Why would I pursue the best books for aspiring musicians? The relationship between music and books isn’t an immediately obvious one. However, the more musicians I interview about the relationship with books; the clearer it becomes. For one, inspiration can be drawn from many mediums; but books seem to be of specific importance to musicians. Perhaps it’s the demand for conciseness of the narrative of each song, or the searching for rhythm in the use of words in songwriting that mirrors putting pen to page. Whatever it is; I was excited to have another opportunity to talk books with some incredible people from the world of music and ask them to nominate what they believe to be the best books for aspiring musicians.  I was intrigued which books they would pick; given their different perspectives on what might be the best books for aspiring musicians.  Please meet our expert panel who will help us discover the best books for aspiring musicians.

Jeremy zuckermanJeremy Zuckerman

Jeremy Zuckerman is an Emmy Award-winning composer and musician whose work has included mediums such as film, television, dance, concert music and more.  He is perhaps best known for his work for the hit series ‘The Legend of Korra’ and ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’. He received his BA at the Berklee College of Music where he had the honour of being taught by Richard Boulanger. He also studied at the California Institute of the Arts where he studied with Morton Subotnick

Sabrina terenceSabrina Terence

Sabrina Terence is a world famous artist, DJ, model and TV host. Sabrina sometimes combines her artwork with her performance as a DJ, where she will complete a live painting in conjunction with her music at corporate events.  Sabrina Terence got behind the decks in 2007 and has gone on to receive global recognition for her skills, recently ranking 22nd in the Female DJ List Worldwide.

harry manxHarry Manx

Harry Manx is a popular musician from Canada who likes to cook up a melting pot of musical genres, including; blues, folk and Hindustani classic music. Harry Manx has released twelve albums and actually has his own record label, called Dog My Cats Records.  Over the years, Harry has received much recognition and many awards, which includes a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Solo Artist in 2005.

carrie newcomerCarrie Newcomer

Carrie Newcomer is an American singer, songwriter, author and activist whose passion for music is only rivalled by her passion for great books.  She has a dedicated following, having released an incredible amount of albums and won several awards for both her music and her charitable efforts.  Carrie has travelled the world as a cultural ambassador for the United States of America, performing organised shows for a range of causes.

fabiana claureFabiana Claure

Fabiana Claure is a multifaceted concert pianist, educator, and entrepreneur. Her diverse musical career and successful business experience, as well as her international background, have allowed her to gain an empowering and global perspective towards music and entrepreneurship education. Fabiana is the Director of Career Development and Entrepreneurship in Music at the University of North Texas.

You’ve met the panel and now it is time to discover their nominations for the best books for aspiring musicians.


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Carrie Newcomer:

I recommend this book to any aspiring writer.  It is full of creative wisdom, human insights, and helpful suggestions, all woven together with Ann Lamott’s signature laugh-out-loud sense of humor.


beyond talentBeyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music by Angela Myles Beeching

Fabiana Claure:

This book is one of the pioneering books that was created to discuss the topics of career development and entrepreneurial action for musicians. The second edition was published in 2010 and the third edition is scheduled to be published later this year. This is a classic book for any musician or a creative person looking for a clear, organized, structured, and inspiring guide to launching a career in music. Angela’s writing style is very effective and her many examples and case studies make this a highly relatable and relevant resource for musicians.


The Book of Secrets by Osho

Harry Manx:

Yes, that guy in the Netflix documentary. Read this book without any preconceived ideas and your mind will be blown. Don’t allow other people’s judgements to be your own. Decide for yourself if this is the truth speaking to you. Only you will know for sure.

All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald S. Passman

Sabrina Terence:

I recommend this book as this is a classic for more than twenty years as a definitive guide to the music industry. It describes the changes and rapid transformation of the industry. How to deal with managers and labels in general. It is updated even in newer editions and the ninth edition now available.  Singers like Maroon5 and more say, this book is a mmust-read


on sonic artOn Sonic Art by Trevor Wishart

Jeremy Zuckerman:

Written in 1985 long before the explosion of music technology and computer music tools, On Sonic Art brilliantly exposes the biases inherent in our Western music traditions, and presents an entirely new way of approaching music via, in 1985, mostly-unavailable technology. Though It remains relatively obscure, it should be required reading for any musician and composer regardless of their personal musical proclivities. It boggles the mind to consider: 1) though written over 30 years ago, it predicts in complete detail tools and techniques materialized over the following few decades, and 2) even if written today, it would still be a challenging, eye-opening, inspiring and infuriating book, way ahead of its time.


Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer

Carrie Newcomer:

This relatively short book has reframed what vocation and finding meaning in the world looks like for millions of people.  Parker affirms that we have an inner true north and it can be trusted.  But, if you follow your true north it may take you places you did not expect to go.  This powerful little book has been a great traveling companion.


Principles of Orchestration by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov

Jeremy Zuckerman:

This book saved me when I first started writing orchestral music and essentially had no idea what I was doing. Whether or not you’re a fan of his music, Rimsky-Korsakov’s book on orchestration is a must-read for any budding orchestral composer. Be it film music, concert music or any other form that uses traditional orchestral instrumentation, this book will be very helpful. In its clear and concise organization – via an abundance of examples from his music – Rimsky-Korsakov’s Principles of Orchestration makes the highly complex topic of orchestration a lot less intimidating. There are other, more adventurous books on orchestration out there, but Principles of Orchestration is a great way to build a strong foundation on the topic, and to amass several highly effective techniques which will be easy to employ very quickly.


Awakening Your Business Brain by Jennifer Rosenfeld and Julia Torgovitskaya

Fabiana Claure:

Published in 2015, this is a book that provides a very interesting approach to business training for creatives. It focuses primarily on the mindset aspect for musicians and helps the reader analyze their behaviors and carefully reflect on how to take action to change the way they’ve been dealing with obstacles and challenges. Jennifer Rosenfeld and Julia Torgoviskaya do an excellent job of taking the reader on a journey of self-discovery and productive action.


madonna an intimate biography - best books for aspiring musiciansMadonna: An Intimate Biography by J. Randy Taraborrelli

Sabrina Terence:

Madonna is one of the most successful artists in the history of pop music and she is the fourth-best-selling music artist worldwide (300 million). A key to her success was her single-minded determination to become a star no matter what it took. She is strong and I am sure this Biography is not just interesting also showing you a bit of the inside as an Musician. Not every glitter is gold in this difficult market. She speaks honest and open like one of her passages Page 9 – When I was tiny,” she recalls, “my grandmother used to beg me not to go with men, to love Jesus and be a good girl. I grew up with two images of women: the virgin and the whore.‎ To me not just as a fan this book was inspiring.


White Fire by Mooji Baba

Harry Manx:

Here are the words of a (still) living awakened being. His simple pointings have stirred the hearts of thousands around the world. Listen without judgements and you will be inspired beyond belief.


Social Media Promotion for Musicians by Bobby Owsinski

Sabrina Terence:

I nominate this book as marketing yourself, your band and your music online, is one of the most important things to become successful in the music industry. Of course sometimes you just need luck and the right song everybody loves but it is important to know marketing as well. Even it is a bit outdated I truly think it can help you to understand the online market with youtube, twitter, facebook etc. The secret behind successful tweets and posts.


How to Make it in the New Music Business by Ari Herstand

Fabiana Claure:

This is a great resource for musicians of today. Published in December 2017, it has very recent information with the latest tips and tricks for musicians to create an audience and launch their careers. It is filled with practical tools and action steps that can help musicians in all genres better understand the many available resources in today’s internet-driven society. I highly recommend it!


plain and simple guide to music publishing - best books for aspiring musiciansThe Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing by Randall D. Wixen

Jeremy Zuckerman:

If you’re a composer, hopefully there will be a point when you’ll have to worry about the ins and outs of back-end income (aka royalties). It’s a bit of a confusing topic but imperative to understand (admittedly I could spend more time solidifying all the information contained in this book). It begins with an excellent overview of the mechanics of how copyrights work as well as the various kinds of royalties. From there, in a way laid-out format, it deep-dives into other myriad ways of making money with your music as well as going into more detail on the basics presented in the overview. Important stuff. Make sure to get the most recent edition as some things have changed since it was first written in 2005.


Silence of the Heart by Robert Adams

Harry Manx:

This book is almost impossible to find. It’s only printed in India.  Robert Adams was an enlightened being who passed away on the 90s.  I have to say that this is my favourite book of all books. It contains everything a person needs to find there way to awakening. I can’t say enough good things about it. If you manage to read it and to learn about his story you are amongst a small group of seekers who feel they have discovered spiritual diamonds. Don’t take my word for it? Check it out!


At Least Three Collections of Sheet Music

Carrie Newcomer:

Learning songs and song styles is a great addition to your songwriting toolbox. How are these songs constructed? How do the lyrics and music inform and enhance one another?  Consider a Beatles collection, Brill Building and standards, pop, folk, rock, rap, blues, country, basically anything that inspires you to write songs yourself.


If you enjoyed this reading list, you may also enjoy our recent reading list; the most inspiring books for artists. What do you think are best books for aspiring musicians? Comment below and let us know!

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