Inspire yourself in 2013

This month, I thought I’d share with you some of the fantastic books that have informed and inspired my teaching and my creative expression.

First things first. A few books on how to overcome the obstacles in our way.

 Getting Things Done by David Allen (Piatkus 2002)

One of the aspects of life that most challenges my clients and students is staying organized, and it often impedes their progress towards making the changes they really want in their lives. This book has sold millions of copies in thirty languages and it’s easy to see why.

With superb clarity, Allen outlines his system that allows you to ‘park’ all your to dos in a maximally efficient way so that you can knock them out easily whenever you have the opportunity, and get on with focusing on what really matters to you.

 One Small Step can Change your Life by Robert Maurer, PhD (Workman Publishing 2004)

It seems to be part of the human condition to want to effect grand changes in our lives, particularly at New Year, yet few of us manage to sustain these past January. The Japanese art of kaizen encourages us instead to take small steps consistently, and demonstrates how, over time, large and sustainable transformation is possible. Maurer’s book is an easy and fun read, and very convincing. I’ve also had tremendous personal success by using this method to change habits, and the methods are valuable to pass on to students.

 Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen (Michael Joseph 1999)

How often do you avoid the very conversation you need to have with a family member, student, colleague, or employer because you don’t know how to begin, or you’re afraid of what might transpire? This book is the result of many years of experience by the Harvard Negotiation Project, and gives many clear and illuminating examples of both the pitfalls of difficult conversations, and tools to begin building new, more effective ways of communicating.

And now a couple of books for inspiration!

 Games for Actors and Non-Actors by Augusto Boal (Routledge 1992)

Boal’s book is a classic text. I’ve often used his games as icebreakers when I’m running music workshops- there are hundreds to choose from, and you don’t need acting training to supervise them. They range from entertaining team games, to pairs processes that focus on awakening the senses, to exercises to develop emotional sensitivity or greater awareness of group dynamics. Indispensable.

 Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Daniel Nachmanovich (Tarcher/Putnam 1990)

Finally, to one of my favorite books. Nachmanovich encourages us to open ourselves to the creative process, not necessarily an easy journey for some of us brought up with a strict classical discipline, but one worth taking. His writing is powerful and enlightening, and ranges widely across art forms and through everyday life. For the author, creativity is a way of being, not something we restrict to one aspect of our lives. Inspiring.

What are some of the books that inspire you? I’d love to hear.

About the Author

Valerie Kampmeier
Valerie Kampmeier, M.A., brings decades of performance experience as a successful classical pianist in Europe to her piano teaching and her life coaching practice for musicians. She also writes about living a creative life on her blog.
A gifted p... [Read more]


  1. Kerri Green

    Valerie, while some of these are familiar favorites, I’m excited to get some new reading ideas. Thank you!

  2. Valerie Kampmeier

    You’re welcome, Kerri! I’d love to know if you have any recommendations too.