Book Club

Book Club

I like reading and sharing books. Hope you enjoy some of these suggestions...

High School Students

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Majoring in Music: All the Stuff You Need to Know

by Rich Holly

Written by my teacher and mentor, Rich Holly  has decades of experience as a percussion professor, Department Chair, and Dean in higher education. The book is in bite-size segments for quick reads and is divided into the "Academic Stuff," the "Musical Stuff," and the "Life Stuff."

Highly recommended for any high school students considering music school at the collegiate level. Required reading for my first-semester freshmen.

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The Inner Game of Tennis

by Timothy Gallwey

A classic for students working on addressing performance anxiety. Also worth considering The Inner Game of Music.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen Covey

An oldie but a goodie. I first read this in college and the ideas surrounding pro-activity and habits have stuck with me ever since.

A big thanks to my friend Ben Wahlund for gifting me this book. It inspired me to do the same for my friends ever since.

Creativity & Productivity

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Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Foucs, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind

Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

I read selections from this book on an annual basis. Some of my favorite essays include Elizabeth Grace Saunders' discussion of "The Creative Pragmatist" vs. "The Creative Perfectionist" and Stefan Sagmeister's discussion on working large projects into our day-today lives. I found something on nearly every page of the book, and it can be used daily just to get one or two pages of creative inspiration.

The books jacket reads "should you answer that email, or answer your calling? Tune into social media, or tune in to your own voice? Respond to other people's needs, or actively set your own agenda? When it comes to creative work, every decision, every day, matters." In a world where digital availability continues to increase without additional resources to serve it, this book has helped balance those scales in a variety of ways.

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The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

by Steven Pressfield

Introduced me to the idea of "creativity resistance" and all of the ways we get in the way of having productive creative lives. A great daily read to keep our creative compass point ahead, as each entry is typically less than a page. I enjoyed this passage, for example:

The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself. 
Is he scared? Hell, yes. He's petrified.
(Conversely, the professional turns down roles that he's done before. He's not afraid of them anymore. Why waste his time?)
So if you're paralyzed with fear, it's a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.
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168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

by Laura Vanderkam

This book really helped me have a fluid scheduling vantage point, thinking in weeks instead of days. Some days things just aren't possible, but within a week almost anything can be done. Great read.



by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

One of my favorite books for discussion in my percussion pedagogy seminars, Peak discusses how to master any skill through the lens of "chess champions, star athletes, and memory mavens." Perhaps my favorite case study is the discussion of London cab drivers who must master a list of 320 runs as a starting point for taxi-driver candidacy. The memory of these 25,000+ streets is cross-referenced with the other areas mentioned above to find trends that lead to the discussion of purposeful, and later, deliberate practice.


Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

by David Allen

GTD is the backbone for the way I approach my work, which is outlined through 5 steps:

  1. Capture - collect what has your attention (to-do items, recurring tasks)
  2. Clarify these to-do items as needed
  3. Organize those actionable items by project and priority
  4. Reflect - I prefer the word review which is commonly used. Reviewing my list daily and weekly helps me keep priorities in order.
  5. Engage - do the items that have risen to the top of the priority.

Allen speaks about the mind being a place for having ideas, not storing them, and that system works very well for me.

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Tools of Titans

by Tim Ferriss

Similar to Peak mentioned above, Ferriss has made a habit of studying the "tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers." I really enjoyed The 4-Hour Workweek also by him, but what is interesting about this book is it is compiled as a collection of dozens and dozens of short articles featuring individuals. It is easy to dive in and out of and is organized into the categories Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. It is a great candidate for a short read as part of a morning routine or for a shot of afternoon inspiration after lunch. More information in this text than one could possibly consume in a lifetime.


Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music

by Angela Myles Beeching


The Non-Designer's Design Book

by Robin Williams

Sports & Coaching

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Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out

by John Calipari

Loved this book and equally enjoyed Success is the Only Option: The Art of Coaching Extreme Talent. Both have loads of information that is transferable to applied music teaching and directing a collegiate music program. A few of my favorite quotes from the latter include:

  • Connect with at least one person each day who has nothing to do with your work life. Consider it like a fifteen-minute vacation. It might be a good friend, a mentor, or perhaps one of your kids who is away at college.
  • Continually define reality.
  • Keeping it real doesn't mean keeping it negative. It is equally important to catch your people doing good things and hold them – and their actions – up as a model.
  • Understand that in some cases, your best people are not always your most assertive people. Sometimes you have to coach aggressiveness, just like you would any other skill.
  • If something matters, track it and post the results. This helps make your priorities clear.
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Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

Phil Jackson

Growing up in Illinois in the 1990s, Phil Jackson was a big part of my childhood. I was always fascinated by how he then went to the Lakers and won an additional five championships on top of the six with the Chicago Bulls. He has been labeled as the "Zen master" and his thoughts on leadership are inspiring. There is even a great section where Jackson parallels basketball and music / jazz, expressing the importance of awareness, collaboration, and having clearly defined roles.