Brass Singers: The Teaching of Arnold Jacobs by Luis E Loubriel (Scholar
Publications, Evergreen Park, Ill, 2011). Why is a book about a tuba player written by a trumpet player in a book about playing the cello? Because I love learning from musicians who aren’t cellists! It gives me new insights and ways of considering what’s really important about being a musician and teaching music.
Cello by William Pleeth (Schirmer Books, New York: 1982). The great British pedagogue has wonderful insights for cellists, teachers and parents—about playing the cello, clarifying priorities and seeing music-making in the broader picture of life.
CelloMind by Hans Jørgen Jensen and Minna Rose Chung (Ovation Press,
Chicago, 2017). This beautiful and substantial book leads the cellist/reader through an in-depth study of intonation, but even more than that, encourages you every step of the way to set routines and goals, and gives examples of how to practice. The clear diagrams and musical examples make complicated scientific terminology and concepts directly transferable to the cello; the open format, with photos and inspiring quotes, make it human and engaging. ViolinMind is already available; ViolaMind is in the works.
CelloStart by Pamela Devenport (United Writers Press, Ashville, NC). Subtitled “Essential Topics in Cello Pedagogy,” Ms Devenport explores virtually every topic necessary for success to get our youngest cello students up and running, from wonderful essays about teaching philosophy, to diagrams fitting growing bodies to cellos, to technical challenges expertly explained.
The Hand by Frank R. Wilson (Pantheon Books, New York: 1999). This book is full of interesting facts and theories about how our hands influence our brains, our evolution, and our external world, and has particularly interesting chapters about musicians and jugglers.
Helping Parents Practice by Edmund Sprunger (Yes Publishing, St. Louis: 2005). I don’t know a kinder, gentler book about teaching. A trained psychotherapist, Sprunger explores the differences between parent/child and teacher/student relationships, and with great insight demonstrates the balancing act of optimal teaching, such as when to allow choices and when to be firm, when to let the student struggle and when to step in and help. Go to www.yespublishing.com.
If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland (Greywolf Press, St. Paul: 1987). Even if you don’t want to write, Ueland’s unabashed honesty, her passion for her vocation, and her complete belief in all students will give you courage, and raise you to new heights as a teacher.
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey (Random House, New York: 1974). This is the original “Inner Game” book, which my teacher, David Wells had all his students read when it was first published. I enjoy the tennis analogy and like drawing parallels to life as a cellist.
Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals as told to Albert E. Kahn (Simon and Schuster: 1970, Third Printing). The story of one of the world’s greatest musicians who put his humanity and convictions in front of his love of the cello.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Dan and Chip Heath (Random House, NY, 2008). This book has made such an impact on my teaching in recent years—always looking for a way to make my teaching stick! There is even a teachers’ guide provided at no cost on their website—very useful in pedagogy classes.
The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible by Eric Booth (Oxford University Press, New York, 2009). There are a lot of books about teaching, but very few talk so directly to performing musicians about why it matters that they learn to teach! In a conversational and sometimes humorous tone, this book focuses primarily on presenting educational concerts, but Booth’s essential message is applicable for all music teaching, and a must for performance majors and pedagogy classes.
Nadja On My Way by Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg (New York: Crown Publishers, 1989.) Quote on p. 92 is excerpted from p. 36 and reprinted with kind permission from the author.
The Performer Prepares by Robert Caldwell (Pst…Inc., 1990). This book helps performers clarify and organize their desires and expectations before a performance. While Caldwell’s work is primarily with singers, his stories of performers and their fears and concerns and his very humane approach to creating clear personal goals are readily applicable to instrumentalists.
Performance Success: Performing Your Best Under Pressure by Don Greene (Routledge, New York: 2002). Greene, a former Sports Psychologist for the U.S. Olympic Diving team who now works with musicians at Julliard and the New World Symphony, has written this must-have book for performing musicians. Beginning with a survey
about where you are and where you’d like to be, his method explains the physical and psychological characteristics of stress and helps you discover your optimal potential. More information can be found online at www.dongreene.com.
Practicing for Artistic Success: The Musician’s Guide to Self-Empowerment in the Practice Room and on the Stage by Burton Kaplan (Perception Development Techniques, New York). When it comes to preparing your best, I don’t know anyone who understands the art of practicing and trouble-shooting better than Burton Kaplan. At his
Magic Mountain Retreat Center, he holds week-long guided practice marathons, and offers 2-day Performance Power seminars around the country. For further information, visit his website at www.magicmountainmusic.com.
Shaping Sound Musicians by Patricia O’Toole (GIA Publications, Chicago IL: 2003). This is the textbook version of the CMP approach to teaching. While the workshop is undoubtedly the best way to experience the program, this book is an essential reference and guide to understanding the finer points of the model. For more information on CMP and to order the book, go to www.wmea.com/cmp.
Soprano on her Head by Eloise Ristad (Real People Press, Moab UT: 1982). Ristad is an inspiring example of a creative teacher who let her imagination and her students guide their optimum learning experience. Her unconventional but highly effective approach will delight you and make you rethink the traditional lesson model.
Teaching Genius: Dorothy DeLay and the Making of a Musician by Barbara Lourie Sand (Amadeus Press, Portland, OR: 2000). For me, the great pleasure of this book was opportunity to have a glimpse inside the famed teacher’s studio, to hear former students’ recollections of their lessons with her, and understand more about the “magic” of her success.
Tone Deaf and All Thumbs? by Frank R. Wilson (Vintage Books, New York: 1987). Neurologist Frank Wilson (author of The Hand) views his amateur piano playing experience through his vocational understanding of how the brain receives, processes, and transmits information. He weaves scientific information with the practical, making this a very intriguing book for any musician.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (Anchor Books, New York: 2oo6). If you ever questioned the potential impact of a teacher in a student’s life—no matter the “subject”—this book will convince you beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel (Vintage Books, New York: 1971). Another on David Wells’ required reading list that had a lasting impact. Again, the analogy between archery and cello playing is an easy stretch.