None of these books are directly about music in the usual sense or playing a musical instrument. But they have everything to do with 'music as a living thing' and you 'the human instrument.'
"Autobiography of a Yogi," Paramahansa Yogananda
This classic volume is timeless in its message and inspiration. An extraordinary account of a life of purpose, unfettered by cultural and organizational boundaries at a time, in the first half of the 20th century, when traversing such boundaries was still very much an uncharted frontier. Come to think of it, it still is. Uplifting and moving.
"Atlantean Secrets," Samuel Sagan
This four volume series is a riveting adventure in its own right. Added bonus comes from its perceptive, inspiring and thought provoking look at human possibility and the battle of choice to overcome, or not, the all too common limiting patterns we allow ourselves to live with. Set in ancient Atlantis, it chronicles the personal development journey of a man who ultimately becomes an extraordinary musician and master of his own destiny.
"The White Company," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This book is about a group of unlikely companions, all unique and independent individuals, who come together and become friends within a shared purpose above and beyond their own personal agendas. It takes place in Europe in the times of knights and chivalry and is actually considered a "children's book" and so it's easy and fast reading, but at it's core, it will resonate with any adult looking to have more honor and purpose in their own life. If you can, get the edition with the wonderful illustrations by N.C. Wyeth!
"Seabiscuit, An American Legend" Laura Hillenbrand
Before the movie, the author, with painstaking care and sensitivity, documented the incredible story of the relationship between the race horse, Seabiscuit, and his jockey, Red Pollard. Too extraordinary to have been invented, this story will inspire even the most down-trodden or cynical, which is why this unstoppable duo of horse and rider was able to capture the hearts of a nation during the great Depression. Nothing to do with professional music but everything to do with the music of life! The author herself suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and had to overcome tremendous odds to complete this book.
"Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui," Karen Kingston
Regardless of what you think of feng shui, clearing your clutter is a winning exercise and Karen Kingston is a top-notch motivator who can inspire just about anyone to get going and get results. If you don't think this can make a difference in your playing and in your life, challenge your belief and try it - just in case!
"Tired of Being Tired," Jesse Lynne Hanley, M.D. and Nancy Deville
'Burn out' is an all too familiar experience for musicians and many others in our current industrial society where rest and recovery time is often sporadic at best. Indeed, themes and variations on 'chronic fatigue' have become epidemic. An excellent resource to help one identify and set in place practical treatments for relentless fatigue, chronic problems with sleep, problems with digestion and more, Dr. Hanley's program offers an experienced physician's straightforward holistic approach to a serious and increasingly common range of 'burn out' symptoms. [Important note: We do not advocate using DHEA or any other hormone except as prescribed and supervised by a knowledgeable and experienced physician. DHEA has been known to have unpredictable, and sometimes irreversible, side effects.]
"You Can Heal Your Life," Louise Hay
A bright, uplifting, inspiring and useful book about how to re-write your limiting beliefs and become freer and healthier all around. Tremendously experienced in working with people (including herself), Ms. Hay has overcome enormous personal adversity and is an amazing living example of someone who practices (and benefits from) what she preaches. Applied to one's music making, the principles behind her exercises can offer a deeper understanding into what we mean when we talk about the Second Overlay of playing (choice and skill). Get the brightly illustrated edition if you can find it.
"Mistakes that Worked," Charlotte Foltz Jones
Within the "sanctuary for musicians" that the Frequency Band endeavors to be, one important freedom (and relief) is de-focusing on perfection and re-focusing on ones interior love of music. In a time when digitized perfection is often valued over the natural range of human expression, it can be a good balancer to remember that some of the most important and interesting discoveries and inventions happened because someone made a 'mistake'! Fun reading with added therapeutic value! Also, listen or re-listen to pre-digital age live recordings of great musicians and be surprised--and inspired.
"Watership Down," Richard Adams
Counted among the members of our family are our wonderful rabbits. Hence, we naturally warmed to this feelable, 'essenced' portrayal of rabbits. But the value of this book, and the reason it has become a best selling, enduring classic, lies especially in its powerful account, masterfully told, of courage and camaraderie against seemingly insurmountable odds. Gripping from beginning to end, this story also offers a bone-chilling account of cruelty for none other than deliberately self-serving purposes (or frighteningly thoughtless habit), prompting self examination of what each life will do and won't do and the reasons why.
Perhaps no other public figure in modern times (and few in human history) has demonstrated greater courage and conviction nor endured more suffering and hardship to promote the best of humanity towards the upholdance of human rights and the cause of peace. An incredible modern day example of how refining one's human instrument can profoundly affect the music one plays and the people who hear it, Gandhi's living example of the principle of "detached action" is one of the prime inspirations for the Frequency Band sentiment: Do the best you can and be unattached to (not possessive of) the result, trusting the inherent merit in staying close to what you value inside and letting the outer result take care of itself. An amazing life story stunningly portrayed in film.
A story for the Frequency Band OPT and anyone else who wonders, "Really, what can one person do?" A stunning true adventure; a staggering real-life accomplishment.
"Fish Can't Fly"
A heart-wrenching documentary about the price paid by the victims of prejudice and intolerance (even when "well meaning"), this film also is a celebration of courage and being true to oneself. The Frequency Band champions and OPTs in support of a "unity born of humanity," where acceptance and tolerance and value for human diversity will prevail. This film is about the struggle of religious gays and lesbians who want to be true to their faith without denying who they are, a film that, in the face of inescapable suffering, lays bare for all to see that a human is a human first. And in that, we're all the same.
"Seabiscuit" (PBS documentary, not the Hollywood movie)
Amazing photojournalistic film about the race horse, Seabiscuit, and his jockey, Red Pollard. Amongst those interviewed are Red Pollard's daughter and Laura Hillenbrand, author of the biographical book, "Seabiscuit, An American Legend" (see description above). A tear jerking story of courage and triumph under conditions of mind boggling adversity.
"Dead Poets Society"
What happens when the natural urge to bloom meets the way things 'should' be? This film is about that urge to bloom, about fear (the great stopper), and about the courage it takes to be a free thinker (and doer) and one's own person. Both inspiring and sobering.
Another film highlighting the stopping role of fear on natural genius ('the art of prevention'). In spite of this, an unstoppable inner light lives on, in this instance through music. The life of Mozart.
"Life of Brian"
Perhaps one of the best films ever distinguishing between intellectualism and understanding (applicable as much to music as any other area of life). The wacky Monty Python humor takes the sting out without diminishing the message.
Sci fi that hits a 'here and now' nerve. Imbued with a haunting sense of prophesy and enduring timeless issues.
Taking time to 'stop and smell the roses' is one of the easiest things to forget. Even the busiest schedules can make space for moments of something totally different and refreshing, when we remember--a case for post it notes! With gentle seriousness though, in such whirlwind, high-pressured times, is it not vital to the health of each human and the life of their art that we make this part of our "practice"? Here are some ideas (and we encourage you to find your own!):
Take a walk.
Visit a museum.
Take 5 minutes and just breathe. Ideally, start and end each day with breathing and/or meditation.
Eat and sleep well. It's not so hard once you recognize its importance and develop the habit.
Communicate (spend some time with a special friend, relative or pet).
Buy a plant or some flowers and put them in your practice room.
Laugh for no apparent reason. Your mood (and immunity) will benefit.
Feel your value for someone or something special, including yourself.
Take pleasure in what you 'can do.' Appreciate the validity of your life and level of ability.
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