Reviews of Return to Child:


David Darling is one of the worldıs most inspiring music teachers, and co-founder of Music for People. This organization is a community of players on a spiritual path, with a vision of holistic music education. Return to Child tales this vision of "Music for Everyone" into the world. Following the "watercourse way" of Taoism, the book describes a humble approach to music making that is as profound as it is whimsical. This is spontaneous music making as a metaphor for living joyfully and freely. My involvement with this work has changed my life and revolutionized my teaching, conducting, and playing. Most significantly, it has re-kindled a love of music in a number of my students who felt stifled in the rigorous world of classical music training.

-- Dr. David Rudge, Director of Orchestra and Opera, State University of New York at Fredonia.


Return to Child is a fundamental guide to excellence in improvisation - an important step towards conscious, intuitive sound healing. It contains sound, practical exercises for developing technique in composed and improvised styles of music, leadership/practitioner skills for professionals in all humanistic fields, and inspiring games to free the mind and expand awareness in the creative process.

-- Zacciah Blackburn, Director of Education, New England Sound Healing Research Institute.


Music for People transformed by relationship with music and my work as a teacher. Many of my students at DePauw have told me that learning Music for People techniques have changed not only their music but their lives as well. Return to Child truly captures the essence of the powerful work of David Darling and his colleagues. This is one of the most important books on music anyone can own - it holds the keys you can use to unlock the extraordinary potential within yourself.

-- Dr. Eric Edberg, Professor of Music (Cello), DePauw University School of Music.


Return to Child is a fabulous companion to the ingenious techniques used by David Darling at Music for People workshops, where both amateurs and professionals come for inspiration. With special magic, these techniques go right to the source of improvisation and lead to transcendent performances. It takes a "Zen" mastery of English to capture the simplicity and grace of these pathways to great music making, and re-create the generous attitude of Music for People Mentors whose guiding allows very personal music to come alive. These are the same principles I have been dedicated to in my own work with the Inner Game of Music. I applaud and recommend Return to Child to everyone interested in their own journey into the soul of the musician and the spirit of the music.

-- Barry Green, double bass soloist, teacher, author of The Inner Game of Music and The Mastery of Music.


David Darling is a great musician and a passionate and humble man. He believes that the most important music is your music, not his. I'm grateful for the privilege of having been his colleague for over three decades. We played in the same band and were co-conspirators in exploring ways we could entice people into discovering the joys and rewards of making music together. David has become the master of this path. I salute our friend Jim Oshinsky for documenting David's educational approaches in Return to Child.

-- Paul Winter, saxophonist, composer, Grammy award winner


David Darling and his colleagues at Music for People are engaged in a terrific enterprise. Return to Child provides a much needed shot in the arm for people who are tempted and fascinated by the thought of developing themselves as expressive and creative musicians, but who might be intimidated by the star system which perpetuates the illusion that only the most highly polished professionals can be "real" musicians. They present a wonderful set of recipes for musical teamwork, for energizing you to push through the inevitable stages of doubt and fear, and finding the right balance between structure and spontaneity in free improvisation. Bravo! We need more of this kind of work, not just for musicians, but for anyone who wants to develop their sense of freedom, expressiveness, and effective communication.

-- Stephen Nachmanovitch, improvisational violinist, author of Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art.


Improvisation is the dynamic tool for learning to be creative, flexible and healthy. Music for People's new book is a guide for innovative expression and musical exploration. Every musician and teacher will savor the power and ease of music making with Return to Child.

-- Don Campbell, author of Introduction to the Musical Brain and The Mozart Effect for Children.


We all seem to be looking for utopia - some kind of harmonic balance between individual and collective concern. A classical symphony is a high metaphor for such a utopian life. So is a successful improvisation by a group of amateur musicians. In this sense musicians have their ways of guiding us to realization. Return to Child is a handbook for an idealized society - each individual connected to his or her own truth while united in the commonweal of listening to what is true. It shows how to practice improvisation individually and collectively, how to teach such practice, and how to encourage it to flourish in the world. James Oshinsky's compilation of David Darling's work is a lifetime of beneficence in a book.

-- W.A. Mathieu, composer, author of The Listening Book and Harmonic Experience.


Return to Child is full of activities that are clear, concise, and easy to conceptualize. David Darling frees musicians from the archaic educational tactics that have corroded how the process of music making is experienced, and corroded a quality relationship to self. Darling is a modern day Pied Piper. Follow his melody and you will rediscover your soul and remember how to connect with the sacred, profound act of making and sharing a music that is truthful.

-- Julie Lyonn Lieberman, improvising violinist and author of Planet Musician.


Return to Child is packed with a lifetime of personal learning, personal growth and personal leadership skills. It puts the reader into the heart and feeling of a Music for People workshop. For me personally, it is a great eye opener into the inner workings of the Music for People teaching process. Return to Child is both accessible to beginning beginner trainers and challenging to the advanced facilitator at the same time. The "Leaders Speak Out" section gives some of the most basic scenarios that challenge facilitators in any training, and the book offers multiple solutions and points of view to consider from a variety of senior trainers. It is the basic operating manual for anyone who is on the musical empowerment mission, and a powerful gift to your community.

-- Arthur Hull, author of Drum Circle Spirit.

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