9 Music Books to Read in 2015




There are so many amazing books about music out there, and sadly, there’s not even a fraction of the time we would need to read them all.

So, while you’re prioritizing which music books to read this year, here’s a list of 9 to help you get started. They are some of my absolute favorites.

1  |  The Perfect Wrong Note

This is one of the best books I have ever read. At it’s core, it is an exposition of Beethoven’s “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” The author shows the importance of involving body and emotion (not just brain)  in the execution of a piece and teaches really practical ways to avoid tension and let your body follow its natural flow without sacrificing mental alertness. The goal is this: if you’re going to play a wrong note, play it well.

2  |  Music at Your Fingertips

This one is every bit as good as The Perfect Wrong Note, just in a very different way.  I appreciate so much about the advice in this book. The author is an experienced, international pianist, and she gives extremely practical advice on practicing, musicianship, memorization, developing finger control, preparing for performances, listening, teaching, sight-reading technique, selecting repertoire, and more, and it’s wonderful. This is NOT a how-to-play-the-piano-in-5-easy-steps kind of book. It’s about learning how to handle your instrument like an artist.

Mini-Reviews for 9 Music Books to Read This Year. The Gift of Music. www.sfzMusicBlog.com #book #reviews #books #classical #music3  |  The Gift of Music

I have used this book so many times when studying composers.  Each of the 42 chapters is devoted to a composer and includes a quote, mini-bio, recommended reading list for further study, and recommended listening list.

As a musician, I appreciate the scholarship, history, and education in this book.  As a Christian, I appreciate the authors’ analysis of the composers’ lives, priorities, and standards. Using the recommended listening lists as a guide is a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the great composers’ most known works. Definitely add it to your library!

4  |  Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff

If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be adorable. It’s a fantastic overview of Schumann’s life and musical career, and it gave me a greater appreciation for his work. It’s a kids’ book, true. But it’s great for adults and families, too.

Robert Schumann & Mascot Ziff | #Composer #Biography #Review on The Music Blog. www.sfzMusicBlog.com #music #schumann #composers #books #classicalmusic

IMG_8990-25 | What Makes Music Work

This is the most comprehensive book presentation of basic music theory that I’ve read to date. Most “Introduction to Theory” books confuse even the most basic concepts by using the most technical and musically scientific terms possible. This book was radically different – simple, concise, and in plain language that beginners can understand. Music theory is only confusing if you make it so, and this book doesn’t.

This book is intended to be a informal course for beginners, though it does venture into some relatively intense theory by the last third of the book – particularly advanced chord structures, harmonization, and composition. These more advanced concepts are taught extremely well, but if it is confusing for the time being, lay that part aside for a while and come back to it when you have worked your way to that point.

6 | The Joy of Music

Actually, I recommend that you read half of this book. Specifically, these chapters:

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony
The World of Jazz
Introduction to Modern Music
The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach

These are a collection of scripts from various radio/television interviews the famous conductor / composer Leonard Bernstein gave over the course of his life. So, while half of the scripts are hard to appreciate because they lack the musical context that would have been present in the radio programs, the four chapter listed above are amazing. It’s extremely educational (Bernstein often jumps into conversations on chord structures, compositional forms, and stylistic specifics, complete with musical scores), but the conversational style of the chapters keeps it easy to understand.

Note: There are a few issues with the other chapters in this book, namely language and morally questionable operatic scenes.

7 | What to Listen for in Music

This book is a listener’s introduction to fundamental elements and forms of music, written by 20th-century composer Aaron Copland. First, he talks about what makes music: rhythm, melody, harmony, tone color, texture, and structure. Then he goes on to explain fundamental music forms: sectionals, variations, fugues, sonatas, free form, opera & drama, contemporary, and film scores.

