Over the years, I’ve been asked many wonderful questions about our profession. People have inquired about my favorite pieces of band music, my favorite composers, my favorite concert halls, my favorite performers, and so many other questions like that I could go on for pages.
But recently, I was asked a question that really made me think long and hard: “What are your ten favorite books? Books that you think every band director should read?”
Making a list of my favorite books was easy. In fact, it was way too easy. I came up with about a hundred titles without even trying. And as you might imagine that list included wonderful works by some of the finest in our profession on topics such as rehearsal technique, the history of the band, ensemble development, instrument pedagogy, motivating students, band literature, and the like.
So I decided I would go another route, and that my list would be of books I truly love that may seem off the beaten path of being a band director. In fact, some of these books might seemingly appear to have little to do with being a band director at all. But each of them impacted me in profound ways. Each of them changed my way of thinking, inspired my teaching, and helped shape my philosophy. Each of them made me think differently. Each of them made me teach differently. They allowed me to see my students, my purpose, and our profession through a different lens.
Then I had a new problem! I had to distill that still very, very long list down to only ten books. It seemed impossible! There are just too many great books out there, and so many that mean a great deal to me for different reasons. But I finally did it, and here they are.
Did the books on this list help me with band pedagogy, rehearsal technique, literature or conducting? No. Not directly. Did they make me a better band director and teacher? Absolutely, unequivocally and without a doubt!
“A Soprano on Her Head” by Eloise Ristad
“The Music Lesson” by Victor Wooten
“Give Me Excess of It” by Richard Gill
“Teacher & Child” by Dr. Haim G. Ginott
“Casals and the Art of Interpretation” by David Blum
“Expect The Unexpected” by Roger von Oech
“Up the Down Staircase” by Bel Kaufman
“Socrates’ Way” by Ronald Gross
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
“Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom