The Musician's Way Book Cover“Your habits in the practice room make you the musician that you are.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 20

I’m pleased to present this guest post by Dr. Lisa Dawson of Indiana Weslyan University. -GK

The Musician’s Way by Gerald Klickstein is being used by the Voice Department at Indiana Wesleyan University as a core text throughout the 2012-13 academic year. This post outlines our pace of study.

Students begin the year by reading Chapter 6, “Musical Collaboration,” and then proceed progressively through the book from Chapter 1 on.

We adopt this plan because, at the outset of the fall semester, students are placed in chamber groups such as duos and trios, and we use the guidelines from Chapter 6 to help students collaborate more effectively.

We advise students to review the prompts shown in this study guide before they read a chapter. Students respond to the prompts by submitting 2-3-page documents.

Chapter 6
Read: Week 1
Apply & Respond: After you’re assigned to a chamber group, discuss the concepts in Chapter 6 with your ensemble partners; then, log your rehearsal experiences each week. You’ll report on your experiences in Week 11.

Chapter 1
Read: Week 2
Apply & Respond: Week 3

  1. Define practice.
  2. Describe your practice environment(s). Which of the Practice Room Essentials listed on page 5 are crucial for vocalists? Why?
  3. Using the model practice sheet from page 8, design a practice sheet for yourself.
  4. Why are sleep and rest important for singers?
  5. Is quantity or quality most important in practice? Why?
  6. How will you record your lessons and practice sessions?
  7. How is self-recording and self-listening useful to singers in particular and musicians in general (p. 16-18)?

Chapter 2
Read: Week 3
Apply & Respond: Week 4

  1. What does it mean to “practice deeply” (p. 19-20)?
  2. In your music-making this week, how have you applied the Habits of Excellence discussed on pages 20-23?
  3. How is mental imaging helpful to singers (p. 34-37)?
  4. In your daily practice sessions, employ the six Warm-Up Fundamentals (p. 37-39) and comment on how your practice is affected.

Chapter 3
Read: Week 5
Apply & Respond: Week 6

  1. Discuss how discovery, repetition and evaluation can be used to learn and memorize a song (p. 40-42).
  2. Why is it difficult to modify technical habits using a previously learned composition?
  3. Sing and record a complete song during a lesson or practice session; listen to your recording, and then write answers the questions found on the bottom of page 56 in the book.
  4. Identify one or more problem spots in a composition you’re learning, apply selected problem-solving tactics from pages 58-70, and then reflect on your experience.

Chapter 4
Read: Week 7
Apply & Respond: Week 8

  1. Apply points a-f on pages 72-73 to a piece of music that you’ve been preparing and discuss your experiences.
  2. Do you find that you need one type of break more than another (p. 75-82)? Explain.
  3. Apply the Four Stages of Memorization to a piece you’re studying and reflect on your experience (p. 82-93).

Chapter 5
Read: Week 9
Apply & Respond: Week 10

  1. Complete the Evaluation of Practice Development on pages 112-113 and reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself and your practice strategies.
  2. How will you overcome any deficiencies in your practice habits or skills?

Chapter 6 (previously read in Week 1)
Apply & Respond: Week 11

  1. Reflecting on your collaborative experiences with your chamber group this semester, describe how your group applied the following concepts from Chapter 6 more and less effectively:
    •    Professionalism (p. 115-117)
    •    Interpersonal Communication (p. 117-121)
    •    Rehearsal Strategies (p. 121-127)
    •    Forming a Group (p. 127-129)

Chapter 7
Read: Week 12
Apply & Respond: Week 13

  1. Using Tables 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 (p. 137-139), list which effects of performance anxiety you typically experience; underline those that affect you most strongly.
  2. Using the Roots of Performance Anxiety described on pages 140-142, evaluate your own level of performance anxiety and the possible roots of it.
  3. Do you or does someone you know resemble any of the individuals described in the Portraits of Anxious Performers on pages 142-145? How?
  4. Summarize the strategies that the author gives for Crafting Confidence on stage (p. 146-151). How do you use or plan to implement any of these strategies in your work as a performer?

Chapter 8
Read: Week 14
Apply & Respond: Week 15

  1. Download a Preperformance Inventory Chart from and complete it in preparation for an upcoming performance (recital, jury, competition, or audition).
  2. Write a reflection on the Backstage Techniques you use in relation to those listed on pages 162-170.

Chapter 9
Read: Week 16 (video-record a studio class performance, if you haven’t already)
Apply & Respond: Week 17

  1. Review a video-recording of one of your recent performances in Studio Class. Reflect on how effectively you applied the following topics presented in Chapter 9; discuss how you will advance in any areas you deem yourself lacking:
    •    Stage Deportment (171-177)
    •    Creating Stage Presence (177-179)
    •    Starting and Ending (p. 180-184)
    •    Harnessing On-Stage Energy (p. 184-188)
    •    Connecting with an Audience (188-189)

Chapter 10
Read: Week 18
Apply & Respond: Week 19

  1. Using the Performance-Evaluation Tool on page 202 (Table 10.1) and the sample evaluation shown on page 203, write an evaluation of your most recent performance.
  2. Complete the General Evaluation of Performance Development on pages 204-205 (Table 10.2) and reflect on the areas in which you’re most capable and those in which you need to make improvements. What steps will you take to achieve improvements?

Chapter 11
Read: Week 20
Apply & Respond: Week 21

  1. Define the following concepts from pages 206-208:
    •    Peak-Performance
    •    The Peak-Performance Myth
    •    The Thorough Preparation Principle
  2. Using repertoire that you have studied in your lessons this year, design a recital program of 30-60 minutes in length. Imagine that you will present the recital in 6-12 weeks and create a Preparation Timeline similar to the one shown on page 218 (a timeline document is available for download from

Chapter 12
Read: Week 22
Apply & Respond: Week 23

  1. According to the author what might lifelong creators know that artists who suffer burnout may not know (p. 229)?
  2. What are the five causes of injuries to instrumentalists that are discussed on pages 231-237? Have you or a musician you know suffered injuries due to these causes? Explain.
  3. Briefly explain the warning signs of injuries for instrumentalist and the responses that may help alleviate or avert injuries.
  4. Discuss how you might apply the ten injury preventative measures described on pages 241-246.
  5. What are the four essential components for a speedy recovery after an injury (p. 246-249)? Has it ever been necessary for you to employ any of these? Explain.

Chapter 13
Read: Week 24
Apply & Respond: Week 25

  1. What are the seven Voice Care Basics described on pages 268-277?
  2. Reflect on how you apply these basics in your practice and lifestyle.
  3. Have you ever experienced vocal problems due to a lack of voice-care skills? Explain.
  4. In what ways are singers at risk of music-induced hearing loss (p. 277-291)?
  5. List practical steps you can take to protect your hearing.

Chapter 14
Read: Week 26
Apply & Respond: Week 27

  1. Looking back over the course of this academic year, how have dealt with criticism? Give examples of constructive criticism and less-than-fair criticism that you have received (p. 296-299).
  2. Summarize the Five Career-Building Maneuvers and how they might help you now and in the future (p. 299-307).
  3. Create your own Artistic Vision similar in format to Celia’s (p. 310).
  4. How will you apply the creativity-boosting strategies to refine and realize yoThe Musician's Way Book Coverur vision (p. 310-313)?

Preview The Musician’s Way at

Related posts 
Artistic Vision
Mental Imaging
Teaching with The Musician’s Way, Part I
Teaching with The Musician’s Way, Part II