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Best Practice: Inspiration and Ideas for Traditional Musicians


Praise for Best Practice

There is so much to like in Judy Minot’s book, Best Practice: Inspiration and Ideas for Traditional Musicians! What has always been great, from my end as a fiddle teacher, about teaching adults, which is the focus of Judy’s book, is how adults are so much more than the learner you see in front of you. They have lived, worked, explored, and learned. Judy brings a wealth of knowledge and lived wisdom to learning and practicing traditional music, not only from her experience learning piano as a child but learning traditional fiddle as an adult.


This is a fabulous book consisting of 197 brief chapters which suggest ways of thinking about music, and the tools to get you where you want to go! Judy makes us want to move and apply her methods, often right after reading a sentence. The bonus is that the tools she gives us for practicing music can really apply to myriad areas of our lives.


So – stretching, playing quietly, writing music down, playing with intention, thinking positively, breaking musical passages down, giving attention to holding the instrument, getting out there and playing with others, and performing are each tackled while Judy references her life experiences doing aikido, yoga, film editing, and indeed learning music herself.


This is the kind of book I imagine every musician will enjoy; the ideas shared in it are at once a guide and a comfort to all of us as we challenge ourselves to play music.


– Liz Carroll

Judy Minot’s Best Practice is filled to the brim with practical insights, solid advice and wisdom that will benefit all traditional musicians, regardless of instrument, style, genre or skill level. There are vast wells of information in these pages that you can dip a toe, swim or dive deeply into. As a folk and blues guitarist with more than six decades of experience, Judy’s book has inspired me to approach my own continual learning from new angles, and I can see that I will be better off for it. This is a rich and finely wrought work and I highly recommend it.   

– Happy Traum 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is more a compilation of wonderfully interesting tips than a conventional textbook, and contains a wealth of exceptionally useful advice for musicians of any level. Written mainly for amateur adult followers of traditional music, its value lies in explaining techniques for learning rather than the techniques for playing a specific instrument.


Drawing on the author's experiences in other disciplines (e.g., martial arts and yoga), many fresh ideas are discussed on how to set achievable goals, how to mentally approach practicing and, of course, how to develop the physical skills needed to play an instrument.


Judy Minot has come up with a very lively, entertaining and friendly book which I’m sure will be a boon to players everywhere.

– Kevin Burke

A wealth of ideas and tools for making progress as a musician, all presented – in keeping with the book's own advice – in small, clear, achievable steps.

– Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

founding editor, Acoustic Guitar magazine

author, The Complete Singer-Songwriter

A veritable bible of a practice guide for amateurs in the field of traditional music, and I mean “amateurs” in the original sense of the word – people who LOVE doing something. This is a great way to feed that love, by teaching yourself to become more efficient and more available on your instrument and enjoy yourself while doing it! Players of all levels and all styles will benefit from reading this very well thought out, very thorough and accessible approach.  

– Natalie Haas

Accomplished pianist Judy Minot has written a practice handbook for traditional musicians, but it could well be for any musician on any instrument at any level. Using her experiences in martial arts, yoga, and as a professional video editor, she has an insight on the way humans think and learn that makes this book a joy to work with. I’ve found short and attainable practice goals to be a successful one for my students over the years and Judy has compiled a treasure trove of such ideas in a concise and easy-to-access format.  Her many years of playing multiple instruments has given her an insight to the musical mind and an understanding of the emotional aspect of practicing where achievable goals are a must.


As a resource for any musician that wants to improve on their own, this book has it covered.  Each heading is a short exposition on a different aspect of playing music, with concrete suggestions that can be followed and questions to ask yourself that any good teacher would ask. Plus a call to action for each concept that is a kind of musical affirmation to keep your head in the game.


With subjects like “Going Slower is Faster,”  “You Can Play By Ear,” or “Play Better With Phrasing,” Judy gives the reader ideas to break out of their ingrained habits and open up to concepts they may have never considered pursuing.  Having trouble remembering a section or a song?  Try “Make It Stick With A Memory Trick.” Want to learn how to structure your practice time?  Read “Having A Plan.” Tired of being so hard on yourself?  Read “Your Inner Critic.”  With 197 short subjects, Judy has thought of more than enough areas to keep you engaged and at your instrument to foster musical and personal growth. 


A book that we didn’t even know we needed is here for all of us.

 – David Leonhardt, renowned jazz pianist

Having this guidebook is a godsend. As a self-taught musician and professional for the last five decades, I’ve never really learned the art of how to practice. With no reliable routine, I am typically scatterbrained as I sometimes struggle with lyrics.


With Judy Minot’s Best Practice I now have a plethora of ideas to add some structure to my practicing. Breathing, stretching, relaxing, visualizing and warming up all come together to help me focus on keeping the music and lyrics in my head. Other topics for those who seek improvement include how to play with others and how to play by ear. 


I highly recommend “Best Practice” for all musicians, regardless of instrument, level or genre.


– Mary Flower

award-winning guitarist

Kudos to Judy for sharing this highly organized, empowering approach to the practice of practice. It’s a celebration of and for the adult learner. What a gift to players of all levels!

– Shannon Heaton

Liz Carroll
Happy Traum
Kevin Burke
Natalie Haas
Dave Leonhardt
Mary Flower
Shannon Heaton
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