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Yoga in the Music Studio (Oxford Press, 2020)

The ancient practice of yoga, which has exploded in popularity in the United States over the past two decades, has the potential to help music students learn to practice more mindfully and reach peak performance more quickly. This book explores how professional musicians and music teachers of all instruments and levels can use yoga postures (asana) and breath work (pranayama) to enhance artistry. It begins with an overview of yoga philosophy and history before delving into principles of movement, alignment, anatomy, and breath. Following a research-oriented chapter illustrating the cognitive, physical, and emotional benefits of yoga, each chapter explores the unique benefits of yoga for a particular population of students, describing specific poses, modifications, sequences, and sample curricula that teachers can immediately implement into private lessons or group classes. 

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Chapter Four describes the developmental benefits of yoga and music education in early childhood and includes a sample eight-week preschool music curriculum. Chapter Five on the adolescent student explains how yoga can alleviate stress related to social and performance anxiety, enhance mindfulness, and increase peer support in a music studio. Chapter Six, for professional musicians and college students, describes how yoga can prevent or alleviate repetitive stress injuries and other physical symptoms. The final chapter offers ideas for appropriate modifications for the retired adult along with a sample eight-week curriculum to combine yoga with Recreational Music Making. Throughout the book, yoga is presented as a tool for reducing physical tension and anxiety while simultaneously improving body awareness, enhancing cognition, and helping music students to achieve peak performance.

The Balanced Musician: Integrating Mind and Body for Peak Performance.

(Scarecrow Press, 2012)


For musicians to attain the level of peak performance that they know is within their reach, they need to do more than spend time in the practice room. The most accomplished and healthiest musicians lead a balanced and satisfying life in which they place equal emphasis on three areas of musicianship: physical technique (body); analysis and knowledge (mind); and musicianship and creativity (soul). By integrating all of the parts of this triangle, you can learn to communicate creatively and with seeming effortlessness during performance. Organized into four main parts, this book first explores the mind-body connection and then separately discusses the mind, body, and soul of musicians, scholars, performers, and teachers of all voices and instruments.By delving into research literature in both sport psychology and music, you will learn to use mental rehearsal and imagery away from your instrument and deliberate practice at your instrument. You will also learn such relaxation techniques as meditation, centering, stretching, and deep breathing.


Drawing on findings from scientific studies, particularly in the area of sports medicine, McAllister offers practical tools for your practice, performances, and daily routine. By learning these techniques, you will also find enhanced confidence, concentration, endurance, and control over your own music-making.With terms, questions for reflection, and assignments at the end of each chapter, this book may be used as a textbook for a course or as a supplement to music lessons. Both novice and experienced performers alike will learn ways to meet career demands and reach their full potential. Appendixes at the end of the book contain worksheets, scripts, questionnaires, self-evaluation forms, and journal entries that help you to individualize your work. Every musician who spends countless hours practicing deserves to learn these techniques, which will forever change the way you approach both practice and performance.




McAllister, Lesley. "The Language of Awareness: How Cueing and Breath Work Impact the Music Lesson." American Music Teacher 72, no. 6 (June/July 2023): 18-23.

McCrary, J. Matt, Sara Ascenso, Paola Savvidou, Séverine Schraft, Lesley McAllister, Emma Redding, and Eckart Altenmüller. "Load and Fatigue Monitoring in Instrumental Musicians Using an Online App: A Pilot Study." Frontiers in Psychology Vol. 13 (November 2023).


McAllister, Lesley. “How Can I Promote Regular Exercise Within Students’ Daily Lives?” College Music Society Newsletter (online, August 2022).


McAllister, Lesley. “Arts Integration in Healthcare Environments: The Work of Todd Frazier and Mei Rui at Houston's Center for the Performing Arts.".” American Music Teacher 70, no. 4 (March/April 2021): 44-48.

McAllister, Lesley. “Adolescents and Anxiety: Five ‘Quick Tips’ for Performance.” American Music Teacher 66,

no. 4 (October/November 2019).

McAllister, Lesley.  “Preparing Students for Peak Performance through Centering Practice.”  Clavier Companion

(November/December 2018).

McAllister, Lesley. “’Eine Kleine Yoga Musik:’ An Early Childhood Music Program Utilizing Yoga Postures and Breath Work.”

American Music Teacher 66, no. 4 (February/March 2017): 16-20.

McAllister, Lesley. “Playing Healthy, Staying Healthy: Bringing it Together: What Are the Key Wellness Principles for the Music Teacher?” American Music Teacher 4, no. 3 (April/May 2015): 9-11.

McAllister, Lesley. “This and That: Effective Motivation Strategies and Techniques.” American Music Teacher (June/July 2015).

McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen.  “Keeping the Fire Burning: How Overworked, Underappreciated Teachers Recover From Burnout.” Clavier Companion (May/June 2012).

McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen. “Positive Teaching: Strategies for Optimal Learning with ADHD and Hyperactive Students.” American Music Teacher 61, no. 4 (February/March 2012): 18-22.

McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen.  “Should Music Lessons Be Fun?” American Music Teacher 59, no. 4 (February/March 2010): 16-19. (Awarded the “2010 Article of the Year” award by the Music Teachers National Association.)

McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen.  “The Benefits of Stretching for Musicians.” MTNA E-Journal 1, no. 2 (November 2009). (accessed July 17, 2010).

McAllister, Lesley Sisterhen. “Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness in Applied Music.” American Music Teacher 58, no. 1 (December/January 2008/2009): 14-17.

Sisterhen, Lesley. “Teaching Musicality in Group Piano Classes.” Piano Pedagogy Forum 10, no. 2 (July 2007) (accessed July 17, 2010).

Sisterhen, Lesley.  “Enhancing Your Musical Performance Abilities.” American Music Teacher 54, no. 1 (August/September 2004): 32-36.

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