Best Books for Musicians to Beat Performance Anxiety and Unlock Their Potential

Great books, real results

This is a fantastic list of the best books for musicians. Nail your next performance, understand why you get nervous, tear down roadblocks and practice more effectively. Learn from the pros to develop a successful career in music and much more.

The books are alphabetized, but here is a legend to help you choose: A – Anxiety  │  P – Practice │ C – Career │ O – Other

  • Arnold Jacobs: Song and wind – Brian Frederiksen. The story of the man who played tuba for the Chicago Symphony for a mind-blowing 44 years. He was one of the best brass teachers of all time, and a successful album recording artist. Read his story of success and learn from the master. C O
  • Artistic DNA: A Five Step Guide to start creating a successful career in music – Josep Molina. Develop the “artistic DNA” by following the five steps outlined in this book. Learn how to market yourself, say no when needed and stand out from the crowd. C
  • Audition Success – Don Greene. Get ready to reach you goals and beat nerves. Wouldn’t it be great to walk into an audition feeling confident? Written by one of the nation’s leading audition trainers. A C
  • Awakening Your Business Brain: An iCadenza Guide to Launching Your Music Career – Jennifer Rosenfield. Not only is it possible to be a musician AND business person, but that it’s a must in today’s world. This book features plenty of guidance from world renowned music entrepreneurs. C
  • Beyond Talent – Angela Myles Beeching. A clear walkthrough through each step of making a career in music, from the practice room to the record labels. Moreover, learn how to kick the day job, networking and performance opportunities. C
  • Brass playing is no harder than deep breathing – Claude Gordon. Legendary player and teacher Claude Gordon goes over his 7 parts to successful playing. If you’re not familiar with his books, this is a perfect starting point. P O
  • Effortless Mastery – Kenny Werner. A book about a prodigy pianist who by age 11 had appeared on television. This is the story about how he got tired of the path he was following. As a result, he turned to jazz to open his creativity and find new beginnings. P O
  • Musician’s Yoga – Mia Olson. Improve your practice, performance and be inspired by doing yoga. Unlock a new, calm you and reach a new level of focus in your musical journey. A P
  • Musicophelia: Tales of Music and the Brain – Oliver Sacks. The power of music is undeniably one of the biggest mysteries in history. Why does it make us happy or sad? How can it be used to reopen frozen brain paths? Discover how music works. O
  • Overcoming Performance Anxiety – Eversley and Rod Farnbach. Even famous musicians like Barbara Streisand and the late Pavarotti suffered from performance anxiety. Break it down, understand why it happens and start enjoying performing. A
  • Performance Success – Don Greene. A book with exercises and tips to prepare and succeed at your next performance. Don’t let nerves and other factors kill your performance, take control and win. A P
  • Practiceopedia – Philip Johnston. A book for anyone who hits practice walls…which is everyone. Find solutions and tricks around every obstacle you could encounter in the practice room. P
  • Psycho-Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz. Training for any type of art or sport has a similar psychological approach. This book teaches you how to set realistic goals, reach them and feel accomplished. If you’re having a hard time being positive and having happy practice sessions, this book can surely help. P C
  • Six-Figure Musician – David Hooper. The title says it all. This book is all about making it as a commercial musician. So, if you aspire to release your own CD, start here! Learn marketing techniques, get tips from famous song-writers and more. C
  • The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart – Madeline Bruser. Tired of practicing and simply going through the motions? Bruser outlines techniques to reshape your practice, enjoy yourself, make good sounds and play from the heart. P
  • The Balanced Musician: Integrating Mind and Body for Peak Performance – Leslie Sisterhen McAllister. Balance every aspect of your life to be a well-rounded musician and finally see those practice hours turn into beautiful music. P C
  • The Dynamic Studio – Philip Johnston – Literally dozens of ideas for creating a fantastically dynamic studio of your own. This is one of the first books I read when I embarked on this music teaching journey. As a result I have built a successful full time private studio that centers around engagement and fun competition. C O
  • The Inner Game of Music – Barry Green. This book is actually based off of the amazing “The Inner Game of Tennis”, which I highly recommend musicians read (maybe even instead of this one), and it focuses on helping you overcome obstacles like nerves and improve your skills to achieve peak performance levels. A P C
  • The Mastery of Music: Ten Pathways to true Artistry – Barry Green. From the author of “The Inner Game of Music” comes this book that shows you the ten qualities shared by the most successful musicians in the world. Who better to get advice from that directly from the masters themselves. C O
  • The Music Lesson – Victor Wooten. An inspiring book about a young musician who struggled to understand what music really means. His story will show you anything is possible. O
  • The Musician’s Way – Gerald Klickstein. Become the best musician you can be with this book’s roadmap to musical excellence. Klickstein breaks it up in a simple manner and walks you through each aspect of developing as a musician. P C
  • The Savvy Musician – David Cutler. A great book on how to make an impact and a difference as a professional musician. Learn the many ways to be a musician and read direct advice from world performers. This is a very easy to read book. C
  • The Savvy Music Teacher – David Cutler. This the teaching version of Cutler’s first book “The Savvy Musician.” Learn in how many ways you can make great income as a teacher. The music teaching world is much bigger than you ever imagined. C O
  • The Soloist- Mark S. This one was made into movie. It’s a story about a child with amazing musical talent who loses his way while growing up. However, he was found by someone willing to help him find his musical side again. O
  • The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle. Tap into the secret of talent and unleash your true potential. Drawing from neurological studies and scientific research, this book will show you how to unlock your talent code. P O
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield. Just like writers, musicians experience blocks and it’s more common that you think. Follow this practice guide to open up your creative brain and free your playing. P
  • The World is Sound – Joachim-Ernst Berendt. If you’ve always had the feeling the world plays music of it’s own, this book is for you. Follow the author in his world travels and experience music within the landscape of Earth itself. O
  • This is Your Brain on Music – Daniel Levitin. This is a book about music performance, its composition, why we listen to it and why we like it. It’s perfect for those who want to understand music better and unlock the mysteries behind it. O
  • Unlimited Power: The  New Science of Personal Achievement – Anthony Robbins. Learn to get anything you want out of life. This book is great for young musicians looking for success, but seeing many obstacles in their way. Kick everything to the curb and be who you dream to be. C O
  • Where She Went – Gayle Forman. Did you watch the drama If I Stay? If so, this book continues the story of Adam and incredible cellist Mia. O