I first discovered Adam Rafferty via his cover of Stevie Wonder’s I Wish on YouTube. At that time, I was fascinated to see a jazz guitarist who decided to go into the world of fingerstyle guitar. It’s kind of a reverse journey to mine. I started off playing fingerstyle guitar & became absorbed with jazz guitar. Mirror journeys?
Years after that, I saw Adam built a music career that was impressive & inspiring. I also had the opportunity to host him during his trip to Malaysia. We jammed on some tunes & I learned a lot from the conversations I had with him. Adam is a brilliant mind & an accomplished world class musician. When he announced this book, I could sense this was going to be something special.
This 185-page book by funky fingerstyle guitarist Adam Rafferty has more than meets the eye. It’s divided into 3 parts: Your Soul, Your Craft & Your Listeners. There’s 11 chapters and a conclusion section. Adam begins by giving the context of who the book is for & why it exists.
For the first part, Your Soul, Adam gets to the heart of being a musician & making music. This is some deep and important stuff as he he shares how to align your musical vision & mindset. Adam talks about the Reticular Activation System, vision boards and creating measurable goals. These are things that I’ve discovered over the years but over many books. Seeing it all here makes me wish I read this book years ago (but it didn’t exist then).
I sure hope younger musicians reading this book get the real value of all these insights. It’s not a one time casual read kind of book here. This is something you want to underline, highlight & reflect on. This book can be a departure point for deeper discussions.
In the second part: Your Craft, Adam explores the difference between feelings and knowledge. The whole debate about whether you need a teacher/mentor to become a musician is a big part here. I’ve seen many versions of this debate expressed online. But, Adam summarises this in such an eloquent way. I agree with Adam’s take on this topic.
Next, he goes into the 10 areas of musical study. This list is a great way to organise practice sessions. It divides areas into “What to play” and “How to play”. Seems simplistic but there’s so much truth and elegance to this.
Further on, Adam goes into the four stages of learning. This is key to make sure guitarists know which musical stage they are at. After all, if you don’t know your level of mastery (or lack of it), how can you tell whether you’ve progressed or not?
Important things like how to practice, measuring progress, creating systems for effective practice & dealing with musical ruts are covered too. Again, readers new to all this are so lucky to have all this covered in a single book!
In the third part: Your Listeners, Adam goes into the nitty gritty of getting your music in front of people. He talks about building an audience both online & offline. You’ll discover his thoughts on issues like how to get gigs, dealing with rejection, stage fright & choosing the right repertoire.
Adam’s discussion of the difference (and connection) of being an artist vs. being an entertainer is something that hits home hard for me. Throughout the book, I see many issues that I’ve faced and many that I continue to deal with. Reading about how Adam looks at these things makes me feel not alone.
As I wrote this review, I reread the book & got even more out of it. In some ways, this book reminds me of Zen Guitar by Philip Toshio Sudo, The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten and Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. Those books have helped me over the years facing & dealing with a life as a musician. Now, Adam’s book will likely be one that I’ll recommend to my students for years to come.
In conclusion, this is a recommended book for guitarists in general, not just for fingerstyle guitarists.
Pros: A wealth of knowledge, experience & insights compiled in one book.
TLDR: If you play guitar, get this book.
You can get it here: https://www.adamrafferty.com/book/
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too.
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