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The Inner Game of Music

(inner Game)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,817 ratings  ·  89 reviews
By the best-selling co-author of Inner Tennis, here's a book designed to help musicians overcome obstacles, help improve concentration, and reduce nervousness, allowing them to reach new levels of performing excellence and musical artistry.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 21st 1986 by Doubleday Books (first published 1986)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Erik Dabel
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great book. Every musician, every music student, and specifically every music teacher, should not only read it, but own it for future references.

There are so many great tips and ideas, and ways to both play music and teach it that get better long term results. Some of which I have already implanted in my own playing and teaching, some of which I am simply waiting for the opportunity to do so.

That being said, there are also several sections that seem like a bit of overkill to me. We must remember
This was accidentally given to me by my viola instructor after being recommended as a way to improve my performing skills. However, while many of the concepts the book gives are excellent, I found the writing patronising and long-winded. While it is sometimes useful to have the 'Inner Game' techniques spelled out in musical concepts, I have found that 'the Inner Game of Tennis', which I am currently reading, is generally more useful in spelling out concepts. Many of the exercises in 'the Inner G ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing

The book provides a comprehensive analysis on what helps / hinders our musical growth. As a musician early on in the development, I find some advices extremely valuable.

The concept of "self 1 and self 2" lays the foundation for most discussions: every musician involves two “self” in terms of performance - Self 1 is logical, judgmental, and self-conscious, Self 2 is spontaneous, natural. We should apply techniques to be aware about self 2. Our goal is to let self 2 express the most, and reframe
Stefan Kanev
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's a bit tricky to rate this book. It appears that it has some very sound advice for musicians, but since I'm not a real musician, I cannot tell whether this is true or not. Anyhow.

I learned about the Inner Game from a friend of mine and I've been wanting to read more about it for a while. I was not that interested in The Inner Game of Tenis, since I don't play tenis. I'm trying to pick up music lately and it seemed like a great way to get introduced to those ideas.

The gist of it is creating a
Dec 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
I actually did not even finish this book. I was recommended to it by my piano teacher, hoping that it would help me with some of my performance anxiety. However, I found it completely unhelpful. I found myself falling to sleep while reading it when it wasn't even bedtime.

To keep it short and sweet, I found the analogies and connections from sports to music a little far fetched, and it didn't keep me interested. There was too many mathematical equations as to how this plus that would equal doodl
Sandy Maguire
Let's clarify something: despite its name, this book is not written by the same guy who wrote "The Inner Game of Golf." I'd heard great things about that book, and decided to pick up this one instead, since I care more about music than golf.

Huge mistake.

Green spends most this book paraphrasing Gallwey, but doing it in a way that comes off as sanctimonious and without adding anything of his own. As a result, TIGoM is like twice as long as TIGoG but somehow still manages to say nothing.

I'll save y
Akhil Jain
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
My fav quotes (not a review):
-Page 2 |
"The point of the Inner Game of sports or music is always the same – to reduce mental interferences that inhibit the full expression of human potential."
-Page 5 |
"Not too many people know that Mozart was also one of the finer billiards players in Europe, or that he gained inspiration for his music from listening to the click of the balls and the soft thud as they bounced off the green baize of the billiard table."
-Page 10 |
"there are two games being played
Tony Ren
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it
My vocal teacher recommended this to me. I thought it was alright. The techniques and tips the book covers are things that may marginally improve your abilities. But it in no way can substitute a real teacher.

A common theme in the book is to: try this, now try that, and notice if it feels and sounds different. For example, the author would suggest try playing a passage as loud as you comfortably can, then as soft as you comfortably can, and suggest you to try and find a middle level in between.
Amalie Simper
This was a re read from my college days in piano performance degrees. It was such a great reprise to see how I have grown as a musician over the years. It explains the idea that a person has two sides to their personality self 1. The self conscious doubting side and self 2. The letting it go, emotion filled side. He gives 4 different ways to work on awareness, several ideas that discuss will power and trust in your playing. It discusses working on your individual instrument, working in ensembles ...more
Tyrone Steele
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an astounding work related to breaking down the walls that prevent us from executing a relaxed and enjoyable performance. I recommend this for all musicians, but is applicable to nearly any type of performance.
Dec 07, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book years ago but decided to re-read it and see what tips I can gain for playing piano.
Feb 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Helped me learn how to deal with my stage anxiety and helped me to focus better while performing
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Tempted to give it 4 stars but I have to let it percolate for a while. I bought this on recommendation from a fellow symphony player around twenty years ago. Gave it a start and something about it just did not click with me so I left it alone. I suspect that Green lost me a little right away in the introduction with a ridiculous story about young Mozart, a spittoon, and dancing, followed by things that made me feel like I wasn't going to see much more than Caddyshack "be the ball, Danny" wisdom. ...more
Hannah King
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Inner Game of Music was a very helpful book for people who have performance anxiety. Since reading it, I've learned a lot from the book and have grown more confident in my music skills. It explains different methods of how to cope with performance anxiety, and how to be a better musician. For example, the book portrays different stories of different people who struggle with performance anxiety, and how people got over it, from thinking it's okay to mess up to even taking deep breathes and cl ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I think I'd give this another star, star and a half if I were a practicing musician. The rating shouldn't be counted as a knock against the book.

