Kenny Werner Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Effortless Mastery

Nick Balkin
January 12, 2016
Press release
Kenny Werner

Kenny Werner '73, the artistic director of Berklee's Effortless Mastery Institute (EMI), celebrates the 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking book Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within on Tuesday, February 2, at the Berklee Performance Center. The internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer will perform with his trio of drummer Ari Hoenig and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller. Saxophone icons Joe Lovano and George Garzone will perform in the first half of the show.

Effortless Mastery, praised by Herb Alpert as “the definitive book on how to free your creative soul,” has become one of the most widely read books on music and improvisation, inspiring thousands of musicians to unlock their talent and potential. The 20th anniversary edition of Effortless Mastery, featuring a new introduction by Berklee President Roger H. Brown, will be released on January 22, 2016.

Werner, a Berklee alumnus, returned to the college in late 2014 to direct the Effortless Mastery Institute. Modeled on principles from his book, the EMI aims to cure Berklee students of what Werner calls “music school disease”—a block between the musician and the music caused by the obsessive need to play well.

“The wonderful thing about a good music school is that you are surrounded by other immensely passionate and talented musicians. The horrible thing about a good music school is just the same,” writes Brown, in his introduction to the book. “Kenny argues that creating out of fear is ultimately self-limiting and debilitating, undermining the very joy and love of music-making that is the source of much of the music that has inspired us.” 

With classes in Effortless Mastery Technique, Alexander Technique, body mapping, tai chi, and yoga, EMI students are taught how to overcome obstacles—sometimes physical but often mental, emotional, or even spiritual—that keep them from performing at their highest levels.

An Evening with Kenny Werner and Friends takes place Tuesday, February 2, 8:00 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets are available for $8 in advance or $12 day of show at the BPC box office or The venue is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 617-747-2261.

Hear Werner talk to Inside Berklee about how his institute can help musicians play from the deepest parts of themselves and rediscover their connection to music.