Books for Students

A list of books which continue to educate and inspire me!

"Greatness isn't born. It's grown. Here's how." Daniel Coyle's "The Talent Code" explores the very nature of talent, how it is ignited in the individual, and how it is grown and developed. Coyle's exploration extends to various "hot-beds" of talent in both sports and music and asks, "What do highly skilled golfers, soccer and tennis players have in common with highly skilled musicians?" Read this book to find out the three key elements to develop your talents and optimize your gifts!
"The Little Book of Talent 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills" is the perfect companion to Coyles "The Talent Code". This book gives solid, practical tips for improving your skill set in almost any activity. Great advice like "Stare at who you want to become" and "To learn from a book, close the book" are just two powerful examples of the simple wisdom contained in this book. Also details six strategies for becoming a better teacher or coach. Invaluable!
"Effortless Mastery" by Kenny Werner is a bold, honest book about developing an effortless approach to playing one's instrument, and a more healthy relationship with music in general. Contains practical strategies for maximizing practice time, building confidence and reducing performance anxiety. Great insightsfor teachers and students who seek to build a more confident, relaxed approach to performing music.
"This is Your Brain on Music" by Daniel Levitan is one of the most interesting books of it's kind. Written by a neurologist who also happens to be a musician, this book answers many mysteries about how the brain processes music and why we respond to music the way we do. Also has great insights into what makes a hit song, a memorable melody, and why we can't get THAT song out of our heads. Truly fascinating reading!
Philip Toshio Sudo's, "Zen Guitar" is a small book packed with valuable insights into how to unlock your creative potential. Sections include, "Twelve Points of Focus", "Twelve Common Missteps" and individual chapters delve into subjects such as perfection, mistakes, discipline, self-doubt, obsession and facing criticism. One of those books you can read forever.
Victor Wooten's "The Music Lesson" is a totally unique book which tells the story of the authors journey to discover the connections between music, man and nature. From Prelude to Coda, the chapters in this book address the most important aspects of music performance: Groove, Notes, Articulation, Technique, Dynamics, Rhythm, Tone, Phrasing, Space and Listening. Truly a one-of-a-kind book, and a must-read for all musicians!
Billed as the "World Largest Guide to Practicing", Philip Johnston's "Practiceopedia" is 370 pages of invaluable strategies for practicing any instrument. Written in the form of an encyclopedia, students and parents can look up any topic such as, not wanting to practice, clearing obstacles, increasing motivation, learning new pieces, staying focused and performance preparation. So many incredible insights!
"The Inner Game of Music", by Barry Green was one of the first books about music to address the mental aspects of developing musicianship through the power of self-awareness. This book covers such topics as, the power of trust, letting go, coping with obstacles, and improving the quality of your musical experience. A landmark book, often imitated but never duplicated.
First published in 1939, Aaron Copland's "What to Listen For in Music" is the definitive exploration of the principles of Western classical music. In a clear and concise manner, the author explains in detail musical concepts such as, Rhythm, Melody, Harmony and Tone Color. Also explored are the musical forms and textures common to Western Classical music. This book will change the way you listen to music!
Oliver Sachs', "Musicophilia" is a chilling look at the many musical functions and dysfunctions of the human brain, as told through the personal stories of Dr. Sachs' patients. Covers a broad range of topics from absolute pitch, amusia (musical amnesia), musical seizures, synesthesia, musical savantism, musical hallucinations and more. Also offers a fascinating glimpse into the practice of music therapy and related treatments. A unique and eye-opening book!
This little tome contains a host of musical terms you won't find in the Oxford Dictionary of Music. It includes modern day compo- sitional terms such as refrain and bridge, while also covering many important classical terms in French, German and Italian. The best part of this book - the appendix! Loaded with cool charts and tables that you will not see anywhere but here.
This book probably needs no introduction, it's the Oxford Dictionary of Music, the leading go-to print book for music students for over a hundred years. Online dictionaries are cool, but this old-school book will keep you guessing for years to come! Composers biographies, musical terms in every language imaginable, a good appendix with lots of information. Every student of music should have one of these on his or her desk!

