Book review: The Well-Tempered Instrumentalist by Glenn M. Martin

I’ve been so anxious to share this valuable resource and have also found it difficult to keep it brief. I finally realized that it can be an ongoing conversation and a group project. I know of no other printed music education resource that is more valuable, more thorough, or more versatile. No matter what level of musicianship you have, if you want more, this book will help you get there. Caution to absolute beginners: you will need help, but if your work is modified correctly, your work will not be difficult. Most of you will want the treble clef version, but there are four other versions. Be sure to get the right one for you. If you’re not sure, let me know; I can help. 

     If you all were digging for gold instead of learning to play music, I would say, “This book is the mother load.” It will be the best $14 you ever spend. Just start digging and two inches down, you’ll hit a vein of gold. You cannot exhaust it in your lifetime. 

     The purpose of this book is to make your playing intuitive and free. More feeling, less thinking. This book is designed to develop skill and brain pathways, so that you can play your instrument with the same ease that a singer can sing. Not so much thinking about what key, or which scale, or which chord we’re on...just knowing a sound you wish to make and letting it flow through you. Even if you find it hard to believe that you could reach this point, or if you choose to practice a bit less than others might, everything you practice here will bring ability and insight to help you progress in skill and understanding. Brain development is a slow process, though very rewarding, and if you practice as suggested in The Well-Tempered Instrumentalist regularly and long enough, you will be able to play your instrument as fluently as you can speak or sing. 

     If you get this stuff early, it might seem that you are more talented or more musical than another person, but really what it is is: brain development. ...and if you don’t have it, you can get it. So, whether you are just beginning to learn a few notes, or chords, or whether you know your theory and can play circles around most people you know, the practice method suggested in this book will help you to get where you wanna go.  

     You may have heard it suggested, “Learn Sweet Georgia Brown in every key.” This is that on steroids. AND it starts you with just one note, which is why I say beginners can use it too. (with help) The Well-Tempered Instrumentalist is brilliantly designed and leaves no stone unturned. You will play (and hear) every possible relationship you will ever need to know and have under your fingers in modern, diatonic music. You are actually learning the language of music in much the same way you learned to speak. The difference is, most of us don’t get enough musical stimulation (or appropriate mentoring) to learn the instruments outside of our bodies as well as we have learned our voices. There is no reason why you can’t develop the same intuition and ease using these outside the body instruments as well as you can with your voice. (...and everyone can learn to sing by the way too.) 

     If you buy the book, or if Amazon lets you peek inside, you may feel that it is important to be able to read music. The ability to read music is definitely handy, but not necessary, if you have a good helper. Everyone Can Jam is growing, but is still small enough that I can say, if you need help, I will help you. As a matter of fact, I am very pleased to welcome the author of The Well-Tempered Instrumentalist, Glenn M. Martin, to the Everyone Can Jam community! He has graciously consented to allow me to post YouTube videos helping you with your work in The Well-Tempered Instrumentalist. 

     So, lets get started, and if you need help, let me know. I will create helpful YouTube video lessons based on the questions that arise or the level of ability that you are at. You can subscribe to my email list on my home page and that makes it easy to stay in touch.  

     !!Remember to get the right version for you based on which instrument you play!! 

After the link, I have a few words for folks of varying ability and knowledge. 

Amazon link to The Well-Tempered Instrumentalist:


Absolute beginners and intermediate level:

Don’t worry if you can’t read music. I can teach you how to work through the exercises using the numbers provided in front of each exercise, and mentor you a bit in the basic knowledge you need to play the exercises in the various keys. You can learn to read music, of course, but that will take a while, and you can learn to play the exercises much faster than you can learn to read. It’s just like being two. You can talk before you can read, and it would be silly to make you wait until after you can read to be allowed to talk. 


Advanced and very experienced players:

If you know a lot of theory, but don’t know how to read music, you’ll be fine. If you don’t know any theory, but know how to read music, you’ll be fine. If you run into a snag, let me know. You’ll see very quickly how the exercises will develop your ability to play intuitively. After learning to play the exercises through the circle of fourths and fifths, you will then play them through major and minor third cycles as well as whole step cycles, augmented fourth and diminished fifths as well as chromatic.