Helpful Resources for Musicians

This is my continually updated list of the most helpful resources I’ve found for a career in music. Here, you’ll find everything from music theory to music marketing to self-actualization. I’ve used all of these resources and can personally vouch for their helpfulness.

Disclosure: All links to the books on this list are affiliate links. Learn more about my affiliate links and relationships here.

 

Music Career & Marketing

The Musician’s Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness
Book by Gerald Klickstein
This is the number one book I recommend every serious musician should read. It covers all topics for great musicianship: from music practice methods to conquering performance anxiety to protecting your hearing and your health. I also recommend The Musician’s Way Blog, a companion blog that provides updates to keep the information in the book fresh.

The Savvy Musician
Book by David Cutler
If you’re looking for solid ideas and advice for a career in music, this book is an excellent resource.

How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
Book by Ari Herstand
An excellent resource for anyone interested in becoming a successful performing musician. Includes helpful information to ensure musicians collect all the royalties due to them. PLEASE NOTE: This book does use colorful language at times!

Project Management for Musicians
Book by Jonathan Feist
If you’re interested in directing a music performance, producing an album, running a music education event, or keeping track of any other type music project, this book outlines the tools you need to stay organized, on time, and on budget. The advice toward the end of the book about “closing loops” to maintain sanity has been especially helpful to me.

The Bulletproof Musician
Blog by Noa Kageyama
Written by a performance psychologist and Julliard professor, this blog provides practical tips – backed by psychology research – to improve performance techniques. I always find the posts well-written, engaging, and thoroughly researched. A must-read for anyone who wants to improve their performance skills.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
This book is packed with juicy tidbits to help make your music marketing – or any other marketing – memorable. If nothing else, you won’t forget the stomach ulcer example in the book anytime soon!

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
Book by Michael Hyatt.
The author of this book, a blogger and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, offers great tips that can help you market yourself, your services, and your products.

60 Second Music Marketing
Blog
Quick reads with super ideas on marketing music. Geared more toward recording artists but some of the tips can be used by all musicians.

Buffer Social
Blog
The fine folks at Buffer publish well researched blog posts that help disentangle the complex world of social media marketing.

Music Theory & Composition

Tonal Harmony
Textbook by Stefan Kostka, Dorothy Payne, and Byron Almén
This book is the quintessential guide to music theory used by many university music programs. It’s one of the textbooks I studied from as an undergraduate and I still refer to my (older) copy even today. A good resource for any serious music student.

Jazz Theory Resources Vol. 1: Tonal, Harmonic, Melodic, & Rhythmic Organization of Jazz
Jazz Theory Resources Vol. 2: Tonal, Harmonic, Melodic, & Rhythmic Organization of Jazz
Books by Bert Ligon
If you want to dig deeper into more advanced music theory, these two books are a great resources to get you there. Although the focus is on jazz music, the information is valuable for all music in contemporary genres.

Music Engraving Today: The Art and Practice of Digital Notesetting
Book by Steven Powell
This has been my go-to book for many years when I need an answer about music notation. Both helpful and humorous, it’s a great resource for music composers, arrangers, copyists, engravers, teachers, and students.

Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation
Book by Elaine Gould
A thorough and comprehensive resource of proper music notation written by one of the most highly respected music editors today. At 704 pages long, this is the book to reach for when faced with the thornier notation questions. Some call it the “bible” of music notation.

Take Note Blog
The official blog of Sheet Music Plus.

Piano

Improvisation at the Piano: A Systematic Approach for the Classically Trained Pianist
Book by Brian Chung and Dennis Thurmond
I’m still working my way through this, but so far it’s been a very rewarding book. This one isn’t one to curl up on the couch with…you’ll need to prop it up on the sheet music rack on your piano and roll up your sleeves to get the full benefits of this book – but it’s worth it.

The Piano Technicians Guild
Website
Pianos are like cars – they need routine maintenance by a professional. This site is the place to find a certified piano technician.

Piano World & Piano Forums
Website
A site devoted to everything piano!

Hymnody & Church Music

Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories
Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories (Book 2)
Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories (Book 3)
Books by Robert J. Morgan
This series of books is excellent for anyone who wants to be inspired by the stories behind hymns. I’ve used it to springboard ideas for blog posts and new hymn arrangements. (It also makes a great gift for church musicians, choir directors, pastors, seminarians, and music students.)

The One Year Book of Hymns
Book by Robert Brown and Mark Norton
A wonderful devotional book that includes the text of a hymn for each day, a bit of the history of the hymn, and a related Scripture verse. This is another I’ve used to inspire ideas for blog posts and new hymn arrangements. (And it also makes a super gift for musical and ecclesiastical people.)

The Hymn Society of the United States and Canada
Website/Organization
An organization devoted to encouraging, promoting and enlivening congregational singing. You can sign up for the monthly e-newsletter without becoming a member.

Hymnary.org
Website
This site is the most comprehensive index of hymns and hymnals on the web today. Many great resources including a calendar of hymn suggestions based on the RCL.

Inspiration

The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use It for Life
Book by Twyla Tharp
Both insightful and inspiring, this book is a great guide to hone and nurture creative habits. A good resource for musicians and for anyone who wants to spread their wings to excel.

Ordering Your Private World
Book by Gordon MacDonald
I’ve read and reread this insightful book and found it a marvelous Christian resource for bringing order to the inner, spiritual life and for focusing on being called rather than driven. A must-read not only for musicians but for anyone who has a soul.

Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations
Book by Joanne Lipman and Melanie Kupchynsky
Anyone who has had the privilege of studying with a teacher – music or otherwise – that set the bar high can relate this biography/memoir. A truly inspiring read, it brought back my own memories of teachers and mentors who helped shape me into who I am today.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Book by Austin Kleon
A cheeky book with great advice on how to ignite and nurture the creative spark. It’s a short, easy read with a deeper message.

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life
Book by Joyce Meyer
What musician doesn’t need a simpler life to focus more on their music? This is an easy, breezy read with quick and simple tips to organize both your outer and inner lives and increase productivity. One of my favorite tips from this book is “mind your own business.” It sure saves time and frees up energy and mental space when I do!

Seth Godin
Blog
Seth writes short, daily blog posts that make you think. His area of expertise is business marketing but I’ve found his advice very applicable for musicians and creatives.