There is excellent advice here if you ARE a musician. I read it because I've found that these books can be helpful if you take the subject as a stand-in for your own sport or hobby. That was the case with this book. Green takes lessons from Gallewey's The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance and applies them, w
Hope F.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Inner Game of Music deals with the inner struggles of nervousness, self-doubt- and the fear of performing in front of others. This book takes the theory of “natural learning”--which Tim Gallwey developed for sports such as golf and tennis--and applies it to music. The book is helpful if you are struggling with self confidence issues when performing, which is why I personally decided to read it. The book is also designed to give new insights on how to truly appreciate music as a whole, and ho ...more
Josiah Aston
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Self 2 freedom from self 1 discipline

I really enjoyed this book and its discussion of self 1, with all of its doubts and fears, and self 2, the uninhibited part of us that we need to allow to take over in difficult situations. Intuition is key, and we can enjoy and create much more fluidly if we allow ourselves to follow those deeper feelings without letting logic destroy the moment. Nevertheless, I felt the book was mostly appropriate for professional musicians, and not so much amateurs or begi
Kit Warren
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book has some useful information but is definitely entirely for classical players, despite the writer's attempts to make it universal. Its connections to the ideas of 'Inner Game' feel super forced and far better suited to sports as it was originally intended for. The most laborious part of this book is that the writer uses incredibly boring examples of his techniques working again and again which all read exactly like this: "Julie was having issues with her bowing technique, but then I tol ...more
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Barry Green is an emphatically enthusiastic proponent of the subconscious "Self 2", the inner, core person who is competent, creative and capable beyond any of the usual self-criticism and self-doubt plied by "Self 1", the conscious, judgemental person. I found his observations and exercises to liberate and tap into one's unconsciousness quite helpful and instructive, although my reading attention span has a definite short shelf-life with most self-help-type reading. And although, as a professio ...more
Tara Robinson
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this after graduating from college with my BM - I had previously read The Inner Game of Tennis as recommended by one of my professors to help conquer stage fright (I know, right?). So, this (The Inner Game of Music) is like the “legit” version that a musician should technically use. However, I thought that The Inner Game of Tennis did a much better job at addressing some of the more intricate details of stage performance (again, I know- right?) and actually benefited me a lot more. So if ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal-growth
Even though an older title, everything still applies and even though it's focused on music, there are still a lot of takeaways for anyone trying to get out of their own way and progress to the next level. Took a lot of notes while reading because there was so much I wanted to remember. He breaks down the process of moving from status quo to growth. The mental game is often the biggest piece to the puzzle and he thoroughly explains how to overcome mental roadblocks to success. Highly recommend fo ...more
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Ahead of its time in that it encourages mindfulness a few decades before everyone else and their mother did but after its time in that "You can use your brain to get good at music" was also the premise of "The Music Man." This book is fine, but it's also one of those nonfiction books filled with text that just regurgitates the introduction. It's fine, though. It's fine. Meredith Willson deserves royalties, but it's fine.
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
At 52 I finally had a pandemic-induced opportunity to read this book in the hope that it would improve my music ability. I'm about 40 years too late. True, I got a few tidbits out of the book but most of the guidance was of the kind I figured out on my own many moons ago.

True new music students would get more out of this book. If you've been playing or singing for any length of time, I'd skip it unless you're truly at a loss for guidance.
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
As a music teacher I dived into this book with enthusiasm. There are some useful exercises and tips for overcoming nervousness as a performer, directing your focus and using practice time more effectively. I learned quite a bit but ultimately felt a bit let down; or perhaps it is just that there is no real alternative to just getting on and doing lots and lots of practising!
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a good read for a classical musician. It gives helpful methods for solo playing, auditioning, ensemble playing, and teaching, which I did not expect to see going into this book. I read an older copy which was a bit outdated from a technological standpoint, but the author's methods could easily be adapted for modern technology.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not so good for hobby/adult learners but it's pretty good overall.
sami al-khalili
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extremely valuable for novice musicians.

Be prepared to act on the exercises. If not, you're wasting your time.
Alex Boon
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Didn't help me much and didn't get along with the style of it. Half of it seemed to echo my Buddhist practice but less useful.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: instruction
Very interesting and though printed 1987 I doubt whether much has changed. It has given me reason for encouragement and improvement. Now all I have to do is to put it into practice.
Christopher Heckman
Oct 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
Too much inner game, too little music.
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Karen M. McManus, the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next, doesn’t shy away from secrets and...
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“eliminate the self’. ‘The player needs to be able to forget about himself,’ she writes. ‘This is when real communication begins. For with the elimination of the self, he is able to reach the very core of the music, and is free to transmit it.” 1 likes
“Whenever you are playing or singing music, and you notice you’re in a trying state, stop trying, and focus your awareness on a single element of your movement at a time. Observe your body, and watch it subtly shift to a more relaxed and accurate kind of performance.” 1 likes
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