The Musician’s Way

A few years ago, my good friend gave me my first copy of the book, The Musician’s Way by Gerald Klickstein as a graduation gift.  This was the best gift ever because I have learned so much, and transformed my practices as a result of reading it.  So, I’m sharing it with you today with a few of my punctuations on his ideas.

Klickstein calls his book “a guide to practice, performance and wellness” that provides musicians with a “roadmap to artistic excellent”.  Sold!  I love this because it is clear from the first page that the author places such value on the quality of life for musicians.  It’s not about ‘toughing it out’, or ‘sucking it up’ to survive practice and performance.  It’s about creating a balanced artistic path from which you can learn to thrive in practice and performance.  He gives practical suggestions for “artful practice”, he explores issues that impede “fearless performance” and he discusses how various wellness practices are helpful in following a path of “lifelong creativity”.

Given my studies and academic background, I especially value Klickstein’s discussion about “unmasking performance anxiety” and working toward “becoming a performing artist” (Chapters 7 to 10).  For me, he has reframed performance as a lifelong process, rather than a one-shot-deal.  This has allowed me to understand that performance begins when you first engage with the material, in practice or in mental preparation.  The snapshot the audience witnesses is a small window on my journey of becoming a performer.  For me this relieves the pressure and dissolves perfectionist thinking.  Whew!  Thank you Professor Klickstein!

Here is the link to the website, where you can find the book, as well as a ton of other great resources.

So here’s my current reframe after a few years of rereading a reflecting on the book: Musician-ness is a lifestyle of creativity, wellness and balance out of which comes a beautiful bi-product of authentic performance.  Thank you awesome music friend for giving me this game-changing book!


Klickstein, Gerald. The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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