It’s a great resource for music students and music enthusiasts. Although… if you’re an enthusiast, you’ll be a student by the end of the book. ;)



8 | Glory & Honor: The Music & Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach

This is a unique biography because it is divided into three parts:

PART I is a great overview of Bach’s Life and Musical Career. It outlines the highlights of his career without getting bogged down on unnecessary details. And the best part? It’s interesting. It’s worth reading just this section if you’re short on time.

IMG_8902PART II is a close look at Bach’s Character. The author talks about his many strengths and a few of his weaknesses. This is the longest section and does feel lengthy if you’re trying to hurry through it. Still, if you take your time, it is interesting to get such a close look at the person of Bach.

PART III discusses Bach’s Legacy – the way his work affected classical music, history, and us. It really is incredible how great of an impact one person can have on so many other lives.

It’s a great book. I would NOT recommend trying to plow through this one, or it will feel dry. This book has a lot to offer, and it would be best to spread it over a month or two. Definitely a valuable book for Bach lovers.

IMG_89619 | Classical Music

This one is similar to The Gift of Music, only it is twice as thick, covers more composers, goes into greater depth, has fun Q & A boxes, gives more thorough listening lists, and is written from a secular perspective.

Classical Music covers 50 composers, and each with a detailed mini-biography. The author also gives four listening lists for each composer:

The Starter Kit (5 pieces)
A Top Ten (10 pieces)
A Master Collection (25 pieces)
A Beethoven Library (A LOT)

The author is a good writer and has a touch of humor to boot. It’s really an enjoyable book. I have not read all of way through this one, so I’m not able to comment on any problems that may present themselves in the later part of the book. However, the scholarship is excellent, and it is definitely a fabulous resource for musicians.

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I hope you are able to enjoy some of these wonderful books this year. If you read any, I would love to hear your thoughts on them!



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Student Performance Video: Telemann Bourrée in a minor


I’ve started a youtube channel, and I’ll be working on a variety of music-related videos and tutorials to share over the coming weeks and months.

Here is my first upload – one of my young piano students performing at one of my studio recitals. It’s one of my favorite pieces… I adore pretty much anything Baroque!



Telemann Bourrée in a minor


Now Taking Violin & Piano Students!



So… After almost 2 years, a wedding, 3 moves, 1 baby, and another baby almost ready to arrive… I am SOOO excited to be taking students again!

I just added a new set of studio-related pages to my blog… Here is a sample of my Violin & Piano Lessons page.  Go check out the others, too!


Go to Frequently Asked Questions >>>
Go to Studio Gallery >>>
Go to Student Performances >>>
Go to Resources for Parents >>>


Hello! My name is Lacie Bowman, and I am a classically-trained violin and piano teacher offering private music lessons in Hohenwald, Tennessee.

I offer beginner to advanced classical violin and piano instruction with an emphasis on healthy technique, musicianship, music theory, and a love for music. Weekly lessons are devoted to current repertoire, integrated & textbook music theory, a variety of scales & other exercises, sight-reading, ear training, and classical music history. I also offer instruction in hymn improvisation for those who are interested.

I teach students ages 4 to adult, and I love to work with families and parent-child groups.  I value parental involvement very highly and welcome parents who want to be closely involved in their child’s music education and lessons.

“The Joy of Music is more than just the finished product;
it is also the beautiful process of getting there.”
Patrick Kavanaugh


Music lessons don’t need to be approached with fear, boredom, or dread – I love them, and I want my students to love them, too.  Encouraging enjoyable student-teacher interaction during lessons, building friendships between my music students, and developing a healthy, happy relationship between my students and myself are my priorities.  My goal is not to turn your child into a concert pianist, but to help him become a well-rounded, artistic musician with a love for sharing music with others. I want my students always to remember their music lessons with a smile in their heart that will last long after their music lessons are over.

Contact me for more information on private lessons & fees.

Lacie Bowman Music Studio


6 Reasons to Have a Recital Rehearsal | The Music Blog.jpg

And the Giveaway Winners Are…




239 entries later… We have 3 winners for the Music Giveaway!!!!