Books for Bass Students

"The Great James Brown Rhythm Sections" by Allan Slutsky and Chuck Silverman is a treasure trove of early R&B and funk grooves for bassists, guitarists and drummers. Featuring mimi- transcriptions of 23 classic JB tunes, with rhythm guitar parts, drum parts and of course, bass lines. Complete with 49 audio tracks on two CD's of the individual parts. Contains great biographical and chronological info about individual band members. Super.
"What Duck Done" by Tim Tindall is a note-for-note look at the style of one of R&B's greatest bassists, Donald "Duck" Dunn. Featuring 33 transcriptions of classic hits such as, "She Caught the Katy", "Soul Man", Knock on Wood" and "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay", to name a few. Printed in an easy-to-read style and also contains great photos of Duck. Currently out of print, this book is a modern day classic, already.
"The Art of Playing Rhythm and Blues" by Allan Slutsky is yet another classic book detailing the development of R&B music from its early origins. Featuring 73 mini-transcriptions of the styles of Memphis, Motown, NewOrleans, Chicago, and traces the development of early Funk. Also contains valuable information about rhythm section techniques and R&B history.
"Standing in the Shadows of Motown" by Allan Slutsky is a monumental look at the life and work of Motown bassist James Jamerson. His tumultuous life and musical brilliance are explored in depth through hundreds of interviews, 49 transcriptions, two hours of recorded all-star performances, and more than 50 rarely seen photos in this stellar tribute to behind-the-scenes Motown. Features a 120-minute CD! Legend.
"Building Walking Bass Lines" by Ed Friedland is one of the most straight-forward easy-to-use books of it's kind. Ed breaks down the most important elements that make a strong walking line,and gives multiple examples of each, with 90 minutes of audio tracks for students to play along. This book teaches concepts, rather than just lines. A great guide for learning how to improvise your own walking lines effectively.
"Expanding Walking Bass Lines" by Ed Friedland covers more advanced concepts for building bass lines, such as the two-feel, thinking modally, the "must know" changes and more. Also has a 90-minute play-along CD with terrific accompaniments. A must for every bassist wanting to better their walking skills.
Another great book by the Bass Whisperer, Ed Friedland, his "Jazz Bass" book is the definitive tome for developing your jazz skills. It includes all of the most important skills a jazz bassist needs: Walking, the two-feel, ballads, soloing, and even performance protocol. Complete with an audio CD of of 50 musical examples and play-along tunes. THE BEST!
The "Real Book", as it is ironically named, is the most widely used collection of lead sheet-style charts in use by jazz musicians of all instruments for the past quarter-century or more. Originally a bootleg publication, it is now available in a beautifully re-written version from Hal Leonard publishing. This is a MUST-HAVE book for any musicians seeking to build a repertoire of jazz standards.

Books for Piano Students

The Bastien series of piano books are among the best-selling piano method books in the world, and with good reason. These books cover every important aspect of piano playing from the ground up, including reading, technique, theory and composition. This series also contains many interesting and fun repertoire pieces.
"With Your Own Two Hands" by Seymour Bernstein is an incredibly informative book on some of the finer aspects of piano playing, and also covers a wide variety of psycho- logical hurdles facing most musicians. Also covers many specific musical topics such as tempo, listening, keyboard choreography, pedaling and more! The wisdom in this book is evident from the first two chapters, entitled, "Why Do You Practice?" and "Why Don't You Practice?". Genius.
The Faber Piano Adventure series is popular due to the wonderful selection of repertoire pieces contained in these books. Several of these compositions feature concerto-like orchestral accompaniments for students to play along with. Easy, impressive, accessible repertoire for beginners.
Martha Mier has a number of repertoire books published, and all of them have something to offer piano students from beginning to advanced. These pieces have memorable melodies, interesting harmonies, and highlight different skills in reading and technique. These compositions make terrific recital pieces!
The so-called "Brown Scale Book" has been a staple of piano students worldwide for decades. In it you will find the fingerings for every major, minor and harmonic minor scale, and scale practice patterns in parallel and contrary motion, thirds and sixths. Also included are cadences and arpeggio exercises in every key. An invaluable manual of basic piano technique.
Another great collection of engaging compositions by Martha Mier, these pieces highlight ragtime and blues styles, and are terrific for developing more confidence and control with playing syncopated rhythms. Most importantly, students love to play these fun, memorable pieces!