Some of my all time favorite music instruction books (in no particular order):
1. Edly’s Music Theory for Practical People by Ed Roseman – The best book on general music theory I've found yet. Written with a healthy dose of irreverence, and plenty of pictures and cartoons (the definition of a quality read in my book).
2. Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo – Technically not an instruction book but a collection of interviews, with many of the worlds greatest songwriters expounding on their various creative processes. Dylan, Colvin, Cockburn, Madonna…..Madonna? They’re all in there. Great inspirational toilet reading.
3. Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete by Will Schmidt – A good beginner to intermediate method for people that want the structured approach that a method book can provide. No substitute for the song based approach we teach at the Old Town but a decent addition. Better than the Mel Bay books (by a thin margin) in my opinion.
4. Hal Leonard Jazz Guitar Method – For anyone remotely interested in adding some jazz into their musical stew, this is a very concise introduction that gets you up and running in a fairly short time. Most of the jazz books I've seen are overly complex and pedantic. This one manages to present the material in a way that doesn't suck all of the fun out of it.
5. Solo Guitar Playing - Books 1 and 2 by Frederick Noad – This is one of the greatest method books of all time in my humble opinion. The first 30 pages of book 1 (book 2 is quite advanced) will make you better by 100 percent, guaranteed. The only problem is, it’s for classical guitar, so if you have no interest in learning that particular style of guitar playing, you should stay away from it. But if you think you would like to explore classical, an organized (ie. teacher guided) study of these books will show you:
- How to read standard notation
- Some of the most beautiful music ever written for the guitar (or any instrument for that matter).
- How to become a really snappy finger-style player.
- Songs that will impress and awe your friends, but don’t require you to sing anything.
6. How to Write Music for Hit Songs by Jai Josefs - What a terrible title, but what a great book. This covers music theory from a songwriter's perspective, which is a unique and valuable approach. I've learned an awful lot from this book. Look for the Night Ranger reference!
7. Singing For the Stars by Seth Riggs - An even worse title than the Jai Josefs book. Seth Riggs is one of the music industry's most famous "vocal coaches" and in this book he lays out a series of vocal and ear training exercises to help you learn to sing in a "pop" style (as opposed to the classical approach of most vocal methods). Invaluable if you want to be a better singer (and who doesn't...I'm pulling my copy off the shelf right now as a matter of fact....)
I’ll keep adding to this list as I find out about new books. Let me know of any you think I should add to the list.