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Meet the Musicians: from Prodigy (or Not) to Pro.

* Meet the Musicians: from Prodigy (or Not) to Pro, by Amy Nathan. Henry Holt and Company, LLC (175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010), 2006. 168pp. $17.95.

This is an excellent book to introduce young musicians to those who have traveled the path before them. "Meet the Musicians" brings to the forefront 15 members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in short and personal biographical vignettes. It includes brief stories about their lives as students and their journies to becoming professional musicians and more.

The format of the book is laid out simply with colorful points of interest that are easily understood by the reader. The name of each performer and their instrument are at the top of each page for ready reference. Printed in red, are related topics set apart from the main text that include "the Inside Scoop" ("Good Points/Bad Points" paragraph for each instrument), "Practice Tips" and "Concert Watch" (what to look for in the orchestra when you attend a concert). These are eye catching and each sufficiently different to avoid losing the reader with too much repetition. Practice tips also include thoughts about dealing with those times when students don't want to practice and how they themselves work through those moments towards a successful result. "Concert Watch" offers a plethora of little 'factoids' about various things such as orchestra terminology (principal associate concertmaster) and specific instrumental directions (pizzicato). It also answers questions, such as why the oboe leads the tuning and why they share music stands, and includes tiny, but important, details such as the fact that a rubber endpin slightly dampens the sound of a cello.

Each performer shares in plain English their personal reflections on their early training and musical maturation. They describe their struggles and rewards on their individual path, including what they found to be "the coolest thing" about their instrument as a kid, and the moment they knew they wanted to be a professional musician.

Each musician shares their initial reactions to the sound of their instruments; what drew them to their instrument and what they found in that instrument that inspired them to work towards its mastery. Many compare practicing their instrument to practicing sports and experiencing the same teamwork shared by both activities. Some share their experiences of participating in competitions and how they dealt with the results--both favorable and non-favorable.

Teachers and parents will feel validated reading that many of the players themselves had parents who "made me practice" and now truly appreciate their parents' encouragement in their developing years. It also encourages high level teaching from the very beginning. You come away noticing what many of them had in common in their early years. They all had supportive parents. Most attended summer music camps where they were inspired by more successful players and realized higher level goals for themselves.

The book concludes with a glossary of terms, a New York Philharmonic "About" page, contact information for other orchestras and a website reference guide for reading and listening.

This is an easy read for younger students with its easy to understand and organized format. It is an ideal waiting room read or gift for any orchestra buff. Reviewed by Sheila Vail, Cincinnati, Ohio

* The items marked with this symbol can be ordered via the MTNA website through our affiliation with Go to, click on "Resources and Services" and scroll down to the section.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Vail, Sheila
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2006
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