Review of The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green

Author: Barry Green
Publisher: Double Day
Publication Date: February 21, 1985
Price: $9.99 (Kindle) $19.65 (Hardcover)
Edition Read for Review: Hardcover, 225 Pages

I have pretty mixed feelings about “The Inner Game of Music.” I wanted to like it, especially since it’s been such an influential book for a number of performers, but I just couldn’t. That’s not to say that there are some really great things in this book, because there are. And even though I did not particularly enjoy the book, I actually even have a few take-away items that I’d like to try.

I’ll start out by saying what I didn’t like about the book to get it out of the way. To be honest, it was just difficult to get through. It didn’t keep my attention so I found myself skipping through sections and I was easily distracted by other tasks whenever I sat down to try to read the book. I had to keep to short bursts of reading (one chapter at a time at most) just because I couldn’t keep focused on reading the book for any length of time (which is unusual for me).

Of course, I don’t want to deter you if this is something you’re interested in reading. It just didn’t appeal to me personally. And even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the book, I did get some valuable tips from it.

To end on a positive note…

One of the things that I liked in the book was the chapter written for parents and coaches. There are a few great tips in that chapter about how to encourage kids to practice music and find enjoyment in the craft. I think that this chapter is definitely worth reading if you have kids that struggle with practice whether you’re a parent or a teacher. It gives advice on how to create an effective practice environment with the right tools, no interruptions and the opportunity for kids to have music play time as well as practice time.

Another interesting point that was brought up in the book surrounded the struggle adult beginners go through when they decide to pursue something like music. Adult beginners tend to set unfairly high standards “and this causes them to be unaware of the very really progress they make.” (p. 165) Comparisons to professionals rather than those at their level blocks their self-awareness and they don’t see their advances because they don’t measure their week-to-week progress.

Overall, I can see why “The Inner Game of Music” has been such an important book for many musicians. It offers an interesting perspective and several exercises that have helped a number of performers improve their musicianship. That being said, it just didn’t appeal to me. I’ve read other reviews online that state the tennis version of the book is much better, even for musicians. If you’ve read either (or both), I’d love to know your thoughts.

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.