Book review “The Art of Practicing” by Madeline Bruser

The Art of Practicing reviewThe Art of Practicing is a guide to making music from the heart.

If you have lost the joy for practicing (or never experienced it), if you keep asking yourself why and how you could ever enjoy music as much as you did and want to know where the joy and pleasure (might) have gone. This book is for you.

This book, aimed at both amateur and professional musicians but suitable also for other artists and art-lovers, shows you a way of practicing that transforms a sometimes frustrating, monotonous and strenuous labor into a joyful and rewarding experience. At the same time it increases the efficiency and efficacy of your practicing sessions.

What did I learn from this book?

Bruser shows you how to prepare your body and mind for practicing and making music. Did you ever realize that you stopped playing just because something hurt or your muscles felt strained? There are reasons for this and The Art of Practicing shows you how to approach your instrument, how to change the way you play it or even just hold it to avoid unnecessary tension and let your creative energy flow.

Following this I found out the huge impact the guitar strap has on my playing experience. For years I had used one of those standard ~5cm/2inch wide straps. My shoulder always started to hurt after 5-10 minutes and I thought that was just normal or the guitar might be a bit heavy. Now i got a 11cm/4inch wide strap and don’t even feel the guitar hanging on my shoulder anymore. It is amazing. No teacher ever pointed me to this. And there are tons of hints like these in just one small chapter of this book. The rest is even more helpful.

The information contained is very coherent, precise and concrete. You can quickly learn how to adjust your playing environment and ergonomics for the best practicing experience. Reap more benefits with less work in less time. I think this is something worth striving for. More fun, more joy, more progress – who wouldn’t want that?

Would I recommend this book?

Some elements of this book I already found in The Inner Game of Music: Simple awareness for example. Awareness of your self, your environment, your instrument, your ears. To play without a specific goal, to play without judging yourself has proven helpful for me to find my way back to enjoying making music as much as I did as a kid just starting out.

The Art of Practicing describes very concrete techniques for how to achieve improvements in your life as a musician. I think you could also profit from it as a visual artist and even as a passive consumer. If I had to chose I would pick Brusers book over The Inner Game of Music.

I highly recommend Bruser’s book. It is an important book.

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