Steve’s Must-Read Music Teacher PD Book List

These books have a common theme, they promote Informal learning, Non-formal teaching, popular music education, or creativity, and sometimes all four! Rock Coach, Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians, and much more...
Must-Read Music Teacher Professional Development Book List

These books have a common theme, they promote Informal learning, Non-formal teaching, popular music education, or creativity, and sometimes all four!

Rock Coach: A Practical Guide for Teaching Rock Bands in Schools. Bit of a shameless self plug but seriously, I wouldn't have written it if I didn't think you would find it useful. It gives you an overview of teaching rock ensembles and  the step-by-step instructions on how to start your first rock ensemble right up to the concert.
Rock Coach: A Practical Guide for Teaching Rock Bands in Schools

Rock Coach by Steve Giddings

Bit of a shameless self plug but seriously, I wouldn’t have written it if I didn’t think you would find it useful. It gives you an overview of teaching rock ensembles and the step-by-step instructions on how to start your first rock ensemble right up to the concert.




Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians: 500+ Non-Jazz Games for Performers, Educators, and Everyone Else! This is truly an amazing book by the prolific Jeffrey Agrell. We all know that our classical training hinders us from being the true creative musicians we want to be and this book can help you get there. It contains hundreds of games designed for Classical musicians that will get you creating your own music in no time.
Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians: 500+ Non-Jazz Games for Performers, Educators, and Everyone Else!

Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians by Jeffrey Agrell

This is truly an amazing book by the prolific Jeffrey Agrell. We all know that our classical training hinders us from being the true creative musicians we want to be and this book can help you get there. It contains hundreds of games designed for Classical musicians that will get you creating your own music in no time.


The Creative Hornist: Essays, Rants, and Odes for the Classical Horn Player on Creative Music Making. Another fantastic read by Jeffrey Agrell. Designed with the classically trained horn player in mind but the concepts within can be easily transferred to any classically trained musician. It gives very practical exercises for creating your own music and gives very practical advice for anyone wanting to delve into the world of creative music making in an approachable and no-judgement way.
The Creative Hornist: Essays, Rants, and Odes for the Classical Horn Player on Creative Music Making

The Creative Hornist by Jeffrey Agrell

Another fantastic read by Jeffrey Agrell. Designed with the classically trained horn player in mind but the concepts within can be easily transferred to any classically trained musician. It gives very practical exercises for creating your own music and gives very practical advice for anyone wanting to delve into the world of creative music making in an approachable and no-judgement way.


How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC. This book goes into how to rap like the best hip-hop MCs on the planet. It contains interviews of the likes of Nelly, Cypress Hill, Black Eyed Peas, and so many others. It goes incredibly in depth on how to rap from topics, to structuring, rhyming and flow. A very good resource for any teacher curious about adding authentic rapping and hip-hop into their classrooms.
How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC

How to Rap by Paul Edwards

This book goes into how to rap like the best hip-hop MCs on the planet. It contains interviews of the likes of Nelly, Cypress Hill, Black Eyed Peas, and so many others. It goes incredibly in depth on how to rap from topics, to structuring, rhyming and flow. A very good resource for any teacher curious about adding authentic rapping and hip-hop into their classrooms.


The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory. Written by New York Times writer, John Seabrook, this book goes into the history of pop music from its early days in Europe to its explosion in North America and the rest of the world. It follows the lives of Denniz PoP, Max Martin, and Dr. Luke, as well as the artists they worked with. It even goes into the compositional practices of the genre and how the industry works. A very interesting read for anyone interested in music. I learned a lot about how pop music is composed.
The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory

The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook

Written by New York Times writer, John Seabrook, this book goes into the history of pop music from its early days in Europe to its explosion in North America and the rest of the world. It follows the lives of Denniz PoP, Max Martin, and Dr. Luke, as well as the artists they worked with. It even goes into the compositional practices of the genre and how the industry works. A very interesting read for anyone interested in music. I learned a lot about how pop music is composed.


The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Grammy Award Winner and bassist, Victor Wooten, this book is described as a spiritual journey through music. It is written as a book of music philosophy from the perspective of Wooten himself in the form of a narrative. The concepts and philosophies he describes are to develop and promote the whole musician. Much of his philosophy about learning music and teaching is iterated in my book, Rock Coach, as well as organizations like Little Kids Rock.
The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music

The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten

By Grammy Award Winner and bassist, Victor Wooten, this book is described as a spiritual journey through music. It is written as a book of music philosophy from the perspective of Wooten himself in the form of a narrative. The concepts and philosophies he describes are to develop and promote the whole musician. Much of his philosophy about learning music and teaching is iterated in my book, Rock Coach, as well as organizations like Little Kids Rock.

If you are looking for a more academic view on these topics, here are my picks:

Critical Perspectives in Canadian Music Education. There are lots of progressive ideas and research within the pages of this book. Topics include popular music education, community music, rethinking the band paradigm, and other critical perspectives.
Critical Perspectives in Canadian Music Education

Critical Perspectives in Canadian Music Education edited by Carol A. Beynon and Kari K. Veblen

There are lots of progressive ideas and research within the pages of this book. Topics include popular music education, community music, rethinking the band paradigm, and other critical perspectives.




How Popular Musicians Learn: A Way Ahead for Music Education. Lucy Green is one of the leading experts on informal learning in music. Her work has dictated much of my philosophy since my undergraduate days. Her research is one of the first major theoretical works for informal music teaching. It dives into how popular musicians learn and how they think about music learning.
How Popular Musicians Learn: A Way Ahead for Music Education

How Popular Musicians Learn by Lucy Green

Lucy Green is one of the leading experts on informal learning in music. Her work has dictated much of my philosophy since my undergraduate days. Her research is one of the first major theoretical works for informal music teaching. It dives into how popular musicians learn and how they think about music learning.



Music, Informal Learning, and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy. This is the theory and philosophy from How Popular Musicians Learn and what it looks like in a real classroom situation. Green describes all the phases of learning like a popular musician that the learners go through and thoughts from the teachers whose classrooms she hijacked.
Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy

Music, Informal Learning, and the School by Lucy Green

This is the theory and philosophy from How Popular Musicians Learn and what it looks like in a real classroom situation. Green describes all the phases of learning like a popular musician that the learners go through and thoughts from the teachers whose classrooms she hijacked.




21st Century Music Education: Informal Learning and Non-Formal Teaching Approaches in School and Community Contexts. From the CMEA Research to Practice book series edited by Susan O'Niell comes this book about informal learning and non-formal teaching in school and community contexts. It explores these concepts and approaches through various lenses.
21st Century Music Education: Informal Learning and Non-Formal Teaching Approaches in School and Community Contexts

21st Century Music Education edited by Ruth Wright, Betty Anne Younker, and Carol Beynon

From the CMEA Research to Practice book series edited by Susan O’Niell comes this book about informal learning and non-formal teaching in school and community contexts. It explores these concepts and approaches through various lenses.





Disclosure: Please note that the links on this blog post are affiliate links which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have read all of these , and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s