Recommended Books

Alongside my links for the best places to find information on the internet, here is a list of books I would recommend. It will keep being updated, so check back from time to time. Click on the links below to jump to particular topics:


Books on Singing

Singing and the Actor (Gillyanne Keyes) – I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure I followed everything in this on the first reading through, so it’s definitely not for beginners! However, it does have loads of exercises for basic vocal techniques and then developing various vocal qualities for music theatre, all using a very scientific and biology-based approach.

Books about Learning Music More Generally

The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self (William Westney) – A wonderfully practical book about how to confront our desire to be perfect and turn our practicing methods up-side-down. Some of the pedagogy he describes is, thankfully, already out of fashion, but for many adult learners, this will help confront bad teaching in the past. For everyone, this book will inspire a new attitude to practice.

Books about Music Theory

See also posts on resources for ABRSM Grades 1-5, and Grades 6+

Books about the Science of How Music Works

How Music Works: A Listener’s Guide to Harmony, Keys, Broken Chords, Perfect Pitch and the Secrets of a Good Tune (John Powell) – An accessible book explaining the science behind music, indcluding both the science behind the sound and the psychology that explains our responses.

Books about Music History, Styles and Periods

Stephen Fry’s Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music (Stephen Fry) – written in the inimitable Fry style, dear Stephen takes a humourous look at classical music. Very much bent towards his personal interests, I enjoyed the featuring of Nathan the Prophet, and the entertaining insights into the lives of composers.