Music and Life:
Thoughts on Music, Phrasing, Woodwinds and This Modern World

My new book!

Available in both paper and Kindle formats!

Front cover to Music and Life

“You only need to study music for one minute a day.”

Sounds radical, doesn’t it? The point is…get your instrument out of the case, sit down, forget all the things that are pulling at you, and just get started. By practicing one minute a day (or more) you create a habit. It’s not how much time you practice, it’s that you do it on a regular basis with commitment.

In this book I offer you my unique perspective on music and life. Music and Life brings you into the world of a woodwind musician, yet the words ring true for all musicians. It’s a world of passion where you practice your craft, not for fame and fortune, but because you can’t see yourself doing anything else.

Your instrument and all the extra things that go with it, like reeds and ligatures, are the things that can make music fun or a nightmare. Just think—if someone handed you as a student a perfect playing setup that you had to change very little over the years, what an advantage you would have? In this book, I show you the secrets.

Inside Music and Life you will discover:

  • How to be a top professional musician
  • What life is like on the road
  • Alternative ways to make a living in the music world other than performing
  • Why you need to regard music as a business, not just art
  • How to select the best teacher and why a teacher is so important
  • Reasons why it is now so essential to build your own home recording studi,
  • And so much more…

While Music and Life targets woodwind musicians and their preparation for performing, all musicians will likely discover a few gems. I go into details about what teachers as well as students need in order to excel, how to improve the different musical instruments in the woodwind family, the philosophy and social aspects of music, and the business aspects of music. After reading the book, you will have a greater appreciation for the dedication and sacrifice it takes to be a successful professional musician.

I also have a few words to say about the state of the world and society today. And sprinkled in are the my favorite quotes and thoughts to give you pause as well as a few words of wisdom that I have come up with myself. For example,

“It is easy to be impatient but music, art, and life itself is a lifetime growth experience.”

“Be happy where you are at while you are trying to get where you want to be.”

“Save your money.”

True freedom is reached not by playing or improvising the music, or reading it on the page, but by owning it to the point of being at one with the notes and the music. The ultimate goal is to take the music off the page and own it in your soul—so it does not sound like you are reading music, but that the music is coming from within you…or the universe.

Throughout the book, you’ll come to understand that music is my religion: compelling, thrilling, provocative, and profound. Music has changed my life in meaningful ways. I hope you feel that same kind of artful pull through music whatever your relationship with it.


Although I haven’t finished the book, I must say you did a great service to the whole musicians’ world. It’s a complete guide book for the young and a reminder for the old like me to reflect on my career history. It’s a life lesson, too!

And I am learning a lot about the physicality of wind instruments. I knew the word
embouchure but I didn’t know its complexity. I often notice string players trying to make a phrase within a single bow stroke. They all should learn the control of breath on phrasing from you, the wind players.
~Masatoshi Mitsumoto,
Cellist and Composer

It’s rare to find a book that covers the practical realities of life in the music business from the musician’s perspective while also keeping the magic of music front and center. This fine book does both and it’s an absolute must for student musicians…I dare say, seasoned pros will love it, too. I also recommend it to non-musicians who really love music. Music and Life will add to your appreciation of your favorite artists by giving you an understanding of behind-the-scenes trials and challenges every musician must overcome on their heroic journey to becoming and surviving as professional musicians.
~Ken McCarthy,
Jazz on the Tube

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an admirer of Mike Vaccaro’s professionalism, musicianship, insight and honesty. Music and Life is an invaluable resource for aspiring musicians and for seasoned professionals alike. Whether you are a performer, teacher, and/or involved in music commerce, you will greatly benefit from Mike’s vast experience and success in the music industry. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom!
~Clarence Padilla,
Professor of Clarinet, Drake University
Des Moines Symphony Orchestra

Screen capture of video call between Mike Vacarro and Ken McCarthy Listen to my conversation about Music and Life with Ken McCarthy of Jazz on the Tube!

Publishing details

Adc Media, 2023
Paperback, 336 pp.
6 x 9 in., 15.8 oz.
ISBN-13: 979-8218245092

Available at Amazon button