BOOK REVIEWS AND RESPONSES
“A well-thought-out and well-presented work on an approach to music instruction to which many aspire, but few attain – although this book will certainly help.”
– Library Journal
“The book’s substance is rewarding and refreshing. He speaks of a topic we cannot hear enough of: learning. I think everyone will benefit from the call of William Westney’s book: activate your minds, breathe life into music, dare to make and learn from mistakes, and ‘get back in touch with your magical three-year-old self.’”
– David Schwartz, American Record Guide
“Pianist-educator William Westney asks us to rethink our whole attitude toward mistakes in his book THE PERFECT WRONG NOTE, suggesting that clunkers have value after all. He contends that the natural way to learn is through mistakes . . . Mistakes are the pathway to control.”
– Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times
“The author comes across as a master teacher with openhearted insights . . . He celebrates the joy of experimenting and discovering. I hope this very fine book becomes widely discussed.”
– Peter Kristian Mose, Clavier
“Let us celebrate THE PERFECT WRONG NOTE for its elegant, sensitive, and openhearted exploration into an enigmatic arena. Mr. Westney is refreshingly honest. . . [he] takes the reader on a journey through learning, problem solving, risk-taking, and healing. The book is infused with his affirming, empathetic, and encouraging attitude – whatever level you find yourself on, there is much to relate to and much to aspire to. The result is a wise, delightful book . . . every page rings true to my own musical, psychological, spiritual, and interpersonal journey of discovery . . . Read this book!
– Terry Boyarsky,American Dalcroze Journal
“THE PERFECT WRONG NOTE evoked many memories about my own musical history . . . I found it full of healing possibilities in a very personal way. Here is writing full of honest inspiration coupled with down to earth ideas, unafraid to question the status quo . . . a unique and penetrating book.”
– Nancy Kaesler, Early Childhood Connections
“The book is immensely inspiring, thought provoking, and fascinating. I can’t imagine any teacher – or general reader for that matter – not being transformed in some very meaningful way after reading this book.”
– Paul Sheftel, faculty, Juilliard School of Music
“Clearly the work of a master teacher who has deep knowledge of his subject and enormous empathy for his students and his readers.”
– Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
“The text inspires the soul of the reader . . . this is a book for all who seek to live a more vibrant and more awake life. William Westney is a master teacher and he has much to share. This book has the potential to change lives. Enjoy the journey!”
– Dee Coulter, Ed. D., faculty, Naropa University
“Through [Westney’s] infectiously enthusiastic writing style, you will discover an abundance of truths and ideas that will transform your teaching and unleash your creativity in the music studio.”
– Gary Ingle, Executive Director, Music Teachers National Association
“Intriguing . . . refreshing . . . fun to read!”
– Linda Cockey, American Music Teacher
“Brilliant, inspiring . . . if you are on a pursuit of self-mastery, make time to read this!”
– Jennifer Lacy, Kansas City Music Teachers Association Newsletter
“This book will make you think. Reading THE PERFECT WRONG NOTE will remind us to allow the “magic” of making music to be the focus . . . Westney gives us valuable insight into how music study presents a natural here-and-now route to self-knowledge and self-integration.”
– Sylvia Coats, American Music Teacher
“An absolute joy to read – it stimulates and engages. Westney is asking new questions not addressed elsewhere . . . and you will be drawn in by the author’s inviting, yet quietly compelling style.”
– Patricia Powell, Piano Professional (U.K.)
“THE PERFECT WRONG NOTE is comprehensive, provocative, full of great advice and an easy read. I highly recommend it.”
– Diana Gannett, Bass World (International Society of Bassists)
“[Westney] has compiled a guide to spiritual, physical, and intellectual health – all framed within the lessons and practices of music. The book is a dance through the experience of life as reflected in making music.
This is a book to be read slowly and studied, not because it is complicated to read, but because it has so many thought-provoking parallels in other facets of life. This book deserves, no, demands, a wide readership. The title alone . . . is a stroke of genius.”
– Beth Pratt, Religion Editor, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
“Instructive and controversial . . . musicians need to think and re-think what they have been doing and how they have been doing it. Westney’s [excellent] book is a refreshing, amusing and highly informative addition to the debate.”
– Tim Stein, Pianist magazine (U.K.)
“March the 14th was marvelous. The London workshop was a powerful, inspiring experience for us all: the students have not stopped enthusing about it. And I, normally reluctant to mark my books in any way, find myself reaching for a pencil when reading your book. Yes!! – over and over again, I am amazed at your insight and your convincing way of putting your thoughts across. I often think how lucky I am, doing what I love. Your session made me love the piano and music even more. Thank you so much.”
– Heli Ignatius-Fleet, course organizer, European Piano Teachers Association (U.K.)
“The book is absolutely brilliant and I thank you for taking the time to offer your experiences in this way. I’ve learnt much about my own playing just by reading the first five chapters. I am greatly encouraged now that the possibility exists that all those ‘wrong’ notes that I’ve played over so many years were just perfect and now I can see them in that light. I’d never have considered this possible without your book. Thank you again and I hope that you will feel greatly encouraged to know that your words have helped a humble amateur pianist in England!
– a reader from Reading, England
“This may be the closest I’ve ever come to writing “fan mail.” But I recently came across your book in the music library at the University of Wisconsin – Madison where I am a graduate horn student.
All I can think to say is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. In just a few short weeks, I feel like I have finally grasped the concept of practicing. I feel like I finally know how to evaluate myself in a practice room so that I actually improve and don’t lose my self-esteem by the time I’m done! My practicing is more focused and more productive, and I feel so much better about my playing overall.
Your chapters on teaching and artistry are wonderful. Your wiring is so concise and well thought out. With so many books about music and musical training, I’ve found either too much or too little information, and not always so well conceived. But not your book! The analogies are great, and I particularly enjoy the ones that are not music related. The analogies that relate music to, say, golf, help me to explain what studying music is like to my family and friends who aren’t musicians and don’t understand how I sit in a practice room for hours on end. I feel like I’ve been give a new vocabulary to talk about music.
I’ve been telling all of my friends about your book. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it has changed the way I think about music. Thank you so so so much.
– a reader from Madison, Wisconsin
About the author:
Pianist William Westney personifies a rare combination of abilities, having achieved distinction as concert artist, author, and award-winning educator. Winner of numerous performance prizes, most notably the Geneva International Competition, he has concertized on four continents to critical acclaim. Westney’s trailblazing, refreshing performance workshop “The Un-Master Class”® was profiled in a New York Times feature article and has been given at conservatories around the world. His first book The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self (2003), an international bestseller, has become a pedagogical classic. Westney holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University and is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Texas Tech University.
William Westney’s latest book is Eros at the Piano: The Life-Energy of Classical Music (2023).