Summer Reading Ideas for Music Teachers and Directors


Now that summer is in full swing, there’s time to kick back and enjoy some light reading. There are innumerable books that can inspire, entertain and inform both new and seasoned teachers and directors. Here are some ideas:

A Dose of Inspiration

Daily Encouragement

Composer and choreographer John Jacobson created a timeless resource when he penned The Artist Within Me (A Teacher’s Year of Creative Discovery). The book includes motivational ideas for each day of the year – thoughts that encourage music teachers to develop their artistic side. Tidbits include the January 1 entry about resolutions, which says in part:  

“This year, you will remember and consciously tap into your artistic self, knowing that it will make you a more effective teacher, fulfilled artist, and dynamic human being,” Jacobson wrote.  

Famous Folks

A different option for inspiration is to pick a book that focuses on a successful musician. One choice is a book about musical theater lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz titled Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked. It shares details about his creative process for penning musicals and discusses how he coped with failure.

For a resource with a more choral or church focus, The Melodic Voice: Conversations with Alice Parker includes stories from the life of renowned composer, conductor, and teacher Alice Parker. This YouTube video gives an example of the kinds of treasures Parker shares about successful conducting and teaching.

On the band front, you can read about legendary composer and conductor John Philip Sousa in the book Sousa’s Marches: As He Performed Them.

If you’re in the mood for something a little different, there also are numerous pop and rock music biographies available.

Treasured Teaching Tips

From the Experts

In the summertime, books that compile the ideas of multiple professionals are easy reads that can provide invaluable ideas in smaller snippets. Options include the new book Rehearsing the Middle School Orchestra, which includes strategies from nationally renowned orchestra directors. It has tips on warm-ups, tone and bow control, recruiting and more. A similar option for band is Rehearsing the Middle School Band.

For the choral and vocal crowd, a collection of favorite recipes for success can be found in The Voice Teacher’s Cookbook. It includes strategies from 57 experts working as professors, studio teachers, professional singers, choral directors, composers, vocologists, and speech-language pathologists. Ideas covered include recruiting, warm-ups, belting, voice changes, and vocal fatigue.

For all teachers, Scott Edgar’s book Music Education and Social Emotional Learning covers important aspects of supporting students in their growth as individuals.

Using Technology

One of the most popular books in the Pepper catalog is Teaching Music Through Composition. In this resource, award-winning educator Barbara Freedman shows how to use technology to teach composition basics, such as using loops, recording drum tracks, and creating melodies.

Creating Great Habits

A series of noteworthy books from GIA Publications focuses on the habits of successful teachers and musicians. Options include Habits of a Successful Choral Musician, which covers hands-on topics like rhythm work and sight singing, and the Editors’ Choice option of Habits of a Significant Band Director. It includes overarching subjects such as positive leadership, communication, goal setting, and quality of life issues.   

Making Better Musicians

Many resources center on ways to improve musicianship, including the Editors’ Choice pick Practicing with Purpose. It gives 50 proven strategies for learning, refining and memorizing music for all different levels.

For choral groups, a great option is Emotion in Choral Singing, written by Jameson Marvin, who was a choral director at Harvard University from 1978-2010. It includes tips on effective rehearsal, score study, and repertoire selection and has a particular focus on polyphony.

Another choral resource is Listening Awareness, which focuses on how to teach students to accurately hear music concepts and includes reproducible worksheets and exercises.

More Choices

There are many other options for summer books that’ll help with all aspects of teaching, directing, performing, marketing, and assessing music. To view more options, visit Pepper’s page with music education books and visit our book lists for:

Mary Rogelstad
Mary Rogelstad
Mary Rogelstad joined Pepper in 2018 as the company’s Marketing Content Coordinator. Previously she worked as a journalist in the international media and as a communications specialist at various nonprofits. In her free time, Mary has enjoyed singing in various choral groups and performing in musical theater.


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