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Antoinette Konvalin (The Gift of Music)
Sarah Blair (Great Composers Coloring Book)
& Kellie Richardson (Music at Your Fingertips)

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Winners 2
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of you wonderful musicians, music-lovers, and mommies & daddies who entered!!!  I had so much fun with this giveaway, and the great news is… The next giveaway will be in March! So don’t stay away too long!

Like The Music Blog on Facebook to catch the next giveaway! 

Until next time,
Lacie  <3

How to Prepare Your Child for Music Lessons



Nurturing a love and appreciation for music in your child is an important and beautiful preparation for formal music lessons. Someone has to invest time into developing their interest in music, and there is no better person than their own Mommy or Daddy!

When preparing your little people for music lessons, keep these three goals in mind: 

  1. Nurturing their interest in music.
  2. Giving them a head-start on understanding foundational musical concepts.
  3. Helping them develop the hand/body coordination they will need to handle the physical requirements of their instrument.

There are so many great exercises and activities you can do with your little ones at home to prepare their minds, fingers, and hearts for music lessons. Let’s look a few practical ways you can do that.


Nurturing Musical Interest 

Play Classical Music Around the House.  

Children aren’t likely to develop an interest in music if they rarely hear it, so make music a part of your daily life.  It doesn’t have to be at the forefront – play a variety of composers in the background during playtime, and your little ones will be influenced by the atmosphere.

Attend Real Concerts…

…and make a big deal about it! Talk about it ahead of time, get dressed up, take pictures — show excitement! When it’s over, talk about it some more. Concerts are an invaluable learning opportunity for you and your children and can be a memory they will always treasure, if you make it one.

Make the Most of The Internet.  

Thanks to Youtube, we can give our children musical experiences on the days, weeks, and months we can’t attend concerts. Pull up some chairs, huddle around, listen, watch, and talk about what you’ve heard. Oh, and don’t forget… Popcorn!

Read Stories of Great Composers, Hymn Writers, and Musicians.  

Few things will bring music to life for your children like the fascinating stories of the real men and women who spent their life studying it. Plus, kids love story time. So grab a blanket, snuggle up, and read, read, read, read, read…

Teach Them to Respect Instruments.  

Children won’t have a lasting interest in something they think is just another toy. Teach them how to approach instruments with care, gentleness and respect. It will intrigue their little minds more than you think. (And save your instrument much heartache in the future. ;)

Sing, Sing, Sing!

What child doesn’t like songs? Even my 10-week-old would crack up when I started singing to him! Kids can usually handle simple tunes long before the complexities of an instrument, so when your kids are infants sing to them. When they’re toddlers sing with them. Your voice doesn’t have to be great… just sing – they’ll love you for it!

Celebrate Music

Pick a composer’s birthday to celebrate each month, and have a party! Spend the morning or afternoon listening to that composer’s music, reading stories about his life, enjoying a meal or treat from his culture, studying his time period, and anything else you can think of. If you’re really into it, some birthday cupcakes will be a hit, too! This one is more elaborate than the others, but if you’re up for it, you’ll have a blast!


Fostering Musical Understanding

Teach Them Basic Music Terms & Symbols.  

If a child can learn to recognize ball, chair, and cookie, he can learn to recognize note, staff, and “twebble clef”.  Give him a jumpstart on the stuff he’ll need to know when he begins music lessons – it will help him feel less overwhelmed at the first lesson.  Start with helping him to recognize these, and he’ll have a great head start:

  • Staff, Treble Clef, Bass Clef, Measure, Barline, Time Signature
  • Quarter Note, Half Note, Dotted Half Note, Whole Note
  • Quarter Rest, Half Rest, Whole Rest

Ear Training

You can never start training a child’s ear too early. Even the most basic ear training will make a tremendous difference. I’ll be sharing some beginner ear training activities soon, but in the meantime, try starting with simple exercises like these:

  • Loud/Soft, Long/Short, High/Low, Same Note/Different Note, Notes Going Up/Notes Going Down

Help them Learn the Names and Sounds of Instruments.  

