The Perpetual Beginner is part memoir, part musical instruction manual. Relating stories of his experiences as a young musician and music student in 1980s New York, author Dave Isaacs describes the key lessons that shaped his musical life and how they can help any aspiring musician at any age.
The title refers to the average music hobbyist with more enthusiasm than skill or time to practice. Many people play for years without developing more than rudimentary abilities, and some become so frustrated by the struggle that they stagnate or quit. The stories in the book and the musical lessons they impart give these “perpetual beginners” the ideas, techniques, and encouragement that will help them begin to progress again.
The title also references the Zen concept of “beginner’s mind,” a way of approaching any endeavor with the openness and zeal of a beginner regardless of experience. Maintaining a beginner’s mindset removes many of the self-limiting beliefs and inhibitions that hold many people back, thus enabling the learning process — hence the book’s subtitle, “A musician’s path to lifelong learning.”
From exploring why one plays, to examining the all-too-common conundrum of learner’s fatigue, to addressing physical engagement, The Perpetual Beginner provides a comprehensive guide to musicianship and learning.