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Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within (Book + CD set) Paperback – January 9, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This is a great book for any musician, and it has literally changed the way people all over the globe think about their lives and their music. Kenny's candid confession of frustrations regarding his own early development really reveal how *everyone* struggles to reach a place of mastery, no matter what facade of confidence they present publicly. It is an inspiring book that seems to immediately connect with musicians, who say to us over and over, "I've always felt there was something holding me back, and now I know how to let go and move forward!" The accompanying CD of meditations will be helpful for those wishing to investigate further the practical techniques Kenny discusses in the book.

About the Author

Kenny Werner is an accomplished pianist who began performing at age 4 and, by age 11, had appeared on television. While at the Manhattan School of Music he became restless with his musical direction and began to explore Jazz as a new means of creativity and expression. Along his journey, he was inspired by masters of the craft to rethink not only the technical aspects of creativity, but also the spiritual aspects. Effortless Mastery is not only an account of that journey, but also an insightful guide for all those wishing to remove their own barriers to creativity in life and the arts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Jamey Aebersold; PAP/COM edition (January 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156224003X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1562240035
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Doug Robinson on March 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am only about 3/4s through this book, and I couldn't be more enthusiastic. I happen to love Kenny Werner's piano playing--always heard him and thought "Well, I'll never sound like THAT!"-- only to read his book and have him address this very attitude with unbelievable accuracy. I've already changed the way that I practice my instruments, and I just put some of his approach to work in a 3 day recording session with some players that I admire very much. While I had couple of brief self-doubt meltdowns, the whole experience was so much easier than I had even hoped for, and yes, even "effortless" at times. I know that changing my perspective, and my expectations made a huge difference in my ability to enjoy the moment, and as a result, the music that came forth. I am recommending this book for anyone who has ever played a musical instrument--at ANY level--and stopped, even if it was a long time ago. This book explains what might have gotten in your way of the music-making experience. I also want to recommend it to those of us who play professionally but are either frustrated with our own progress or just not enjoying it as much as we did when we were young. There's no reason music can't be that fun again.
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Ilia Asafiev on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've heard a lot about Mr. Werner's Effortless Mastery title. In fact, I know a band whose two primary musicians constantly bicker about whether this "effortless" approach is viable. After years of hearing about it, I decided to find out for myself.

The book starts out with one basic premise: you are an aspiring, practicing musician, looking to "break through" to higher grounds of playing. Many people are at this stage, but have a fear of unfamiliar musical territory. The bulk of this book is dedicated to removing this fear.

Werner's approach to doing so is by breaking down negative programming that's been beaten into aspiring musicians worldwide throughout their music careers. Some have a fear that's instilled by their teachers, who constantly tell them they're not good enough, not perfect enough, not smooth enough. Others have this fear imbued by "great" musicians - those who seem to push the boundaries and perform inhuman feats on their instrument. According to Mr. Werner, all this negative programming eventually becomes an insurmountable barrier for advancement - unless it is reversed and positive programming is imposed on the musician. Who will impose this programming? Most likely, it will be the musician himself.

Again, the basic premise comes into play: you must work on your technique, learn new music, and address your weaknesses. That is a given, and there is no way around it. However, you must also have a positive outlook while doing so - otherwise all the imperfections you've ironed out during practice will come back to haunt you in performance.

Some of the initial chapters reveal in great depth Mr. Werner's personal experience.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL ROYAL ( on July 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a truly a great indentifies, and deconstructs fear and inadequacy in the realm of music performance...Werner explains the many reasons why musicians do not play up to their potential...he offers a direct access to applied musical experience and virtuosity by way of 1.) establishing a new rapport with the music/ instrument <THE SPACE> 2).honest self-realization (getting rid of the need to sound good, the necessity of being detached, so that "...we can be honest without becoming depressed". 3). New practice techniques <THE FIVE MINUTE TECHNIQUE> 4).Affirmations <MUSIC IS EASY/THERE ARE NO WRONG NOTES/EVERY NOTE I PLAY IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SOUND I HAVE EVER HEARD, I AM GREAT, I AM A MASTER, and a bonus CD, which is a guided meditation of all of the above. He talks about the "Monk Principle", and facilitates shifts in thinking, like, MUSIC IS NOT HARD, JUST UNFAMILIAR. He has many inciteful suggestions, "Mimic Playing", and "PLAYING FAST" to name a couple, all of which are designed to "rewire" the way we view ourselves. In short, he shows us how to give ourselves permission to be great musicians. Add this book to your regime, and I guarantee, you'll be cookin'! Thanks Kenny!
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on August 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read Kenny's book while I was at sea for 3 months, and listened to the CD many times. My playing has really opened up, and I think he's right about all of it. When asked about effortless mastery, Bird said,(paraphrased) "Learn all the technical stuff and then forget it,just play!" That is strictly analogous to practicing correctly, and entering the space. Werner's remarks about the importance of learning the melody, how our minds ruin it for us because we continually rush through the music thereby missing what in fact we are after, practicing up-tempos by just "wiggling your fingers", his observations RE: Bill Evans and Horowitz videos, his "get real time" approach to self-assessment about how to really improve, how to practice, the distinction familiar and unfamiliar as opposed to easy and difficult, and his concept of the Learning is lovingly written... it encourages and shows how to give ourselves permission to really play from our hearts...and effortless mastery emerges from that...boldly insightful and generous.
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