Rhythms of The Game: The Link Between Musical and Athletic Performance.
* Rhythms of The Game: The Link Between Musical and Athletic Performance, by Bernie Williams, Dave Gluck and Bob Thompson. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2011. www.halleonard.com; 208 pp., $24.99.
Rhythms of The Game is an insightful look into the mental and emotional demands of human performance and the parallel mindsets of athletes and musicians. The book is a collection of narratives from the author's rich performance experiences interspersed with a series of sidebars from well-known classical and jazz musicians further illuminating the psychology and strategies needed to perform at elite levels. Additionally, there are insightful contributions from Don Green, a performance-enhancement specialist, discussing the science behind the artistic and performance concepts in each chapter.
If you are a musician and a fan of baseball, or someone who is interested in the application of performance psychology, there are a number of entertaining stories and meaningful anecdotes. The book begins by drawing interesting parallels between baseball and music. Not only do they share similar language (that is, rhythm, pitch, tempo, time) and the need for calculated risks (stealing, diving for a ball hit to center to get a final out, throwing a change-up on a 3-2 count), but also the musically rhythmic choreography in the movements of the players on the field.
The book also goes deeper into specific performance concepts. Chapter 5: "The Intuitive Artist," does a great job explaining the role of intuition in human performance. Drawing parallels between the ballplayer and a jazz pianist, the authors point out that an intuitive play is completed "through mastery of the basics and fundamentals, which allow your creative mind to improvise a work of art for just the right moment in space and time." Similarly, Chapter 10: "Reducing Variables" discusses the importance of mental preparation in the creative process. In the sidebar, Dave Gluck talks about how he uses isolation and "incrementalization" to reduce performance variables that allow him to become "more creatively involved in the musical aspects of the passage." There is a wonderful chapter in the latter part of the book, Chapter 18: "The Success of Failure" that addresses the role and necessity of failure. No other athlete must effectively deal with the frequency of failure as a ballplayer. Although there are many paths to greatness in both sport and music, all the paths pass through failure at some point.
Overall, I found this book to be very easy to read, full of great stories and meaningful advice from baseball players and musicians. One of my favorite quotes came from the Trumpeter, Jon Faddis, explaining what he had learned from baseball players, "Be relaxed, be focused and sit next to someone more experienced than you." As I was reading this book I felt I was sitting next to someone sharing decades of real experiences from the trenches and bright lights of performances in both music and baseball.--Reviewed by Bill Moore, University of Oklahoma
* The items marked with this symbol can be ordered via the MTNA website through our affiliation with Amazon.com. Go to www.mtna.org and choose Member Services from the Membership Information option in the main menu bar for more information.