This one might just be the most fun of all! Look at pictures and illustrations of instruments online or in a music book together.  Help your children recognize different instruments and instrument families. Watch solo and orchestral videos on youtube to help them learn the sounds of each instrument, then switch to recordings where they can only hear the instrument sounds. This can be a super fun and educational guessing game!

Teach Them the Names of Basic Instrument Parts…

…and what they do!  Kids are fascinated by how things work, and instruments are no exception. If you’re not sure what’s what, do a wink or two of research and then let them learn with you! (Online is an excellent resource.) Keep it interactive and try to get around as many instruments as possible. Your kids will have a blast, and you know what?  You will too.

Names of Keys

They’ll need to know how the music alphabet works, and the piano is a great place to learn.  The keyboard is arguably the easiest instrument to learn how the music alphabet works – partly because of its simple visual patter (it is straightforward and repetitive, unlike the violin or trumpet), and partly because it’s right in front of your face instead of left, right, up, or down, like the violin, flute, trombone, or cello.



Developing Physical Coordination

Clapping their Hands to the Beat in Music

This one is important! Clapping their hands to the beat will not only help them recognize where the beat is, it will also help them learn to coordinate their body movements with the beat, which is a crucial part of understanding and executing rhythm on an instrument.  You can do this one with classical music, or your favorite hymns, folk, or pop tunes. P.S. …it’s lots of fun!

Holding a Ball

If your child is starting with piano lessons, holding a small ball will help to prepare his hand for the correct playing position.  The ball should be small enough for him to wrap his fingers around in a curved position, but large enough that his fingers aren’t touching. (A $1 bouncy ball from Dollar Tree will do the trick!)

Learning Good Posture and, um… Sitting Still

Help your child understand what it means to sit with his back straight and his legs not twisted into a knot.  His teacher will be thoroughly impressed if you get this one down.  ;)


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And last, but not least… Remember that Your Attitude is Key.

You don’t have to be an expert in music to encourage a love of music in your child; you do have to have a love of music yourself. Your attitude and actions alone will make a difference. Your children learn what it important by watching what you get excited about. Watching you approach music with enthusiasm will show them that it is something to be valued. 


“Make delighting in music a part of your daily life,
and your children will learn to delight in it too.”


Have any question or additional ideas? I’d love to hear them. Comment below or send me an email through my contact page. 

16 ways to prepare you child's mind, fingers, and heart for music lessons. www.sfzMusicBlog.com, Lacie Bowman Music #music #musiclessons #musiclessontip #musictips #musiceducation #musiced #piano #teaching #homeschooling #homeeducation

LIKE The Music Blog on Facebook! 




One year ago today, The Music Blog said hello to the Internet!

In celebration of The Music Blog’s 1st Birthday, I’m giving away
3 of my favorite music resources:

Music At Your Fingertips, for musicians.
The Gift of Music, for music-lovers.
Great Composers Coloring Book, for the little ones.

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…leave a comment and tell me which book you would like to win. I will choose 3 winners at random next Saturday, January 10th.

 Please Note: I am only able to ship to the continental US and Canada.

For Extra Entries in the Giveaway…

// For 3 extra entries       Like The Music Blog on Facebook.
// For 2 extra entries       Share the link to this giveaway on Facebook.
// For 2 extra entries       Follow my music profile (@teachlearnmusic) on Instagram
// For 1 extra entry          Regram my giveaway photo on Instagram
                                        with the hashtag #2015classicalmusicgiveaway
// For 1 extra entry          Tweet a link to this giveaway.
// For 1 extra entry          Pin this giveaway on Pinterest.
// For 1 extra entry          Share a link to this giveaway on Google +.
// For extra entry          Post about this giveaway on your Blog.
That means you can have up to 13 entries!  

