A significant and major contribution to the literature on mind and body awareness in music performance! With The Balanced Musician, Lesley McAllister offers a comprehensive, logical, and highly informative book that should take its place as the major work to date in this area. It will well serve piano teachers, instrument and voice faculty, general music instructors, college and university music majors, and professional performers-- in fact, anyone seeking a healthy approach, mentally and physically, in his or her performance area. The scope of the book is remarkably comprehensive, with sections on the mind-body connection, performance psychology, sport psychology, cognitive strategies in performance, mental characteristics of peak performers, mind-to-muscle relaxation techniques, and much more. Musicians are hungry for this information, and McAllister delivers. Inviting and engaging to read, The Balanced Music is a major contribution! -Jane Magrath, author of The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature
Dr. Lesley Sisterhen McAllister has created an exciting sourcebook of information vital to every musician who strives to understand the crucial connection of the mind and the body in musical preparation and performance. In The Balanced Musician, she not only explores theories behind this important mind-body connection but also provides the musician reader with valuable and practical practice techniques and advice for achieving such a balanced approach to learning and to performing. This book is an invaluable addition to every teacher's bookshelf as well! -Nancy Weems, professor of piano, University of Houston
Musicians have long acknowledged the importance of understanding the body-mind connection in staying healthy and its vital role in being able to enjoy a lifetime of effortless and joyful music-making. More recently, musicians are recognizing that focusing on the "whole" person is crucial to realizing their musical potential and helping their students maximize their innate abilities as performers. This remarkably comprehensive book introduces readers to up-to-date mind and body topics, strategies, and resources, which range from audiation to yoga and the hemispheres of the brain to the Yerkes-Dodson Law. In The Balanced Musician, McAllister offers priceless insights into what today's musicians need to build successful performing skills and fully achieve their aspirations. It is a significant addition to the pedagogical literature and deserves a prominent place in every musician's and music school's library." -Gail Berenson, professor of piano, Ohio University, Athens
The Balanced Musician...is a thought-provoking book that lays out the surprisingly similar, yet rarely compared disciplines of high level music and athletic performance, always speaking toward the musician’s point of view. Written for pianists and other musicians, McAllister’s clear, down-to-earth style succinctly summarizes areas of concern for many musicians including dealing with performance anxiety; understanding cognitive practice strategies including mental practice and imagery; and music wellness, including yoga—then, she proposes thought-provoking, effective techniques leading to their mastery. Traditionally, many of these cognitive rehearsal topics are not specifically addressed in either the music classroom or the piano lesson. In some cases, teachers in the past have simply lacked information and effective teaching tools. After suggesting key problem areas in rehearsal, creative practice techniques are proposed, including journaling and video recording. However, as the book’s title suggests, McAllister looks beyond simply “knowing and practicing”—moving toward integration of mind-body. One of most fascinating chapters in the book contains a highly descriptive script that leads novices through piano performance- oriented yoga workouts. This chapter alone makes the book a “must read.” This book synthesizes material not commonly encountered by musicians. However, McAllister goes a step further by clearly presenting a road-map leading toward healthy and joyful music performance. -Victoria McArthur, professor of piano pedagogy, Florida State University
Henri Matisse once confessed, "What I dream of is an art of balance." Performing artists also seek a healthy balance in both their personal and professional lives. With its multifaceted and holistic approach, McAllister's book is a welcome contribution to the field of music performance and pedagogy. Informative, practical and comprehensive in her approach, the author successfully weaves together the relationship between mind and body in practice and performance.
Every chapter explores different but interrelated topics such as cognitive strategies, sport psychology, performance anxiety, mental rehearsal and stretching. The primary focus of the book is on mental training, imagery and other cognitive skills, although the most extensive chapter offers an excellent introduction to yoga practice for musicians. The end of each chapter features a summary of concluding points, list of important terms, names to know, suggested reading, questions for reflection, assignments, references, related topics and more. Because of its organization and focus, this text is clearly intended for university music majors, although teachers will find it very helpful as well. In fact, the author occasionally presents a "Teaching Moment" aimed toward educators. This book would work well in courses on wellness, performance preparation or as a supplement to applied lessons. It would be most effective in a class or group setting, led by a knowledgeable instructor, with opportunities for discussion and feedback. Private music instructors will find abundant exercises and activities to explore with their students. The many strengths of this substantial text include its broad scope, generous discussions of supporting research, student self-assessments and emphasis on practice techniques away from the instrument. Because of its leading-edge approach to the integration of body and mind, it will be a welcome addition to the library of any musician or teacher. -Vanessa Cornett-Murtada, NCTM, University of St. Thomas, from a review in American Music Teacher