Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

What books have helped you the most as a choral director?

What books have been the most useful to you as a choir director? What books helped you the most at the beginning of your career? What resources have you found that you will use forever? 
on October 24, 2010 11:19pm
Hi, Pamela.
>>What books have been the most useful to you as a choir director?
Books on diction and practical phonetics.
Grove Dictionary
>>What books helped you the most at the beginningof your career?
It is not books, but teachers and professors at my alma mater.
>>What resources have you found that you will use forever.
Naxos Music Library
ACDA convention
Oxford Music Online

on October 25, 2010 4:18am
Basic Conducting Techniques by Joseph A. Labuta  Prentice Hall
The Score, the Orchestra, the Conductor by Gusatv Meier  Oxford 
Solutions for Singers by Richard Miller Oxford
The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults by James C McKinney  Waveland Press, Inc.
on October 25, 2010 4:53am
I love "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle.  It is not a book about chorus particularly but it has wonderful information on how musicians think, what it takes to motivate and train young artists, and what it takes to be a master teacher.  I love it so much that I bought copies for all of my students.
on October 25, 2010 5:04am
"Beyond Singing" -- Blueprint for the Exceptional Choral Program by Stan McGill and Elizabeth  Volk, published by Hal Leonard
After a 50-year career of conducting choirs and orchestras -- pre-school through adult with volunteer and professional singers and players -- I came across a book that EVERY conductor should have.  It TRULY is  the basics and allows those of us who are very experienced to consider some of the basic and important ideas that we need to put back into practice.  Although written for the school choir directors, the book reminds us of many important aspects of what we do that should always be considered by us (as the director) OR by others who are assisting us with administration. 
I have a copy to give to any first-year conductor I work with AND I recommend it to other beginning conductors.  I also keep a copy for myself to use when I am considering changes in the way my groups function.
Betty Devine
The Foundry, Worship Pastor
The Houston Choral Society, Founder, Artistic Director
on October 25, 2010 5:30am
For an early 1970s book, I found The Dynamic Choral Conductor to provide a unique perspective that is still fresh and useful today, such as his idea for a choir information booklet and his perspective of learning music from the note stage to artistry and beyond. It's part nuts and bolts, part big picture, part inspiration, though yes part of it is dated.
I always wish I had free copies of John Cooksey's 1999 Working with Adolescent Voices to hand to middle school directors who leave MidVoice and Settling Baritones mumbling around trying to match the baritone part in a SAB piece. His suggestions for kinesthetic warmups and rehearsal techniques are gems buried in the middle pages of the book, as young singers must move to discover their vocal potential. It is densely written with a lot to learn, but worth it to avoid common pitfalls of working with changing voices.
on October 25, 2010 7:24am
Bach/Riemenschneider, Chorales (open score)
Dandelot, Manuel pratique pour l'etude des cles sol fa ut
Hindemith, Elementary Training for Musicians
Lemoine & Carulli, Solfege des solfeges (series)
Wilhelm Ehmann, Choral Directing
on October 25, 2010 8:46am
Hello Pamela,
Any of the books James Jordan has published by GIA ( are tremendously helpful.  Michael Kemp's recent book (The Choral Challenge: practical paths to solving problems) is superb, I think.
Hope these help.
Good luck.
on October 25, 2010 11:15am
Hi, Pamela.  Interesting question.  But my answer would have to be that books are not nearly as important as people.  That's why grad school is so important, because it's the people you study with there who will shape your professional capabilities.  And these are the people who WRITE the books--or who should, if they have not.
But since a lot of my work is in either early music or comtemporary commercial music, I have to admit that most of the books that you will have recommended don't serve me as well as do specialist books in those fields, and especially those concerned with the performance practice of early music. 
What I will use forever is what I learned from Fiora Contino and Julius Herford at Indiana.  Dr. Herford, in particular, gave assignments that last the rest of your life!  And I learned more from participating in a few rehearsals and performances with the great Robert Shaw than any book could ever explain.
All the best,
on October 25, 2010 3:21pm
I agree with John that the people I've studied with have left the most indelible marks.
If I had to have only one text for choral conducting, though, it would be Evoking Sound by James Jordan.
One book only tangentally related but quite powerful: Solitude by Henry Nouwen.
on October 25, 2010 4:02pm
CHORAL DIRECTOR'S COMPLETE HANDBOOK by Lewis Gordon, published  by Parker Publishing Co
CHORAL MUSIC, TECHNIQUE AND ARTISTRY by Charles Heffernan, published by Prentice-Hall
CHORAL CHARISMA by Tom Carter, published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing
TEACHING MUSIC IN THE SECONDARY SCHOOLS by Charles Hoffer, published by Wadsworth Publishig Co
Larry Thompson
"Cantare Amantis est"
on October 25, 2010 4:23pm
Dear Pamela:
Your question is intriguing. For those of us who love to learn and grow, my guess is the list of books will pertain to what we are reading now.
The following list of books are those I have been reading or am presently reading. The James Jordan books have been most helpful, especially Musician's Soul.
I have one other suggestion that will truly make a big difference for you. Find one or two directors who would be interested in reading these books along with you, folks who you feel comfortable with, folks you can trust and speak openly with, folks to  share and discuss the material with to expand the practicalness of the information.  I find this to be most helpful.
Presently, I have a wonderful friend/collegue and outstanding conductor/musican assisting me in a process of self-evalution. I find this to be exhilurating.
These are some of my favs right now, but I am sure the list will continue to grow.
Good Books:
Reclaiming Higher Ground by Secraten
Musician's Soul and Musician's Spirit by James Jordon
Any Book by Warren Bennis-Amazing leadership authority
This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin
Jazz Singing; De eloping Artistry and Authenticty by Diana R. Srpadlng
Management of the Absurd
What Great Teacher Do Differently by Todd Whitaker (Other books by Todd)
Frank DeMiero
on October 25, 2010 6:11pm
Two books by William  J. Finn. "The Art of the Choral Conductor."  Volumes I and II. Roger Wagner and Paul Salamunovich  drew much of their beautiful sound techniques from them.
They are wonderful sources for polyphony and which is fitting for any song. Familiarize yourself with him.
I tooured with the Shaw and Wagner Chorales, the professional groups, not the worksjops. Listen th their recordings from the sixties. I do not care for the echo that so many recordings get by recording in cathedral type acoustics. I think it covers up a lot of good stuff and also hides a lot of choral/vocal sins.
React, if you have time.
on October 25, 2010 6:14pm
In addition to the James Jordan texts, I have found the Shirlee Emmons' book entitled "Prescriptions For Choral Excellence" to be an outstanding resource for me.  I feel comfortable with its ideas and strategies because Ms. Emmons was such a well respected voice teacher & coach.  Some of her best techniques relate to breathing and provide the reader with very specific step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow and simple to apply.  I have used these with high school students and have had success with them.
I also think Rodney Eichenberger's DVD's "Enhancing Musicality Through Movement" and "What They See Is What You Get" are both fantastic for providing us with rehearsal techniques and strategies.  Professor Eichenberger is excellent at talking less and using movement and gestures to do all the work for him!  I think we can all learn a lesson from his teaching - talk less, sing more.
on October 25, 2010 6:28pm
Let's go back to the basics. I'm a young conductor but in my lessons or in score study if I ever have a question, I always find a way to address it after reading related sections in this book. 
Elizabeth Green's The Modern Conductor
It's just a standard, I believe, in conducting literature. 
Kyle D. Wheatley
Teaching Assistant in Music Education
University of Alabama
on October 25, 2010 7:40pm
Creating Artistry - Henry Leck
Choral Charisma - Tom Carter
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.