphonic orchestra. Moreover, there are saxophones, English horns and piccolo flutes.
The same of course goes for brass instruments. Sometime in the future, there will definitely be a need of dividing up this subsection into smaller instrument categories. The family of brass instruments includes trumpets, trombones, tubas, French horns, and cornets (among others). Among these, trumpets and French horns are almost always a part of the symphonic orchestra. Trombones and tubas are usually not featured in smaller sinfoniettas, but can always be expected in larger orchestras.
Although I’ve chosen to focus this section on the common string instruments played with a bow, it is certainly huge. The string instruments are better represented in the orchestra than any other family of instruments. Examples of the most common ones are violin, viola, cello and double bass. There are hundreds of tricks and techniques that can help you become a better violinist (or cellist, or viola player, or bass player), and quite many of them have been written about!
Drum players and other percussionists have for a long time had the disadvantage of being considered slightly dumber than other musicians. However, people making such claims are easy to prove wrong. Especially if you, the percussionist, read some of the experts’ advice on performance!
“Books About Performance” was published on August 3, 2012.