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A Soprano on Her Head: Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances
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A Soprano on Her Head: Right-Side-Up Reflections on Life and Other Performances

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  311 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Written for the musician, to reflect on and approach an old problem or a new problem with a different lens, this book is applicable to any performer who faces challenges with tension, a creative rut, lack of confidence, and more.
Paperback, 203 pages
Published February 1st 1982 by Real People Press (first published June 1st 1981)
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(showing 1-30 of 596)
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This is a book that was repeatedly recommended to me by teachers and colleagues back in the conservatory days. I finally bought it in Aspen in 2003, but never read it until now, and boy do I regret that. Though I'm not sure I would have gotten much out of it much earlier. This is the sort of thing one has to be 'ready' for, I think, and it's only recently that my approach to my instrument and to music has become relaxed and flexible enough, not to mention mindful enough, to assimilate this sort ...more
Sara Roberts
Eloise Ristad, a music instructor, shares her experiences gained through teaching and performing. Each chapter is unique in itself, incorporating different methods of living a musical life, including practicing, performing, reading music, and appreciating every minute of it. This humorous yet insightful book is mandatory for any musician. This includes musicians who spend their time in practice rooms frustrated with their lack of progress despite the numerous hours spent running through the musi ...more
This book is my Bible. I have read it countless times since university. I even had to buy a second copy, because my first one fell apart-from being over read.

If you are looking to change things up a bit, whether it is in your musical life-or your regular one. A Soprano On Her Head will help you identify what needs to change, and how to find some solutions on how to change what isn't working.

Completely readable - and you don't even need to be a musician, in order to "get it".
Jill Walker Rettberg
I read this while trying to finish my PhD, on my musician sister's recommendation, and it was amazing. It didn't matter that it's written for musicians, not scholars, I found it hit the nail on the head. Like performers, scholars, and perhaps PhD students in particular, are under immense pressure to perform brilliantly, and most certainly suffer from the delusion that everyone else is super-confident and successful while me, well, I have of course a fraud, soon to be found out. Highly recommende ...more
Ruth Bonetti
This is a readable, lively book that gives approachable suggestions for performers to conquer their nerves. Ristad draws on her own work as musician, teacher and coach to give accessible and warm anecdotes that are most helpful. It's some years since I read it, so it's time for a reread, but the word that sums my memory of it is 'empathy.'
May 29, 2011 Bill rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Bill by: Kathy Greenholdt
Shelves: nonfiction
I only read this book because it was recommended to me by a fellow musician/songwriter who (like me) often suffers from stage fright. The book was so-so at best. I kept waiting for the great advice to come, but I read the whole thing and was disappointed by its lack of substance. Ristad's tone is pretty annoying throughout; it smacks of "look at me, aren't I clever? Isn't it great the way I helped all of these people solve their problems?" She also quoted from a lot of late 70s era self-help boo ...more
If you can get past the 70's psyco-babble this book has a lot of good ideas and insight that is helpful to the practicing performer. While there is a lot of talk about the "inner child", repressed feelings, beating things with batakas and banging on bongos, Ristad does fairly often hit the nail on the head when describing the crazy self talk that all performers experience at one time or other. Not a "must read" but a "try hard to read" book for musicians.
I also went into this book thinking it wa
Lake Lady
This was recommended by a friend and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The first time I picked it up I didn't get far, the second time I whizzed through it. It may not be a valuable book for everyone, and it's not just for musicians. Read with an open and curious mind it's full of great reminders for anyone who is interesting in any sort of learning and/or teaching. I found the ideas and examples delightful and am sad that the follow-up was never finished due to the author's untimely death.
I've always loved to perform, but as a Vocal Performance student at the University I started to loose sight of why I chose that major in the first place! The critique of certain people got to me, and I started to feel judged even when I wasn't really being judged! This book helped me set all my insecurity aside, and get back to the joy of music and performing! Even if you're not a musician or performer, this book can apply to anybody.
Ben Kintisch
Jul 17, 2007 Ben Kintisch rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: head case musicians/performers
I thought I was the only crazy singer out there. Feeling much better. There are at least ten others, based on the vignettes in this book. Oops, pardon me, I need to stop reviewing books and go back to standing on my head. I'm not sure what it does for my singing, but based on the title, it might be good for me. Especially my soprano range?
Mar 15, 2007 Erin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Musicians
Shelves: musicbooks
This is a fantastic book about performance/teaching/music. It presents ideas about stage fright and overcoming our personal hang-ups with performance. I definitely recommend this book! I wish I had the chance to see the author speak or teach; her writing made me feel that she was a beautiful person.
Kim Collins
Read this a long time ago. It's a bit dated now, but we all must find "what works" related to performance anxiety. Worthwhile read for any musician who's ever had a phase of jitters and self-doubt. I keep it in my teaching studio as a resource for students.
I read this one about 15 years ago, and was too young and new to singing to understand everything in the book, but remember really connecting to a lot of parts I still use in my own teaching now.
Markie Gent
Very good book. It is a great read for those who are stuck musically and need another way to access their art. It is great for "normal life" application as well not just the musical world.
I read this in college (and should read it again), but I remember the advice being so amazing--and not just for music performance, but for life in general.
I read this book as I was exploring performance anxiety solutions. Unique and entertaining ideas and episodes throughout. Time to read it again,
Incredible. For anyone wanting to open their mind and look at things from another point of view. I will certainly be reading this book again!
Love, love this book. It really helped me get over my stage fright! Now I can perform without much nervousness :)
Mar 04, 2008 Cj marked it as to-read
I've heard of this book numerous times but haven't gotten around to actually READING it yet.
Rachel Steele
I read this after a master class with the author in music school. It's a game changer.
A classic. Reread this after many years, and it's just as relevant as ever.
Read this because my piano teacher made me! Therefore, I didn't enjoy it.
Laura Brisson
Wonderful book. Essential read for performers and teachers!
Courtney Woods
Every musician should read this and Inner Game of Tennis
reading this book is a good way to unstick oneself.
this flipped up my ideas on music/teaching.
Recommend by my vocal teacher.
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