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10 Summer Reads to Recharge Your Creative Spirit

By the end of June, most music teachers are exhausted from a full year of teaching, administrating, and performing. While enjoying some down time, the summer months are also a perfect time to recharge your creative batteries for the coming school year. Here are some books to help you get your perspective back:

  1. The Musician’s Soul: A Journey Examining Spirituality for Performers, Teachers, Composers, Conductors, and Music Educators by James Jordan. Inspiration and quotes about the arduous but rewarding inner life of the musician.
  2. Out of Silence: A Musician’s Yearbook by Susan Tomes. Observations on the musical life from a year of travels and experiences. Susan’s anecdotes are written with warmth and insight.
  3. An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. A bittersweet love story between the second violinist  of a string quartet and a pianist he becomes reacquainted with in London. This book also features some poignant writing about the psychology of quartet playing.
  4. The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro. The dream-like adventures of the world’s most famous pianist in an unnamed European city make for the ultimate new music novel of all time…
  5. Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson by Tricia Tunstall. A short but engaging book about the sense of discovery felt by piano students of all ages, as well as the continual journey of those who teach them.
  6. Europe Central by William T. Vollmann. Not for the faint of heart, this lengthy read chronicles (among numerous other narratives), the life and times of Dmitri Shostakovich from the 1920’s to the 70’s.
  7. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. A spiritual guide to the creative life that gains in clarity each time you return to it.
  8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. This top-down approach to organization forces you to set goals as a prerequisite to getting your life in order.
  9. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. In many ways the opposite of Stephen Covey’s method, GTD requires you to clean up your mess and write everything down before you get to work on next actions and goal-setting.
  10. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read this timeless classic on mindfulness. Musicians will find all sorts of parallels between the challenges of meditative and musical practice.

Have a restful couple of days, whether you’re celebrating the Canada Day or July 4th weekend! And by the way, what summer reads would you recommend?

About the Author

Chris Foley
Chris Foley is a pianist, teacher, examiner, adjudicator, and blogger based in Oakville, Ontario. He currently teaches at the Royal Conservatory of Music where he also serves as head of the voice department at the Conservatory School. As a member of Toronto's Tapestry New Works Studio Company, he has coached and performed in numerous workshops and performances of contemporary opera. In 2005, he ... [Read more]

1 Comment

  1. Roger Panella

    While I run a private guitar lesson studio in Chicago and don’t have an official ‘summer break,’ things down slow down during the warm months. These all look like great books and I want to check them all out eventually! Thanks for compiling a musician/music-teacher related book list!