Recommended Music

This is a selection of the sheet music publications I have found most useful as a student and teacher of singing. Click on the links to jump directly to the relevant section

Books in all these sections are linked to Musicroom, or in some cases Amazon. Further sources for sheet music online can be found here.

All publications marked with a * by the name have backing track CDs available (although some are published both with and without the CDs).

Graded Publications

Singing Time! (David Turnball/Bosworth) – This series comes in volumes for grades 1 through to 4 and is focused on the ABRSM syllabus. The books also include basic theory information and warm-ups, as well as progressing gradually through the keys. I’m hoping a set of second editions will be released as the sight-singing element is out of date (the requirements were changed and updated in 2009). The duets are a nice addition though. Recommended for complete beginners, especially primary-aged children.

*The ABRSM Songbook (Campbell, Forbes and Zobens/ABRSM) – Published around the same time as Singing Time!, these volumes are collections of a range of songs for all the graded exams from 1 to 5 for ABRSM. The books also have a selection of folk songs in the back for use in the unaccompanied traditional songs section. Each book comes with two CDs, one of the accompaniments, and the other of someone reading the lyrics to the traditional songs in the relevant language or accent. They are a little more expensive than some other books but the investment is not wasted. Recommended for all students working through the early grades both for exam songs and general repertoire.

The Art of Song: Revised and Expanded (Edition Peters) – These books come in two volumes for the early grades (1-3 and 4-5, each in low and high voice), and then there are three volumes for each of grades 6, 7 and 8 (low, medium and high voice). The focus of these books is German leider as in the original editions, but this new print also includes repertoire from other countries (Italian songs, G&S etc). Backing tracks can be purchased online at an additional cost, and it also looks like CDs may be availible in the future. Recommended for graded examinations, and general repertoire work at grades 6-8.

Series with Several Volumes (but which aren’t sorted by grade)

*G. Schirmer Opera Anthologies (G Schirmer) – These come in one voume for each of the five main operatic voice types as well as a volume specifically for ‘coloratura soprano’. I think of my mezzo volume as the book with everything in it, since these books do have a fairly comprehensive selection of the most famous arias for each voice type across a range of styles from early baroque to 20th Century. A great buy. [Note that the CDs are published separately – see hereSuitable for advanced singers from grades 6-8 upwards. Largely diploma level repertoire.

*The Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthologies (Hal Leonard) – Just about the best books on the market for musical theatre other than buying vocal selections for particular shows. There are now five published volumes for each voice of Soprano, Mezzo-soprano/Belter, Tenor and Baritone/Bass. The first three volumes are widely available in the UK with and without backing CDs, and volumes 4 and 5 are available from overseas. Suitable for singers throughout their studies, with a range of difficulty levels in each book.

Sing Solo (Oxford University Press) – This series of books offers a book for each voice type, as well as the additional publications ‘Sing Solo Sacred’ and ‘Sing Solo Christmas’ in low and high editions. The sacred  Suitable for intermediate level singers (around grade 5) and above.

*The Language of Song (Faber Music) – Focused around foreign language music, this series does not offer English translations of the songs included in the collections, but does offer recordings of native speakers reading the lyrics. These come in three volumes stepped by difficulty, and offer each in high and low, as well as medium for the advanced level book. Suitable for all learners provided the right level book is bought. Includes plenty of exam repertoire.

Individual Publications

The Boosey & Hawkes 20th Century Easy Song Collection

Exercises and Studies

*Metodo Practico (Vaccai / Edition Peters) – available in several volumes, both with and without CDs Vaccai’s studies remain a stalwart part of classical vocal studies. Suitable for beginners and still useful at an advanced level.

Voice Placing and Traning Exercises (George Dodds / Oxford University Press) – Solid varied collection of vocal exercises which can be useful in improving technique and preventing practice boredom! Suitable for all levels.

Musicianship Resources

*Ear Without Fear (Hal Leonard) – Great workbook to hone aural skills, including taking dictation, which is not covered by exam-focussed books. There are three levels, which build on one another. Suitable for beginners, and intermediate students. Some notation reading is helpful but not essential.

*Rhythm Without the Blues (Hal Leonard) – Companion book to Ear Without fear, and best used alongside it to help gain an awareness of rhythm. Suitable for beginners, and intermediate students. Some notation reading is helpful but not essential.

Go for Bronze (NYCOS) – A musicianship programme for aged 7 and up, based on Kodaly methods. A fun and enjoyable way to encourage notation reading, sight-reading and aural awareness. Student books come in packs of 10 from the usual suppliers, or can be bought individually from British KodalySuitable for young beginners with little or no notation reading, and anyone struggling with aural awareness.