Make sure to leave separate comments on this post for each entry you complete, or they won’t all count as extra entries! When you share the giveaway on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or a blog, be sure to include the link to your post in your comment below.

||  The give-away ends next Friday, January 9th at midnight CST.  ||
Winners will be selected and announced January 10th here on The Music Blog!

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Now, here’s a bit about each book…  Have fun choosing!

IMG_8629For Musicians | Music at Your Fingertips

Ah, my musical friends, I love this book. The author is experienced, extremely practical, and to-the-point. In this book she talks about productive practicing techniques, musicianship, memorization, developing finger control, preparing for performances, listening, teaching, sight-reading, and more, and it’s wonderful. This is NOT a How-to-Play-the-Piano-in-5-Easy-Steps kind of book. It’s about learning how to handle your instrument like an artist.  Read my full review here.

IMG_8615IMG_8635For Music Lovers | The Gift of Music

I have used this book SO. MANY. TIMES. when studying composers.  It features 42 composers, and each chapter includes a quote, mini-bio, recommended listening list, and recommended reading list for further study. As a musician, I appreciate the scholarship, history, and education in this book.  As a Christian, I appreciate the authors’ analysis of the composers’ lives, priorities, and standards.



For Little Ones | Great Composers Coloring Book

I REALLY like this coloring book.  Each page has a illustration and a short description of the composer, so your little peeps can get to know the composer’s significance while becoming acquainted with his face.  The Illustrations are classic, and the descriptions (50-70 words each) do a great job sharing the most important aspects of the composers’ lives and work, along with a few fun music history tidbits to boot – a great way to spark your little ones’ interest in music history!
Read my full review here.

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Have fun, friends! :)

My Music Goals for 2015


Happy New Year, friends!

The numbers  2 0 1 5  come with a fresh start, and if you’re like me, you’re focusing in on some new music goals for this new year. I’ve been having a great time these past few weeks looking ahead and jotting down my musical priorities for the year.

Here are the musical things I’m shooting to accomplish this year:

Personal Goals

// Maintain all pieces from my 2014 Repertoire Challenge.
// Learn or re-learn 1 new piece / month on violin & piano – 24 total.
// Relearn all Major and minor (natural, harmonic, & melodic) scales, arpeggios, inversions  (I, IV, V, MmVII), and cadences on piano.
// Memorize lyrics from 12 hymns.
// Coordinate Wartime Music for Remembering WWII. (Sept.)
// Perform (vocal) for Remembering WWII. (Sept.)
// Have Solo Violin & Piano Recital
// Read 5 of these books:

A History of Western Music (Grout)
The Treasures of Mozart (Irving)
Raising Musical Kids (Kavanaugh)
Piano Playing (Hofman)
Singing & Making Music (Jones)
The Perfect Wrong Note (Westney)
The Independent Piano Teacher’s Studio Handbook (Klingenstein)

// Write 8 new arrangements for violin, piano, and/or string ensembles.
// Complete an exciting project I’ve been working on this last year.  (Shhh, can’t tell you what it is yet…  It’s a secret. ;)




Studio Goals

// Expand my music studio.
// Expand my repertoire library and teaching materials – purchase at least 12 new music books for myself and/or my students.
// Organize & systematize my music area.
// Have my 1890s piano reconditioned.


Blog & Social Media Goals

// Expand The Music Blog & add some exciting new features & pages. (More on that soon!)
// Hit 100 blog posts. (59 to go…)
// Do 4 giveaways this year!
// Create 12 new FREE downloads for my free downloads page.
// Become more active more on Google+.
// Create a Youtube channel and post 12 videos by end of year – an assortment of studio and personal performances, teaching & technique tutorials, etc.

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And, finally… Planning for the New Year wouldn’t be anything with out a dream goal, right?  Of course, not. ;) So here goes…



I’ll keep you updated on my progress throughout the year…  In the meantime, I better go do something.  :D

What are some of your music goals for 2015?

