The best inspirational books on musical pedagogy

Paul Harris Author Of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide
By Paul Harris

Who am I?

Paul Harris is one of the UK’s most influential music educationalists. He studied the clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing and where he now teaches. He is in great demand as a teacher, composer, and writer (he has written over 600 books); and his inspirational masterclasses and workshops continue to influence thousands of young musicians and teachers all over the world in both the principles and practice of musical performance and education.


I wrote...

You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

By Paul Harris,

Book cover of You Can Read Music: The Practical Guide

What is my book about?

This is a practical workbook for anyone who has ever wanted to read music notation. It explains the process in clear manageable steps and blows the myth that reading music is difficult right out of the water. It is ideal for anyone wishing to develop this ability whether they are entirely new to reading music or someone who wants to improve and perfect their skill. It works for both players of any instrument and singers. By the end of this book, you will be able to read and understand music notation - you don’t even need a musical instrument!

The books I picked & why

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Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening

By Christopher Small,

Book cover of Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening

Why this book?

This book explores music in a delightfully refreshing way where the author considers music essentially an activity and develops his concept of ‘musicking’ or ‘doing music’ in all its various ways. He gives much confidence to those who may think ‘they are not very good at music’ to take part in a much more enthusiastic and practical way. It’s a lovely way in to the exploration of this wonderful art.


Musical Excellence: Strategies and Techniques to Enhance Performance

By Aaron Williamon (editor),

Book cover of Musical Excellence: Strategies and Techniques to Enhance Performance

Why this book?

For anyone who is performing at any level really, this book will help them enhance their performance and manage the stress that sometimes seems to appear in the performance situation. The book looks at ways to approach the music that we have decided to perform a variety of practice strategies and some particularly interesting techniques for all-around improvement taking in both the physical side of playing and the musical side. It’s a serious and quite academic book but well worth the effort.


Music Psychology in Education

By Susan Hallam,

Book cover of Music Psychology in Education

Why this book?

Whether you’re a learner or a teacher, developing an interest in what goes on behind the scenes will naturally reap many benefits. This fascinating book deals with many issues that need to be considered whether music is a hobby or a profession. Susan considers how music is processed in the brain, what musical ability actually is, the psychological side of learning to play an instrument and sing, what feeds into our motivation, and generally the extraordinary impact that music has on our lives.


In the Key of Genius: The Extraordinary Life of Derek Paravicini

By Adam Ockelford,

Book cover of In the Key of Genius: The Extraordinary Life of Derek Paravicini

Why this book?

This is a wonderfully inspiring and motivating book, for anyone involved in developing as a musician. It’s the story of Derek Paravicini who was born blind, with severe learning difficulties and autism. At a very young age, his parents found him picking out melodic fragments on an old keyboard; now Derek is a world-famous pianist specialising in Jazz but able to play anything you like. The story is told beautifully by his teacher, Adam Ockleford, who has been his mentor from the very beginning. Again, it highlights the power and importance of music as a means of maintaining humanity. 


Harmony In Practice

By Anna Butterworth,

Book cover of Harmony In Practice

Why this book?

Should you decide to work through my book, I’m sure you’ll find reading music a very attainable skill. And having attained this skill, you may now be considering the possibility of writing music. There are quite a number of books on the subject to recommend but a very comprehensive and thorough approach is Anna Butterworth’s Harmony in Practice. She takes you through the process of understanding musical harmony which will form the background of the melody and rhythm you may wish to impose and in a short amount of time you may find yourself writing your first simple pieces. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in pedagogy, music, and execution?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about pedagogy, music, and execution.

Pedagogy Explore 8 books about pedagogy
Music Explore 74 books about music
Execution Explore 10 books about execution

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Listening Book, Teaching Music to Children, and Here, There and Everywhere if you like this list.