Flag rating: In my household, the books that have the most interesting or applicable ideas start to sprout little paper flag bookmarks until they look like they are moulting. So I have started to give these books a “flag rating” to show how many ideas I bookmarked when I read them.

NURTURED BY LOVE by Shinichi Suzuki

get it in Spanish

This book is the root of it all. Inspiring anecdotes weave the development of the philosophy of the  Mother-Tongue Method of music instruction through Shinichi Suzuki’s autobiography.


More discussion of the development of Suzuki’s philosophy of instruction, with more references to character development and the influence of the parents and the home environment they create on very young children.

HELPING PARENTS PRACTICE: Ideas for making it easier by Edmund Sprunger
  • Flag rating: I think I flagged almost every page the first time I read this – my current copy has 12 flags for current issues my studio parents are facing.

An explanation of the psychology of practice and the interactions between parents and their children. Lots of valuable and practical advice.

INTELLIGENT MUSIC TEACHING: Essays on the core principles of Effective Instruction by Robert Duke
  • Flag rating: 23

I make sure every new teacher in my program gets a copy of this book.  The essay on sequencing instruction is a “must-read” for every teacher for implementation of Suzuki’s ideas about review as a key aspect of learning.  The essay on assessment is also very valuable for its breakdown of learning into small steps.

MAKE IT STICK: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel

get it in French

  • Flag rating: 38

Excellent and USEFUL book. It outlines current research in human learning, illustrates it with real life anecdotes, and makes sure the reader receives practical ideas for implementation in a “takeaway” section at the end of each chapter.

THE TALENT CODE by Daniel Coyle
  • Flag rating: 21

A good book for parents, as it has a cross-section of anecdotes from the worlds of sport and business as well as music that demonstrate how to apply the ideas of Talent Education in many fields. The chapter on neurology is an excellent lay description of the chemical activity in the brain while we learn.

GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

get it in Spanish / get it in French

  • Flag rating: 15

The author references other recent research and writing on the psychology of ability development, and offers useful anecdotes that illustrate ways to implement these ideas.

MINDSET: The new psychology of success  by Carol Dweck

get it in Spanish / get it in French

  • Flag rating: 22

The author explains how our attitude towards our abilities shapes affects our effort, and offers ways of cultivating an attitude that will help us be successful. Much of her research has been done with classes of middle school students, so her examples are immediately applicable for teachers.

DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

get it in Spanish / get it in French

  • Flag rating: 35

I first read this book while I was preparing to teach the Every Child Can! course for the first time. It made me realize how many aspects of Suzuki’s mother-tongue approach to music education are inherently motivating.

FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihalyi Csikzentmihalyi

get it in Spanish

  • Flag rating: 13

Chapter 4, “The Conditions of Flow” helps us to create activities that engage students at an appropriately challenging level that is not too easy nor too frustrating.

Teaching from the Balance Point by Edward Kreitman
  • Flag rating: 3

I have three permanent flags in this book: Chapter 1 – Priority Teaching, Chapter 2 – Rote vs. Note, Chapter 9 – Review. These chapters address basic concepts in teaching by ear that are not instrument specific in a very well considered way. The rest of the book is mostly for violinists.

Teaching with an Open Heart by Edward Kreitman
  • Flag rating: 5

The first chapter, “Defining Progress”, has 4 permanent flags, plus one for Chapter 3, “realms of awareness”. Again, really good discussions about our goals as teachers which are not instrument specific.