Have fun & work hard, my friends!  <3

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Repertoire Challenge 2014: Finis!


Beethoven Pathetique Sonata www.sfzmusicblog.com #classical #piano #music

It happened. The last day of 2014 has arrived, as well as the last day of my Repertoire Challenge. And I’ve finished the last piece.  IT IS DONE!

I’ve learned 24 pieces of music in the last 24 weeks… 112 pages, to be precise.  I’ve spent a lot of hours with Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, and many other wonderful composers…  and I loved it.

Here’s what the final 24 looked like:


Scarlatti Sonata K. 141 (12/22) 
Bach Fugue No. 2 in c minor (11/23)
Clementi Sonata in D Major, Op. 4, No. 1, Mvt. 1 (12/27)
Beethoven Fur Elise (8/30)
Brahms Waltz in Ab, Op. 59, No.15 (7/25)
Chopin Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2 in Eb (12/31)
Chopin Waltz Op. 69, No. 2 (12/30)
Greig Arietta, Op. 12, No. 1 (12/13)
Dvorak Humoresque, Op. 102, No.7 (11/25)
Granados May Song, Op. 1, No. 3 (12/14)
Debussy Arabesque 1 (9/10)
Debussy Clair de Lune (7/29)


Bach Italian Concerto, Mvt. 1 (10/3)
Bach Prelude No. 6 in d minor (12/19)
Mozart Fantasy in d minor, K. 397 (8/27)
Mozart Sonata K. 310, Mvt. 1 (12/31)
Mozart Sonata K. 331, Mvt. 3, “Alla Turca” (7/30)
Beethoven Sonata Op. 13 “Pathetique”, Mvt. 1 (12/20)
Beethoven Sonata Op. 13 “Pathetique”, Mvt. 2 (11/15)
Beethoven Sonata Op. 27, No. 2 “Moonlight”, Mvt. 1 (8/18)
Chopin Nocturne in c# minor (8/25)
Greig Wedding Day at Troldhaugen (12/27)
Pieczonka Tarantella in a minor (9/3)
Joplin Maple Leaf Rag (9/24)
My goal for this “challenge” wasn’t mainly to see if I could learn 24 pieces in 24 weeks with a newborn. It was to get rid of the “I don’t really have any pieces finished right now…” syndrome when I sat down at the piano. And you know what? It’s gone. It has been SO MUCH FUN to sit down and just play so many of my favorite pieces one after the other.
Now my bigger goal is to keep these pieces the rest of my life and add to them every year. If I can do that, I should be able to have all of Bach’s preludes & fugues, all of Beethoven’s sonatas, AND all of Chopin’s nocturnes by the time I’m 50, right?
Oh well, we’ll see. :D
I will now go celebrate with some hot chocolate and, um… well, cold chocolate.  :)
Have a Blessed New Year my friends! Persevere!

Lessons & Carols 2014


The Sunday before Christmas, my little family and I enjoyed a Christmas choir performance my sister was a part of – Lessons & Carols.  It was wonderful.  The carol arrangements & descants were beautifully unique, and they were performed well.

The choir sang several old favorites — O Come All Ye Faithful, The First Noel, Angels We Have Heard on High — but I also heard a few pieces that immediately became new favorites for me… especially Carol of the Star by Donald Moore. You have to hear it.  It’s breathtaking.




This was my tiny man’s first concert, and he enjoyed every minute of it.  I’m pretty sure he studied every person in the choir, instrument ensemble, and audience.  :)  He didn’t fuss once!!



Collage 3



My sister with the choir’s gracious and talented director, Mrs. Christy Stouffer. What a wonderful evening. I’m really looking forward to next year.



The Christmas Scale

Merry Christmas from The Studio!!

I will be back with some exciting plans for the new year, but until then
I will leave you with this beautiful video.

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come.

Have a beautiful Christmas remembering the faithfulness of our Savior.

Merry Christmas, my friends!