Encounters with Music: A Book List

by PVCC Music Faculty Dr. Lee Chivers

One of my favorite places to spend an afternoon is the local bookstore. I love books, the feel of a real book in my hands! Whether you feel the same way, or whether you prefer your tablet as a "reader", I encourage you to check out the books I'm listing below. These are all books that are somehow about music, but reflect the author's encounter with music in some way, rather than discussing "music" itself. So really, more thought-provoking fodder than analysis! I'll give brief notes about each book; check them out sometime when you're looking for something to think about, but has a musical twist!

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Each chapter feels like the author reflecting on life, spirituality, and most often, music and the arts. He hails from Oregon, so there's a sense of that locale in his descriptions. Thoughtful, often deeply moving, and always colored by the blue of jazz.

Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr

I suggest you read this when you're wanting to be deeply philosophical about life! The author compares the philosophy/psychological approach of Nietsche/Freud to Schopenhaure/Jung in their views on music...and life. It's deep, heady stuff, but well worth the reading on a rainy weekend afternoon, in front of a fire with a cup of your favorite hot beverage.

The Soloist by Mark Salzman

This is a work of fiction, but I think at least in part based on the author's real experience. And this is NOT the soloist that was turned into a movie a few years back (Jaime Foxx, et al). This is the real story of a child prodigy who experiences crushing failure, and finds his way back to music through teaching a child prodigy. If you've ever experienced failure, humiliation, and taken the long road back....much of this book will resonate with you. And - if you just like a good story with interesting characters, you'll enjoy it!

Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music by Glenn Kurtz

I just started reading this one. A friend on Facebook posted an article about the book, and I knew I had to read it. Much like The Soloist, it is a musician's journey back to music, told through his study in the practice room, both in memories and in the present. Here's the link to the article I read; maybe you'd like to check that out first.

The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green/ W. Timothy Gallwey

The Inner Game was all the rage in the 70s, and Barry Green came to the idea in a very interesting way (I'll let you discover that for yourself). He modified the ideas from "The Inner Game of Skiing" using his own experience as a musician, and talking with the Inner Game's author Timothy Gallwey. I just found an article that discusses why this concept works in all parts of life, so even if you're not a musician, there might be ways this can work for you! Maybe you'll begin your own exploration of your "inner game".

About the Author

Lee Ann Chivers is an active performer and teacher. Dr. Chivers currently teaches flute and flute choir for PVCC, and served as flute instructor for both The Master's College and La Sierra University in California.  She also served as a teaching assistant at Arizona State University, where she completed a Doctorate of Musical Arts in flute performance.  Her experience includes several awards for solo performance, performances in chamber and orchestral settings with various groups across the Southwest, as well as performing at several National Flute Association conventions. She currently works with both Arizona Chamber Music Experience and Recreative Art Center in the role of Music Director, and performs with MusicaNova Orchestra here in Phoenix.