Have you ever found that you judge yourself and your playing to a completely deflating degree? "Oh geeze, I'm such a horrible violist! I call THAT a shift?! I'm SO out of tune! I don't even know where third position is! What am I DOING with my life?!"
This semester, my students and I are reading The Inner Game of Tennis, by W. Timothy Gallwey. I remember reading this book many years ago, as a student in Michelle LaCourse's viola studio, and now rereading the book, am starting to remember some of the details I found so enlightening as a budding violist (I'd been solely a violinist until then).
We are only a few chapters in to the book so far, but I am very glad this is the book I decided on for this semester's book project. While the subject matter is tennis, the ideas and concepts easily translate to the musical genre. Gallwey's approach emphasizes learning to observe what you are doing in a non-judgemental way ("I missed that shift" instead of "Geeze, I suck! I can't shift at all!") and actually supplies tools for retraining our self-deprecating inner voice (dubbed Self 1 by Gallwey).
I'm looking forward to the rest of this semester, relearning everything I found so enlightening as a young violist in Boston. I hope my students find this book as useful as I'm sure it will be to me.