Top 5 Books For Musicians To Boost Creativity

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional musician, reading books can help you boost your creativity. Producing music requires creative thinking.

You need to think out of the box to produce music that stands out. To produce something different every time requires a new way of thinking. You cannot produce the same music twice. At all times, your job as a music writer is to stay creative and inspired.

“If we encountered a man of rare intelligence we should ask him what books he read.” 


  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Creativity is a skill and not something you inherit. Like any other skill, it needs to be practised regularly. That’s where reading books comes into play. Reading books that challenge your perspective and habitual thinking patterns can unlock a new level of creativity in you.

Reading makes you a good thinker; it evokes curiosity in you; it enhances your imagination and helps you transform your vision into reality.

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”


― Confucius 

In this article, I have listed the Top 5 Books For Musicians to Boost Creativity, push boundaries and unlock their creative potential.

There are numerous informative anecdotes, methods, and techniques in these books which illuminate the on-goings of Living a Creative Life.

Here’s a list of Top 5 Books For Musicians To Boost Creativity:

  1. Effortless Mastery – by Kenny Werner
  2. The Inner Game of Music – by Barry Green
  3. Thinkertoys – by Michael Michalko
  4. Zen Guitar – by Philip Toshio Sudo
  5. The Artist's Way – by Julia Cameron

Effortless Mastery

Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within — by Kenny Werner, is one of the most-read books that has helped many artists to unlock the barriers to music mastery. Kenny Werner is an American jazz pianist, composer, and author. In this book, he mentions methods to overcome self-doubt, stress, and self-consciousness. 

“The sky is the limit on what you want to affirm or create. You don’t have to temper your affirmation with what you think is "realistic.”


― Kenny Werner, Effortless Mastery

He implements Zen ethics to musicianship and asks artists to get off their own way. To get access to the mastery inside you, you need to remove the barriers that come from exerting the wrong kind of effort. This book is a guide to help you establish a more profound relationship with your instrument or music. It will help you eliminate the fear-based conditioning that’s preventing you from creating your music.

Werner educates the readers to express their inner-self by being at peace with the self. This book is not just for musicians, but for anyone that has a passion for life.

“Nothing is so inhibiting as needing to write something brilliant. Once a good friend of mine was writing an opera and really experiencing a block. He was duly tormented, believing that "composing is a painful process." He talked wistfully about a certain opera as being considered "the greatest opera since World War Two." I told him, "It sounds to me like you are trying to write the greatest opera since Desert Storm! I have an idea. Why don’t you just write a bad opera? That should be easy." My friend laughed uncomfortably with me, but I could sympathise with his dilemma. You always want to do well, but the recurring paradox is that you have a much better chance of doing well if you let go of the anxiety and just get on with it.”


― Kenny Werner, Effortless Mastery


The Inner Game of Music

The Inner Game of Music — by Barry Green, is a must-read for every musician. Barry Green is an American orchestral, solo double bass player, recording artist, author, and teacher. He has developed and published his own methods for double bass.

In this book, Barry Green gives a complete analysis of what helps or hinders our musical growth. He has mentioned three aspects of training — will, trust and awareness; and methods to enhance these three aspects of training.

There are two concepts mentioned in this book; Self 1 — involves logical, judgemental, self-conscious and everything we “think”, and Self 2 — involves natural and spontaneous. The author suggests that a musician’s goal is to reconstruct the impact of self 1 and to let Self 2 express the most.

This book will switch your mental attitude to enjoying the instrument just for the fun of it. It will help your performance as well as help you in other aspects of life.

 “The body is the best learning facility of all. It has thousands of feedback circuits. And the feedback is instantaneous. The body contains more information than all the libraries in the world, for it codifies, in its structure and its genes, evolutionary experience that goes all the way back to the first living organism. When we vacate our bodies [i.e., pay attention to Self 1 rather than Self 2] … this vast store of information is unavailable to us. When we reinhabit the body and learn to understand its messages, we gain access to a treasure of knowledge and guidance.”


― Barry Green, The Inner Game of Music




Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking — by Michael Michalko, is a guide to help people amp up their creativity. Michael Michalko is one of the most acclaimed creativity experts. In this book, he shares plenty of thought-provoking exercises and techniques to stimulate your creative flow. 

This book is for you if you feel stuck creatively and lack the ideas to create your art. Thinkertoys is a practical guide, full of anecdotes and advice for artists trying to work through the barriers that block them. This book is full of how-tos to solve everyday problems. This is a must-read for creatives.

“Think of roses and thorns. You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses. You can choose to interpret experiences any way you wish. It is not the experience that determines who you are; it is your interpretation of the experience. You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are.

We are each given a set of experiences in life. The experiences are neutral. They have no meaning. It is how we interpret the experiences that give them meaning. The interpretations of experiences shape our beliefs and theories about the world. Our beliefs and theories, in turn, determine what we observe in the world to confirm our beliefs, which, in turn, reinforce our interpretations.”


― Michael Michalko, Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques


Zen Guitar

Zen Guitar — by Philip Toshio Sudo, applies the Zen Buddhist philosophy to the practice of playing the guitar. Philip Toshio Sudo was an award-winning journalist, a musician, a black belt martial artist and an author. 

This is not a how-to-play-guitar book as it has no mentions of chords, scales, or music theory. Zen Guitar is a philosophical approach to help you become the master of your instrument. This book will help you spiritually understand your instrument and music. It offers guidance for redefining your approach to music; to make an emotional connection between you and your instrument. 

Zen Guitar will help you get a new perspective, a spiritual one. This is a must-read for musicians who find it hard to form an emotional connection with their instrument. This book will help you find your way to your emotional creativity.

“So many different formulas can work that there’s no real formula. What’s important is to learn from whomever or whatever you can, at your own rate, in your own way. How or when you learn doesn’t matter, so long as the learning occurs.”


― Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar


The Artist's Way

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity — by Julia Cameron, is an international bestseller, and it promises major life changes in just 12 weeks. Julia Cameron is an American teacher, author, artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, pigeon-fancier, composer, and journalist.

The Artist’s Way is a self-help book that provides you with a 12-week course to help you unleash the artist in you and pursue you to live more creatively. This book is a source of encouragement for how to not let barriers stop you from making your art. It is an excellent guide to survive and thrive in your creative career.

This is not just another book to read, it requires you to put the effort and time into it. This book is a must for creatives, artists, musicians, writers or just anyone who wants to boost their creative thinking. A fun book on learning how to become more creative. I would suggest it to anyone trying to jump-start their creative juices.  

“No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.”


― Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity




Hope you found some books that will enrich your thinking process. If you are a guitar player, check out our recommendation of Top 10 Books Every Guitar Player Must Read.

Suggested Read: Top 10 Tips To Stay Creative

Suggested Read: How Yoga Benefits Musicians

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Deepali is a musician and Co-Founder of She loves to play guitar, sing, do yoga, read books, listen to progressive metal, go trekking, collect shoes and eat lots of protein.