A Musician's Alphabet, Hardback Book

A Musician's Alphabet Hardback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Using the letters of the alphabet as her starting point, Susan Tomes presents a series of lively reflections on performing music, and on the classical music world.

Drawing on her international experience as a solo pianist and chamber musician, she offers intriguing insights into rehearsal and practise, coping with nerves, and on the relationship between musicians and their audience.

The book also contains thought-provoking meditations on the role of classical music in society, and the most rewarding attitudes to performance.


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A pleasant, thoughtful book, giving a rare insight into some of the realities and beauties of life as a performing musician (on an acoustic instrument). The only jarring note (sorry) was the 'de haut en bas' attitude to jazz and improvised music – this author is unfair on musics of which she has, perhaps, less direct experience as a player. It was also very revealing that she says she hears the 'notes' in her head, rather than the sounds (not even the sound of her own instrument, the piano) – she explicitly distinguishes between them, and seems to feel that the 'real' music is all in the notes. Nevertheless, this is a well-tempered book. It's also worth reading her previous book, which is actually called 'Beyond the Notes' (!). It's, perhaps, a shame that she seems to be referring to the fact of having strayed into writing words, and discussing the what a musician's life is like, rather than to the many aspects of music that go beyond the notes.

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